After Week 12, the SEC Championship game has been decided after Florida pulled off the division-clinching win in Death Valley.
As for the rest of the conference, Tennessee is finally rolling, but it’s too little too late for Butch Jones and his team. On the bright side for Jones, at least his 2016 season hasn’t been near the disaster as it has for Ole Miss.
Jim McElwain gets it done
Despite the adversity, Florida managed to go into Death Valley and secure a win, as well as a trip to Atlanta. This game was originally supposed to be played in Gainesville, but due to rescheduling issues and LSU refusing to give up a home game, the Gators had to travel and play in one of the toughest environments for their shot to clinch the East. In addition, they were without several starters.
Florida didn’t care.
For a program to overcome such obstacles speaks volumes about the program Jim McElwain is building down in Gainesville. It wasn’t pretty, but Florida found a way to win and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
LSU outgained the Gators by over 150 yards, and outside of a 98-yard touchdown pass, Florida struggled to get much of anything going offensively. Yet the defense held strong in red zone situations and forced turnovers at crucial times. So it was rather fitting the game ended on a goal line stand from a defense who has carried Florida thus far.
By relying on their stout defense and getting just enough production out of the offense, the Gators were able to pull out one more ugly victory. This one, crowning them the SEC East division champs.
Red zone miscues may cost Ed Orgeron the full-time job at LSU
LSU totaled 420 yards compared to Florida’s 270. The Tigers converted seven of their 14 third down conversions, compared to the Gators’ four of 13, in addition to holding an eight minute advantage in time of possession. So how did LSU manage to lose this game?
After a touchdown late in the first quarter to make it 7-0, LSU found its way back in the red zone on four more occasions. These four drives resulted in only three points. What happened?
A fumble inside the five, a botched field goal and a goal line stand in the final seconds. That’s how a team blows a game, even if it feels like it controlled the majority of it.
Unfortunately, these miscues could end up costing Ed Orgeron the full-time job. It appeared if Orgeron would have beaten Florida and Texas A&M in the final two weeks, the interim part of Ed Orgeron’s job title would be removed and the job would be his. As high as expectations are at LSU, this loss alone could be the deciding factor on Orgeron’s future in Baton Rouge.
Tennessee’s offense is rollin’ since Jalen Hurd’s departure
Granted the opponents have been rather abysmal defenses (Tennessee Tech, Kentucky and Missouri), since the upset loss to South Carolina, Hurd’s final game with the team, the Vols’ offense looks like an entirely different beast. Since totaling under 300 yards and scoring only 21 points against South Carolina, the Vols are averaging 569 yards and 56 points over the past three games.
The trio of Josh Dobbs, John Kelly and Alvin Kamara have proven to be a much better fit for Mike DeBord’s offense, as the Vols are averaging over 300 rushing yards per contest since the South Carolina loss.
The passing game has seen improvements as well, with Dobbs completing around 70 percent of his passes with a 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the three-game stretch.
Is this due to Hurd’s absence, the poor defenses faced or has the offense just found its groove? It’s probably a combination of the three, but this has been a very fun offense to watch, nonetheless.
2016 continues to be a disaster for Ole Miss
Ole Miss fans were probably hoping that Shea Patterson’s comeback win over Texas A&M a week ago was a sign of a new era, filled with exciting victories. While this still might be the case, the Shea Patterson bandwagon took a hit this past weekend as the Rebels laid an egg with a 38-17 loss to Vanderbilt.
Which is more embarrassing, losing by three scores to Vanderbilt or giving up 38 points to a team that had failed to register 20 in a conference game all season? Honestly, both are equally embarrassing, which seems to be the story of Hugh Freeze’s team this season.
Shea Patterson didn’t play poorly enough to explain the 21-point loss, but he wasn’t able to work the same magic he did a week ago and managed to complete under 50 percent of his passes on the day.
But when the defense allows scoring drives on four of the first five drives in the second half, it’s quite a task to ask a freshman quarterback to lead 20-point comebacks in consecutive weeks. This loss falls on the defense.
As the Rebels head into the final weekend of regular season play, they need a win to become bowl eligible. Who expected this type of season out of Ole Miss? The new year can’t get here soon enough for Hugh Freeze.
Edited by Dalton King
Featured image by Ben Proffitt