SEC report:

Jimbo fails to escape from Dabo

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2018
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher walks the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern State Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in College Station, Texas.
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher walks the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern State Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in College Station, Texas.

Jimbo Fisher said that when he became Texas A&M's coach after eight seasons at Florida State, he didn't know the Aggies were playing Clemson this season.

The No. 2 Tigers play the Aggies at Kyle Field on Saturday.

It will be the ninth consecutive season Fisher has faced Clemson, which is an Atlantic Coast Conference rival of Florida State.

"I had no idea," Fisher said of Texas A&M's home-and-home series with Clemson the next two seasons. "It was kind of ironic. I said, 'Really?' "

Fisher's Seminoles went 4-4 against Clemson and Coach Dabo Swinney, but the Tigers beat FSU in each of the previous three seasons.

"The good news is you know," Fisher said of his familiarity with Clemson. "The bad news is you know."

Clemson beat FSU 31-14 last season.

The No. 2 Tigers are the highest-ranked nonconference team to play at Texas A&M. The previous highest-ranked team was No. 6 LSU, which beat the Aggies 17-3 in 1987 when Texas A&M was in the Southwest Conference.

Big loss for LSU

LSU must endure a big loss to go along with its 33-17 victory over Miami.

Sophomore defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson, the Tigers' top pass rusher, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter and will miss the rest of the season.

"I feel bad for him," LSU Coach Ed Orgeron said. "He's a great young man. He had totally dedicated himself to this year. But he's going to get through this, and he will have a great career down the road."

Hastings cleared

Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings, a senior who played at Pulaski Academy, has made a speedy recovery after undergoing knee surgery in the spring to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Hastings and junior receiver Eli Stove, who also has been recovering from knee surgery, are fully cleared for practice this week. They had been practicing on a limited basis since the start of preseason camp.

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said he's not sure when Hastings and Stove will play in a game.

"As far as full practice, we'll see where that goes with how confident they are," Malzahn said. "We're going to see how that goes, but I think that's a positive that they've been cleared to practice fully."

Hastings had 26 catches for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Stove, who in 2016 scored on a 78-yard run on the Tigers' first play against Arkansas, had 29 catches for 265 yards last season, and rushed 30 times for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"We knew their progress was ahead of schedule," Malzahn said. "There is a really good chance that both of them will be back [playing] this year."

Crockett back

Missouri running back Damarea Crockett, a junior from Little Rock Christian who missed the final six games last season because of a shoulder injury, had 60 yards in 14 touches in the Tigers' 51-14 victory over Tennessee-Martin.

Crockett had 12 carries for 42 yards and 2 receptions for 18 yards.

You'll never guess

Texas A&M had 40 first downs in its 59-7 victory over Northwestern (La.) State to tie an SEC record.

Whose record did the Aggies' tie? Steve Spurrier's Fun n' Gun Gators? One of Alabama's powerhouses coached by Bear Bryant or Nick Saban?

Auburn when Gus Malzahn was offensive coordinator and Cam Newton the quarterback? Peyton Manning's Tennessee Vols?

None of the above.

Believe it or not, Vanderbilt set the record with 40 first downs in a 63-8 victory over Davidson in 1969.

Fitzgerald to start

Senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, whose return from an ankle injury was delayed by a game because of his suspension for last week's 63-7 victory over Stephen F. Austin, will start against Kansas State on Saturday.

Coach Joe Moorhead suspended Fitzgerald one game for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

"I think Nick handled it extremely well," Moorhead said. "He was sent down to scout team for the week, so he worked to give our defense a good look. He was mature during the week in meetings and on the field.

"On game day, he was a vocal presence on the sideline. He was a great resource for K.T. [sophomore quarterback Keytaon Thompson] being out there in just his second start."

Thompson, who passed for 364 yards and five touchdowns against Stephen F. Austin, also started in the Bulldogs' 31-27 victory over Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl last year after Fitzgerald was injured against Ole Miss.

A big if

East Tennessee State Coach Randy Sanders, who played at Tennessee and was a Vols assistant for 17 seasons, will have an interesting way to celebrate if his Bucs upset his alma mater.

Tearing down the goalposts at Neyland Stadium, Sanders said, wouldn't be enough.

"I'd have that goalpost thrown over my shoulder coming back up the interstate," Sanders said. "I wouldn't be riding no bus. I'd be walking, probably naked, with that thing over my shoulder."

Streaking

Florida's 31 consecutive victories over Kentucky represent the longest winning streak ever by one SEC team against another, and it is tied for fourth-longest all-time with Penn State over Temple and behind Notre Dame over Navy (43), Nebraska over both Kansas (36) and Kansas State (32).

"I never dance around that question," Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said when asked about the significance of beating Florida to end the streak. "It is important to us for that reason, but we can't focus on it for that reason.

"We need to focus on it because it's this year. It's an SEC team, it's in the East, and we want to win some football games. They're next on the schedule, and that's truthfully what it is about."

Stoops is 0-5 against Florida, which last lost to Kentucky 10-3 on Nov. 15, 1986, in Lexington, Ky.

"These guys cannot worry about 30-some years and all that," Stoops said. "They really can't. Winning is important to our team each and every week, and that's the approach we'll have."

Blowout of Petrino

Alabama's 51-14 victory over Louisville wasn't the most-lopsided loss Cardinals Coach Bobby Petrino has suffered.

The 37-point loss is the second worst for Petrino, who in his first season at Arkansas in 2008 endured a 42-point pounding at Texas, which beat the Razorbacks 52-10.

It came to pass

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow threw a 5-yard completion to Lanard Fournette -- Leonard's younger brother -- on the Tigers' first offensive play against Miami.

No big deal, right?

But the play actually had historical implications.

It was the first time since 1989 when Tommy Hodson hit Tony Moss against Texas A&M that the Tigers opened a season with a pass completion. LSU has passed on its first play of the season just four times in the past 30 years.

Gamecocks ranked

South Carolina moved into The Associated Press poll this week at No. 24. It's the first AP ranking for the Gamecocks since 2014, but Coach Will Muschamp said he won't spend any time talking to his players about it.

"We'll have zero discussion about it," Muschamp said. "If I do discuss it, it will be a solid 15 seconds of a waste of our time."

Ole Miss honors

Ole Miss players earned three of the SEC's weekly honors.

Running back Scottie Phillips, a junior-college transfer, rushed 16 times for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Rebels' 47-27 victory over Texas Tech. He was named offensive player of the week.

Greg Little, a junior tackle, was offensive lineman of the week.

Sophomore Luke Logan, who hit 4 of 4 field goals from 24, 29, 39 and 23 yards along with five extra points, was co-special teams player of the week.

Other SEC weekly honors included:

• Linebackers Darrell Williams of Auburn and Jacob Phillips of LSU as co-defensive players

• LSU kicker Cole Tracy -- who hit 4 of 4 fields, including a school-record 54-yarder -- co-special teams player

• Alabama wide receiver and punt returner Jaylen Waddle as freshman of the week

• Auburn's Nick Cole and Alabama's Quinnen Williams as co-defensive linemen

SEC TOP TO BOTTOM

Rank;record;comment

1;Alabama;1-0;Nick beats Bobby again

2;Auburn;1-0;Gus gets 1st W in Mercedes-Benz Stadium

3;LSU;1-0;Defense dominating against Miami

4;Georgia;1-0;Early road test at South Carolina

5;Mississippi State;1-0;Fitzgerald back to face K-State

6;South Carolina;1-0;East SEC showdown with Georgia

7;Florida;1-0;Mullen wins big in Gators debut

8;Texas A&M;1-0;Jimbo vs. Dabo again

9;Missouri;1-0;Offense looks good under Dooley so far

10;Ole Miss;1-0;Rebels roll over Texas Tech

11;Vanderbilt;1-0;Dores pound MTSU

12;Arkansas;1-0;Rare trip west to Colorado State

13;Kentucky;1-0;Hoping this is year to beat Florida

14;Tennessee;0-1;No match for West Virginia

PLAYER TO WATCH

South Carolina junior quarterback Jake Bentley

Things started turning around for the Gamecocks when Coach Will Muschamp decided to insert Bentley as a starter in the seventh game of the 2016 season rather than redshirt him as planned with South Carolina at 2-4.

South Carolina went 4-3 the rest of that season with Bentley and made a bowl game, then finished 9-4 last season, including a bowl victory over Michigan.

Bentley is 14-7 as a starter after completing 22 of 29 passes for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Gamecocks' 49-15 victory over Coastal Carolina last week.

South Carolina likely needs a big game from Bentley to have a shot to upset Georgia on Saturday.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Georgia at South Carolina

WHEN 2:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

WHERE Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

RECORDS Georgia 1-0, South Carolina 1-0

RANKINGS Georgia is No. 3 in AP poll, South Carolina is No. 24

LINE Georgia favored by 10 points

BY THE NUMBERS

7 -- SEC teams in the AP poll. The most for one conference since the SEC had 8 in 2016

1986 -- Last time Kentucky beat Florida

0-5 -- Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino's record vs. Alabama, including 0-4 when he was at Arkansas

OVERHEARD

"So if I sound a little pissed, you're right. I am. All right? So you know, be careful." -- Alabama Coach Nick Saban's opening comments at his postgame news conference after the Crimson Tide beat Louisville 51-14

"I think Nick has learned from the experience and he's going to be better coming out and it'll be positive moving forward." -- Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead on suspending quarterback Nick Fitzgerald for the season opener last week against Stephen. F. Austin

"He's probably the most underrated player in all of college football. I don't know that everybody in the country knows what the SEC knows about Deebo Samuel."-- Georgia Coach Kirby Smart on the South Carolina receiver and kick returner

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