SEC News and Notes

9:17 AM, Sep 24, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

ALABAMA: The top-ranked Crimson Tide continued it dominant start to the season by dismissing Florida Atlantic on Saturday, 40-7. The offense was unstoppable in the early going, scoring on all six of its first-half possessions to jump out to a commanding 30-0 halftime lead. A.J. McCarron was efficient once again, completing 15-of-25 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Eddie Lacy compiled 106 yards rushing to lead the team, which piled up 256 yards on the ground. The defense was suffocating as usual, allowing FAU to net just 110 yards on the day. Only a late touchdown by Alex Deleon kept the Tide from registering its third straight shutout. Alabama (4-0) returns to SEC play this Saturday night when it hosts the 3-1 Ole Miss Rebels.

ARKANSAS: Despite a record-breaking night from senior wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, the Razorbacks' nightmarish start to the season continued as they fell to Rutgers in a 35-26 final. Hamilton finished with 10 catches for 303 yards, which was not only a school record, but also the all-time mark in the SEC. Tyler Wilson finished with 419 yards (albeit on just 20-of-39 passing) with all three of his touchdown strikes going to Hamilton. He also threw two interceptions. The Arkansas defense played poorly, allowing Rutgers to gain 525 yards of total offense on the night. Dennis Johnson also broke an SEC record by returning his 113th career kickoff. Arkansas (1-3) returns to SEC action this Saturday when it travels to College Station to face Texas A&M.

AUBURN: Even though the Tigers played their most spirited game of the year, they ultimately fell to No. 2 LSU, 12-10. Auburn (1-3, 0-2 SEC) held a 10-9 lead at halftime, and although it allowed just one field goal in the second half, a win just wasn't meant to be. It marks just the third time under head coach Gene Chizik that the Tigers lost when leading at the half (23-3). The defense played outstanding, holding LSU to a season-low 351 total yards while allowing it to score just one touchdown. The unit also forced two turnovers. Onterio McCalebb gained just 24 yards on 11 carries, although he scored the team's only touchdown. The LSU defense did a number on quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who completed just 13-of-22 passes for 97 yards, tossing two interceptions and zero touchdowns. The Tigers will try for their first conference win on Oct. 6 when they host a struggling Arkansas squad.

FLORIDA: The Gators moved to 4-0 by defeating the Kentucky Wildcats, 38-0, and in the process recorded their first shutout in SEC competition since 2001. The win was also their 26th straight against UK, further extending the longest active streak in the nation for a team against a conference opponent. Jeff Driskel finished 18-of-27 for 203 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 35 yards and a score on the ground. Although Mike Gillislee was UF's leading ground gainer with 56 yards, six different players combined for 200 rushing yards for the Gators. The defensive effort was fantastic, holding the Wildcats to just 219 yards while forcing three interceptions, including a 26-yard pick- six by Jaylen Watkins in the second quarter. Florida heads into this week's bye on a high note, but it must prepare for its toughest test of the season as it hosts LSU on Oct. 6.

GEORGIA: The Bulldogs continue to make things look easy, moving to 4-0 behind a 48-3 rout of Vanderbilt, and they have now scored 40 or more points in a school-record four straight games. Aaron Murray continued to look sharp under center, completing 18-of-24 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, one to Marlon Brown (five receptions, 114 yards) and the other to Tavarres King (four receptions, 58 yards). The Commodores had no answer for Georgia's rushing attack either, as Todd Gurley (130 yards) and Keith Marshall (82 yards) each had huge days, scoring a pair of touchdowns each. Jarvis Jones (three TFL, sack) and Jordan Jenkins (two sacks) helped lead the defense to its best performance of the year. The unit has now allowed just three points in its last six quarters. Georgia will continue SEC play at home this Saturday against Tennessee.

KENTUCKY: The Wildcats' early-season struggles continued as they fell to 14th- ranked Florida in their SEC opener, 38-0, marking the program's 26th consecutive loss to the Gators. It was the first time Kentucky was shut out since Oct. 14, 2006 when they lost to LSU, 49-0. With quarterback Maxwell Smith sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Morgan Newton started in his place and played poorly, completing just 7-of-21 pass attempts for 48 yards, tossing three interceptions along the way. Jalen Whitlow relieved Newton late in the game but did not perform any better (1-of-6, 12 yards). The running game was the lone bright spot, as the team rushed for 159 yards in averaging five yards per carry, led by Jonathan George (13 carries, 52 yards). The road doesn't get any easier for UK (1-3, 0-1 SEC), as it is set to host nationally-ranked South Carolina this Saturday night.

LSU: The Tigers had their No. 2 ranking tested at home against Auburn, but they managed to overcome a halftime deficit to post a hard-fought 12-10 victory, extending their regular-season winning streak to 17 games in the process. The win was earned despite the fact that LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) committed nine penalties for a loss of 80 yards, and quarterback Zach Mettenberger fumbled the ball away twice. Mettenberger looked overwhelmed for the first time this year, completing just 15-of-27 passes for 169 yards with the two turnovers. Spencer Ware led the team in rushing with 90 yards and Michael Ford (eight carries, 41 yards) punched in the team's lone touchdown. Outstanding play from the defense made up for a poor offensive showing, as the unit allowed Auburn to net just 183 total yards, while recording four sacks and two interceptions. After such a scare, LSU should have no problem moving to 5-0 this Saturday when it plays host to FCS foe Towson.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs moved to 4-0 for the first time since 1999 by defeating the South Alabama Jaguars, 30-10, in their 14th straight win over a non-conference opponent. The offense was not at its sharpest on the road, putting up just 356 total yards, converting 5-of-14 third downs, and having to settle for three field goals. Tyler Russell struggled passing (13-of-27, 171 yards, INT), although he did contribute one of the team's three rushing scores, with LaDarius Perkins (11 carries, 69 yards) and Dak Prescott (five carries, 10 yards) running in the other two. With three more turnovers forced, the defense now has 15 on the season. All-American defensive back Johnthan Banks picked off his fifth pass of the year (tops in the nation) and he now has 15 interceptions in his career, one shy of tying the school record. MSU will enjoy an off week before diving back into its SEC schedule on Oct. 6 against Kentucky.

MISSOURI: It its first road contest as a member of the SEC, Missouri fell to nationally-ranked South Carolina over the weekend, 31-10. The Tigers offense struggled against the stout Gamecock defense, as the unit put up a season-low 255 yards. James Franklin started but was ineffective, completing 11-of-18 passes for just 92 yards. Corbin Berkstresser relieved Franklin late in the game, going 7-of-8 for 54 yards, tossing the team's lone score of the day to Marcus Lucas (nine catches, 78 yards) late in the fourth quarter. Kendial Lawrence had a decent game rushing the ball, finishing with 67 yards on 11 carries. The Mizzou defense performed well despite the loss, forcing two fumbles to give it 10 for the season. The Tigers (2-2, 0-2 SEC) will try to get back on track this Saturday with a non-conference bout at UCF.

OLE MISS: The Rebels bounced back from their first loss of the season last week against nationally-ranked Texas to trounce Tulane on the road, 39-0. The win moved Ole Miss to 3-1, which is already better than its win total from all of last season. The running game was on point against the Green Wave, as the team compiled 304 yards and four rushing scores, paced by Barry Brunetti (13 carries, 67 yards) and Jeff Scott (11 carries, 62 yards, two TDs). Bo Wallace wasn't at his best (7-of-16, 101 yards), although he did connect on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief. It was Moncrief's only catch, but he now has a touchdown reception in all four games this season. The Ole Miss defense was sensational, holding Tulane to 159 total yards while logging three sacks and three picks in posting its first shutout since 2008. The Rebels open SEC play this Saturday in what is sure to be their toughest challenge of the season when they travel to Tuscaloosa to play top-ranked Alabama.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Behind a school-record 20 consecutive completions from Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks improved to 4-0 with an impressive 31-10 win over SEC newcomer Missouri. Shaw missed on his first pass attempt before finishing the afternoon 20-of-21 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. The .952 completion percentage is also a school-record and the second-best in conference history. Shaw also had 41 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Marcus Lattimore's yard per carry average wasn't great (4.0), but he helped control the clock with 21 carries for 85 yards and a pair of scores. The defense continued to show why it's one of the best in the nation, holding a formidable Missouri offense to just 255 total yards, and keeping the Tigers without a touchdown until the final minute of regulation. South Carolina will continue its SEC schedule this week when it travels to face Kentucky.

TENNESSEE: The Volunteers put forth their best offensive showing of the season in Saturday's 47-26 win over Akron, amassing more than 600 total yards. Tyler Bray was spectacular, completing 27-of-43 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. It was his second career 400-yard passing game. Bray spread the ball to 11 different receivers, but Justin Hunter (eight receptions, 115 yards, TD) continues to be his favorite target. Hunter now has an SEC-best 30 receptions to go with 410 yards for the year. Rajion Neal provided a good run- to-pass ratio, rushing for a career-high 151 yards on 22 carries. Tennessee (3-1) has now won nine consecutive non-conference games, but the true test lies in the brutal SEC, where it will play seven of its final eight games, starting with a tough road matchup at Georgia this Saturday.

TEXAS A&M: The Aggies scored with ease against FCS foe South Carolina State over the weekend, cruising to a 70-14 win and improving to 2-1 on the young season. Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel was busy, completing 15-of-20 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another 78 yards and two more scores. Two of Manziel's touchdown strikes went to Uzoma Nwachukwu, who now has four catches on the season -- all touchdowns. Ben Maiena led a rushing attack that piled up 265 yards and five touchdowns, with 88 yards and a pair of scores, including a 50-yarder in the second quarter. The TAMU defense and special teams also got into the act, with Dustin Harris returning a punt 96 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, and Deshazor Everett returning a pick-six in the fourth quarter. A&M returns to SEC play this Saturday afternoon when it plays host to the struggling Arkansas Razorbacks.

VANDERBILT: The Commodores struggled to get anything going against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, losing 48-3 while falling to 1-3 (0-2 in SEC) in the process. Jordan Rodgers completed 13-of-23 passes for a season-best 218 yards, although most of those yards came in the second half when the game was well out of reach. Jordan Matthews (eight receptions, 119 yards) and Chris Boyd (four receptions, 110 yards) each had big days receiving, marking the first time since 2007 that a pair of Vanderbilt receivers had 100 yards in the same game. Kenny Ladler was one of the few bright spots for a defense which played poorly, as he racked up a career-high 11 tackles. Vandy has a bye this week before returning to action at Missouri on Oct. 6.

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