SEC Roundup: Auburn Survives, Aggies Upset, Alabama Earns Another Tough Win
By Peter Santo
Auburn 23, Vanderbilt 16
It was supposed to be an easy Saturday on The Plains, a week to settle in and get an easy win before heading back on the road for another tough SEC matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Instead it was anything but, as the Tigers were forced to turn to backup QB John Franklin III after Sean White was ruled out with an undisclosed injury. With typical SEC pushover Vanderbilt in town, the Tigers should have been able to cruise to an easy win. Instead, just as they have done all year, the Commodores took a solid SEC team down to the wire. This time they fell just short, as Auburn survived 23-16.
It was clear that Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn’t have very much confidence in Franklin, as the backup QB threw just four passes in the first half. While he had success on the ground, the Tigers struggled on offense, and trailed 13-10 at halftime.
With his team needing a comeback victory, Sean White showed his toughness when his team needed him the most, starting the second half at clearly less than 100 percent and leading his team to the win.
The Tiger offense did just enough, White threw for 109 yards and a touchdown in the second half, while Kamryn Pettway added 175 yards on the ground in another huge game.
The defense also came up big when needed, with Vanderbilt driving looking to tie the game late, Josh Holsey came up with a game-sealing interception for the second straight week.
It’s on to Georgia, and the Tigers will need to bring their A game to earn another tough SEC road win.
Mississippi State 35, Texas A&M 28
The Aggies came into this game controversially ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, and were looking to roll into Starksville and make a statement.
However it was the host Bulldogs who made a statement on their home turf, knocking off the fourth ranked Aggies for their best win of the season.
The Bulldogs’ rushing attack was huge as Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns while Aeris Williams added 140 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.
Mississippi State put up 35 points on a vaunted Aggie defense led by potential number one pick Myles Garrett and all put knocked A&M out of consideration for the College Football Playoff.
Alabama 10, LSU 0
Another low-scoring installment in one of the best rivalries in college football took place on Saturday night in Baton Rouge. The Tide were looking to cement their place at number one while LSU was looking to earn a statement win for Interim Head Coach Ed Orgeron.
The Tide simply have Leonard Fournette’s number, as he could not get the ground game going for the Tigers. The game was scoreless through three quarters, and someone was going to have to make a play and earn their team a clutch win.
That clutch performer turned out to be Alabama QB Jalen Hurts, whose running ability gives Nick Saban an offensive dimension he’s never had at Alabama.
Hurts took over the game in the fourth quarter, leading the Tide down the field for the game’s only touchdown and converting key third downs with his feet to milk the clock down and keep LSU from coming back. He finished with 114 yards on the ground and the game’s only touchdown.
The difference in the game however was coaching, and Ed Orgeron is simply not on the level of Nick Saban. Orgeron was forced to burn multiple second half timeouts when his team could not line up in time to get the snap off, and was very questionable with his play-calling in the second half.
Orgeron’s offense could barely move the ball the whole game, but coach O decides to go deep, and his quarterback gets hit and throws a backbreaking interception. Why would you go deep when you have the best running back in the country and can barely move the ball as it is.
Another example of why coaching matters big time in college football. This win should allow the Tide to enter the Iron Bowl undefeated. Alabama hosts Mississippi State next week.