This is the CBS Local SEC Football Report. Every week, this space will recap the results and top performances from the Southeastern Conference and look ahead to key match-ups the following week.
Bulldogs Rout Gators
Heading into this year’s edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, Georgia had lost three straight games to Florida. But, the ‘Dawgs were undefeated this season behind a dominant running game and defense while Florida sat at just .500 (3-3) with an offense that had been struggling all year long. Those trends both continued Saturday afternoon at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville as the Bulldogs rolled the Gators 42-7. The rout started early as on the first three Florida possessions, the Gators went three-and-out, interception, three-and-out. Each of those was followed by Georgia touchdowns, with the exclamation point being a 74-yard Sony Michel sprint to the house.
Following that, it was 21-0 and things settled down for the rest of the first half. Following a Jake Fromm interception and a six-play, 17-yard stalled Florida drive, Michel flashed his speed once more.
Michel finished the day with just six carries totaling 137 yards and the two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Georgia defense gave up just 239 yards of offense, only 66 yards through the air while forcing a pair of Feleipe Franks turnovers. All told, the Bulldogs kept themselves in position to be in the Top 4 of the first College Football Playoff rankings when they’re released on Tuesday night.
Jim McElwain Fired
As a result of that game, reports surfaced on Saturday night and into the day Sunday that Florida was looking into “parting ways” with their head coach. Then, the news came later in the day Sunday that it was official, McElwain was out. McElwain lasted just two and half years with the Gators, compiling a 22-12 record with a pair of SEC title game appearances. On first glance, the firing might seem rash considering that record. As with everything though, the situation is a bit more complicated.
Early last week at a press conference, McElwain told reporters that he and his players had received death threats due to the way the season was going to that point. However, when the university’s administration met with the coach to discuss the matter further, he reportedly declined to provide any further details. That, combined with the result on Saturday and the fact that Florida’s offense ranks 110th in scoring, 112th in total offense, and 110th in passing all look like factors into the decision. Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon will take over as the interim head coach.
Other Notable Performances
Kyle Shurmur threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns yet Vanderbilt still lost to South Carolina 34-27 in Columbia on Saturday. That’s largely due to the fact that the Gamecocks rushed for 212 yards and three rushing touchdowns against the Commodores. South Carolina is now 6-2 on the season and 4-2 in the SEC and they’ve now got a big test when they travel to Athens for a date with the Bulldogs.
Nick Fitzgerald totaled 246 yards and three touchdowns as Mississippi State rolled Texas A&M 35-14 in College Station. The Bulldogs do-it-all QB has led the team to a 6-2 record and a 3-2 mark in conference play as they head into a tuneup game with UMass before a trip to Tuscaloosa on November 11th.
Kentucky outlasted Tennessee 29-26 thanks to a big day from running back Benny Shell. Shell ran 27 times for 180 yards with three touchdowns and a two point conversion in the Wildcats win. He had 33 yards on six carries on Kentucky’s game-winning, 10-play 72-yard drive that ate up 4:10 of game time late in the fourth quarter.
LSU, Alabama, and Auburn were off this week.
Biggest Game(s): South Carolina @ #2 Georgia, Saturday 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time (CBS); #19 LSU @ #1 Alabama, Saturday 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (CBS)
A doubleheader treat for SEC fans this Saturday afternoon as the top two teams in the conference host a pair of scrappy challengers within their own divisions. The Bulldogs get the Gamecocks and QB Jake Bentley, who has played well in his sophomore season, completing 61.4 percent with 1,759 yards and 13 touchdowns with just four interceptions. The Gamecocks run defense has been solid this year, ranking 40th in the nation allowing just 137.6 yards per game, but the Georgia running game is a whole different challenge. This should be a good first half leading into the prime time event in Tuscaloosa.
LSU is suddenly back in the SEC West race after three straight wins over Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss. Now, they make the trip to Tuscaloosa trying to slay the giant that is Nick Saban’s Alabama program. The Tigers are on a six-game losing streak in this series, though they did play the Tide tough last year, losing 10-0 in Baton Rouge. The problem remains the same for LSU. Can they throw the ball? Because Alabama will load up to stop Derrius Guice and dare Danny Etling to beat them. If Etling can make a few big plays, this could be interesting.
Keep an eye on: #16 Auburn at Texas A&M, Saturday 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time
The Tigers need to win here to remain in the race for the SEC West title. They’ve already got one loss on the year to LSU, and the Tigers play the Tide this week. If LSU loses and then Auburn wins out, Gus Malzahn’s crew can book their trip to Atlanta. But, they’ll have to beat Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies this weekend to keep that hope alive.
For the diehards: UMass @ #21 Mississippi State, Florida @ Missouri, Western Kentucky @ Vanderbilt, Ole Miss @ Kentucky, Coastal Carolina @ Arkansas, Southern Miss @ Tennessee