Associated Press Photo
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ALABAMA: In what amounted to little more than a late-season tune-up, the Crimson Tide made easy work of FCS foe Western Carolina, winning 49-0 at home, and logging their third shutout of the season in the process. Eddie Lacy rushed for three touchdowns, all of which came in the first half, and he finished with 99 yards just 10 carries. Blake Sims (70 yards, TD) and T.J. Yeldon (55 yards, TD) also contributed to a 300-yard rushing day for Alabama (10-1). A.J. McCarron attempted just six passes before being pulled for backup Blake Sims, but he completed all six for 133 yards and a touchdown to Christion Jones. The defense bounced back a week after getting torched by Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, as the unit allowed just 163 yards to Western Carolina and contributed to the scoreboard with a 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Deion Belue in the second quarter. If it can close out the season with a win at home against Auburn on Saturday, 'Bama play for the SEC championship.
ARKANSAS: After keeping the game close for much of the first half, the Razorbacks fell apart after halftime and lost to Mississippi State as a result, 45-14. Tyler Wilson completed 23-of-29 passes for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also tossed two interceptions. Cobi Hamilton had another big day with seven catches for 88 yards and a score. With 80 receptions on the season, Hamilton extends his school record and moves into a tie for 10th place in SEC single-season history. Dennis Johnson had an effective day out of the backfield with 88 yards on 15 carries and he also caught three passes, one for a seven-yard touchdown to give his team a 14-7 second-quarter lead. Arkansas' (4-7, 2-5 SEC) campaign will not end with a bowl bid, but instead with a home game on Friday against LSU.
AUBURN: After a disappointing season, the Tigers offense finally broke loose for 512 yards in a 41-7 win over FCS foe Alabama A&M. It was their most points scored in a game since putting up 56 in the 2010 SEC Championship. The rushing attack was especially deadly, gaining 341 yards and five scores. Tre Mason rushed the ball just 12 times but he went for 181 yards (15.1 ypc) and two touchdowns, while Onterio McCalebb (104 yards) also crossed the century mark rushing with a pair of scores. Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace completed 10-of-18 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. The Auburn (3-8, 0-7 SEC) defense played great as well, holding Alabama A&M to just 208 yards on the afternoon. The Tigers have one last shot to win an SEC game this season, as they face Alabama this Saturday.
FLORIDA: The offense had a bit of a sluggish day against FCS foe Jacksonville State, but the Gators were able to ride a few big plays and a fantastic defensive effort to a 23-0 victory. Filling in for the injured Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brisset did not find much success as he completed 14-of-22 passes for 154 yards with no touchdowns. While the passing game struggled, the rushing game flourished, as Mike Gillislee (20 carries, 122 yards, TD) and Matt Jones (eight carries, 65 yards) each had productive days. In addition to holding JSU to just 242 yards, the Florida (10-1) defense contributed to the scoring effort in the third quarter when Jon Bostic intercepted a pass and returned in seven yards for a touchdown. Florida has finished the season unbeaten at home, and it will have one more regular-season test this Saturday against Florida State.
GEORGIA: The fifth-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) had no problem dismissing FCS foe Georgia Southern, 45-14, winning their 10th game of the season for the 20th time in school history. It was just another day at the office for quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 18-of-28 passes for 330 yards and four scores. It was his third game with at least four touchdown passes this season, and his fourth with at least 300 yards passing. It was a relatively modest day for Todd Gurley (68 yards, TD), but he became just the second true freshman in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, the other being Herschel Walker. With six TDs, Georgia broke the school record of 54 touchdowns in a season, as it now sits with 56 with three games left to play. It will take on another non-conference opponent this week, as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come to Athens, and then the following week the Bulldogs will play for the SEC championship.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats snapped an eight-game losing streak by prevailing at home against FCS foe Samford over the weekend, 34-3. Running back Raymond Sanders was the catalyst in the winning effort, churning out a career-high 123 yards with a touchdown, and the rushing attack as a whole was fantastic as the team tallied 342 yards on the day. Jalen Whitlow completed 10-of-13 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown to Gene McCaskill (three receptions, 35 yards), and he also rushed for 59 yards and a score. In addition to holding Samford to a lowly 102 yards of total offense (including negative-two yards rushing), the Kentucky (2-9, 0-7 SEC) defense also got into the scoring act in the second quarter when Tristian Johnson picked up a fumble and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The Wildcats will finish up their season this Saturday at Tennessee.
LSU: The Tigers actually trailed by a touchdown late in their own building against Ole Miss over the weekend, but they got the boost of energy they needed when Odell Beckham, Jr. returned a punt 89 yards for a score to tie the game. In the final minute, Jeremy Hill rushed in a one-yard score to finish off the 41-35 comeback win. Hill finished with 77 yards and three touchdowns, while Spencer Ware (55 yards, TD) also had an effective day out of the backfield. After showing improvement in recent weeks, Zach Mettenberger struggled a bit, completing 22-of-37 passes for 282 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. The LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) defense played well below its standards, especially at home, by allowing Ole Miss to rack up 463 yards. The Tigers close out the regular season on Friday afternoon at Arkansas.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs managed to halt a three-game losing streak thanks to 38 unanswered points as they won their final home game of the season, 45-14, over Arkansas. The offense put up more than 500 total yards and was led by Tyler Russell, who completed 19-of-32 passes for 274 yards, a career-high four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Chad Bumphis was the primary beneficiary of Russell's passes, as he hauled in six receptions for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns. LaDarius Perkins put in his usual work on the ground (17 carries, 91 yards), but he was also heavily utilized in the passing game with three receptions for 40 yards and two scores. Nick Griffin had just two carries, but one went for a 60-yard touchdown. Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3 SEC) can secure a winning record in conference play with a win at Ole Miss in Saturday's season finale.
MISSOURI: The Tigers stepped out of conference and suffered a disappointing home loss to Syracuse, 31-27. After taking the lead, 27-24, on a 46-yard field goal by Andrew Baggett with under two minutes to play, they allowed the Orange to march down the field for the game-winning touchdown with just 20 seconds left in the game. James Franklin looked good in the early going, completing 17-of-23 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns, but he needed to leave the game with an injury. He was replaced by Corbin Berkstresser, who did not fare so well (4-of-8, 85 yards, INT). Kendial Lawrence was a workhorse out of the backfield with 27 carries for 119 yards and a score. Dorial Green-Beckham had just two receptions but they went for 79 yards and a touchdown. Missouri (5-6, 2-5 SEC) will have one last chance to become bowl eligible on Saturday night at Texas A&M.
OLE MISS: Up by a touchdown with 11 minutes to play, the Rebels appeared to be on their way to an improbable win at LSU, but they were stung by two late Tigers' touchdowns as they ultimately fell, 41-35. Bo Wallace was incredibly erratic on the day, as he completed just 15-of-35 passes and tossed three interceptions, but he made the most of his limited completions by throwing for 310 yards and two score. The sophomore signal-caller was also the team's leading rusher with 54 yards and two scores. Donte Moncrief caught six passes for a career-high 161 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 30-yarder in the fourth quarter to put his team up a touchdown. Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5 SEC) will have just one more game to try and become bowl eligible as it hosts rival Mississippi State on Saturday night.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks were in for a much more difficult task than they expected at home against FCS foe Wofford. The teams went into the fourth quarter tied, 7-7, but South Carolina pulled away with 17 straight points to win, 24-7. Filling in for the injured Marcus Lattimore, Kenny Miles had a career-day with 27 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. Connor Shaw had an impressive day passing (16-of-20), but he ended with just 122 yards through the air and 18 yards on the ground with one touchdown and one interception. Ace Sanders (35 yards) caught the Shaw touchdown pass and finished with a game-high five receptions. The defense had some difficulty with the Wofford rushing attack on the afternoon as it allowed 259 yards on the ground. South Carolina (9-2) will finish the year a perfect 7-0 at home, and it closes out the regular season on Saturday with a non-conference clash against Clemson.
TENNESSEE: The Volunteers' nightmare season in SEC play continued against Vanderbilt as they were handed a 41-18 loss. Tyler Bray had one of the worst performances of his career, completing just 11-of-29 passes for 103 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions before behind spelled for backup Justin Worley (8-of-11, 51 yards, INT). One of the few bright spots on the afternoon was the play of running back Marlin Lane, who gained 108 yards and added another five receptions for 37 yards. Zach Rogers made just one reception but it went for a 14-yard touchdown. Following the game, Tennessee (4-7, 0-7 SEC) announced that Derek Dooley has been fired effective immediately, and Jim Chaney will served as interim coach when the Vols take the field in Saturday's season finale against Kentucky.
TEXAS A&M: In a Lone Star State showdown, the Aggies were able to dismiss FCS foe Sam Houston State over the weekend, 47-28. It was business as usual for Johnny Manziel, who threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 100 more yards and two scores. The Heisman candidate, who sat out most of the second half with his team up big, set an NCAA freshman quarterback rushing record with 1,029 yards, and his 4,161 yards of total offense is a new school record. Mike Evans (81 yards) led the team with six receptions, and he caught two touchdowns, and Uzoma Nwachukwu (160 yards) and LeKendrick Williams (86 yards) each caught scoring strikes of 80 yards or longer. The defense shut out the Bearkats for most of the game until they scored four touchdowns in the final 17 minutes. Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2 SEC) will end its regular season schedule this Saturday at home against Missouri.
VANDERBILT: Behind 28 unanswered second-half points, the Commodores made easy work of the Tennessee Volunteers, winning 41-18. Zac Stacy racked up 171 yards of total offense, rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown while catching two passes for 86 yards. Jordan Rodgers completed just 13-of-26 passes and tossed an interception, but he made the most of his completions by throwing for 245 yards and two scores. Jordan Matthews (seven receptions, 115 yards) was on the receiving end of one of those scoring strikes, and his 1,118 receiving yards this season are third-most in school history. Matthews also had one carry that went for a 47-yard touchdown. The defense was outstanding, holding the potent Tennessee offense to 303 yards while containing Tyler Bray to 11-of-29 passing with two picks. Vanderbilt (7-4, 5-3 SEC) will try to close out the regular season on a six-game win streak when it travels to Wake Forest this Saturday.