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SEC Recap: Week Eight

This COVID edition of the Recap ponders Florida’s title hopes, waits for Lane Kiffin’s clipboard to land, and smiles at the good gestures that occurred in Lexington

Vanderbilt vs Kentucky
Fans and players alike experienced Kentucky’s 38-35 win over Vanderbilt Saturday with heavy hearts, days after the passing of Wildcats assistant coach John Schlarman.
Photo by Mark Cornelison/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Florida 63 vs. Arkansas 35

Kyle Trask, the cat can ball, man.

Praise of Trask has been trumpeted plenty in this space — see here and here — but maybe it hasn’t been blared loudly enough.

The Gators quarterback is singlehandedly steering his team toward a berth in the SEC title game and a possible shot at the national championship. On Saturday, he bested program legend Danny Wuerffel, becoming the first quarterback in Florida history to throw for six or more touchdowns in a game twice in one season.

Yes, Trask for threw for six scores against the Razorbacks, who looked overmatched for the first time since a season-opening loss to Georgia. He now leads the nation with 28 touchdown passes. That’s three more than he had all of last season. And he’s done it in nearly 150 fewer attempts.

Arkansas vs Florida
QB Kyle Trask (11) and the Gators are rolling up points on everyone, and the offensive prowess might be just powerful enough to land Florida its first national championship since 2008.

The Gators are a legitimate threat to roll up points on anyone — they’ve scored at least 38 in each game this season and now rank fifth nationally in total offense — but they continue to get no help from the defense.

The unit is ranked 67th nationally, giving up 30 points per game, which is poor no matter how you slice it, even during a season in which stats are asterisked because of COVID.

Florida’s defensive deficiencies may cost them at some point, but if they do, it’ll likely coincide with Trask not playing out of his head, which he continues to do at a record-setting pace.

Ole Miss 59 vs. South Carolina 42

Ole Miss did on Saturday what Ole Miss does.

They scored a lot of points. They surrendered a lot of points.

On any given week, the formula can be good or bad for the Rebels. Against the Gamecocks, the offense was obscenely good, which was good enough to cover for a defense that was equally offensive.

Having given up more than 300 yards on the ground, including 243 from South Carolina sophomore running back Kevin Harris, Ole Miss probably should’ve been down by much more than four points to begin the fourth quarter, but perhaps that speaks more to the Gamecock’s own woes.

In any event, the final 15 minutes is when the Rebel offense hit hyperdrive, fueling an impressive ending to a historic night in Oxford.

Backed up on his own nine with just over 12 minutes remaining, QB Matt Corral hit an absolutely wide-open Elijah Moore for a 91-yard score, the longest pass play in program history, prompting Lane Kiffin to whip his clipboard a good 30 feet into the air before doing the old-man jog down the sideline and punctuating the celebration with an even older-man fist pump.

The score to Moore accounted for a mere fraction of the Rebels’ 708 yards — the third-highest total in program history and the most ever in an SEC game — 513 of which came from Corral through the air, the second-most in program history.

And so, the see-saw season continues for Kiffin and Ole Miss, who have now won two in a row for the first time this season after losing three straight.

As impressive as the offensive showing was against South Carolina, both sides of the ball will get a chance to make a real impression next week at No. 5 Texas A&M.

Kentucky 38 vs. Vanderbilt 35

A moment of pure class on behalf of both programs in Lexington Saturday reminded us all that even in a year of pure and unadulterated hell, there’s still some decency in this world.

Kentucky players wore a black sticker on their helmets against Vanderbilt to honor offensive line coach John Schlarman, who succumbed Thursday to a two-year bout with cancer. He was just 45 years of age.

QB Terry Wilson lead the offense onto the field to begin the game with a 10-man formation highlighted by a void at left guard, the same position played by Schlarman when he was an all-SEC performer for the Wildcats in the late ‘90s.

It was a moving tribute made all the better by Derek Mason and the Commodores, who declined the delay of game penalty the Wildcats self-imposed to honor Schlarman.

Once play started, Kentucky paid further tribute to its fallen coach by doing what it does best: running the ball. True to form, Wilson needed only throw for just over 100 yards, thanks to the ground game, which amassed 308 yards behind a line that featured left tackle Landon Young, who wore Schlarman’s old jersey number 65.

Vandy got nearly 200 rushing yards of its own, as well as a stellar day from freshman QB Ken Seals (21-of-32, 225 yards, 2 TD), but the narrow defeat puts the Commodores in very real danger of finishing the season winless.

The win for Kentucky was emotional, for sure, but it was also historic. The win was the 47th overall for coach Mark Stoops, tying the mark of Fran Curci for second-most in school history, and his 34th at Kroger Field, one more than the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant.