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SEC Recap: Week Eleven

Utter craziness at Faurot, DeVonta Smith is a bad man, the Aggies persevere on the road, and the Gators need a lot more balance.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Louisiana State
When it’s all said and done, no Alabama receiver will have put up more impressive numbers than DeVonta Smith, who somehow makes catches like this seem easy.

Missouri 50 vs. Arkansas 48

I’m just gonna breathe this one in…

Let’s all take a moment to reflect.

No statistical analysis. No hot takes. No mention of the defense.

No recommendations for Ryan Walters on how to stop that fake toss sweep.

Absolutely no flashbacks to the Fifth Down and Flea Kicker when the south end zone nearly joined its northern brethren in disgusting infamy.

No funny quips about Hog fans melting down over two missed extra points. No preoccupation with Sam Pittman’s accusation of Missouri players faking injuries.

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz’s brief tenure is quickly becoming defined by his program’s ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We all deserve a chance to appreciate Saturday for exactly what it was: A maddening roller-coaster win over a rival and former head coach that will likely go down as one of the most entertaining games in program history.

It’s also the third or fourth time that I thought Eli Drinkwitz and his staff won a game that his predecessor and that staff would’ve found one or more ways to lose.

Just like the goal line stand versus LSU, Saturday’s win over Arkansas seemed to defy everything we’ve been conditioned to expect as Missouri fans.

Hereto, I give you what I am sure we can all agree is undoubtedly the best description of how we all compartmentalized our feelings during that fourth quarter, courtesy of Power Mizzou’s Gabe DeArmond (subscription required to read in full):

“There are two types of Missouri fans: The first is the type that thought [Saturday’s] game was over at least twice. The second is a liar.”

I could never have said it better myself, and the fact we’re bathing in the buttery smooth glory of a win despite the pessimism speaks volumes for where this program could be headed.

Alabama 55 vs. LSU 17

Of the 10 most prolific receivers in Alabama football history, six of them have played for Nick Saban, and the production he has gotten from the position the last past seven or eight seasons is bordering upon absurd.

Julio Jones. Amari Cooper. Calvin Ridley. Jerry Jeudy. Henry Ruggs III. Jaylen Waddle.

Every one of them an All-SEC performer. Every one of them an All-American, with the exception of Ruggs III, who wasn’t exactly anything to sneeze at.

For as impressively as Saban and his staff have recruited the position throughout the years, no receiver during his tenure has been more prolific than DeVonta Smith.

In Saturday’s blowout of LSU, Smith caught eight balls for 231 yards and three touchdowns, including a sick one-handed grab that will no doubt at some point be reproduced and used as wallpaper somewhere in the Alabama football facility.

It was Smith’s second game of 200-plus receiving yards this season and the fourth of his career. No receiver in SEC history has more.

He leads the nation in receiving yards (1,305) and is now tied with North Texas’ Jaelon Darden for touchdown receptions (15).

Smith passed Cooper for first on Alabama’s all-time receiving touchdown list two weeks ago, and he needs only 50 yards next week against Arkansas to surpass Cooper’s record mark of 3,463 career receiving yards.

It’s been a historic career for Smith, who’s punctuating his legacy with an assault on the Tide record books and making a serious argument to be the first receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991.

Texas A&M 31 vs. Auburn 20

Admittedly, this was a game in which I thought the Aggies would piss their Playoff chances away.

And with a quarter left at Jordan-Hare Saturday, it appeared as if they had done so. That is, until, fate may have intervened.

A&M dominated the first half, generating 271 yards of offense, but Auburn kept things close, thanks in large part to Bo Nix’s submission for play of the year. The Aggies then fell flat in the third, allowing the Tigers to sprint to a 10-point lead despite running for a season-high 313 yards.

Minutes into the fourth is when a fortuitous bounce could very well have saved the Aggies’ postseason hopes — all the while giving Auburn a little taste of its own medicine.

Down by a score, the A&M offense drove to the Auburn 20-yard-line when Kellen Mond’s pass slipped through the fingertips of Tiger linebacker Zakoby McClain and into the waiting arms of tight end Jalen Wydermyer for the score and an Aggie lead they would not relinquish.

Texas A&M v Auburn
No one is sicker over Auburn’s 31-20 loss to Texas A&M Saturday than linebacker Zakoby McClain (9), who had a sure interception slip through his fingers and right into the hands of A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer.

It was a play that often defines dream seasons, albeit at the expense of a single player - in this case, McClain - whose performance should be defined by his career-high 17 tackles, and not the gaffe at the goal line.

Lost in all of this is the record-breaking performance of Mond.

He is never flashy, but lo and behold, he is now just the third quarterback in SEC history (Dak Prescott and Tim Tebow) to have thrown for more than 9,000 yards and run for more than 1,500.

Florida 31 vs. Tennessee 19

The very thing that has gotten the Gators to this point could ultimately be their undoing.

Kyle Trask continued to play out of his skull, throwing for four more touchdowns to increase his nation-leading total to 38, but the Gators were totally inept on the ground, rushing for only 19 yards on 17 carries.

After nine games, Florida now ranks 103rd nationally with an average of just over 126 yards per game rushing. The Gators ran for 196 yards against Ole Miss in the opener but have run for more 100 yards in a game just four times since.

The Gators leading rusher is running back Dameon Pierce, who has 417 yards on 85 attempts this season, and had only five rushes against Tennessee. Behind him is fellow back Malik Davis (196) and then a hodge-podge of wide receivers and quarterbacks, including Trask, whose 78 yards is sixth-best on the team.

Florida vs Tennessee
Thanks to the heroics of quarterback Kyle Trask, running back Dameon Pierce and the Gators’ ground game hasn’t been called upon much this season, but they’ll need to play a much more prominent role if Florida is to upset Alabama for the SEC title.

The Gators’ reliance upon Trask and the record-setting passing game — which also features tight end Kyle Pitts, who had 128 yards receiving against the Vols — has resulted in a third SEC East crown in six years and another conference title matchup with Alabama.

But the Gators have absolutely no shot in Atlanta with a one-trick pony of an offense.

And it’s evident to everyone, especially those following the Gators the closest, who have seen this coming for weeks now, even amid all the historic passing goings-on.

Kentucky 41 vs. South Carolina 18

The best thing to happen all night for South Carolina in Lexington had nothing to do with the game.

Shane Beamer reportedly accepted an offer to become the next South Carolina coach moments after the Gamecocks’ lopsided loss to Kentucky Saturday night, and despite some mixed reactions, there has to be a sigh of relief coming from many among the fanbase.

If not for the hire, then for the fact it serves as unofficial start to the 2021 campaign, a season that cannot possibly be any worse than the one that, for all intents and purposes, ended weeks ago with the firing of Will Muschamp.

South Carolina ended the abbreviated 2020 season with six consecutive losses, all of which were perhaps typical of a program in transition, but what took place against the offensively deficient Wildcats was disappointing all the same.

South Carolina vs Kentucky
South Carolina running back Kevin Harris was one of the few bright spots during an otherwise dreary season for the Gamecocks, which finished with six straight losses, including Saturday’s forgettable shellacking at Kentucky.
Photo by Mark Cornelison/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

The Kentucky offense churned out 492 yards, including 201 passing yards from senior QB Terry Wilson, who threw for 200 or more yards in a game for only the fifth time in his career.

RB Chris Rodriguez (14 carries, 139 yards) was the focal point of the Kentucky running game, and he combined with A.J. Rose to account for a majority of the Wildcats’ 291 yards on the ground.

South Carolina actually ran the ball for more yards than Kentucky, and RB Kevin Harris rushed for more than 200 yards for the second time this season, but the offense was crippled by three lost fumbles and an interception by QB Luke Doty, who completed only 11 passes for 85 yards.