I haven’t come up with a good name for Week 11, but my working name is SEC-ception. Why SEC-ception? Because this was one of the rare weekends where all 14 schools in our league played and played a conference game. It’s like seeing Haley’s Comet, but with football. Seven teams are in the Spin Zone and this will be the only time this occurs unless some serious funkiness goes down in Week 13. Looking at you, Florida, Kentucky and Georgia.
On Saturday in a cold Knoxville, the Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 24-7 in what was simply a bad loss for Kentucky. This is not a slight of Tennessee, either. What made it a bad loss was the way the Wildcats played. Only mustering seven points and even worse than that, gaining a single (1) yard during the entire second quarter.
We all know offense hasn’t been the stronger side of the ball for the Cats this season, but the regression in the second half of the season has been hard to fathom. Was it a hangover from the hype and let down of the Georgia game? Possibly. But in my humble opinion, I think it’s a coaching issue. There seems to be little to no adjustments made to progress what this offense can do and on top of that, the offensive line seems to be worn down. Terry Wilson was running for his life and receivers were having a hard time getting open. Kentucky is one of the easiest teams to in the country put a defensive game plan together against at this point of the season.
Tennessee rose to 79th in defensive S&P+ after yesterday’s game, so again, seven points is just hard to fathom.
Now will all of this said—I tried to not make this too fan ranty, but I think I may have failed— history is still within grasp for UK in 2018. No Kentucky team has finished the regular season with even eight wins since 1984 and that can be accomplished next week against Middle Tennessee State.
This was a good game for the South Carolina Gamecocks until it wasn’t. Will Muschamp and company fell to the Florida Gators by a score of 35-31. The Gamecocks had 31 points and the Gators only had 14 points with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
Then the record playing the music slowed down, went low pitched and ultimately stopped playing like a movie scene showing a deflating moment. Florida scored 21 unanswered points to end the game. This loss can fall on two things for the Gamecocks. The defense is decimated by injuries and just didn’t have anything left in the tank as the game progressed.
Along with the defense getting tired, the running game wasn’t all the way there yet again. 147 yards isn’t a terrible performance, but calling it “meh” wouldn’t be a stretch either. South Carolina has played in a lot of close games this season and more could have resulted in wins if the rushing attack wasn’t so...meh.
According to the rushing YPG rankings, The Gamecocks are 65th out of 130 which is literally as average as you can be.
Carolina only has five wins as of now, but seven and a bowl game still looks like the most likely outcome with Chattanooga, Clemson and Akron (replacing the Marshall game that was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence). While this isn’t the record most Gamecock fans were hoping for and expecting, a bowl is always better than no bowl.
Columbia, Missouri was a another frigid locale in the SEC on Saturday and that matched the feeling of the Vanderbilt fan base after another tough loss. The Commodores fell to the Missouri Tigers by a score of 33-28, but looked pretty good in doing so. Kyle Shurmur and Ke’Shawn Vaughn had excellent games. Shurmur finished 24/35 for 249 yards and had three TD passes against zero interceptions. Vaughn was even more impressive, rushing for 182 yards on just 15 carries.
The undoing of the ‘Dores came when they couldn’t score in a very crucial spot. Up 28-26, Vandy fell victim to a goal line stand by Mizzou at the start of the fourth quarter. The play call was questionable, but understandable on the road against a high powered offense.
With bowl eligibility now squarely in the balance with two games remaining, expect thrilling risks to continue to be taken. Even winning just one more could get the Commodores in a bowl based on their APR ranking.
The Auburn Tigers fell to the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday night between the hedges in Athens. Just like last week in Lexington, D’Andre Swift essentially put the game away with a long TD run. This time, it was a 77-yard scamper with 13:53 left in the fourth to make the score 27-10 and the game would finish at this same score.
This game was part of a larger story for the Tigers, which is the status of Gus Malzahn’s job. Now a loss to a fifth-ranked Georgia team on the road isn’t a huge deal by itself, but the fact that this was loss number four is. Auburn didn’t look particularly good against Tennessee and Mississippi State, with the run game, the bread and butter of Malzahn’s offenses looking sub par. I think it will take a monumental effort in the Iron Bowl to label the coach as completely safe.
Playing close against Alabama is not completely out of the realm of possibility, especially if Tua Tagovailoa is still hobbling in two weeks. As we all know, rivalry games provide some of the most shocking moments year after year in this preposterous sport.
Another week, another game where “yep, this is us” could be said for Ole Miss fans. The Rebels went down to College Station and got ran over by the Texas A&M Aggies. Jordan Ta’amu threw for nearly 400 yards, but the Rebel defense allowed Trayveon Williams to gain 228 yards on the ground by himself in the 38-24 win for A&M.
A game against Vanderbilt is next, but I know that among the Rebel faithful everyone’s eyes are already set on Thanksgiving night. That’s when that school from Oktibbeha County rolls into to town. Keeping the Egg Bowl at home is priority number one at this point.
One of the best looking trophies in sports, the Golden Boot, was at stake on Saturday night. The Arkansas Razorbacks and LSU Tigers have played some memorable games in this series, but Saturday wasn’t quite that. The Tigers jumped out to a 24-3 lead at the start of the fourth quarter before the Razorbacks crawled back a little bit. The final was 24-17, but the contest was firmly controlled by LSU throughout.
LSU was poised to make it 30-17 in the final seconds, but in a peculiar move, Nick Brossette intentionally fell at the one yard line, much to the dismay of bettors who took LSU -13.5.
As far as positives for Razorback fans, I’ll spare you all from seeing that play again. It has been retweeted enough already. I won’t even link you all to an article that goes into detail about that fateful down that could be described as a microcosm of the entire season for Arkansas.
The Alabama Crimson Tide shutout a ranked opponent for the second consecutive week, but I’ll go ahead and say that was bogus. The Mississippi St. Bulldogs lost 24-0, but had a touchdown taken off the board because of this “block in the back” penalty.
Absolutely ridiculous call for block in the back to negate that TD. pic.twitter.com/FtvPy2hlhQ— Belle Es You (@SouthernbeLLSU) November 10, 2018
The subsequent field goal attempt was missed.
I’m not claiming “Bama Privilege” or conspiracies because that’s ridiculous, but The Dawgs and their fan base were robbed of an honest chance to brag to LSU fans that “at least we didn’t get shut out.”
Mississippi State doesn’t leave Week 11 completely empty handed, however. Allowing only 24 points puts them in a good position to be the team that surrendered the lowest point total for the 2018 Tide when the season is over.