Week 8 in the SEC was one full of joy and despair, depending on what colors you don on Saturday afternoons in the fall. You saw the Vanderbilt Commodores beat the #15 Georgia Bulldogs in Nashville, something Vanderbilt head James Franklin needed to back up his words this off-season when he said he felt this was the year Vandy could take down one of the SEC East’s “Big 3″. The SEC East race got turned even more upside down when the #11 South Carolina Gamecocks traveled to Knoxville and fell to the Volunteers in a disappointing loss. In the SEC West, mighty Johnny Manziel and #7 Texas A&M fell to Guz Malazahn and #24 Auburn in College Station, while Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze captured his first signature win against Les Miles and #6 LSU. Week 9 only features three games on Saturday where both teams are in the Southeastern Conference. Here is the preview for this Saturday in the SEC:
Vanderbilt Commodores at #16 Texas A&M – 12:21 pm ET – SEC Network
Texas A&M, in a game where Johnny Manziel got hurt, lost to a surprisingly good Auburn team at home and dropped 9 spots in the poll, going from #7 in the country to #16. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is hopeful Manziel can play vs. Vanderbilt, but he is listed as questionable according to A&M’s injury report. Manziel was amazing again on Saturday, accounting for 454 total yards and four touchdowns. Once again the A&M defense was at fault, surrendering 379 RUSHING yards to Auburn, and they allow 494.4 yards per game, which is sixth-worst nationally. Vanderbilt had an upset of their own, beating #15 Georgia last weekend in Nashville. The Commodores scored 17 unanswered points to beat the ‘Dawgs and achieve Vanderbilt’s first win over a ranked team since beating Auburn on October 4th, 2008. Vanderbilt QB Austyn Carta-Samuels suffered a leg injury in the second quarter and did not return. Freshman Patton Robinette took his place and in Carta-Samuels’ absence, completed 9 of 15 passes for 107 yards and a rushing touchdown. Vanderbilt has lost 11 consecutive road games against Top 25 teams but hopes to break that streak this weekend in College Station.
Tennessee Volunteers at #1 Alabama Crimson Tide – 3:30 pm ET – CBS
At least one thing remained the same in the Southeastern Conference last weekend, Alabama continued to win. Alabama RBs TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake had 18 combined carries for 192 yards in last Saturday’s 52-0 win at home over Arkansas. Alabama had 352 yards rushing last Saturday, which was a season-high for the Crimson Tide. While TJ Yeldon is the star RB for the Tide, sophomore Kenyan Drake has 210 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries over the past two games for Alabama. Tennesse K Michael Palardy kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired to beat #11 South Carolina, 23-21, last weekend in Knoxville. With that win, the Vols won their first game over a ranked opponent in their last 20 meetings with a ranked team, actually last beating #22 South Carolina in Knoxville in 2009. Tennessee QB Justin Worley has struggled much of the season but on Saturday he finished 19 of 34 for 179 yards and a touchdown, while also completing a clutch 3rd and 10 pass to freshman WR Marquez North to set-up Palardy’s game winning field goal. North is a true freshman and was a highly regraded recruit out of Charlotte’s Mallard Creek High School. However, Worley will now face a Crimson Tide defense that gives up just 176.7 passing yards per game. Also, this Alabama defense has only allowed 167 total passing yards in it’s last two games. It could be a rough “Third Saturday in October” for the Volunteers.
#21 South Carolina at #5 Missouri Tigers – 7:30 pm ET – ESPN2
The Gamecocks looked to be the favorite to the SEC East heading into Knoxville last Saturday but thanks to some controversial decisions by coach Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks now face uncertainty, and a a do-or-die game this weekend vs. Missouri. Spurrier said he addressed the team this week saying that they still have a fighting chance to win the SEC but if they can’t beat Missouri on Saturday, their chances are history. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney had the type of game vs. Tennessee that many expected from him each and every Saturday entering the year. Clowney abused the Tennessee offensive line, getting pressure and tackling Tennessee ball carriers in the backfield for losses. QB Connor Shaw suffered a left knee strain and although he will be available to play on Saturday, back-up QB Dylan Thompson will be the Gamecocks’ starter. Missouri’s offense has been off the charts this season and it continued Saturday under back-up QB Matty Mauk, who led eight scoring drives and put up 41 points on a very, very good Florida defense. Missouri has won all seven of it’s games this season by at least 15 points and because of two back-to-back wins over ranked, SEC foes, the Tigers find themselves in the Top 5 in the country. Missouri can boast about their defense, leading the SEC with 23 sacks and Tigers defensive end Michael Sam is tied first nationally with nine sacks. The SEC East is very much on the line for the Gamecocks on Saturday and Missouri can basically lock up a trip to Atlanta if they can beat South Carolina tomorrow night.
Furman at #13 LSU – 7:30 pm ET
Florida Atlantic at #11 Auburn – 7:30 pm ET
Idaho at Ole Miss – 7:30 pm ET