Sunday, September 22, 2002

The first big SEC clash of the year (apolgies to Auburn/Vanderbilt) was won by Florida, as the Gators smashed Tennessee 30-13. The game was played in soggy conditions in Knoxville, and many seemed to think that the wet field would play into the Vols' hands. As it was, the Vols' hands were apparently the problem, as they fumbled eight times, seven in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, Florida scored 24 in the second, taking command and putting Tennessee in a hole it couldn't crawl out of. They did cut it to 24-13, but the Gators answered quickly. Either Miami is a very good team, or the Gators figured something out in the last two weeks, or this might be Georgia's year in the SEC East. Rex Grossman had a big game, throwing for 324 yards and maybe finding the sort of link with Taylor Jacobs (nine catches for 141 yards) he once had with Jabar Gaffney.

Auburn easily handled Mississippi State, 42-14, on Thursday night in Starkville. Tommy Tuberville, who learned sportsmanship from Jimmy Johnson, had Auburn attempt a fake fieldgoal with a 21-point lead and five minutes to go; it failed but State was offsides. Then Tuberville denied he was running up the score. Carnell Williams ran for over 100 yards, and State turned the ball over five times to Auburn's none. Ole Miss' defense, a strength in the team's first two games, has looked porous of late. But they were playing Vandy this week in the only other SEC game, and so managed to pull it out, 45-38. The game was tied until 3:12 to go. The Commodores had two 100-yard rushers and got a moral victory, I suppose, and they have to be satisfied with moral victories in Nashville.

In non-SEC play, Alabama bested Southern Miss, 20-7 in a game in which the Golden Eagles were held to 145 total yards and no offensive touchdowns (their lone score came on an interception return). Alabama lost their starting tailback and team captain Ahmaad Galloway, probably for the year, with torn knee ligaments, and quarterback Tyler Watts left the game with a sprained foot on the first series. Alabama's deep at running back (third-stringer Shaud Williams ran for over 100 yards; Alabama was well over 300 as a team), but Galloway is a key contributor, particularly in short yardage and power situations. Kentucky continued to impress, beating Middle Tennessee State 44-22. Yes, it's Middle Tennessee, but neither Alabama nor Tennessee managed 44 points against the Blue Raiders, who have to be happy the SEC will start picking on its own from here on in. The Wildcats are 4-0, one of only two SEC teams (with Georgia) still unblemished. But next week they have to go to Florida and we'll see what they're really made of.

Georgia toyed with Northwestern State (apparently Northwestern Louisiana) before settling for a 45-7 win. With DJ Shockley nursing an injury, David Greene was left the quarterback position to himself and excelled, throwing four touchdown passes. It was against a I-AA opponent, however; we'll see how he does against real competition in two weeks in Tuscaloosa. South Carolina licked its wounds of the last two weeks and evened its record at 2-2 by beating Temple 42-21. (Does anyone have a convincing explanation of why Temple plays big-time college football? I didn't think so.) The Owls actually played the Gamecocks even through the first quarter of the Bird Bowl before South Carolina pulled away. Corey Jenkins had the quarterback position to himself finally and responded by going 18-23 for 198 yards. Like David Greene, we'll see how he does against a top opponent eventually, but they have Vandy next so it will be awhile.


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