SEC: Florida Atlantic Owls

For the first time ever, the SEC had five different teams last season to win 11 or more games.

Two-time defending national champion Alabama won 13. Georgia won 12, and Florida, South Carolina and Texas A&M each won 11.

Obviously, the SEC expanding by two teams helped. Previously, only one other time had as many as four teams in the league won 11 or more games in a season, and that was 2011. LSU won 13 that year, Alabama 12 and Arkansas and South Carolina each 11.

With five SEC teams cracking the top 10 in the preseason coaches' poll, it's possible that five could hit the 11-win mark again this season, although the odds are probably against that happening for a second straight season.

SportsNation

Which of the SEC teams that won 11 or more games last season is most likely to take a step back in 2013?

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    4%
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    30%
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    10%
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    12%
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    44%

Discuss (Total votes: 17,850)

Chances are somebody's going to fall off.

Who's that going to be? We'll let you make the call.

So go to our SportsNation poll and vote on which of the 11-win teams from a year ago is most likely to take a step back this season.

For what it's worth, of the five teams that won 11 or more games last season, Florida probably has the toughest schedule. The Gators have to face Georgia, LSU and South Carolina all away from home. They also have to travel to Miami the second week of the season and face Florida State at home to close the regular season.

Georgia also faces a tough slate, especially with the season opener at Clemson. The Bulldogs, though, get LSU and South Carolina at home and face Florida like they do every year in Jacksonville.

Alabama's schedule is probably the easiest of the five. The Crimson Tide open the season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta, but avoid Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the East. They also get Ole Miss at home for the second straight season, and LSU has to come to Tuscaloosa this season.

Texas A&M's nonconference schedule is the easiest in the league, but the Aggies have to play at Ole Miss and at LSU. The biggie is Alabama at home the third week of the season.

We'll give you a few days to vote in our poll and will review the results next week.

DawgNation links: UGA offense afire

September, 23, 2012
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David Ching writes Insider: The Bulldogs' offense is on a roll, racking up records left and right, and their increasingly effective quarterback Aaron Murray is just the tip of this iceberg.

Ching Insider: 3 Up, 3 Down

Ching Insider: Random Thoughts: UGA vs. Vanderbilt

Radi Nabulsi (Video): Radi Nabulsi talks with Marlon Brown, who had a big game in Georgia’s 48-3 win over Vanderbilt.

Instant Analysis: Alabama 40, FAU 7

September, 22, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Florida Atlantic may have thought Alabama ‘ain’t what people think,’ but the Crimson Tide proved why they are still the No. 1 team in the country with a dominating 40-7 win over the Owls on Saturday.

The offense finished with more than 500 total yards as UA quarterback AJ McCarron was 15-of-25 passing for 212 and three touchdowns, and running back Eddie Lacy carried the ball 15 times for 106 yards in the first half alone.

The late touchdown by Florida Atlantic was the first score the defense had allowed since the season opener against Michigan. Surprisingly, Alabama didn’t force a turnover in the game after forcing five the week before.

It was over when: Florida Atlantic defensive end Cory Henry didn’t do the Owls any favors when he ran his mouth before the game, and it took just three plays for Alabama's McCarron to connect with junior wide receiver Kenny Bell on an 85-yard touchdown pass to put the Tide on the board. There was no coming back from the early blow.

Game ball goes to: Lacy looked like himself again last week in the big win over Arkansas, and he followed it up with another solid performance on Saturday, carrying the ball 15 times for 106 yards in the first half. Although he didn’t get in the end zone, Lacy showed the burst, the power and the elusiveness that makes him great. He even threw in his patented spin move.

Stat of the game: Through three quarters, Alabama’s defense held Florida Atlantic to 41 total yards and one first down. The Owls put together a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter but still finished with just 110 yards in the game.

Unsung hero: Alabama’s offensive line is considered one of the best units in the nation, but it still doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. On Saturday, all four Tide running backs averaged more than 6 yards per carry. As a team, Alabama rushed for 256 yards on 47 carries.

What it means for Alabama: The final score may have seemed a bit surprising given what the Tide did to Arkansas last week, but all three units looked sharp, and more importantly, the game gave Alabama a chance to play some of its reserves and get them game experience. It’s a long season, and it’s important to be prepared in case of injury.

What it means for Florida Atlantic: The Owls never had a chance, but the final score was closer than what many people expected. The positives for Florida Atlantic were ball security and its red zone defense, and it’s something to build on for the future.

TideNation links: Not letting up

September, 21, 2012
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Alex Scarborough writes: Alabama isn’t taking Florida Atlantic lightly despite the game’s billing as a likely blowout.

Scarborough writes: Alabama offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio doesn’t have much experience, but he is excelling and gaining the respect of his teammates.

Read more about Alabama at TideNation.

DawgNation links: Defense rises above

September, 16, 2012
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David Ching writes Insider: Another weekend without some top starters on defense and the Bulldogs were filling holes and juggling adjustments Saturday. But thanks to newbies Jordan Jenkins and Josh Dawson, among other things, the FAU game turned out just fine.

Ching Insider: 3 Up, 3 Down -- The plusses are obvious after Georgia racks up a record-setting 700-yard night on offense.

Ching Insider: Random thoughts on FAU at Georgia

Radi Nabulsi (Video): Aaron Murray interview

Georgia Bulldogs' offense in overdrive

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
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ATHENS, Ga. -- If one of Aaron Murray's teams has had a better night on offense, he can't remember it. Nothing comes close to Murray's Georgia club racking up a school-record 713 yards in Saturday night's 56-20 win against Florida Atlantic.

"As a whole, I think this is the best offensive performance I've ever been part of," said Georgia's quarterback, who completed 14 of 19 passes for a career-high 342 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Although Georgia's defense got off to a shaky start without injured All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones in the lineup, Florida Atlantic's inability to do anything at all against Georgia's offense prevented the Owls (1-2) from staying competitive. The Bulldogs (3-0) scored touchdowns on eight of their first 11 possessions and eventually turned a close game into a rout.

To keep things in perspective, No. 7 Georgia has opened the season 3-0 for the first time since 2008 by beating Missouri and two teams -- Buffalo and Florida Atlantic -- the Bulldogs should have dominated. But they scored 40-plus points against each, marking the first time in school history the Bulldogs have pulled off such a feat in their first three games.

"Overall the effort was outstanding. When guys had a chance to make plays, they made plays. And we had explosive plays, which was good to see," said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who had nine different players responsible for a play that covered at least 24 yards.

Read the rest of the story at DawgNation ...

Instant analysis: Georgia 56, FAU 20

September, 15, 2012
9/15/12
11:16
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video
ATHENS, Ga. -- Although Florida Atlantic (1-2) kept things close for most of the first half, No. 7 Georgia (3-0) efficiently pulled away for a 56-20 win to achieve a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008.


It was over when: A six-touchdown favorite, Georgia led just 28-14 at halftime but scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter -- on a 36-yard Arthur Lynch catch and a 38-yard Todd Gurley run -- to end any thought of an FAU upset.

Game ball goes to: Gurley and Keith Marshall. The two freshmen both rushed for more than 100 yards, marking the first time since last year’s Auburn game (Isaiah Crowell and Carlton Thomas) that two Bulldog backs both broke the 100-yard barrier and the first time since 2004 against Vanderbilt (Danny Ware and Thomas Brown) that two freshmen accomplished the feat. Marshall finished with 10 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Gurley ran 10 times for 111 yards and a score.

Stat of the game: 713. Without injured All-America outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, Georgia’s defense didn’t have its best night. But the offense had no such issues, rolling up 713 yards of total offense in the blowout victory. That broke the school single-game record for total offense -- previously 667 yards -- set in 1993 against Southern Mississippi.

Turning point: It was only a 21-14 game when Georgia’s Michael Bennett caught a 67-yard touchdown pass with 1:34 left in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a two-touchdown halftime lead.

Record performances: In addition to the total offense record, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray set a new career high with 342 passing yards on 14-for-19 passing. Marshall and Gurley’s rushing yardage set new career highs, and Bennett (four catches for 110 yards) and Lynch (3 for 73) both had career-best receiving numbers. Florida Atlantic also set a new mark for most yards allowed, breaking the previous record of 651 against Troy in 2009.

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