What happened to you on Saturday: Week 14

jm

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.

mbj
Michael B. Jordan as
Nick Marshall
nelly
Nelly as
Tre Mason
ricardo
Ricardo Louis as
Ricardo Louis
cranston
Bryan Cranston as
Nick Saban
bradley
Bradley Whitford as
Gus Malzahn
The Crossover - Season 1
Michelle Beadle as
Kristi Malzahn

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.

Related: 19 biggest takeaways from a WILD Rivalry Week

Saban Choked

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!!!!

jm

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.

Related: Will Muschamp is wasting no time making changes

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.

gators

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

“Five in a row?  South Carolina Law states that I now get the rights to Dabo’s wife.”  - Steve Spurrier, Head Coach, University of South Carolina 

REFERENCES

COMMENTS

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  • I like how you discount Mizzous victories over Georgia and Florida by mentioning the fact that they were injured while casually overlooking the fact that Mizzou was also without Franklin and Gaines…
    @TrueMIZTigers

    • Even when someone tips their cap to Mizzou, some of y’all’s fans only notice that the hat could have been bigger and the tip more pronounced. In all of that complimenting, the one thing you notice is the fact that UGA and UF’s injuries when y’all played them are noted?

      • because the story you want to believe and keep repeating is fiction. When you get it right nobody will complain. It’s so easy.

      • TrueTexasTiger has a point, the SEC fans at first didn’t appear to want Mizzou in the conference. The fans then said “injuries are not an excuse, the SEC is a real man’s football conference”. Fast forward to 2013, injuries are now an excuse? The other SEC fan realize that Mizzou did not have their starting QB for 4 games this season.

        Any rate, we are glad to be out of the Bevo 12. Hopefully Mizzou has earned the respect of the other SEC teams that we CAN compete in the best conference in the country.

      • Dial back the rhetoric! Just want to say that, as a Mizzou alum living in Orlando, I’ve had only congratulations and handshakes from the day Mizzou entered the SEC, be it Wildcats, Vols, Dawgs, Gamecocks, Auburn Tigers, Gators, and yes, even ‘Bama Elephants. I have to admit, I was expecting something else,and was really impressed with everyone looking forward to us being in the conference. Even got a lot of compliments on our basketball prowess! #ProudtobeintheSEC!!!

    • My man TrueTex just likes to be mad. Dude, the article is clearly praising Mizzou, I think EVERYONE in the conference thinks y’all deserve to be there. And you do! I hate that my Gamecocks will be at home, especially after pulling a win out in y’alls house, but I feel like you and your compatriots just look for reasons to be mad at the writers. YES! “Mizzou played with a chip on their shoulder,” but you don’t have to be so angry.

      So just relax, cheer your team on in the title, I’ll certainly be pulling for you, and one thing we can say for sure, is that “The Tigers,” will be SEC Champions. — Stay Cocky my friends.

      • I thought it was a great article. The Mizzou fans are pissed off from last year and remember the comments. Most of us I believe appreciate the support and rapport of the past couple of weeks. We love the conference. 1) it the best football, programs and fans in the world 2) Texas isn’t in it 3. Our MIZ ZOU chant isn’t criticized by someone going ,walk, Chalk, Jayhawk. We just have some unfinished business against a great Auburn team . No Excuses, Finish!

      • Thanks Toss, when everbodies injuries count the same nobody will be “mad”.

        • They do all count the same. I for one defended Mizzou’s talent last year when y’all were riddled with injuries, the same way I defend Florida this year. However, I think we’ve beaten that fact to a pulp. I think ESPECIALLY now, people are conceding your point that Mizzou was an injured giant last year. The only reason I even noted it, was because you seldom find an article where a Mizzou fan isn’t complaining about something. Do you want the writer to go “Well remember Mizzou was injured last year…[Insert the bulk of the story?]” because that feels like what y’all want. All I’m saying is “WE HEARD YOU MIZZOU,” please stop belaboring the point! — GO COCKS! and Go Mizzou in the Championship!

    • Why is it impossible to please Mizzou fans?

  • The Saban critique is very fair and very deserved. The most detail oriented coach in college football made a huge assumption that what did happen wouldn’t happen…for some unknown reason. Oh, and Bryan Cranston as Nick Saban —->EPIC. But even better —-> Ricardo Louis as Ricardo Louis.

    • Come on, Saban loses a game and the critics crawl out of the woodwork to suggest that they know better than Saban. Wallace suggest that this is such a common play that we all should have seen it coming. To prove his point he cites three NFL moments that span the past 11 years! Yeah, the ol’ return a short field goal for touchdown play. A classic.
      This stuff isn’t about coaches, it’s about players. Cade Foster was unbelievably bad and it forced Saban into a tough spot. AJ took an entire quarter to get settled down, and he’s a senior. The defense gave up an unusually huge amount of rushing yards. That’s why Bama lost, not because Saban sent the field goal unit onto the field.

      • Hey, I wasn’t the only one who questioned that kid making that kick, Gus Malzahn had the same thought. He made a adjustment and beat Saban. Winning a lot doesn’t mean you’re always right. He’s still the best coach in college football but that was a bad moment.

      • Not disagreeing with anything you pose; however, critiquing Saban is quite fair and justifiable. You can also critique Saban because of how tight his players were. Unbelievably tight. But, yeah, he’s not kicking field goals, and he’s not throwing or catching. And he also wasn’t out there trying to get lined up as Auburn was pushing tempo to the MAX. I get where you’re going, and that’s justifiable, too.

        • Can’t really go too far down that road though. Because he also wasn’t on the field playing in any of those national title games either. But he gets the credit for that does he not?

        • I think it’s fine to criticize coaches, but in this particular game it was quite obvious that Foster was the main problem. To ignore his horrific night and blame the coach is just misleading. I never blame kickers when it’s a one kick situation, but when your kicker goes 0-3 then that’s a problem that no coach can solve.
          Wes, I give Saban credit for building the strongest program in the country, but when the game begins, it’s up to the players. I always give the players credit for the wins. A coach can be a brilliant play caller/strategist, but if the players don’t execute at a high level then it doesn’t matter.

        • @Alatide: Of course I’m not blaming it solely on Nick Saban. Foster was terrible. The defense also nearly gave up 300 yards rushing. It’s just crazy to see the game’s best coach assume so much with 1 second left.

  • Trying the kick may have been a bad idea, but Saban was in a tough spot and rolled the dice. Foster just took the night off and I think Saban was concerned that if we went into OT it would have been kicker against kicker and we would have lost anyways so he gave the kid a shot for all the marbles.
    I was more upset when we went for it on 4th down and didn’t get it instead of trying a field goal. Again, a tough spot for Saban because Foster was in bad shape, but my opinion is that you just have to let the kicker keep trying and work it out.
    I think possibly the worst coaching call of the night came from Malzahn who went for it on 4th down deep in his own territory and didn’t get it. That was unbelievably stupid, but not a person is criticizing him for it. Why? Because he won. Same with the 57 yarder at the end; if Griffith had hit it we would have been speaking differently about the decision, wouldn’t we?

  • Well, if Auburn somehow squeaks into the BCS title game (and man oh man, I hope they don’t), at least the miracle play in the Iron Bowl will be thought of and played a lot more than the miracle play against UGA. It kills me that Auburn gets away with the Cam Newton payment scandal and karma’s answer is the luckiest F’ing season in recent memory, maybe in the last few decades, FOR ANYONE. Meanwhile, Richt and the nice guys continue to finish last (figuratively, of course).

    • Hey Dawg, don’t you think its past time to drop the Cam Newton crap. Nothing ever happened and that’s that. Pull up your big boy panties and dry your eyes. One day you’ll get a real coach and just maybe get a championship if you get the right one.

      • It is a fact sCam Newtons’ Father shopped him around to the highest bidder. That was never disputed. Only through a loop hole in the NCAA did he keep his eligibility.

      • “Nothing ever happened…” wow. And that, folks, is how Auburn gets it done. Do whatever it takes, look the other way, and say “nothing ever happened.” For those saying “move on” you apparently don’t understand the concept of karma. It’s based on being punished or rewarded for PAST incidents. Anyway, I realize karma is not reality, so no point in discussing further.

    • Man, it seems UGA fans will whine about anything and everything this time of year. I agree with Aubie Guy. It’s time to move on.

      • Oof, had no dog in the SEC Championship Game, but Aubieguy1973 has definitely made a Mizzou fan out of me.

        • I’m going to agree with you there, I was indifferent, but Mizzou all the way. And Michigan State and Duke for that matter (though the Duke win is wildly unlikely)

        • Like we care what a UF fan thinks….thanks for taking Muschamp, since he adamant about not being the coach at AU. We dodged a bullet.

      • Eh, maybe I’m whining, maybe I’m venting. Tomay-to, tomah-to. Just get sick of seeing my team on the short end of the stick year in and year out. Sue me for commenting on it in a comment section.

    • Let it go!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your coach is no saint by the way, we all don’t call you guys the thUGAs for nothing! Every time I try to give the UGA fans the benefit of the doubt, there is always one that reminds me why I can’t stand them….thanks for the reminding me. As far as luck, rushing for almost 300 yards on Alabama is not luck, that is athleticism.

      • Alabama came out tight, missed four field goals, dropped a number of big passes(one for a td), failed to convert a fourth down, allowed almost 300 yards rushing and it still took a last second miracle play for AU to win. AU played a great game and made the plays when they needed to.

      • Anybody who thinks Richt doesn’t have a strict disciplinary policy doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about (a guy named Nick Marshall comes to mind). The other reason you see so many UGA players arrested is because the Athens PD is not “all in” like the police departments of other schools. They actually arrest our players for stupid violations (see John Atkins being arrested for driving on a suspended license while driving to the DMV to get the problem corrected).

  • Will! My man! Glad to see you say it finally. Been waiting for it for two years. Thanks!

  • Don’t worry about mentioning Vanderbilt…we’ll just sit over here in the corner like always. The difference between now and “like always” is that we’ve got EIGHT DAMN WINS. With a possibility of 9 in about a month!!! 17-8 over the last two seasons!!! And still no damn respect! But don’t worry about mentioning us, we’re used to it.

  • The Iron Bowl was bananas! Forever on, teams will have a FG “Cover Team” for low percentage game winning attempts. Not mad at the attempt, but u gotta counter and substitute a few linemen with some stout FBs DEs LBs and TEs who can still hold the line and cover. Kudos to Malzahn, for coachin up a plan and for his return unit settin that wall. I’ve never seen a such a 180 degree turn of events. “Just when you think its safe and secure BOOM!- a sudden destruction” Saban got whooped on that play, wrong personnel on the field. Linemen and Kickers?!?…..the guys who place last everyday in practice sprints? C’mon man. How often do you see such a lop-sided matchup in athletic or Olympic sports? Basically OL and a kicker vs LBs and DBs??? Also,sad to see he sold out his players, by sayin “but they still should have covered”. Own it Nick, you let a lot of your seniors, players and fans down. All that said, I still respect Saban, but Malzahn micro-managed the situation obviously better. Great game by Auburn, great game period. I felt that earthquake way up here in St. Louis.

    On to Mizzou, we have two more goals to reach… a SEC title and NC. For all you band-wagon Mizzou fans, doubters, haters, ankle-biters and of course Gayhawks just tuning in, here’s a lil list of our preseason goals: 1. undefeated non-conf- check. 2. win the divisional games-check. 3.win-cross divisional games –check. 4. Take 70 east to 64 east to 57 south to 24 east to 75 south… straight to the Georgia Dome-CHECK.5. Win the SEC-Pending 6. Shot at a National Championship- Pending. Remember when LaDamian Washington was met with laughter and hecklers back in Hoover over the summer when he said Mizzou would win 11 games in the regular season… Wow! Let that marinate for a second….. and we ain’t done yet. Btw. thanks fellow SEC fans for letting us show you, how we do, in Mizzou. With a little investigation, you will find a quiet efficient NFL factory via player development of 2-3 star guys. Take your time and read our roster, then marvel at the product on the field. That’s the Mizzou way. That’s Gary Pinkel. This is an incredible conference for so many reasons! Happy to be here, plan on stayin a while, and hopefully raise some trophies in the SEC from here on out!

  • This blog is much better than ESPN or CBSsports……thanks…..go Mizzou!

  • Mr. Wallace,
    Love reading your comments BUT when u compare a football game to real life with this STUPID COMMENT about diabetes on scooters: “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
    NOT FUNNY. NOT FUNNY AT ALL..

  • This is the best one of the year, wallace. you’re like a fine wine, you get better as the season progresses.