SEC East: What we learned in Week 12
It wasn’t the most resounding week for the SEC East, which limped its way to a 4-3 record against some not-so-stellar competition. You know it’s a down Saturday when Kentucky is the division’s big winner for the week.
Here’s what we learned about each team in the SEC East during Week 12 play.
Week 12 Result: Defeated Florida Atlantic, 20-14 (OT)
What we learned: Florida might be the SEC East champs, but needing overtime to dispose of Florida Atlantic doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the Gators. The Treon Harris-led Florida offense managed less than 100 yards through the game’s first 38 minutes before waking up. They finished with just 252 yards of total offense. Saturday’s win over the Owls marks the eighth time since 1996 — and second time in three weeks — that the Gators have won a game while accruing fewer than 15 first downs. Kelvin Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown run to start Florida’s scoring against FAU broke a streak of 18 consecutive drives without finding the end zone. Florida has one week, albeit against Florida State, to turn around its suddenly anemic offense before the Gators play in the SEC Championship Game.
Week 12 Result: Defeated Georgia Southern, 23-17 (OT)
What we learned: Georgia was able to survive itself in Week 12 against Georgia Southern, despite two fumbles lost by wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Malcolm Mitchell — one of which was returned 62 yards by Caleb Williams for an Eagles touchdown. Georgia is one of six teams in the nation with a zero in the turnover margin department, having grabbed as many turnovers (18) as they’ve coughed up. Defensively, Mark Richt’s squad stepped up against the nation’s No. 1 rushing offense, holding Georgia Southern to 233 yards on the ground, about 145 yards fewer than its season average.
Week 12 Result: Defeated Charlotte, 58-10
What we learned: Sometimes you just need to face the Charlotte 49ers to fix what ails you. Kentucky broke a four-game losing skid by drubbing Charlotte in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Mark Stoops’ squad now has won 27 games in a row when leading after the third quarter, the longest active streak in the SEC. Kentucky got the job done with its emerging two-headed monster of a run game in JoJo Kemp (165 yards, 3 TDs) and Stanley “Boom” Williams (140, 2 TDS). It’s the first time since 2010 that two Wildcat running backs rushed for 140 or more yards. The win pulls Kentucky within one win of bowl eligibility, needing to beat rival Louisville in the season finale to taste the postseason.
Week 12 Result: Lost to Tennessee, 19-8
What we learned: The momentum could only carry Missouri so far, as the Tigers dropped the final home game under head coach Gary Pinkel, which was cruelly the coldest game during the coach’s 15-year tenure. Once again, the Tigers defense did its part, limiting Tennessee to 89 total passing yards (337 total). But the Mizzou offense continues to struggle and earned just 88 rushing yards as a team on the ground (223 total). Despite its limitations on offense, Mizzou can still become bowl eligible with a win in its season finale against Arkansas in Fayetteville.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Week 12 Result: Lost to The Citadel, 23-22
What we learned: It’s going to take one of the greatest upsets of the college football season for South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott to garner consideration for the Gamecocks’ full-time role. Beating Clemson in the final game of the year might be the only way the South Carolina faithful will forgive Elliott and the Gamecocks for losing to The Citadel. South Carolina finally got the offensive output it’s been desperate for all season with 439 total yards, including 367 via the air from quarterback Perry Orth. But failing to put away The Citadel is just about rock bottom for the Gamecocks.
Week 12 Result: Defeated Missouri, 19-8
What we learned: The Tennessee defense has stepped up of late as Butch Jones’ squad now owns a four-game winning streak. The Volunteers held opponents scoreless for eight consecutive quarters before Missouri finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter of their Week 12 matchup. Running back Jalen Hurd also had a big day, gaining 151 yards. It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win and the Vols now have seven of them against four losses. Hurd becomes the first true sophomore to rush for more than 1,000 yards (1,102) in program history.
Week 12 Result: Lost to Texas A&M, 25-0
What we learned: Just when you think Vanderbilt is on the uptick and can potentially challenge for bowl eligibility late in the season, you get a reminder that the Commodores are still the Commodores. That great defense can only carry a bad offense so far. It was business as usual for the Vandy defense, which held the Aggies to 6 of 17 on third down while registering 9.0 tackles-for-loss and 3.0 sacks. The Commodores even got production from their running game, as Ralph Webb’s 79 yards put him over 1,000 for year — making him the fifth Commodore in program history to do so. The disconnect lies in the Vanderbilt passing game, which managed just 23 yards against Texas A&M between quarterbacks and Kyle Shurmur (19 yards) and Johnny McCrary (4). There’s only so much a defense can do when its offense isn’t capable of doing its part.