SEC football notes

Going into the last weekend of the regular season, every SEC team has at least the same record or better than last year except Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were 7-3 last year heading into the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. This year, State is 3-7. The teams with the biggest improvement thus far are Tennessee and Alabama.

MOST IMPROVED TEAMS IN THE SEC

Both Alabama and Tennessee have two-game turnarounds this season. Heading into the 11th game last season, the Vols were 7-3 and the Tide were 3-7. This season, Tennessee is 9-1 and Alabama is 5-5.

Eastern Division DIVISIONAL TIE-BREAKER SCENARIOS

  • • Florida wins the division with a win over Tennessee.
  • • Tennessee wins the division with a win over Florida.
  • • All other teams in the Eastern Division are out of contention for the division title.

Western Division DIVISIONAL TIE-BREAKER SCENARIOS

  • • Auburn wins the division with a win over LSU.
  • • LSU wins the division with a win over Auburn.
  • • All other teams in the Western Division are out of contention for the division title.

MAJORITY OF SEC TEAMS RANKED DURING 2001 SEASON

Nine of the SEC's 12 teams have been ranked for at least one week in either the Associated Press or the USA Today/ESPN weekly rankings. Three SEC teams - Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee - have been ranked each week of the season. Below is a look at which teams were ranked (week number in parenthesis):
  • Alabama (1)
  • Arkansas (13)
  • Auburn (8-9-11-12-13-14)
  • Florida (1-2-3/4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14)
  • Georgia (2-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14)
  • LSU (1-2-3/4-5-6-14)
  • Miss. State (1-2-3/4-5)
  • South Carolina (1-2-3/4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14)
  • Tennessee (1-2-3/4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14)

SEC - THE MOST COMPETITIVE CONFERENCE IN THE NATION

SEC vs. SEC games are the most competitive in the nation. After 13 weeks, 45 SEC vs. SEC games have an average scoring margin of 14.98 points per contest. 35.5 percent of the SEC's 45 games (16-of-45) have been decided by five-points-or-less and over half (23-of-45) have been decided by 10 points or less. Only 15 SEC games have been decided by more than 16 points. The Sun Belt Conference has the best percentage of close games at 38.1 percent by five points or less (8-of-21).

COMING DOWN TO THE LAST WEEKEND

Never before, in the nine previous years of the Southeastern Conference Football Championship Game, has the race for both divisional representatives come down to the final weekend of the regular season. In fact, in seven of the previous nine games, both spots in the game were decided before the Thanksgiving weekend. Both games this week were originally scheduled for Sept. 15. Below is an in-depth look at how each year's races for the SEC Championship Game looked coming down the stretch:
  • 1992 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida and Georgia (6-2 in the SEC) were co-champions in the Eastern Division. The Gators won the tie-breaker by virtue of a 26-24 win over the Bulldogs earlier in the season. Alabama (8-0) was the outright Western Division champion, even with a game against Auburn in the final weekend, which the Tide won, 17-0.
  • 1993 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida won the Eastern Division and Alabama won the Western Division. The Gators finished 1/2 game ahead of Tennessee (UT tied Alabama, 17-17). Alabama, at 5-2-1, finished two games ahead second-place Arkansas. Auburn was 8-0 in the SEC, but was ineligible for the conference title.
  • 1994 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida won the Eastern Division, finishing SEC play at 7-1, two games ahead of Tennessee. Alabama won the Western Division with an 8-0 SEC mark, three games ahead of Miss. State.
  • 1995 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida won the Eastern Division, finishing SEC play at 8-0, one game ahead of Tennessee. Arkansas won the Western Division with a 6-2 SEC mark, one game ahead of Auburn and Alabama.
  • 1996 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida won the Eastern Division, finishing SEC play at 8-0, one game ahead of Tennessee. Alabama won the Western Division with a 6-2 SEC mark, tying LSU. However, the Tide defeated the Tigers, 26-0, earlier in the year to win the tie-breaker.
  • 1997 - Eastern Division race not finalized until after the final weekend. Tennessee defeated Vanderbilt, 17-10, to win the division on the final weekend. Tennessee, at 7-1 in the SEC, finished one game ahead of Georgia and Florida. Auburn had won the Western Division with a 6-2 SEC mark, tying LSU. However, Auburn defeated LSU, 31-28, earlier in the year to win the tie-breaker.
  • 1998 - Western Division race not finalized until after the final weekend. Miss. State defeated Ole Miss, 28-6, on Thanksgiving night, to win the division on the final weekend. Arkansas and Miss. State finished in a tie for the division title. However, Miss. State defeated Arkansas, 22-21, earlier that season to win the tie-breaker. Arkansas defeated LSU 41-14 on the final weekend, but when State defeated Ole Miss, the chase for the Championship Game had been won. Tennessee had clinched the Eastern Division before the final weekend and defeated Vanderbilt, 41-0, to finished the SEC at 8-0.
  • 1999 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida won the Eastern Division, finishing SEC play at 7-1, one game ahead of Tennessee. Alabama won the Western Division with a 7-1 SEC mark, one game ahead of Miss. State.
  • 2000 - Both races decided before final weekend. Florida won the Eastern Division, finishing SEC play at 7-1, two games ahead of South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Auburn won the Western Division with a 6-2 SEC mark, one game ahead of LSU. LSU lost to Arkansas in the final weekend, 14-3. Even if the Tigers would have beaten the Razorbacks, Auburn would have won the tie-breaker over LSU due to a 34-17 win earlier in the season.
  • 2001 - Both races go down to the final weekend. The winner of the Florida-Tennessee game represents the Eastern Division and the winner of the Auburn-LSU game represents the Western Division.

• SOUTHERN MISS at ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE •

6 p.m. (C) • Thu., Nov. 29 • ESPN2 • Legion Field (83,091) • Birmingham

SOUTHERN MISS (6-3, 4-2 C-USA)

  • Head Coach: Jeff Bower (Southern Miss, ‘75) Overall/Yrs: 73-50-1 (.593)/ 11th • USM/Yrs: 73-50-1 (.593)/ 11th
  • 2001 Schedule: 9/1-OKLAHOMA STATE (W, 17-9); 9/22 -at Louisiana-Lafayette (W, 35-10); 9/29-UAB (W, 3-0); 10/6-at Memphis (L, 17-22); 10/16-at Louisville (L, 14-24); 10/27-HOUSTON (W, 58-14); 11/3-at Penn State (L, 20-38); 11/17-TULANE (W, 59-6); 11/23-at East Carolina (W, 28-21); 11/29-at Alabama; 12/7-TCU.
  • Conference: Conference USA
  • National Rankings: N/A
  • Formations: Offense - Multiple/One-Back • Defense - 4-3
  • Internet Web Address: www.southernmiss.com

Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Rushing: Sr. RB Dawayne Woods [124 for 503 yards; 4.1 avg.; 9 TDs]
  • Passing: Sr. QB Jeff Kelly [171-289-7; 59.2 pct.; 2,150 yards; 12 TDs; 130.52 rating) [45]
  • Receptions: Jr. WR Leroy Handy [45 for 645 yards; 14.3 avg.; 1 TD] [51]
  • Scoring: Sr. RB Dawayne Woods [12 TDs; 72 points] [31]
  • Tackles: So. LB Rod Davis [82 (55-27); 8 TFL (-41); 3 Sacks (-30)]

ALABAMA (5-5, 4-4 SEC)

  • Head Coach: Dennis Franchione (Pittsburg State, ‘73)
  • Overall/Yrs: 143-70-2 (.670)/19th • UA/Yrs: 5-5 (.500)/ 1st
  • National Rankings: N/A
  • Formations: Offense - Multiple • Defense - Pressing
  • Internet Web Address: www.rolltide.com

Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Rushing: So. RB Santonio Beard [77 for 633 yards; 8.2 avg.; 4 TDs] (3) [57]
  • Passing Efficiency: Jr. QB Tyler Watts [94-172-3; 54.65 pct.; 1,325 yards; 10 TDs; 135.06 rating] (7) [36]
  • Receptions: Sr. FL Freddie Milons [34 for 583 yards; 17.15 avg.; 2 TDs] (T15)
  • Scoring: Sr. PK Neal Thomas [0 TD; 15-20 FGs; 31-31 PATs; 76 points] (4) [39]
  • Tackles: Jr. MLB Saleem Rasheed [103 (67-36); 9 TFL (-29); 2 Sacks (-15)]

Series Notes:

  • Teams have met every year since 1992 ...
  • Last season's 21-0 USM win broke eight-game Tide on-the-field win streak in series ...
  • It was first time USM had shutout the Tide in the series ...
  • Record: UA leads, 29-6-2
  • Alabama leads 12-2-1 in on-the-field meetings at Legion Field.
  • Last game: USM, 21-0 (9/16/2000 at Birmingham)

ALABAMA NOTES

  • Alabama selected permanent team captains last week: TE Terry Jones, Jr.; MLB Saleem Rasheed; QB Andrew Zow; QB Tyler Watts; DT Jarret Johnson ...
  • Two players getting their first start of the season made major contributions to the Tide's win over Auburn --- RB Santonio Beard rushed for 199 yards on 20 carries and 2 TDs and QB Andrew Zow completed 22-of-29 for 221 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions ...
  • Zow has now set the Alabama career passing yardage record (5,893) ...
  • RB Ahmaad Galloway also rushed for 127 yards marking the first time since Nov. 15, 1996 (vs. Miss. State) that Alabama had two rushers gain more than 100 yards in the same game.

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