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SEC Recap: Week Six

Dan Mullen puts up his dukes, Georgia and Kentucky put us to sleep, and the latest edition of a historic West rivalry ends with no natural disaster

Missouri vs Florida
Florida head coach Dan Mullen may or may not have instigated a brawl between two college football programs on Saturday, but he definitely dressed up as Darth Vader during his postgame press conference.

Georgia 14 vs. Kentucky 3

We start this week’s recap off with a bang.

If you took the under and Kentucky to cover, you woke up Sunday feeling slightly better having watched this buzzkill of a game.

Let’s count the ways in which it were so:

· The teams combined for 26 completions

· Neither quarterback threw for more than 131 yards

· Kentucky averaged 3.6 yards per completion

· The teams combined for 575 yards, more than 350 of which were on the ground

I’m never one to turn down a little ground-and-pound to remind us that traditional run-based offense is still feasible, but not at the expense of putting me to sleep.

Then again, what should we have expected?

Georgia QB Stetson Bennett (9-of-13 for 131 yards and two picks) — a milk-toast version of Jake Fromm, who was never really relied upon to light it up for the Bulldogs through the air — was without his two top wideouts Saturday, but even still his starting job could be in jeopardy following the win in Lexington.

To the rescue was Georgia’s running game, surprisingly only the 5th-best in the league, led by Zamir White’s career-high 136 yards.

Georgia v Kentucky
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett didn’t need to do much of this Saturday at Kentucky, against whom he attempted only 13 passes thanks to a dominant Bulldog running game.

Kentucky’s rushing attack, bested in the SEC by only Ole Miss, showed up, too, but it was not nearly enough to compensate for the shortcomings of sophomore ‘Cats QB Joey Gatewood, whose first career start was punctuated by a 43.2 quarterback rating.

In all fairness to Gatewood, though, that QBR is still nearly 40 points higher than that posted by Terry Wilson against Mizzou last week.

Alabama 41 vs. Mississippi State 0

Gushing about the proficiency of the ‘Bama offense on this recap has been glaringly repetitive, and I could sorely use a boring, old-school-SEC 7-3 win from the Tide to break up the monotony.

The season-ending injury to Jaylen Waddle last week has people wondering whether his absence will adversely affect aspirations in Tuscaloosa, but for one night, at least, the offense cashed in its recruiting chips and didn’t miss a beat.

Alabama can plug-and-play better than any team in the country. You don’t have to be a fan of stars, recruiting rankings, and whatnot, but they tell a story.

And that story is that, even without the services of Waddle, a future first-round draft pick, the Tide can still steamroll an opponent with ease.

Waddle’s replacement, sophomore Slade Bolden — a former four-star recruit — has filled the void nicely, catching six balls for more than 100 yards in the last two games, but he wasn’t even close to being the star Saturday.

That honor goes to senior DeVonta Smith, another can’t-miss first-rounder, who seems like he’s been at Alabama for 10 years now. Smith, now tied with Amari Cooper for the most touchdown receptions in school history, caught 11 passes for 203 yards, marking the fourth time in his storied career he’s gone for 200-plus yards in a game.

Perhaps lost amid the shutout drubbing at Bryant-Denny is how absolutely dreadful the Mississippi State offense has been going on a month now.

In the last four games, all losses, the Bulldogs have scored 30 points and on Saturday gained only 200 yards, the 113th time the Tide defense has held an opponent under 300 with Nick Saban as coach.

Florida 41 vs. Missouri 17

The excellent work done by fellow RMN staffers has broken down Saturday night’s Royal Rumble in Gainesville far better than I ever could have — including rumination from national media whether there should be a forthcoming suspension for Gators coach Dan Mullen, who did his best WWE impersonation following the brawl — so I’ll stick with the boring stuff.

Mizzou got whipped. Plain and simple. Mama told little Eli there would be days like this.

It happened a month ago at Tennessee.

The last two games, though, had us believe that it would definitely not happen against Florida, particularly at Ben Griffin Hill Stadium, where the Tigers have won in dominant fashion two of the last three visits prior to yesterday.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Florida
Florida Gators wide receiver Kadarius Toney eluded what seemed like 25 tackles within a span of seven yards to find his way to the end zone for the first of two scores in the first half against Mizzou — right before all hell broke loose.

The defense missed a boatload of tackles. Please see the first of Kadarius Toney’s two touchdowns from Kyle Trask to close out the first half, which signaled the beginning of the end but no doubt also served as the spark that ignited the full-blown explosion that would erupt before the intermission.

The offensive line, thought to be a major weakness prior to the season, performed admirably for much of four games. The fifth game was a disaster.

At this point, I’m convinced Connor Bazelak will never looked rattled, but that doesn’t mean he’s never shaken. He threw the ball 40 times against the Gators and was sacked three times and hurried an additional six. He made poor throws. The receivers didn’t help.

Much of this speaks to the inefficiency of the running game that was so impressive just one week ago against Kentucky. Mizzou ran for only 40 yards, most of which came from Larry Rountree III, who carried the ball 14 times, tied for a season low.

Meanwhile, Tyler Badie only had three touches, which is inconceivable.

Let’s put this one to bed, please. Another week off — albeit this one scheduled — is coming.

And so is Georgia.

Auburn 48 vs. LSU 11

Hours before this one, on ESPN’s College Game Day, reporter Gene Wojciechowski used Halloween as the perfect backdrop to chronicle how eerie specific moments in time between these two programs have played a role in the SEC West rivalry.

There was the four-alarm fire that raged just beyond the concourses of Jordan-Hare Stadium during the game in 1996. Play was not halted. Water from the stadium had to be used to extinguish the blaze as Auburn fans looked on from above.

Nowhere its current capacity of 102,321, Tiger Stadium was the site of a man-made earthquake as just over 79,000 fans erupted in reaction to unranked LSU’s game-winning touchdown in a 7-6 win over No. 4 Auburn in 1988.

And this is in no way to disparage neither 2007 nor 2016.

By comparison, Saturday was neither memorable nor noteworthy for the casual college football fan.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Auburn
Auburn’s runaway 48-11 throttling of LSU Saturday was not highlighted by any fires, earthquakes, cigars, or last-minute heroics ... just boring dominance.

To Auburn fans, it was by far the Tigers’ best performance of the season, highlighted by a career-high 81 rushing yards from Bo Nix, who also threw for 300 yards for just the third time in his career.

The other side of the coin is, obviously, much different. LSU has given up an average of 33.6 points per game, which is better than only Vanderbilt and Ole Miss in the conference. The offense, on Saturday, was just as scary, scrapping together only three points for a majority of the game despite possessing the ball for nearly the same amount of time as Auburn.

That lead to a busy day for LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg, who at 30 years young is college football’s second-oldest player and was at the ripe ol’ age of six when that fire broke out.

Now, I feel like I’m 90.

Texas A&M 42 vs. Arkansas 31

Aggie QB Kellen Mond on Saturday passed Johnny Manziel for most total yards in program history with a touchdown throw to Jaylen Wydermyer late in the third quarter.

The pass also sunk the hopes of the Razorbacks, who actually completed more passes, rushed for more yardage, and out-gained No. 8 Texas A&M but are now winless in nine attempts in the series since the Aggies joined the SEC.

The A&M winning streak is the longest-running in the storied rivalry, which dates back to the programs’ days in the old Southwest Conference.

Conceivably, the Aggies, fueled by a swan song by Mond — whose completion percentage, yards per attempt, and quarterback rating are all at career highs — appear primed to be able to skate into the final third of the regular season, but a finale at Auburn could be tricky.

Plus, you have to circle that Week 2 loss to ‘Bama, which could ultimately cost Jimbo Fisher’s team a chance at the SEC title.

Ole Miss 54 vs. Vanderbilt 21

The poor boys over at Anchor of Gold hit the nail on the head when they lamented the following:

“Not every day that you can give up 409 yards … in the first half.”

No, it’s definitely not.

But hey, when you face the league’s second-leading passer and surrender completions on each of his first 19 attempts, bylines like that are inevitable … and justified.

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, who I think we all assumed would be asked to hand off at least some limited duties to John Rhys Plumlee in Lane Kiffin’s multi-faceted offense, is going off.

In six games this season, Corral has already blown well past his yardage and touchdown outputs from all of last season.

His completion streak and touchdowns in a game (6) Saturday were school records, and he became the first player in SEC history to finish a game with six passing touchdowns and a 90-percent completion percentage.