Posted: 3:14 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013
By ole whistlebritches
Around the SEC: Week 5
The SEC has the well-earned reputation of the fiercest league in all of American Rules Collegiate Tackle Football, and this weekend was proof positive of that point. Several conference games snatched the national spotlight this week, and the results were nothing short of explosive.
In the marquee game of the week in the SEC, 8th ranked LSU traveled to Sanford Stadium in Athens to take on the 9th ranked Georgia Bulldogs in a game that lived up to the hype. Both teams came into the game with impressive offensive execution early on this season, but neither team had faced a defense to speak of prior to the meeting last Saturday.
Georgia proved that they have the mettle to once again compete for the SEC crown after falling in last year's championship game against Alabama. In that game, the Dawgs fell just short of a trip to the BCSNCG, as a mismanaged clock at the end of the game ultimately kept Georgia five yards short of destiny. In a near repeat of that situation, UGA QB Aaron Murray had a shot at redemption with one last possession, his Bulldogs trailing LSU by four with moments left on the clock.
Murray used precision passing on his final drive after getting the ball back with around four minutes to go in the game. LSU had just snatched the lead on a TD after a drive that featured several accurate passes by Zach Mettenberger was capped with a Jeremy Hill eight yard TD run. But Murray would not be denied, needing only three minutes of the remaining four to find Justin Scott Wesley for a 25 yard strike for a TD to give Georgia the winning score.
Murray, who had previously worn the albatross of never winning the "big game," finished the contest with 298 yards on 20 completions with four TDs and one interception. Zach Mettenberger also had a great outing in his return to Athens, throwing for 372 yards and three TDs on the day. Despite the stables of prolific running backs, neither team had a 100 yard rusher in the game, with star Dawg RB Todd Gurley leaving the game in the first half with an injury.
The win puts Georgia in the driver's seat of the SEC East, as they need only a solid win over a struggling Florida program to all but salt away the undisputed lead for a chance at the SEC West winner. Things were not as rosy for LSU, as the SEC loss pushed them into contention for second place in the SEC West behind still-unbeaten Alabama. LSU does still control its own destiny, however, as LSU can win out to secure a probable rematch against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
In the other high-profile SEC contest this weekend, Alabama proved itself ready for prime time in a 25-0 dismantling of Ole Miss. While Bama's offensive struggles are well-documented, the Tide defense played angry, preventing the usually explosive Ole Miss offense from getting into a rhythm and dictating pace through their HUNH game plan.
The Tide offense continues to be a work in progress, as the offensive line and ground game struggled against an agile and athletic Rebel front. However, by the second half, Bama began to establish the running game following an injury to center Ryan Kelly. Chad Lindsay was workable in his place, and the ground attack flourished. RB TJ Yeldon finished the day with 121 yards rushing on 17 totes with a TD, and Kenyan Drake almost broke the century mark with 99 yards rushing with a TD. Both had long runs for touchdowns.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron continued to be a steady presence in the pocket, despite being knocked around by the Ole Miss defensive line and linebackers. He finished the night with 25 of 32 passing for 180 yards, though he did throw his second interception of the season, a pass that deflected off of the hands of TE Brian Vogler and into the arms of an awaiting Ole Miss defender. Special teams were again solid for Alabama.
Ole Miss had its high-octane offense snuffed out, less than a week after Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace's statements that the Rebels would "score some points" against the Bama defense. Though Ole Miss averaged over 400 yards a game in total offense prior to the match-up, the Bama defense held them to only 205 yards. Jeff Scott, who averaged more than 100 yards per game this season, was held in check and only ran for 28 yards on the day.
In other SEC action from the last weekend:
This week, the grind continues with some important conference contests being decided. Below is this week's slate of SEC games:
SEC Week 5 Schedule
11 p.m. #12 South Carolina @ Central Florida
11:21 p.m. Georgia State @ #1 Alabama
2:30 p.m. #6 Georgia @ Tennessee
6 p.m. #24 Ole Miss @ Auburn
6 p.m. Arkansas @ #18 Florida
6 p.m. #10 LSU @ Mississippi State
6:30 p.m. Missouri @ Vanderbilt
6:30 p.m. Kentucky @ South Carolina
SEC Teams in the AP Top 25
1. Alabama (55)
2. Oregon (5)
4. Ohio State
8. Florida State
9. Texas A&M;
13. South Carolina
20. Texas Tech
21. Oklahoma State
22. Arizona State
23. Fresno State
24. Ole Miss