Five Things We Learned on Week 10 of SEC football:
1—The SEC championship game is set with an Alabama-Georgia rematch. Now we have to wait:
Both Alabama (29-0 over LSU) and Georgia (34-17 over Kentucky) dominated their opponents on Saturday to win the SEC West and SEC East respectively and punch their tickets for the conference championship game on Dec. 1 in Atlanta. It is the earliest the two teams for the conference championship game have been decided since its creation in 1992.
In short, this summer everybody thought Alabama and Georgia were the best two teams in the SEC. And they were right.
Now players and fans have to wait almost a month before the game is played. The teams have work to do while they are waiting.
No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) has Mississippi State (6-3, 2-3) coming to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS) with two more home games against The Citdel and Auburn (6-3, 3-3).
No. 6 Georgia (8-1, 6-1) has one conference game left at home with Auburn (7 p.m., ESPN) on Saturday followed by non-conference home games with UMass and Georgia Tech.
Both teams need to run the table to guarantee that the winner of the SEC championship game has a spot in the playoffs.
The two teams will be returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium where about 10 months ago they played one of the best national championship games ever, a 26-23 overtime thriller won by Alabama.
They have met one previous time in the SEC championship game, with Alabama winning a 32-28 thriller on the way national championship game.
As the head coach at LSU and Alabama, Nick Saban is 7-1 in SEC championship games, the only loss coming to Florida in 2008.
This will be the second straight appearance for Georgia’s Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs beat Auburn 28-7 for the SEC championship last season.
2—Speaking of Saban-- Don’t make him mad:
Nick Saban said he wanted his team to “make a statement” in Saturday night’s game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 LSU. Seems the guy who has won five of the last nine national championships had heard enough about Alabama not playing anybody.
Well, now Alabama HAS played somebody and the score was 29-0 against the nation’s No. 3 team in one of the toughest road venues in the sport. The message was delivered with cold-blooded, machine-like efficiency against a backdrop of all the passion Tiger Stadium could muster.
The fact is, the vaunted Tiger Stadium crowd was never a factor.
“I was very pleased with the way our guys competed,” Saban told ESPN’s Marty Smith after the game. “This is a tough place to play. We wanted to make a statement because people talk about us not having a tough schedule to this point and all that. I think we had something to prove here against a good team and LSU has a very good team.”
3—Missouri’s team had every reason to quit, but didn’t:
Missouri was 0-4 in the SEC after getting its heart ripped out twice in October. On Oct. 6 South Carolina kicked a field goal with two seconds left to beat the Tigers. On Oct. 27, after a controversial pass interference penalty, Kentucky scored with no time left on the clock to win 15-14.
But Missouri gathered its wits and went to play No. 11 Florida in The Swamp. The Tigers not only won, but won impressively 38-17.
Missouri coach Barry Odom, who was feeling substantial heat said his team had two choices as the calendar turned to November: To quit or to fight. Mizzou decided to fight.
“This game was long decided before the ball was kicked off,” Odom said.
Meanwhile, it looks like we may have a quarterback situation at Florida, which hosts South Carolina on Saturday (Noon, ESPN). With the offense sputtering, Gator coach Dan Mullen put backup Kyle Trask into the game. Trask directed a 75 yard touchdown drive, one of the few bright spots in the game. He finished completing 10 of 18 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Don’t be surprised if Mullen goes back to Feleiple Franks for Saturday’s game.
4—Watching South Carolina is not good for the heart:
Here is what the Gamecocks have done in their past four games:
**--Kicked a field goal with two seconds left to beat Missouri 37-35.
**--Lost 26-23 to Texas A&M at home.
**--Rallied from 12 points down to beat Tennessee 27-24 in Columbia.
**--Got 363 passing yards from Jake Bentley, who ran for the winning touchdown with 5:50 left in a 48-44 win over Ole Miss in Oxford.
South Carolina rallied from a 44-34 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
“The resiliency and fight of our football team says a lot about the culture of our program,” said head coach Will Muschamp.
Now the Gamecocks (5-3, 4-3) can become bowl eligible with a win at Florida.
5—It looks like Auburn should just start the Georgia game in the two-minute drill:
I’ll admit it, I gave up on Auburn. In the fourth quarter the Tigers trailed 24-14 to Texas A&M and had a grand total of 15 yards rushing. Texas A&M had the ball and a chance to put the game way. But Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene intercepted a pass from Kellen Mond and it seemed to flip a switch.
Auburn put together a 71-yard drive that ended in a touchdown with 5:14 left to make it 24-21. Then quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams, who made an acrobatic catch with 1:41 left to give Auburn a 28-24 victory. The final Auburn drive was set up by a 47-yard pass from Stidham to Ryan Davis.
In the final six minutes Auburn scored 14 points with 129 yards on just 10 plays.
Stidham completed 18 of 29 passes for 239 yards.
Auburn has been struggling to run the ball all season and so it came as no surprise that it happened once more against the SEC’s No. 1 rushing defense.
It was a win that Auburn (6-3, 3-3) had to have because in the next three weeks the Tigers must go on the road to face No. 6 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama.
Auburn can’t go to the SEC championship game, but it could spoil the season for the two teams (Alabama and Georgia) who are already in the game.