SEC recap (11-20-10)

#10 ALABAMA 63, GEORGIA STATE 7 (Thursday)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama (No. 11 BCS , No. 10 AP) got all the yards, points and big plays, with none of the drama.

That comes next week.

Greg McElroy completed 12 of 13 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns and the Crimson Tide routed fledgling Georgia State 63-7 on Thursday night, then quickly moved on to No. 2 Auburn and the Iron Bowl.

It was the most points for the Crimson Tide (9-2) since a 66-3 win over Vanderbilt in 1979.

"It's pretty much what we expected coming in," said Mark Barron, who had one of the Tide's four interceptions. "The game plan was pretty simple so everybody was able to come out and just play."

The game against a Football Championship Subdivision team competing in its first year of college football was predictably little more than a warmup for next week's showdown with the Tigers. The Panthers (6-5) are led by former Tide coach Bill Curry, who was more accustomed to being on the other side of Bryant-Denny Stadium abuse.

"Alabama has a great football team, I think the best Alabama team I've ever seen," Curry said. "Maybe the best Nick Saban team I've ever seen.

"My fervent desire and what we worked hard to prepare to do was to not be overwhelmed by the whole scene, but we were. We were utterly overwhelmed."

McElroy set an Alabama single-game completion percentage mark of 92.3 with a minimum of 10 attempts. Mark Ingram ran for 86 yards and a touchdown and Julio Jones caught seven passes for 86 yards and two scores before the stars yielded to the backups in the second quarter.

"We wanted to develop habits in this game that would help us in the future," said Saban, the Tide's coach. "I was very pleased with that. We played as many guys as we possibly could."

Next up is a much bigger challenge, with Alabama trying to stop Cam Newton and end the Tigers' national championship hopes.

"Our attention might have been on them a little bit already," McElroy said.

This was just a one-sided, don't-get-anybody-hurt prelude.

The game did feature one big milestone. It was the 20th straight win at Bryant-Denny Stadium, matching the second-longest such streak in school history.

Freshman linebacker C.J. Mosley returned an interception for a touchdown and Brandon Gibson took a blocked punt 22 yards for another score. The Tide came into the game in a five-way tie for the national lead in picks but hadn't had a punt return for a touchdown since Chris Rogers did it against Tulane on Sept. 26, 2008.

Alabama had more players score (eight) than the Panthers' first-down total of seven.

Georgia State's only points came on Albert Wilson's 97-yard kick return in the second quarter, when the Panthers were already down 42-0.

Alabama had 24 first downs and dominated in total yardage, 478-165.

"They didn't really throw the ball the second half," said Georgia State's Kelton Hill, who shares time at quarterback. "They had to run the ball, we just had to stop them. It could have been a lot worse."

Ingram and McElroy each moved up the career charts.

McElroy, who will interview for a Rhodes scholarship on Saturday, passed Mike Shula and Andrew Zow to move into third on Alabama's list with 37 touchdown passes. Ingram tied John Parker Wilson for third with 43 total touchdowns.

The Panthers started the game with Drew Little's 55-yard pass to Emmanuel Ogbuehi, but didn't have another play longer than 12 yards after that. Little finished 4 of 11 for 69 yards.

Alabama was up 42-0 after 25 minutes, with McElroy and Jones playing pitch and catch. Jones caught touchdown passes of 8 and 10 yards. Ingram scored on a fourth-and-goal after getting stuffed on third down from the 1.

Plenty of Tide players got into the act. Mosley had a 41-yard return for his second score on an interception this season. Gibson's return also came in the 28-point second quarter.

Eddie Lacy rushed for 81 yards for Alabama, which held out tailback Trent Richardson for the second straight game with a knee injury. He was hardly needed and Saban said he could have played if needed.

Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron played much of the game, going 7-of-9 passing for 57 yards and a touchdown.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Jordan Reed accounted for four touchdowns, including a pass to quarterback John Brantley, and Florida beat Appalachian State 48-10 on Saturday.

The Gators turned in one of their best offensive performances of the season, snapped a three-game losing streak at home and gave 23 seniors a positive finale in the Swamp.

In a season with nearly as many ups as downs, it didn't matter that it came against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision.

The Gators (7-4) scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, led 35-0 early in the third quarter and enjoyed their third lopsided victory of the season.

Appalachian State (9-2) lost for the second time in three weeks. Nonetheless, the Mountaineers almost certainly will get a bye in the first round of the FCS playoffs that begin next week.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
#5 LSU 43, OLE MISS 36

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Jordan Jefferson passed for a career-high 254 yards, threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and fifth-ranked LSU survived a thrilling upset bid by Mississippi 43-36 on Saturday.

LSU (10-1, 6-1 SEC) trailed 36-35 with 4:57 left when Patrick Peterson returned a kickoff 34 yards to midfield, setting up a game-winning drive that ended with Stevan Ridley's third touchdown rushing.

LSU was heavily favored, but as usual, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt found a way to make the Tigers nervous in a wild, seesaw game that featured 890 yards of offense by the two teams.

Brandon Bolden rushed for 91 yards and two TDs for Ole Miss (4-7, 1-6), which came in needing to win its final two games to be eligible for a bowl.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Marcus Lattimore had three touchdowns and 102 yards rushing by halftime and No. 17 South Carolina scored its most points under coach Steve Spurrier, routing Troy 69-24 Saturday.

The Gamecocks (8-3) won the SEC East last week. With rival Clemson ahead next weekend, many in the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium held their breath wondering if there would be a letdown.

South Carolina and Lattimore showed early that wouldn't happen, scoring on runs of 17, 8 and 5 yards for a 21-0 lead less than 7 minutes in.

That gave Lattimore 19 touchdowns, surpassing Harold Green's 16 for South Carolina's single-season mark. Lattimore also moved one TD away from the SEC freshman record of 20 set by Tennessee's Reggie Cobb in 1987.

Troy (5-5) had five turnovers, all which led to touchdowns.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Arkansas proved it can run the ball, but when the big play needed to be made on Saturday night, the Razorbacks went with old faithful.

Standing with poise as Mississippi State's blitz came hard and fast, Ryan Mallett lofted a perfect 7-yard touchdown pass to Knile Davis in double overtime and Arkansas No. 13 beat Mississippi State (No. 19 BCS, No. 18 AP) 38-31 at Davis Wade Stadium.

Mallett finished with 305 passing yards and three touchdowns, but early in the night, the Razorbacks seemed content to use the quarterback's powerful arm almost exclusively for handoffs.

He finally got going in the third quarter with an 89-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright -- the second-longest in school history. Wright was wide open in the middle of the field, but nearly tripped over his own feet before regaining his balance on his way to the end zone.

Mallett completed 17 of 26 passes, making the big play almost every time the Razorbacks needed him. Arkansas (9-2, 5-2 SEC) won its fifth straight.

"They'd been blitzing a whole bunch," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "The middle was open a lot and we had just missed it. So it was a play-action and Jarius knew he was going to have it in the middle of the field. I'm just glad he kept his feet."

On top of his game-winning touchdown reception, Davis rushed for a career-high 187 yards and two scores, leading the Razorbacks' potent running game. The final catch was sweet redemption since his two fumbles earlier in the game nearly cost them the victory.

"I don't like to fumble," Davis said. "I take that very seriously. But at least we won. It felt good to come up big to help out the team."

The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game in the second overtime, but Chris Relf was hit hard as he tried to complete a fourth-down pass. Relf was 20 of 30 passing for 224 yards and rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown.

The game featured loads of offense, with the two teams combining for 974 yards. Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4) ran 100 offensive plays -- including 70 rushing attempts as its grind-it-out style nearly produced an upset win.

Arkansas had multiple chances to put the game away, but struggled with turnovers and missed opportunities. The Razorbacks took a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter after Mallett's 25-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Williams, and then MSU's Vick Ballard fumbled on the ensuing offensive play, giving Arkansas the ball deep in Bulldogs territory.

But Davis fumbled on the very next play, giving the ball back to MSU, and the Bulldogs avoided the early disaster and rallied in the second quarter for a 21-17 halftime lead.

Arkansas regained its momentum quickly, scoring 14 unanswered points to take a 31-21 lead by early in the fourth quarter. But Mississippi State kept grinding, scoring another touchdown to pull to 31-28, and then Davis' second fumble of the night gave the Bulldogs possession at their own 46-yard line with 1:56 remaining.

MSU drove downfield quickly, and Derek DePasquale booted a 25-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to tie it at 31.

Ballard rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns for Mississippi State, which lost its second straight.

Ballard was outstanding most of the night, but will undoubtedly regret a crucial play in the first overtime, when he appeared headed for a touchdown before being hit at the 2-yard line and fumbling into the end zone, resulting in an Arkansas touchback.

"You just can't do things like that when two top 20 teams are playing and expect to win," MSU coach Dan Mullen said.

The Razorbacks couldn't capitalize, though, as Zach Hocker's 39-yard field goal attempt hooked wide left after three straight rushing attempts failed to move the football.

In the second overtime, the Razorbacks wouldn't need Hocker, relying on Mallett's arm for the win.

"We've grown a lot since last year," Mallett said. "Last year we were a young team, but now we're maturing -- we're just growing up."

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tauren Poole rushed for 99 yards and the game-clinching touchdown and Tennessee kept its slim bowl hopes alive under first-year coach Derek Dooley with a lackluster 24-10 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

Vanderbilt (2-9, 1-7 Southeastern Conference) threatened with a late touchdown, but Tennessee (5-6, 2-5) sent the Commodores to their sixth straight loss when Poole took advantage of a failed onside kick to rip off a 28-yard touchdown run with 1:11 remaining.

Tennessee won its third straight game for the first time since 2007 and must beat Kentucky next Saturday to clinch bowl eligibility.

Tyler Bray threw for 232 yards, but struggled for the first time since taking over as starter three weeks ago with two interceptions. That didn't stop the Volunteers from beating the Commodores for the fifth straight time and 27th of 28 in the series.

As expected in a game featuring the SEC East's two one-win teams, neither squad was particularly sharp.

Bray got off to a fast start, and early on, looked like the fabulous freshman who guided Tennessee to 102 points in wins over Memphis and Mississippi by throwing for 648 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

He completed nine of his first 10 passes and gave the Volunteers a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter with a a 15-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter in the first quarter and a 20-yard scoring pass to Denarius Moore.

He killed Tennessee's next two drives with interceptions, though, then had trouble connecting with his receivers the rest of the way, finishing 16 of 27.

Tennessee also lost a touchdown when defensive tackle Malik Jackson's late hit on Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith wiped out Gerald Williams' interception return for a score.

While the offense struggled to find consistency, the defense took advantage of several Vanderbilt miscues.

The Commodores missed out on points thanks to a missed field goal and a blocked field goal in the first three quarters, then lost a chance to tie the game late when a wide receiver stepped out of bounds before catching a touchdown pass and Jared Funk was intercepted at the goal line a few plays later.

Vanderbilt quarterbacks threw two interceptions and were 20 of 41, continuing a season-long trend of completing less than 50 percent of their passes. Starter Larry Smith was pulled late in the game for Funk after completing just 11 of 27 passes for 76 yards.

Gerald Jones caught six passes for 80 yards for the Volunteers.

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