SEC: Georgia Southern Eagles

What we learned in the SEC: Week 13

November, 24, 2013
We saw an overtime win by Mississippi State over Arkansas on Saturday, a last-minute win by Vanderbilt over Tennessee and a shocking win by FCS team Georgia Southern over traditional power Florida. In short, it was just another wacky Saturday in the SEC.

Here are five things we learned around the league:

Division races going down to the wire: Both the Eastern and Western Division races will go down to the final weekend. Missouri's 24-10 win over Ole Miss means the Tigers can clinch the East -- in its second season in the conference -- by beating Texas A&M Saturday in Columbia. If the Tigers lose, South Carolina will win the division by virtue of its head-to-head win against Mizzou. In the West, Saturday's Iron Bowl will settle the division when Alabama visits Auburn. Right now the unbeaten Crimson Tide have the edge, but the one-loss Tigers would win the tiebreaker if they can upset the Tide.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertJohnny Manziel struggled against LSU on Saturday, just as he did against the Tigers last year.
Miles has Manziel's number: Johnny Manziel has run circles around almost everyone in his two seasons as Texas A&M's quarterback, but the defending Heisman Trophy winner hasn't fared well in two starts against LSU. In Saturday's 34-10 loss to the Tigers, Manziel finished 16-for-41 for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Les Miles' Tigers have limited Manziel to a 21.5 Total QBR in two games, and Saturday's loss was the first time he did not complete at least 50 percent of his passes.

Vandy's rabbit's foot still working: Vanderbilt backup quarterback Patton Robinette faked a jump pass to freeze a defender and ran for the game-winning touchdown against rival Tennessee with 16 seconds to play. This after Tennessee nearly stopped Commodores quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels on fourth-and-inches, only to have the initial call that he was stopped short overturned on replay. Vandy now has back-to-back wins over its in-state rival for the first time since a run of six consecutive wins over the Volunteers from 1920 to '26. The Commodores (7-4, 4-4 SEC) have won four of their last five games after sitting at 3-3 early in the season.

Murray's starting streak could end: Georgia laid a vicious 59-17 beating on Kentucky a week after a devastating loss at Auburn, but an injury to Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray put a damper on senior night. He injured his left knee in the second quarter and did not return, and coach Mark Richt said afterward that the SEC's all-time leading passer is unlikely to play Saturday against Georgia Tech. Murray has started every game of his college career so far -- he matched David Greene's school record for career starts by a non-kicker (52) -- but the Bulldogs might have to rely on backup Hutson Mason against the rival Yellow Jackets.

More mayhem for Florida: Will Muschamp's job status at Florida already seemed to be in jeopardy -- despite recent assurances to the contrary from his bosses -- even before Saturday's 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern. But the Gators fell to 4-7 with Saturday's defeat -- the program's first to a current FCS program since losing against Villanova in 1946 -- even though Georgia Southern didn't complete any of its three passes. The Eagles ran for 429 yards and held off a final Florida drive to pull the upset. That doesn't bode well for the embattled coaching staff. Florida will fail to play in a bowl game for the first time since 1990 -- Steve Spurrier's first season in Gainesville when the Gators were ineligible to go to a bowl because they were on probation.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia piled up the yards in a much easier second half to pull away for a 45-14 victory against Georgia Southern.

It was over when: Georgia scored a touchdown on its first two possessions of the second half -- on touchdown passes from Aaron Murray to Chris Conley and Tavarres King -- to push a 17-7 halftime deficit to a comfortable 31-7 advantage.

Game ball goes to: Mike Bobo and Todd Grantham. Georgia’s coordinators helped turn Saturday’s game into a rout after an ugly first half. Bobo recognized that Georgia Southern’s defense had no chance of stopping Murray and the Bulldogs’ passing game, and he turned them loose in a 21-point third quarter. Grantham’s defense adjusted to Georgia Southern’s running game admirably, allowing just 31 rushing yards in the third quarter as the Bulldogs took control.

Stat of the game: 302. Georgia Southern’s flexbone offense gave Georgia’s defense all kinds of early problems, racking up 149 rushing yards on 29 carries in the first half. The Bulldogs tightened up afterward, although the Eagles finished with 302 total rushing yards. Of their 153 second-half rushing yards, 122 came in the fourth quarter after Georgia had already put away the win.

Turning point: Georgia led 10-7 with 1:12 left in the first half when Georgia Southern left guard Trevor McBurnett was flagged for a chop block that canceled out Dominique Swope’srun to the Georgia 5. Alex Hanks was instead forced to attempt a 39-yard field goal -- which he missed -- and Georgia drove 78 yards, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Murray to Malcolm Mitchell with 4 seconds left, to go up 17-7 at halftime.

What it means: No. 5 Georgia (10-1) bounced back from a slow start and got valuable practice for defending Georgia Tech’s highly similar flexbone rushing attack next Saturday.