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SEC News and Notes

8:39 AM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide appeared to be on their way to their first loss of the season on the road against LSU, but A.J. McCarron capped off an improbable 72-yard drive in the final 1:34 of the game with a 28-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Yeldon as they kept their perfect season alive by claiming to a 21-17 win. The game-winning drive was even more impressive considering that the offense couldn't get much going against the LSU defense for most of the game (331 yards). McCarron's stat line may have been forgettable (14-of-27, 165 yards, one passing TD, one rushing TD), but the poise he showed down the stretch proved that he is much more than just a game manager. He also extended his school-record of passes without an interception to 289. Eddie Lacy (83 yards, TD) and Yeldon (76 yards, TD) both had effective days rushing on 11 carries apiece. It was the most ordinary game of the year for the Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) defense, as it allowed 435 yards to LSU, including 298 passing yards to the struggling Zach Mettenberger. The Tide now has a clear path to the SEC Championship Game and finishes up the season on a three-game home stand, starting this Saturday against Texas A&M.

ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks bounced back from their loss to Ole Miss last week by registering an impressive non-conference win over Tulsa, 19-15. With 11 catches on the afternoon, Cobi Hamilton became the program's single-season receptions leader with 69, and with 177 yards he moved into second on the school's single-season receiving yards list (1,077). Feeding Hamilton the ball was Tyler Wilson, who completed 21-of-31 passes for 272 yards, but he tossed an interception and failed to throw a touchdown pass. For the second consecutive week, Dennis Johnson topped the century mark rushing. On 22 carries, he earned 109 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, and he also added three receptions for 43 yards. The defense stepped up in the win, holding Tulsa to 328 yards while forcing a pair of turnovers. Arkansas (4-5) will try to move to .500 on Saturday, but it won't be easy as it heads out on the road to challenge nationally-ranked South Carolina.

AUBURN: The Tigers used a bruising rushing attack to snap a five-game losing streak as they posted an easy 42-7 Homecoming win over New Mexico State on Saturday. Tre Mason carried the ball 22 times for a career-high 152 yards and a touchdown, and Onterio McCalebb added 113 yards and two scores on just eight totes. It was the first time two Tigers have had 100 yards rushing in the same game since Cam Newton and Michael Dyer accomplished the feat in 2010. Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace made his first start under center, and although his running game took a lot of the pressure off, he still performed well. Wallace completed 9-of-16 passes for 164 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Trovon Reed in the fourth quarter. The Auburn (2-7) defense also got into the scoring act, with Daren Bates returning a fumble recovery 62 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Auburn returns to SEC action this week, trying for its first conference win of the year at home against nationally- ranked Georgia.

FLORIDA: The Gators were shut out in the first half at home against Missouri on Saturday, but they rallied in the second half behind a pair of big plays to come away with the 14-7 win. On his only rush of the afternoon, Omarius Hines tied the game at 7-7 in the third quarter on a 36-yard touchdown run, and in the fourth quarter Jeff Driskel tossed the game-winning 45-yard touchdown pass to Mike Gillislee. Driskel, like the rest of the offense, struggled in completing just 12-of-23 passes for 106 yards. Florida (8-1, 7-1 SEC) tallied just 276 yards of total offense and registered only 11 first downs. Luckily, the defense was stout as usual, recording four sacks, four interceptions and a fumble recovery. Florida is now finished with its SEC schedule and it will close out the regular season with home dates against Louisiana (Nov. 10) and Jacksonville State (Nov. 17), and a road tilt with intrastate rival Florida State (Nov. 24).

GEORGIA: After being held scoreless in the first quarter at home against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs turned it on late to cruise to an easy 37-10 victory to move to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in conference. After struggling last week against Florida, Aaron Murray was nearly perfect on the day, completing 21-of-28 passes for 384 yards while tossing four touchdowns to four different receivers, giving him a school-record 80 career TD passes (sixth most in SEC history). Three of his four scoring strikes were 40 yards or longer, including a 66-yarder to Marlon Brown (three receptions, 113 yards) in the second quarter. Todd Gurley (117 yards) continued his sensational freshman season, putting up at least 100 yards rushing for the second straight week and sixth time overall. After allowing 10 points early in the game, the defense blanked Ole Miss for nearly three quarters and surrendered just 234 yards. With a win over Auburn on the road this week, Georgia will assure itself a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

KENTUCKY: The Wildcats were dominated by Vanderbilt in every facet of the game on Saturday as they lost, 40-0, dropping their eighth straight game in the process. The offense sputtered throughout, tallying just 260 total yards while making only one trip to the red zone. Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow split time under center but neither could find any sustained success, combining to complete just 13-of-35 passes for 159 yards. Freshman receiver A.J. Legree was the only offensive player to accomplish anything of note by catching a career- high three passes for 47 yards. Although the defense was battered by the Commodores, Avery Williamson, who came into the game as the SEC's leading tackler, made 20 stops. He became the first Kentucky (1-9, 0-7 SEC) player to log 20 tackles in a game since 2003. UK will enjoy a bye this week before hosting FCS foe Samford on Nov. 17.

LSU: The Tigers took the lead over top-ranked Alabama in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Zach Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry and looked as though they were on their way to the upset victory. However, the defense allowed A.J. McCarron and company to drive 72 yards for a touchdown in the final two minutes to lose in heartbreaking fashion, 21-17. Mettenberger had a career-night against the vaunted Alabama defense, converting 24-of-35 pass attempts for 298 yards, which included the go-ahead touchdown to Landry (eight receptions, 76 yards). Jeremy Hill was a workhorse with 29 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown, and he became the first LSU player to rush for 100 yards in three straight games since Charles Scott in 2008. Other than the final drive, the Tigers defense was up to the challenge, allowing just 331 yards of total offense while holding the Tide to just 1-of-9 on third downs. LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) will try to bounce back this Saturday when it hosts another nationally-ranked squad in the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: The 17th-ranked Bulldogs suffered a major letdown at home against No. 16 Texas A&M on Saturday, losing in blowout fashion, 38-13. The usually-stout defense had no answer for Johnny Manziel and the Aggies, the unit allowing a season-high 693 yards of total offense. While A&M was chewing up yards at will, the Bulldogs struggled with just 310 yards. Tyler Russell had a solid game under center (19-of-30, 212 yards, TD, rush TD, INT), but it wasn't nearly enough. Chad Bumphis (four receptions, 50 yards) was on the receiving end of Russell's scoring strike, giving him an SEC-best seven TD receptions this season. The MSU rushing attack was stuffed for the second straight week. LaDarius Perkins has gained just 80 yards on 28 carries over the last two games after rushing for 100 yards or more in the previous three contests. Mississippi State's (7-2, 3-2 SEC) brutal stretch only gets more difficult this Saturday as it has to travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU.

MISSOURI: The Tigers fought hard on the road against nationally-ranked Florida, even holding a 7-0 lead at the half, but they were plagued by five turnovers and eventually lost to the Gators, 14-7. Kendial Lawrence was held in check for most of the afternoon, gaining just 34 yards on 18 carries, but he managed to score their only touchdown midway through the second quarter. James Franklin was under siege the whole game, completing less than half of his passes (24-of-51) for 236 yards while being sacked four times and throwing four interceptions. One positive for the passing attack is that highly- recruited freshman Dorial Green-Beckham (six receptions, 73 yards) is continuing to find his place in the offense as he now has 13 receptions in the last two games. The Missouri (4-5, 1-5 SEC) defense was stellar, holding Florida to just 276 yards of total offense. The Tigers return to action this Saturday as it travels to Knoxville to take on Tennessee.

OLE MISS: The Rebels got off to a fast start against nationally-ranked Georgia, as they led 10-0 early in the second quarter, but they surrendered the final 37 points of the game as they fell on the road, 37-10. Although he threw a touchdown pass to Jamal Mosley, Bo Wallace was stifled by the Georgia defense for much of the game, as he completed 16-of-25 passes for 187 yards with an interception while tallying a scant two yards on seven rushing attempts. In fact, the run game as a whole was bottled up, as Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3 SEC) gained 46 yards on 29 carries (1.6 ypc). The defense forced a pair of turnovers and recorded five sacks, but it had no answer for the Georgia passing attack, as Aaron Murray threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns. The Rebels will try to gain bowl eligibility this Saturday when they play to the Vanderbilt Commodores.

SOUTH CAROLINA: The 11th-ranked Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC) were idle this past weekend. They will try to improve their BCS at-large resume' in their final three games of the regular season, starting with a date at home against Arkansas this Saturday.

TENNESSEE: The UT defense was nowhere to be found against Troy as the unit allowed 721 yards of total offense, the most in program history, but the Volunteers prevailed in the shootout, 55-48, behind a record-setting performance from quarterback Tyler Bray. The junior completed 29-of-47 passes for 530 yards, bettering Peyton Manning's previous school-record of 523 yards, while tossing five touchdown passes with no interceptions. Cordarrelle Patterson caught nine balls for 219 yards and a touchdown, smashing his previous career high of 93 yards. It was the fourth-best single-game receiving output in school history. Justin Hunter wasn't too shabby either, tallying nine catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns, with all three of his scores coming from 20 yards or longer. Although just 188 of the program-record 718 yards came on the ground, Marlin Lane had a very effective day in his own right with 132 yards and two scores. Tennessee (4-5) returns to conference play this Saturday when it takes on Missouri at home.

TEXAS A&M: In a battle of ranked teams, the Aggies made a statement by coming away with an easy 38-13 victory at Mississippi State. Another spectacular offensive performance (693 yards) was spearheaded by one of the nation's most electrifying players in Johnny Manziel. The freshman signal-caller was nearly flawless in the passing game (30-of-36, 311 yards). The SEC's leading rusher also did plenty of damage with his legs, piling up 129 yards and a pair of scores. Ben Malena (112 yards, TD) and Christine Michael (50 yards, two TDs) rounded out an unstoppable rushing attack for Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 SEC). With nine catches for 121 yards, Ryan Swope recorded his second straight 100-yard receiving game (12th career) and Mike Evans (97 yards) also caught nine balls, a career-high. The defense did its part too, holding MSU to just 310 total yards. A&M will face its toughest test to date this Saturday as it heads to Tuscaloosa to challenge top-ranked Alabama.

VANDERBILT: The Commodores enjoyed a good old-fashioned beat down of the Kentucky Wildcats over the weekend, blanking the Wildcats in a 40-0 final. They held Kentucky to just 260 yards in their first shutout of an SEC opponent since 1968. They called nearly twice as many run plays as pass plays, and because of it Zac Stacy (69 yards, TD), Brian Kimbrow (69 yards, TD) and Wesley Tate (44 yards, TD) all had productive days out of the backfield. Jordan Rodgers completed 18-of-29 passes for 220 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. Rodgers has been remarkably consistent with his passing yardage this year, as he has thrown for at least 200 yards six times but has yet to throw for more than 237. Chris Boyd (six receptions, 81 yards, TD) and Jordan Matthews (five receptions, 75 yards, TD) were each active in the receiving game, and each player has caught at least one pass is 17 consecutive games. Vanderbilt (5-4, 3-3 SEC) has won three straight and it needs just one more win to become bowl eligible, which it hopes will come on the road against Ole Miss this Saturday.

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