More than just Johnny "Football"
Notebook: Missouri finding its stride; teams looking for BCS bids
That’s what we get for all but solidifying a spot in the national title game for Alabama. With talks of the Crimson Tide lining up against NFL teams and eventually hoisting the trophy, everyone was seemingly ready to give the title to the Tide.
Kevin Sumlin and the Texas A&M Aggies apparently weren’t listening to what everyone had to say. The Aggies apparently didn’t realize that no team had gone into Tuscaloosa and came out victorious in more than a year. They didn’t realize that Alabama was supposed to wear them out and beat them down with a tumultuous defense and potent running attack.
All A&M realized was that it is definitely good enough to compete in the SEC -- and good enough to beat the best team in the country.
Behind the mesmerizing play of redshirt-freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Aggies upset the top ranked Tide 29-24 on Saturday night. Manziel, who has played his way into Heisman consideration, threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and added 92 yards on the ground.
The best part about the victory for A&M was that it didn’t need to solely rely on the arm and legs of its freshman leader.
“Not to take away from Johnny, but for us to come to Alabama and win, that is a complete team effort,” Sumlin said.
Few outside of College Station thought that this Aggie defense was good enough to hold down the top-ranked team in the nation. Then again, the Aggies knew they were good enough and that is all that mattered.
“We did a lot of things that a lot of people said we couldn’t do,” defensive end Damontre Moore said. “Now, to prove them wrong does a lot for the program.”
Texas A&M will finish with home games against Sam Houston State and Missouri.
Two wins will put it at 10-2 overall and A&M will have a legitimate shot at making a BCS bowl game in its first season in the SEC.
No. 4 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC)
• A.J. McCarron threw his first interception in his last 292 passes and coupled with two other turnovers, the Tide lost their first game of the season. For now, that seems to have knocked them out of national title contention.
• Alabama had four plays to get six yards with less than two minutes to play on Saturday night and couldn’t get it done. The result: an Aggie upset. Instead, McCarron threw a pick on first and goal and the Aggie student section celebrated in Tuscaloosa.
Next Game: vs. Western Carolina Nov. 17
Arkansas (4-6, 2-4 SEC)
• And the roller coaster of a season continues for the Razorbacks after they were no match for the 12th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night. Arkansas started off moving the ball well, getting inside the Gamecock 10-yard line on its first three possessions. However, moving the ball isn’t enough if it only results in 10 points. The moral of the story in this game was that Arkansas just couldn’t protect Tyler Wilson as he was hurried multiple times and sacked four times, to go along with his two interceptions.
• Arkansas has two games remaining, both against conference foes, in which it will need to win both to become bowl eligible. It will be a tough task considering the opponents are Mississippi State and LSU.
Next Game: at Mississippi State Nov. 17
Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC)
• Misery continues for Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers were trounced on Saturday, losing to Georgia 38-0 at home and remaining winless in the SEC this season. It’s becoming more possible that Auburn will finish conference play without a win as its only remaining SEC game comes against Alabama team in the final week of the year.
• Saturday's game was never close as Auburn came out flat and fell to a 28-0 deficit going into halftime. Auburn will try to get some confidence back as it welcomes in Alabama A&M this weekend before the Tide come to town.
Next Game: vs. Alabama A&M Nov. 17
No. 7 Florida (9-1, 7-1 SEC)
• Florida escaped a game that should have never been as close as it was. Louisiana-Lafayette held a 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter but Florida rallied to tie the score and eventually win the game on a blocked punt return for a touchdown with two seconds remaining.
• Despite the win, it wasn’t all smiles for the Gators on Saturday as starting QB Jeff Driskel left the game with a foot injury. Driskel was 13 of 16 for 98 yards a touchdown before leaving with the injury.
• Assuming Florida wins out, it will be in line for a BCS bowl berth in Year 2 of the Will Muschamp era.
Next Game: vs. Jacksonville State Nov. 17
No. 5 Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC)
• Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs dominated Auburn en route to a 38-0 SEC East title-clinching victory. Georgia awaits its opponent – likely Alabama — in the SEC title game. It didn’t help Georgia’s national title hopes that Alabama lost on Saturday. A win against what could have been the top-ranked Tide in the SEC title game would have definitely helped its chances.
• Freshmen running backs led the way for the Bulldogs, surpassing the 100-yard mark while QB Aaron Murray threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Behind their guidance, Georgia is getting hot at the most opportune time.
Next Game: vs. Georgia Southern Nov. 17
Kentucky (1-9, 0-7 SEC)
• Kentucky finally made some noise in the SEC. Too bad it was off-the-field news that made headlines last week. Kentucky fired head coach Joker Phillips after two seasons at the helm.
• Kentucky hopefully used its bye week to acclimate its new coach with games against Samford and Tennessee remaining. If Tennessee loses Saturday, it will be a battle of winless conference teams to finish the year.
Next Game: vs. Samford Nov. 17
No. 8 Louisiana State (8-2, 4-2 SEC)
• The Tigers bounced back nicely from last week’s loss to Alabama with a solid, but not dominating, win against then-No. 22 Mississippi State. QB Zach Mettenberger is finally showing the LSU faithful what they have been waiting for as he threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns.
• LSU has games against Ole Miss and Arkansas remaining. Assuming it wins both games, LSU will finish at 10-2 and has a reasonable chance at finding itself in a BCS bowl game at the end of the season.
Next Game: vs. Mississippi Nov. 17
Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC)
• After a 7-0 start against a fairly easy schedule, the Bulldogs hit the hardest part of the slate and have tallied three consecutive loses against ranked opponents. After getting up to as high as No. 13 in the rankings, the Bulldogs are now unranked and reeling.
• Head coach Dan Mullen made no excuses afterward but did acknowledge what his team was going up against this season.
“We have like five teams in the top eight in the country in this conference; it’s something like that. I mean nobody else has five teams ranked in the top 25, I don’t think, so that’s what you sign on for. That’s why kids want to play in this league," Mullen said.
Next Game: vs. Arkansas Nov. 17
Missouri (5-5, 2-5 SEC)
• Missouri won the shootout with Tennessee on Saturday, but more importantly it is starting to figure out how to win in the SEC. After beginning the season 0-4 in conference play, the Tigers have won two of three and find themselves one win away from becoming bowl eligible in their first season in the SEC.
• Missouri’s best chance will come this weekend as Syracuse comes into town. It will be a tough task for the Tigers to win their final game as No. 9 Texas A&M returns to Columbia, Mo., in a battle of the SEC newcomers.
Next Game: vs. Syracuse Nov. 17
Mississippi (5-5, 2-4 SEC)
• Ole Miss could have really used a victory Saturday against Vanderbilt, as it will now be difficult for the Rebels to achieve that coveted sixth win of the season. Ole Miss may have let its bowl chances slip away after leading by 17 points in the second half before falling 27-26 last week to Vanderbilt.
• Ole Miss still needs one victory in its next two games. The problem is the next two games include a trip to Death Valley vs. LSU and the season finale against Mississippi State.
Next Game: at Louisiana State Nov. 17
No. 12 South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC)
• South Carolina easily took care of Arkansas on Saturday, keeping its hopes of playing in a BCS bowl game remain alive. Finally figuring out their quarterback situation, Connor Shaw led the way for the Gamecocks, finishing with 272 yards and two touchdowns. Even the Gamecock defense got in on the act as it scored on a 69-yard interception return courtesy of D.J. Swearinger.
• The Gamecocks finish the year against Wofford at home, and at No. 11 Clemson. A win at Clemson in the season finale help South Carolina's bowl position.
Next Game: vs. Wofford Nov. 17
Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC)
• Tennessee just can’t seem to figure out how to win a football game in the SEC. After losing to Missouri 51-48 on Saturday in four overtimes, the Vols’ fell to 0-6 in conference play with two games remaining. There’s no questioning the Tennessee offense but it’s the defense that can't seem to stop anyone when it needs to.
• In the last two seasons, Derek Dooley has lost 13 of his last 14 conference games as head coach of the Volunteers.
Next Game: at Vanderbilt Nov. 17
No. 9 Texas A&M (8-2, 5-2 SEC)
• Texas A&M knocked off a team that was regarded as -- easily -- the best in the country. Behind play of quarterback Johnny "Football", the Aggie’s upended the No. 1-ranked Tide on the road and improved to 8-2 on the year with two remaining.
• With games against Sam Houston State and Missouri remaining, the Aggies are eyeing a possible BCS bowl game in their first season in the SEC. If anyone questioned the Aggies' move to the SEC before the season started, those questions are no longer being asked.
Next Game: vs. Sam Houston State Nov. 17
Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3 SEC)
• All year long we have talked about how Vanderbilt couldn’t find a way to win the close games. It certainly fixed that problem as the Commodores improved to 6-4 after a come-from-behind win, which saw them trailing by 17 points in the second half against Ole Miss.
• QB Jordan Rodgers threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns for Vanderbilt. The strong play helped push Vandy to bowl game eligibility for the second consecutive year, the first time the Commodores have accomplished that feat in school history.
Next Game: vs. Tennessee Nov. 17