SEC Report:

Plenty at stake for the Gators

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, November 23, 2018
Florida wide receiver Josh Hammond, right, catches a 35-yard pass in front of LSU cornerback Kary Vincent Jr., left, to set up a Florida touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Florida wide receiver Josh Hammond, right, catches a 35-yard pass in front of LSU cornerback Kary Vincent Jr., left, to set up a Florida touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Florida is hoping to keep Florida State from extending two streaks when the teams play Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Gators have lost five in a row to the Seminoles, who need to win to go to a bowl game for the 37th consecutive year.

"That would be great. I'd love to do it," Florida Coach Dan Mullen said at this weekly news conference about ending FSU's bowl streak. "But that's what rivalry games are all about, right?

"When you look at this rivalry game, there are not that many Florida State fans that really sit there on the weekend cheering for the Gators. There's probably not a lot of Gator fans cheering for the Seminoles.

"You want to win. You want to celebrate in the locker room. But outside of our locker room, the rivalry games, they mean a lot more."

No current Florida player has beaten FSU. The Gators' last victory over the Seminoles was 37-26 in 2012.

"That's not good. We were on the four-game winning streak when we left," said Mullen, who was Florida's offensive coordinator from 2005-08. "Every year it's huge.

"You get in these games, you're talking about in-state rivalries. You're talking a lot of neighbors against neighbors. You go to the grocery store, you want to have bragging rights over your neighbors for the year. To get that win, it gives all of the Gator Nation the bragging rights over all of State's fans."

East bests West

The SEC East will finish the season with a winning record against the West for the first time since 2012 and only the second time in the last 10 years.

East teams are 8-5 against the West and can finish 9-5 if Missouri beats Arkansas today.

In 2012 -- the first season Missouri and Texas A&M were added to the SEC to expand the conference to 14 teams and cross-division games were cut from three to two -- the East beat the West 8-6

The East's other winning season in the last 10 years was in 2008 when it finished 11-7 against the West.

From 2013 through 2017 the West dominated the East 52-18, including 12-2 in 2015 and 11-3 last season.

Since 1992 when Arkansas and South Carolina joined the SEC and the conference was split into two divisions with six teams each, the West has a 257-203-3 advantage over the East.

Davis doesn't fear Tide

Alabama is No. 1 in all of the national polls and going for its sixth national championship under Coach Nick Saban since 2009.

"They have a really good dynasty," Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis, whose Tigers play the Crimson Tide on Saturday, told Auburn Undercover. "But I think a lot of people fear the logo of Alabama.

"They go out and they execute at an extremely high level. They dominate their opponent. But sometimes you can see from the first play of the game, some teams are defeated. That's just something that we can't afford to do going in Saturday."

Davis was asked if he fears the Alabama logo?

"No," he said. "I fear no one's logo. I fear God."

Hands off the hedges

When Georgia Tech won 28-27 at Georgia in 2016, some of the Yellow Jackets grabbed pieces of the famed hedges that surround the field at Sanford Stadium.

"It wasn't a good [memory]," Gerogia senior receiver Terry Godwin told reports this week. "Seeing those guys tearing up our hedges and destroying our field, and then our seniors having to go out that way is not a good [memory].

"We're hopefully trying to erase that memory. ... I don't need to be reminded. I remember it vividly, like it was yesterday, just seeing those guys out there doing that -- that's something you don't want to happen at your own field."

Gamecocks motivated

South Carolina plays Saturday night at Clemson, where two years ago the Tigers beat the Gamecocks 56-7.

"We got embarrassed," South Carolina linebacker T.J. Brunson told The State newspaper. "It just makes you want to come out and play hard and not let that happen again ever."

It was Clemson's largest margin of victory in the series since 1900 when the Tigers beat the Gamecocks 51-0.

Will Muschamp was in his first season as South Carolina's coach in 2016.

"I think more than anything, we went up there our first year and flat-out had some guys who didn't compete, and that wasn't going to happen again," Muschamp said at this weekly news conference. "That was our message for our football team. It's about competing.

"That's the situation we were in. That first year, unfortunately, that's why we were here.

"You have to continue to coach through that and continue to build the culture that you want within your organization. We're much better now than we were then."

LSU domination

Texas A&M hasn't been able to beat LSU since joining the SEC in 2012.

The Tigers are 6-0 against Aggies in SEC play and have won seven a row in the series.

"We need to pick up our part of it," said Texas A&M Coach Jumbo Fisher, a former LSU assistant. "I think us getting on the winning track would make it a rivalry.

"You've got to have somebody beat you on the other side to do it."

Texas A&M last beat LSU 33-17 on Sept. 2, 1995, at College Station, Texas.

LSU began its winning streak with a 41-24 victory over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7, 2011 to cap the 2010 season.

Missing Bobby

Bobby Petrino was fired as Louisville's coach earlier this season before Kentucky could get a chance to pound its long-time nemesis.

"That doesn't do me no good to comment on that," Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said during his weekly news conference when asked his message for fans who are upset the Wildcats won't get a chance to beat up on Petrino. "You know I always answer things.

"It is what it is. Hypotheticals, I really can't win in those situations."

Petrino went 8-2 against Kentucky, including 7-1 in two stints at Louisville, 0-1 at Arkansas and 1-0 at Western Kentucky.

Lorenzo Ward, who was an assistant for Petrino at Arkansas, is Louisville's interim coach.

Bryant visiting Auburn

Kelly Bryant, the former Clemson quarterback who is searching for a new school to play for next season as a graduate transfer, cancelled a visit to Miami this weekend and instead will visit Auburn according to a Rivals.com report.

Auburn will be Bryant's fifth and final official visit. He also has visited Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi State and North Carolina.

Bryant plans to announced his choice on Dec. 4, which will be Arkansas Coach Chad Morris' 50th birthday.

25 and counting

Alabama's 50-17 victory over The Citadel last week at Bryant-Denny Stadium extended the Tide's home winning streak to a school-record 25 games.

The Tide won 24 in a row at home from 1971-74 when Alabama split its home games between Legion Field in Birmingham and Bryant-Denny Stadium.

OT not good Ole Miss

Vanderbilt handed Ole Miss the Rebels' sixth consecutive overtime loss last week when the Commodores beat them 36-29 last Saturday.

Ole Miss fell to 6-9 in overtime games with its last victory coming 26-23 over Vanderbilt in 2004.

Since then in addition to last Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt the Rebels have lost in overtime to Alabama and LSU in 2006, Jacksonville State in 2010, Mississippi State in 2013 and Arkansas in 2015,

Record passers

Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Vanderbilt senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur each set school passing records last week.

Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes against The Citadel to give 31 this season. That set the Tide's season record and broke the mark of 30 by AJ McCarron in 2012.

Shurmur also threw three touchdown passes against Ole Miss to give him 60 for his career. He broke the record of 59 by Jay Culter from 2002-05.

SEC TOP TO BOTTOM

Rank;(prev);record;comment

1;(1);Alabama;11-0;Has won every game by 22 or more points

2;(2);LSU;9-2;Beating Aggies could put Tigers in the Sugar Bowl

3;(3);Georgia;10-1;Hosting Georgia between the hedges

4;(4)Florida;8-3;Should break losing streak to FSU

5;(5);Kentucky;8-3;Hopes to extend Louisville losing streak to 9 games

6;(9)Missouri;7-4;3-game winning streak heading into Arkansas game

7;(6);Mississippi State;7-4;Moorhead experienced first Egg Bowl

8;(7);Auburn;7-4;Gus only current SEC coach to beat Saban

9;(8)Texas A&M;7-4;Changed coaches, but record the same

10;(10);South Carolina;6-4;Big underdog at Clemson

11;(11);Tennessee;5-6;Needs to beat Vandy for bowl eligibility

12;(13);Vanderbilt;5-6;Needs to beat Vols for bowl eligibility

13;(12);Ole Miss;5-6;Ta’amu was nice replacement for Patterson

14;(14);Arkansas;2-9;Makeshift secondary hopes to slow down Lock

PLAYER TO WATCH: DAMIEN HARRIS, RB, Alabama

Harris ranks 12th in the SEC in rushing with 678 yards, but he’s gotten that total on 108 carries — a 6.3-yard average — and scored 7 touchdowns. He left last week’s game against The Citadel with a mild concussion, but Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said on Wednesday that Harris has been cleared to play against Auburn on Saturday.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Auburn at No. 1 Alabama

WHEN 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV CBS

WHERE Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

RECORDS Alabama 11-0, 7-0 SEC; Auburn 7-4, 3-5

LINE Alabama by xxx points

Last season Alabama lost at Auburn but still won the national championship. The Crimson Tide might be able to lose to the Tigers again and stay in the national title picture, but it would mean Alabama has to beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

It probably won’t come down to that, though Auburn is the last team to beat Alabama. The Tide figure to roll over the Tigers just as they have all season in winning by average margin of 35.6 points.

Today’s game

Arkansas at Missouri

WHEN 1:30 p.m.

RECORDS Arkansas 2-9, 0-7 SEC; Missouri 7-4, 3-4

TV CBS

LINE Missouri by 23

Saturday’s games

No. 11 Florida at Florida State

WHEN 11 a.m.

RECORDS Florida 8-3; Florida State 5-6

TV ABC

LINE Florida by 6 1/2

Georgia Tech at No. 5 Georgia

WHEN 11 a.m.

RECORDS Georgia Tech 7-4; Georgia 10-1

TV SEC Network

LINE Georgia by 17

Tennessee at Vanderbilt

WHEN 3 p.m.

RECORDS Tennessee 5-6, 2-5 SEC; Vanderbilt 5-6, 2-5

TV SEC Network

LINE Vanderbilt by 3 1/2

South Carolina at No. 2 Clemson

WHEN 6 p.m.

RECORDS South Carolina 6-4; Clemson 11-0

TV ESPN

LINE Clemson by 26

No. 15 Kentucky at Louisville

WHEN 6 p.m.

RECORDS Kentucky 8-3; Louisville 2-9

TV ESPN2

LINE Kentucky by 17

No. 7 LSU at No. 22 Texas A&M

WHEN 6:30 p.m.

RECORDS LSU 9-2, 5-2 SEC; Texas A&M 7-4, 4-3

TV SEC Network

LINE Texas A&M by 3

BY THE NUMBERS

2010 — Last time Auburn beat Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium

17.5 — Tackles for lost yards this season by Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen

76-7 — Nick Saban’s home record as Alabama’s coach.

OVERHEARD

“You know, this is Auburn and it’s the Iron Bowl. We don’t have to bring anything up. This is a game our guys look forward to, their guys look forward to.”

— Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn

“I mean, your guess is as good as mine. I really don’t know at this point. Obviously, once the season is over, I’ll take a better look at it. We’ve had some issues in that regard, no doubt.”

— Alabama Coach Nick Saban on the the Tide missing eight extra-point attempts this season.

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Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) hands off to Alabama running back Damien Harris (34) during the first half of an NCAA... + Enlarge

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Kentucky senior linebacker Josh Allen leads the SEC in sacks (13), tackles for loss (17.5) and forced fumbles (5). + Enlarge

Sports on 11/23/2018

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