The #1 Monday morning recap article for SEC Fans… Pulling no punches as we recap a weekend of SEC football action…
Related: Conference championship schedules
Auburn, Auburn, Auburn
This is why you don’t poison trees. Karma will find you.
One year ago Auburn was terrible. They were 3-9. They didn’t win one game in the SEC. Rival Alabama beat the Tigers 49-0.
One year later, Gus Malzahn has turned Auburn into State Champs and SEC West champs. Through hard work, scheme and wizardry, Auburn has become the kind of team that is habitually pulling off plays that would be considered unbelievably unrealistic if they were the climactic ending to a feel good sports movie. In fact, they probably should make a movie about the last three weeks of Auburn football.
You can call it Saturdays Down South, starring Michael B. Jordan as Nick Marshall. Nelly as Tre Mason (Shut Up! Nelly doesn’t age; he can pull this off!). Ricardo Louis as Ricardo Louis. Bryan Cranston as Nick Saban. Bradley Whitford as Gus Malzahn, and Michelle Beadle in a break through role as Kristi Malzahn. Paul Finebaum will be played by a 7 foot penis in glasses. Aaron Sorkin could write it, and Kathryn Bigelow could direct it. It will be the best movie ever made, win every possible award and still not be a fraction as entertaining or as magical as the real thing.
Michael B. Jordan as
Ricardo Louis as
Bryan Cranston as
Bradley Whitford as
Michelle Beadle as
Auburn is on such a ridiculous run that a Hail Mary game winner against Georgia, which would be the best play in the history of most programs, wasn’t even the team’s best play this month. This is it, Auburn fans. Savor these moments, because it will never get better than this. Auburn probably won’t play for a national championship this season, but these two wins, specifically the miracle win against Alabama, is a better feeling than that of any championship. This game will last for eternity. Chris Davis will never be forgotten by a single person in the state of Alabama. Nobody will ever forget the review that put one second back on the clock to allow Alabama the opportunity to ruin their chance at the first three-peat in modern college football history. Alabama was playing for everything, and Auburn took everything away from them.
It’s the best finish to a game I’ve ever seen.
The man is a coaching legend. He was won four national championships, including three in the last four years. He’s at the top of his game. On Saturday, Nick Saban choked.
I was sitting in a room full of people as Alabama lined up for the field goal and said, “This is crazy. He can’t make a 57-yard field goal. Auburn is more likely to return this for a touchdown than he is to make this kick in this moment.” What happened? I don’t care that freshman Kicker Adam Griffith made a few 60-yarders in practice. This wasn’t practice. In fact, that scenario is the furthest possible thing from practice.
Alabama is excellent at so many facets of football. Kicking field goals is not one of them (see Foster, Cade). Another area they, and every team in the history of football, struggle is when fat guys have to chase fast guys. With their season and history on the line, Saban chose to put everything on the unqualified leg of Griffith. He put the kicker in a position to fail. In doing so, he also put all the hefty dudes blocking for Griffith’s kick in a position to fail.
Auburn couldn’t believe their luck. Malzahn called a timeout and moved Chris Davis into the end zone, so in the extremely likely scenario that Griffith shorts this bomb, he’ll have a legit threat back to return the kick. This didn’t happen by accident, people. Auburn didn’t play for a block, they played for the return. What happened next was rare and special and magical and all that, but it wasn’t an accident. Malzahn put his players in a position to succeed, and Saban put his players in a position to fail.
Afterwards Saban said of the decision, “First time I’ve ever lost a game that way. First time I’ve ever seen a game lost that way.” That might be true, but it’s also a cop out. This is not the first time we’ve seen missed field goals returned 108 plus yards for touchdowns. Here is Antonio Cromartie doing it. Here is Devin Hester doing it. Here is Chris McAlister doing it. Hell, LSU’s Odell Beckham even did it this year! They all look pretty similar, too, don’t they? It’s an insanely fast dude making a few moves on fat guys who can bench press a Chevy Silverado; then, they basically jog into the end zone.
“He (Griffith) didn’t hit it great, but we still should have covered it,” Saban said. “The game shouldn’t have ended that way.” He hit it like he probably would have hit it nine times out of ten. Fifty-seven yard field goals are very, very hard. That kick was a bomb. But Saban is right; the game shouldn’t have ended this way. It should have ended with A.J. McCarron, the quarterback with more experience than maybe any quarterback ever in huge season-defining moments, making plays. It should have ended with T.J. Yeldon running the ball or C.J. Mosley making tackles. Make a young Auburn team beat those guys. Don’t let a guy like Chris Davis, who runs a 4-point-nothing forty run around with guys who run 5-point-everything forties and don’t practice tackling.
Nick Saban is an amazing coach, but this decision was a massive mistake that cost his football team the national championship.
You Showed Me!
Remember how I was talking about how horrible Auburn was last year? Well, Missouri was only slightly less pathetic. They were 5-7 with their only two conference wins coming against lowly Kentucky and Tennessee. They looked the way a lot of SEC fans (and, cough, me, cough) expected them to look. But they were hurt. Like, really hurt. They experienced massive injuries to their offensive line, running back Henry Josey was lost with a knee injury and quarterback James Franklin was, and continues to be, often hobbled. This season, luck broke back in favor of the Tigers. They were healthier, they were deeper (Maty Mauk was huge upgrade in backup quarterback over Corbin Berkstresser), they were better, they were lucky (they played very injured Georgia and Florida teams) and they were pissed off. Missouri played with a chip on their shoulder all season. They were desperate to prove that they are better than the product they put on the field in 2012. Now, they find themselves one win away from an SEC Championship. It’s an incredible turnaround.
Much of the success can be traced back to Franklin and Josey. When these two are healthy and on the field together, Missouri is a dangerous football team. Franklin is ruthlessly efficient as both a runner and a thrower. His decision making of when to do one of those two things keeps defenses off balance. When he throws, he has legit NFL caliber weapons in L’Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham. Josey is a talented and patient runner. His 57-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M was typical of what he’s been doing this season. The defense is solid.
This isn’t the SEC Championship Game anyone predicted, but it is the game we deserve. It will be an awesome game, and if I had to make a pick right now, I’d pick against all the magic of Auburn and take Missouri.
Say, it ain’t so, Johnny
Don’t leave me, Johnny! Don’t ever leave me!!!!
Gamecocks Just Short
Steve Spurrier OWNS Clemson. His Gamecocks own Clemson like his Gators once owned Georgia. Spurrier doesn’t just want to beat rivals; he wants to get their coaches fired. He ran off Ray Goff and Jim Donnan, and he might run off Dabo Sweeney next. South Carolina has won five (FIVE!) straight games against Clemson. It doesn’t matter where the game is played; it doesn’t matter where the teams are ranked; South Carolina is going to roll. It was a fun and statisfying victory, but ultimately it was a disappointing evening. The Gamecocks needed Johnny Football to be Johnny Football against Missouri, and it didn’t happen. Despite beating Missouri in Missouri, the Gamecocks are forced to look back at their inexcusable loss to Tennessee (TENNESSEE?) and dream about what might have been.
Connor Shaw was excellent in his final game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Like James Franklin for Missouri, Shaw is a dual-threat weapon and his decision making all season has been exceptional. This win makes Shaw a perfect 17-0 at home. Shaw lacked the boozy awesomeness of his predecessor, Stephen Garcia, but Shaw provided the results. He will be missed next season.
Egg Bowl Stunner
What Happened to you on Thanksgiving? Well, Dan Mullen and Mississippi State put a bright, shiny bow on the pile of crap that has been their 2013 season. The Bulldogs pulled off their second consecutive OT win in a thriller against rival Ole Miss. It’s the kind of win that makes people forget about things. Dan Mullen needed this win.
Related: Dan Mullen silences critics
This game was a tough watch until late in the fourth quarter. The highlight for me was watching freshman Kicker Evan Sobiesk, whose career long is a 38-yard field goal, try to talk Dan Mullen into letting him attempt a game winning 57 yarder. Sobiesk must have kicked 60 balls into the practice net over a two minute stretch. Mullen told him to go away and instead let quarterback Dak Prescott hit De’Runnya Wilson for a first down (while Sobiesk continued to furiously practice), setting up a much more makeable 38-yarder for Sobiesk as time ran out… Sobiesk missed it, probably due to what doctors call extreme right leg exhaustion. Until the Alabama attempt at a 58-yarder, it was the most surefire miss of the week.
In OT, Mullen decided to try to run it in on 4th and two at the three yard line instead of kicking the field goal, and Prescott rewarded him with a touchdown. A few plays later Bo Wallace was stripped on what looked like a surefire touchdown run, and Mississippi State recovered the ball in the end zone and won the Egg Bowl. Dan Mullen will never die!
It was disappointing loss for Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss, but they showed enough this season to leave fans very excited for 2014.
Florida’s Season is Over
At least Florida fans got a chance to see what a real football team actually looks like in person. Then #2, now #1 Florida State crushed the Gators in front of a Seminole-heavy crowd in Gainesville, 37-7. Moral victories for the Gators include keeping Florida State under 50 and actually scoring a touchdown. Florida’s defense played Jameis Winston and FSU tough in the first half, but like always, ran out of gas as a result of spending 97 percent of the game on the field. It was a fitting end to a disaster of a season that ended with a seven (SEVEN!) game losing streak.
Going forward, Will Muschamp will hang on to this job, despite leading the Gators to their first losing season since 1979, losing to Vanderbilt for the first time in 25 years and losing to a FCS opponent (Georgia Southern) for the first time since the Korean War. The same cannot be said for offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis, the masterminds behind the offense that produced the below graphic. It will be interesting to see who Will Muschamp can bring aboard. The new coordinator will be challenged with improving the 112th ranked offense in the country and saving Will Muschamp’s career.
Plays That Mattered
War Damn Eagle
The Iron Bowl was so ridiculous that nobody will even remember that A.J. McCarron hit Amari Cooper for a F-ing 99 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to take the lead. It’s a total afterthought.
This is Dan Mullen saving his job. Dak Prescott had a great fourth quarter and OT and in a moment when everyone knew he was going to run it, he ran it into the end zone.
Henry Josey takes the ball on 3rd and short and houses it. Not bad for a bunch of nobodies.
What They Meant To Say
“What the hell was I thinking? A.J., Amari, T.J. C.J. all the J’s, all on the bench in the biggest moment of the season. Again, what the hell was I thinking?” – Nick Saban, Head Coach, University of Alabama
“I caught the ball and looked up and all I saw were fat people. It was like being in a Tuscaloosa Wal-Mart on Black Friday. On the other end of the store is a 70 inch Flat Screen for $99 dollars and the only thing in my way are a bunch of diabetics in electric scooters. I got my TV.” – Chris Davis, Legend, Auburn University