SEC Archive: October 2009

LSU gets its shot next week in Tuscaloosa

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
10:54
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Even now, two months into the season, it’s hard to get a read on LSU.

Are the Tigers genuinely a Top 10 team. Are they overrated? Are they a legitimate contender for the SEC championship?

We should have a lot more answers next Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

The Tigers beat up on Tulane 42-0 to warm up for their showdown with Alabama. The winner takes control of the Western Division race.

LSU has sort of been the forgotten team this season in the SEC, but quarterback Jordan Jefferson is getting better and the Tigers’ defense is really starting to hit its stride.

Jefferson threw a pair of touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell against Tulane, and LSU’s defense has now gone four straight games without allowing more than 13 points.

Who are the SEC's best running backs?

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
10:26
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

With Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon rushing for a career-high 252 yards on Saturday night in the 31-24 win over Kentucky, picking the two best running backs in the SEC this season is going to be one tough task.

Alabama's Mark Ingram was already over 1,000 yards before this weekend, but Dixon also went over 1,000 yards with his big night and is right on Ingram's heels now for the SEC rushing lead with an average of 125.1 yards per game.

Auburn's Ben Tate also went over 1,000 yards earlier in the day Saturday in the Tigers' 33-20 win over Ole Miss, and don't count out Tennessee's Montario Hardesty, either.

Adams makes grand return for Hogs

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
9:57
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's great to see Joe Adams back out on the field for Arkansas, a little less than three weeks after he suffered a mild stroke.

He's not exactly easing his way back into things, either. Adams has two touchdown catches of 78 and 10 yards. Arkansas is trying to "hang onto" a 63-20 lead in the fourth quarter over Eastern Michigan.

Mississippi State's Dixon having huge game

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
9:48
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon doesn’t plan on going quietly in the SEC rushing battle.

He entered the Kentucky game with 749 yards, but already has more than 240 yards midway through the fourth quarter and is having a career game. He’s well on his way to going over 1,000 yards in this game, which has turned into a dandy. Mississippi State leads 31-24.

Vols' defense is downright suffocating

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
9:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

With the way Tennessee is playing right now, the Vols are going to be kicking themselves at season’s end over those two home losses to Auburn and UCLA earlier in the season.

Monte Kiffin’s defense has been dominant in the first half against South Carolina, and the Vols lead 21-3 at the half. Tennessee’s defense has now gone 10 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown.

There’s a lot to be impressed with about Tennessee’s defense, too, but the way the Vols’ defensive backs hit, the way they’re always in position and the way they play the ball are all right up there at the top of the list.

Few defenses in the country are playing any better than the Vols right now.

If this keeps up, look for several of the upper-tier bowls in the SEC’s pecking order to be clamoring to get the Vols, maybe the Cotton Bowl, Outback Bowl or even the Capital One Bowl.

Vanderbilt's Norman strikes again

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
9:13
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Chalk up the hat trick for Vanderbilt freshman Warren Norman.

He returned his third kickoff of the season for a touchdown on Saturday night, and the Commodores are hanging in there with Georgia Tech.

Norman also has a touchdown catch against the Yellow Jackets and is having just a terrific freshman season. If I had to vote right now, he would be my Freshman of the Year in the SEC.

Wildcats hanging in there on 'D'

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
8:20
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

You've got to hand it to Kentucky's defense this season. The Wildcats, despite some key injuries, have really hung in there and took a 14-10 lead over Mississippi State on Saturday, thanks in part to two key plays by the defense.

Sam Maxwell had an interception in the end zone to kill a Mississippi State drive, and Randall Burden had a second interception to set up the Wildcats' second touchdown.

Cornerback Trevard Lindley is out for the fourth straight game with an ankle injury, but middle linebacker Micah Johnson is playing. Johnson isn't 100 percent, though, after hurting his knee last week.

If the Wildcats are going to win this game, they're going to have to tackle Anthony Dixon in the second half.

Vols 'black out" Gamecocks to start game

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
8:04
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Only on Halloween could Tennessee get away with wearing black jerseys and orange pants.

But, hey, if they play like they've started against South Carolina, they could probably wear pink and get away with it.

Jonathan Crompton found his fullback, Austin Johnson, wide open down the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown, and the Vols forced their second straight turnover a few minutes later.

Florida's offense looks good enough

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
6:51
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

I’m sure there will be some Florida fans out there that are still not satisfied with the Gators’ offense.

And, no, this isn’t an offense that’s going to generate the highlights the one last season did. The reality is that the Gators spoiled everybody with how good they were last season on offense.

All that said, Florida has looked much more in sync in building a 41-17 lead over Georgia in the fourth quarter.

Tim Tebow has thrown the ball well, and he’s also spread it around to Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Deonte Thompson and David Nelson.

There’s not a Percy Harvin on this team. We’ve all gotten that through our heads by now.

But when the Gators play the way they have Saturday offensively, coupled with their defense and kicking game, that should be plenty good enough for them to be right back in the national championship equation come December.

McCluster's big day doesn't help Rebels

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
6:33
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Obviously, getting Dexter McCluster involved isn’t the end-all when it comes to Ole Miss winning games.

McCluster got 26 touches and rushed for 186 yards on 22 carries, including a 79-yard touchdown. But the Rebels fell behind 31-7 and wound up losing 33-20 to Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The common denominator for the Rebels in all their losses has been a poor outing by junior quarterback Jevan Snead. He threw two more interceptions against the Tigers and now has an SEC-high 13 interceptions on the season.

It wasn’t all on Snead, though, just as it hasn’t been all season. Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman abused Ole Miss left tackle Bradley Sowell, and Snead was under duress much of the game.

But even when he doesn’t get a lot of pressure, he has a habit of locking in on guys, and that’s gotten him in trouble a bunch this season.

Speaking of being in trouble, the Rebels are quickly tumbling down the bowl pecking order.

More on Tebow's touchdown record

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
6:12
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow broke Herschel Walker's SEC rushing touchdown record in the first half of the Georgia game.

He scored a second rushing touchdown in the second half and now has 51 for his career. He's the 27th player in FBS history to reach 50 career rushing touchdowns. Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) has the record with 73. He set the record from 1996-99.

This is the 11th time in Tebow's career that he's rushed for at least two touchdowns and thrown for at least two touchdowns in a game -- but the first time this season.

Testing the Bulldogs' pride

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
5:50
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

We will find out a lot about the direction of the Georgia program based on what happens the rest of the way against Florida.

Trailing 31-10 early in the second half, the Bulldogs look to be teetering. If they melt down and allow this to become a total blowout, that’s a bad sign for Georgia coach Mark Richt and his entire staff.

Richt already has some tough decisions to make about his staff at season’s end, but the issues get a lot worse if the Bulldogs aren’t even competitive in this game.

Remember, they were already embarrassed earlier this season by Tennessee.

Thoughts on Florida-Georgia at the half

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
5:39
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Here are some quick halftime thoughts from the Florida-Georgia game. The Gators lead 24-10:

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow looks like his old self, accounting for 216 of the Gators’ 246 yards. He’s playing his way right back into Heisman Trophy consideration.

For all of Georgia’s problems, the continuing penalty problems are right up there at the top. The frustrating thing for Georgia fans is this has been happening for the last couple of years. The Bulldogs have eight penalties for 84 yards at the break. That’s unacceptable, especially when you need every edge you can get in a game like this.

The Bulldogs’ tackling still doesn’t look as crisp as it needs to be, and the pass defense just isn’t very good.

Georgia quarterback Joe Cox had a stretch where he threw some nice passes, and his 26-yard touchdown toss to Aron White was a gem. But his protection broke down later in the half, and the Gators put a lot more pressure on him.

Tebow’s 23-yard touchdown run right before the end of the half was a great call against that defense. The Bulldogs had nobody in the middle of the field.

On that run, Tebow passed Herschel Walker as the all-time rushing touchdown leader in the SEC with 50.

The Gators have done a nice job of taking away Georgia receiver A.J. Green, who only had two catches in the first half.

Big dose of confidence for Auburn

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
4:03
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Auburn quarterback Chris Todd needed a jolt of confidence. Auburn’s defense needed a jolt of confidence. The entire Auburn program needed a jolt of confidence.

The Tigers (6-3, 3-3) stopped the bleeding Saturday with a 33-20 victory over Ole Miss and snapped their three-game losing streak.

The win was not only big for the Tigers’ confidence, but it really helps their bowl chances. They should get their seventh win next week against Furman at home and then close the season against Georgia and Alabama.

Auburn needs to hang on ... or else

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
3:07
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Just when you thought that Auburn was going to run away from Ole Miss and snap its three-game losing streak, the Rebels jump right back into the game with a 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jesse Grandy and a 79-yard touchdown run by Dexter McCluster.

It’s been one of the crazier games of the season in the SEC, as Auburn blocked the extra point after McCluster’s touchdown and leads 33-20 late in the third quarter.

Of course, it was a 31-7 lead for Auburn until the two big plays by Ole Miss.

The Tigers’ defense had been outstanding until McCluster’s touchdown run, one of their better performances of the season on that side of the ball.

This is a game Auburn simply can’t blow, or the Tigers’ season may officially be over.

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