This is the CBS Local SEC Football Report. Every week, this space will recap the results and top performances from the Southeastern Conference and look ahead to key match-ups the following week.
Auburn Makes Statement Against Georgia
Gus Malzahn’s Auburn team entered Saturday afternoon as 2.5 point underdogs at home with the #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs coming to town. Auburn proceeded to prove Vegas wrong and announce their candidacy for a playoff spot with a 40-17 beatdown of the Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
All season long, Georgia has been able to dominate teams on the ground on both sides of the ball. They’ve pounded opponents with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel while the defense flew around stuffing opponents in the backfield. On Saturday, Auburn beat them at their own game as the Tigers held the Bulldogs rushing attack to just 46 yards on 32 carries (79 yards on 27 carries not including sacks) while rushing for 237 yards on 46 carries themselves.
The stars of the day for Auburn were running back Kerryon Johnson (32 carries 167 yards, 4 receptions 55 yards 1 TD) and QB Jarrett Stidham (214 yards 4 total TDs). The duo combined on the final touchdown of the game, a perfectly executed back-side screen pass that allowed Johnson to go untouched into the end zone.
Now, Auburn readies for a tune-up game against Louisiana-Monroe before the big showdown with Alabama in the Iron Bowl on November 25th.
Jalen Hurts Clutch Play Helps ‘Bama Avoid The Upset
Alabama was a big favorite (-14) heading into Starkville, Mississippi this weekend to take on Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs. It was an understandable line of thinking as Mississippi State had been outscored 80-13 by Auburn and Georgia this season. However, the Bulldogs took advantage of the fact that Alabama was missing multiple linebackers and continually pounded away on the ground to the tune of 49 carries for 172 yards and three rushing touchdowns, setting a milestone of the Nick Saban tenure at Alabama
Thanks to that ground attack, Mississippi State had ‘Bama fans on upset alert heading into the fourth quarter as they led 21-17 entering the final stanza. They added a field goal to go up 24-17 before Alabama tied it up with a Damien Harris run. After both teams had chances to take the lead, Tide QB Jalen Hurts put the game away with a perfect touchdown pass with under a minute left.
The play before may have been even better from Hurts as on 3rd-and-15 at his own 43, he stood in the pocket, avoided the rush, and ripped a pass to Calvin Ridley for 31 yards to set up that winning play. Hurts’ continued clutch play will be a huge asset for the Tide going forward. They face Marist this week, but it’s all about the Iron Bowl in Auburn against the Tigers on November 25th now.
Tennessee Fires Butch Jones
This season has been a rough one for the Volunteers and it got worse on Saturday as they were shellacked, 50-17, by Missouri. It dropped the team’s record to 4-6, but more importantly, 0-6 in SEC play. Amazingly, the Volunteers have now lost their last game against every team in the SEC.
It gets worse, as Jones was 14-24 in conference play during his time at Tennessee. Jones will be replaced by Brady Hoke in the interim to finish out the season.
Other Notable Performances
Derrius Guice ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns as LSU buried Arkansas 33-10 for their seventh win of the season. Guice is now just 71 yards from a second consecutive 1,000 yards season and he’s now got nine touchdowns on the year.
Kentucky once again got a big performance from running back Benny Snell as he tallied 117 yards and three touchdowns in their 44-21 win over Vanderbilt. Snell has three rushing touchdowns in each of the last three games for the Wildcats and now has 15 total on the season.
Drew Lock threw for four touchdown passes as Missouri rolled Tennessee 50-17 in Columbia. Missouri has now won back-to-back SEC games by a combined score of 95-33.
Game to keep an eye on: Kentucky @ Georgia
It will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs bounce back from Saturday’s loss to Auburn. Kentucky does present a challenge with running back Benny Shell, who, as we mentioned above, already has 15 TDs on the season and has run for over 1,000 yards. The Wildcats last beat the Bulldogs back in 2009, and Georgia has won seven straight games in the series since. Back in front of their home fans, with a spot in the playoffs still possible, I’d expect Georgia to get back in the win column.
For the die-hards: Mercer @ Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe @ Auburn, Mississippi State @ Arkansas, UAB @ Florida, Wofford @ South Carolina, LSU @ Tennessee, Texas A&M @ Ole Miss, Missouri @ Vanderbilt