Associated Press Photo
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ALABAMA: Second-ranked Alabama took care of business against rival Auburn in a dominating 49-0 win, clinching the SEC Western Division title in the process. It was its second consecutive shutout and its fourth this season, the most for the program in a single season since 1979. The Tide scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions, led by A.J. McCarron, who completed 15-of-21 passes for 216 yards and four TDs, with a pair of scoring strikes going to both Amari Cooper (five receptions, 109 yards) and Kevin Norwood (five receptions, 65 yards). Eddie Lacy rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and in the process he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) will play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game next week, with the winner advancing to play Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game.
ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks squared off against No. 8 LSU on Friday, and they had the ball in the red zone in the final minute of regulation with a chance to tie the game, but they fell short, losing 20-13. Tyler Wilson was busy on the day, completing 31-of-52 passes for 359 yards and a touchdown. With the performance, Wilson became the school's all-time career passing yards leader with 7,765, breaking Ryan Mallet's previous mark of 7,493 yards. Cobi Hamilton (10 receptions, 98 yards) also had a record-breaking afternoon, as he now has a program-best 175 career receptions. The defense played very well despite the loss, holding LSU to just 306 yards of total offense. Arkansas (4-8, 2-6 SEC) will be shut out of bowl season, and the school decided against retaining John L. Smith as head coach for next season.
AUBURN: The Tigers' disastrous 2012 campaign finally came to an end in a blowout loss to No. 2 Alabama, 49-0. The offense could get nothing going against the vaunted Crimson Tide defense, producing just 163 total yards. Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace was terribly overmatched, as he completed just 5-of-14 passes for 71 yards and a pair of interceptions. Tre Mason managed to gain 88 yards on the ground, and on the final play of the game he was able to cross the 1,000-yard mark on the season (1,002). The defense allowed Alabama to score touchdowns on its first seven possessions and allowed 483 yards of total offense. Auburn (3-9, 0-8 SEC) finished winless in the conference and Gene Chizik has been relieved of his duties as head coach just two years after winning the national title.
FLORIDA: The Gators closed out the regular season with a great showing against the nation's No. 1 ranked defense, defeating intrastate rival Florida State, 37-26. They used a nearly 12-minute advantage in the time of possession battle to pound away at the Seminoles and overcome a fourth-quarter deficit. Mike Gillislee led the potent UF rushing attack with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and Matt Jones (81 yards, TD) also got into the act. Jeff Driskel returned after missing a game due to injury, but he completed just 15-of-23 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown and was sacked four times. The defense stepped up as well, holding FSU to 300 yards while forcing five turnovers in the rivalry win. Florida (11-1) will now await to see which BCS game it will receive an at-large bid to.
GEORGIA: The third-ranked Bulldogs made easy work of intrastate rival Georgia Tech in the Governor's Cup, winning 42-10. Aaron Murray was only asked to throw the ball 17 times, but he completed 14 of those passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, and with that effort he became the first quarterback in conference history to throw for 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The freshman running back duo of Todd Gurley (97 yards) and Keith Marshall (66 yards) continued their fantastic seasons, with both rushing for a pair of touchdowns. With the 42 points scored, Georgia (11-1) now has 456 points on the season, breaking the previous school record of 450 sey by the 2002 club. The Bulldogs will represent the Eastern Division in the SEC title tilt against Alabama, with the winner earning a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats finished the season without a win in the SEC as they dropped their finale at Tennessee, 37-17. They trailed by just three points midway through the third quarter, but the Vols ripped off 20 straight points to close out the game. Despite the setback, Jalen Whitlow put together one of his best games of the season, completing 29-of-45 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown. La'Rod King caught 10 passes for 78 yards, and D.J. Warren had just one reception for one yard, but it went for a touchdown. Jonathan George carried the ball just eight times for Kentucky (2-10, 0-8 SEC), but he took advantage of those limited touches by turning them into 59 yards and a score. Obviously, the last-place Wildcats will not be participating in a bowl this season.
LSU: Despite being outgained by Arkansas, 462-306, the eighth-ranked Tigers managed to hold on to win, 20-13, to claim The Battle of the Golden Boot. Zach Mettenberger was anything but spectacular, completing 16-of-29 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown, but he managed to play mistake-free football. Jarvis Landry (eight receptions, 75 yards) hauled in the second-quarter touchdown that gave the Tigers a 10-0 lead, and Odell Beckham (four receptions, 112) also had a big day receiving. Jeremy Hill only gained 77 yards on 17 carries, but he punched the ball into the end zone in the third quarter. Despite allowing excessive yardage, the defense stepped up by forcing two turnovers and blocking a field goal. LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will await to see if its resume' is strong enough for a BCS bowl bid.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs lost the Battle For the Golden Egg, falling to in-state rival Ole Miss, 41-24. The game was tied, 17-17, at the half, but the Rebels scored 24 unanswered points after intermission to put the game away. Tyler Russell was uncharacteristically disappointing in the defeat, completing just 18-of-33 passes for 268 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions, while also taking three sacks. Both scoring strikes went to Chad Bumphis (six receptions, 146 yards), who broke the school record for career receiving yards with 2,252. Jameon Lewis returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter, the longest play in the 109-year history of the Egg Bowl. The rushing attack was bottled up all night, gaining just 30 yards on 25 carries (1.2 ypc). Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) will await its bowl destination.
MISSOURI: The Tigers lost their season finale to the red-hot Texas A&M Aggies, 59-29. The offense had a productive day with 465 yards, but the defense had no answer for Johnny Manziel, allowing 647 yards of offense to the Aggies. Corbin Berkstresser started under center for Mizzou and completed 20-of-38 passes for 276 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, with L'Damian Washington (four receptions, 98 yards) and Dorial Green-Beckham (four receptions, 55 yards) being on the receiving end of the scoring strikes. Berkstresser also added 33 yards and a touchdown rushing, and Kendial Lawrence also had an impressive day on the ground with 87 yards and a score. Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC) has failed to earn bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004.
OLE MISS: The Rebels earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009 by defeating intrastate rival Mississippi State, 41-24, in the Battle For the Golden Egg. Bo Wallace was sensational in the victory. He completed just 15- of-22 passes and tossed a pair of interceptions, but those completions went for 294 yards and five touchdowns. The signal-caller now has 3,206 total yards this season, becoming the only player other than Eli Manning in school history to surpass 3,000 yards. For the second week in a row, sophomore receiver Donte Moncrief put up a career-high yardage total, hauling in seven balls for 173 yards and three touchdowns. It was his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season and his 10 receiving TDs ties a school record. The rushing attack gained 233 yards, paced by Jeff Scott with 111 on 28 carries. Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 SEC) snapped a three-game losing streak and won its first game of the season against a ranked opponent in five tries.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks prevailed over in-state rival Clemson, 27-17, and with the win Steve Spurrier became the winningest coach in program history with 65 victories. Jadeveon Clowney led the South Carolina defensive effort with 4.5 sacks, giving him a single-season school record of 13. Sophomore quarterback Dylan Thompson started in place of Connor Shaw and was fantastic, completing 23-of-41 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Bruce Ellington, who caught seven passes for 72 yards on the afternoon. Ace Sanders (six receptions, 119 yards, TD) also had a productive day receiving. South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will await to see if its regular season was strong enough for a bid to a BCS bowl game.
TENNESSEE: Although the Volunteers will not be participating in the postseason, they managed to salvage the year somewhat by earning their first SEC win of the season, 37-17, over the Kentucky Wildcats. Tyler Bray finished on a high note, completing 20-of-34 passes for 293 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Mychal Rivera (five receptions, 64 yards), Cordarrelle Patterson (four receptions, 88 yards), Justin Hunter (three receptions, 65 yards) and Zach Rodgers (two receptions, 28) all caught touchdown passes in Jim Chaney's first, and perhaps only, game as Tennessee's (5-7, 1-7 SEC) head coach. The defense allowed 412 yards of offense to a poor UK unit, but it managed to record four sacks. UT could be in for a big overhaul next year not only with a new coach, but with the core of offensive playmakers as Bray, Hunter and Patterson may all be leaving for the NFL.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies closed out the regular season with yet another dominating win, as they defeated Missouri in a 59-29 final. Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel put an exclamation point on his Heisman Trophy campaign, completing 32-of-44 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for a team-high 67 yards and another two scores. Mike Evans (eight reception, 99 yards) and Ryan Swope (seven receptions, 51 yards) each caught touchdowns from Manziel, and Malcome Kennedy also had a big day with seven grabs for 110 yards. Christine Michael rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns in the rout. Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will await to see if it's in line for a bid to a BCS bowl game.
VANDERBILT: The Commodores closed out the regular season with a 55-21 blowout win over Wake Forest, and in the process they earned their sixth straight victory, their longest winning streak since 1955. Zac Stacy rushed the ball 21 times for season-high 180 yards and a pair of scores, giving him more than 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight season. Jordan Rodgers was impressive under center, completing 17-of-23 attempts for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Matthews caught 10 passes for 144 yards and he reeled in a touchdown for the fourth consecutive week. Vanderbilt (8-4) has put together its best regular season since 1982, and is waiting patiently for its bowl destination.