SEC Runs Over ACC in Rivalry Weekend
Sometimes rivalry games bring out the best in teams and sometimes they bring out the worst in teams. The best was squarely in the SEC's corner this weekend with three wins over the ACC, two in upsets.
The day started off with South Carolina beating up on Clemson 34-17. The Tigers were never able to get CJ Spiller on track after he returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. The senior had just 22 yards rushing on the day with his longest gain only five yards.
I thought the Gamecocks had to establish a running game and boy did they ever. South Carolina finished the game with 223 yards rushing. Where has that been all year?
The Gamecocks dominated the line of scrimmage and that was the difference.
That would be a theme for rivalry weekend.
Clemson must regroup quickly for the ACC Championship Game next Saturday. This week is very important as this upcoming game presents a cross roads for Dabo Swinney's program. A loss brings an 8-5 season with defeats in your two biggest games. A win gets you to a BCS bowl and a possible 10 win season.
Which way will the Tigers go?
FSU came up short, way short in spoiling Tim Tebow's Senior Day. The guy who may go down as college football's greatest ever had five touchdowns and passed Herschel Walker's record for total rushing touchdowns in an SEC career.
The Gators were also four for four on red zone conversions, one of their best outings all year.
I thought the Seminoles had to establish a run game to have shot in this one, but they failed miserably with only 83 yards on the day.
Florida now turns their attention to next week's SEC Championship Game after winning the state championship. Florida State is left to ponder what bowl game they will be in at 6-6 and what to do with Bobby Bowden, who has said publicly he wants to come back.
Georgia took a page right out of Georgia Tech's playbook, out rushing the Yellow Jackets 339 to 205. The Bulldogs dominated the line of scrimmage, especially on offense. There is that theme again.
By establishing the run, UGA was able to control the clock and keep GT's offense off the field, just like I thought they had to. Georgia regained state pride by doing it the way Vince Dooley would have.
GA Tech QB Josh Nesbitt was injured in the first quarter, sitting out a few series before returning from an ankle injury. His backup Jaybo Shaw threw an interception in his second series. UGA also recovered a Nesbitt fumble later in the game.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over just once and won the turnover margin for just the second time this season after coming into the game ranked 116th in the nation. Both of those game were wins too.
For Georgia Tech, they face Clemson next week for the ACC Championship and like the Tigers that game is big for the future of the program. Paul Johnson's club still has a chance at a conference title, a 12 win season, and a top ten finish by finishing strong.
A loss in Tampa will put a very sour note on what looked like a special season.
Was it me or did Alabama look like they were in quicksand on defense in the first quarter against Auburn? It looked like the Tide didn't come out with the same passion as the Tigers and it almost cost Nick Saban's club a shot at the national title.
But Alabama recovered and got the late drive they needed spearheaded by a guy who had kind of fallen of the map during the season in Julio Jones.
The passes completed on that last drive by QB Greg McElroy has to give 'Bama fans confidence heading into next week against Florida.
Auburn finishes 7-5 in a season that started out great but ended on a down slide. Recruiting will be very important this off season for Gene Chizik to be able to rebuild this program into an SEC power again.
Mississippi State made the Egg Bowl their bowl game, taking down Ole Miss for the third straight time in Starkville. Dan Mullen pressed to his team all offseason how big the game against the Rebels was and he followed it up with a win. You have to like that for the future of the Bulldogs.
Kentucky came up short again against Tennessee, extending their losing streak to the Vols to 25 straight, the longest active streak in FBS. Randall Cobb had a good game, but Montario Hardesty had a great game rushing for 179 to lead UT to an OT win.
Looks like the Liberty or Music City Bowl may be the destination for the Wildcats while the Vols could be headed to the Outback or Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
The ACC wasn't able to beat the SEC, but they were able to beat up on themselves.
Virginia Tech took UVA behind the woodshed and sent Al Groh packing. If I am Virginia, the two guys at the top of my list are Al Golden and Mike London.
Golden took Temple to nine wins this season after taking over a program in danger of losing FBS status a few years ago.
London has the Richmond Spiders back in the FCS playoffs after winning it all last season. I am believer that if you can win in FCS, you can win in FBS and London knows the state of Virginia for recruiting.
The NC State Wolfpack were led by QB Russell Wilson in an upset of North Carolina beating the Tar Heels for the third consecutive season. This should be a nice boost for NC State in an otherwise disappointing season and may convince Wilson who is a baseball prospect to come back for another season.
The Tar Heels miss out on the possibility of a 10 win season, which would have been their first since Mack Brown left.
This past weekend was not the greatest for my picks going 7-5 Straight Up and 4-8 Against the Spread. I was taken down by the home underdogs just like those SEC lines took down the ACC.
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