SEC Insider


The Gators are becoming money in the bank when they find themselves deep in opposing territory. Florida has scored on 13 of its last 14 possessions inside the redzone, with 11 of those scores being touchdowns.

And the Gators defense is getting it done as well. Last week in a 52-16 win against Middle Tennessee State, Florida had six quarterback sacks and has 10 sacks in the last two games. The Gators have also forced nine turnovers this season, with nine of those leading to touchdowns.

Florida (4-2, 2-2) -- ranked No. 20 in the latest Associated Press Poll -- visits Mississippi State on Saturday in an 11:30 a.m. game being televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"We have had two good days of practice (this week)," said Florida coach Ron Zook. "We are looking forward to going to Starksville and playing a very dangerous Mississippi State football team."

The Bulldogs are coming off their best day offensively of the season after posting 527 yards in a 33-3 win against Vanderbilt. In the win, freshmen running backs Danny Ware and Thomas Brown became the first Georgia duo since 1992 to both go over 100 yards rushing in the same game, combining for 251 yards on 41 carries against the Commodores.

The 10th-ranked Bulldogs visit Arkansas at 6 p.m. Saturday. The game is being televised nationally on ESPN2.

Georgia leads the all-time series against the Razorbacks, 6-3. But the Bulldogs are 3-0 against Arkansas teams coached by Houston Nutt, with the last win being a 30-3 victory in the 2002 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

Although the Wildcats managed to force a season-best five turnovers last week, they still walked away with a disappointing, 12-7 loss in Lexington against South Carolina as the offense continued to sputter.

Kentucky did put together the longest drive in conference play this season, though, going 94 yards in 23 plays for its only score against the Gamecocks.

The Wildcats (1-5, 0-3) visit No. 3 Auburn on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

"This is a tough game for us to go on the road and play a team that is as solid as Auburn is in every category," said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "We come off of a very difficult emotional loss. This will be a tough road trip for us. This will be a daunting task for us."

The Gamecocks bounced back from a heartbreaking loss against Ole Miss by delivering a gutwrencer of their own, defeating Kentucky, 12-7, with a game-winning touchdown in the game's final minutes.

Senior quarterback Michael Rathe was called off the bench after starter Syvelle Newton sprained an ankle in the second quarter and Rathe came through with the go-ahead 19-yard TD pass to Troy Williamson with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter.

South Carolina (5-2, 3-2) has an open date this week.

"I think whether your team improves or not (during the bye week) is critical," said Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz. "And I think an open date is the best time to do that."

Vols freshman quarterback Erik Ainge appears to be pulling away in the quarterback battle at Tennessee. In last week's 21-17 win at Ole Miss, Ainge threw for 231 yards and one TD while hitting 14-of-30 passes. Ainge now has 1,062 passing yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

No. 11 Tennessee (5-1, 3-1) hosts Alabama Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

"I think you have to give (Alabama) a lot of credit, they have taken the running game to another level," said Vols coach Phillip Fulmer. "They have lost a great player in (quarterback) Brodie Croyle, and they are a very dangerous football team."

Alabama leads the all-time series against the Volunteers, 43-36-7. But Tennessee has won 8 of the past 9 meetings, with the Crimson Tide winning in the two team's last meeting in Knoxville in 2002 (34-14).

The Commodores (1-5, 1-3) get a much-needed break from SEC play this week when Eastern Kentucky makes the trip to Nashville. Vanderbilt was handed a 33-3 defeat at the hands of Georgia last week.

But as much as the Colonels (3-3, 3-1) might appear to be an easy matchup for Vanderbilt, coach Bobby Johnson isn't ready to take anyone lightly.

"We've had a good week of practice so far," Johnson said. "We hope to continue and get ready for an Eastern Kentucky team that will be fired up to come in here and prove that they can beat us."

Freshman Jeff Jennings started at tailback for the Commodores last week, becoming the first true freshman this season to start on offense for Vanderbilt.

The Commodores and Colonels will be meeting for the first time on Saturday.


Taking the place of an injured Ray Hudson, sophomore tailback Kenneth Darby didn't miss a beat. In last week's 27-3 win against Southern Miss, Darby ran 29 times for a career-high 197 yards. The total is the most ever in school history by a player making his first start.

"I think anytime you can run the ball it can help you do a lot of things," said Crimson Tide coach Mike Shula. "It's a big challenge this week, because running the ball on the road is a bit tougher."

Alabama (5-2, 2-2) carries a two-game winning streak into Saturday's game at Tennessee.

"Our guys, after a couple of wins, are starting to get some confidence," Shula said. "This will be our first test, though, going against a big nationally-ranked team on the road."

One record was broken and another was tied last week for the Razorbacks.

Senior running back DeCori Birmingham became the school's all-time leader in return yardage in last week's 38-20 loss at Auburn. Birmingham's 1,622 yards passed former UA coach Ken Hatfield on the top of the list. Senior Matt Jones also tied Mississippi State's John Bond in career rushing yards for a quarterback. Jones ran for 54 yards against the Tigers last week to give him 2,280 for his career. He actually broke the record at one point during the game, but suffered a nine-yard sack to pull him back into a tie with Bond.

Arkansas (3-3, 1-2) plays host to Georgia on Saturday in what will be the Razorbacks 100th game as a member of the SEC. The game is also Homecoming for the Hogs. Arkansas is 48-30-4 in homecoming games all-time, winning five of the last six.

Quarterback Jason Campbell set an Auburn single-game record for completion percentage, going 17-of-19 against Arkansas (89.5 percent). Campbell was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Tigers to a 38-20 win last week against the Razorbacks.

Auburn (7-0, 4-0) moved ahead of Miami to No. 3 in the latest AP Poll and is ranked No. 4 in the first BCS rankings, released on Monday. The Tigers host Kentucky on Saturday and the game will mark the first time coach Tommy Tuberville has coached against the Wildcats since becoming a head coach in the conference.

"We're playing a Kentucky team which had a good chance to win last week," Tuberville said. "I'm looking forward to playing Kentucky. This will be the first time I've seen them in the 10 years I've been in this league. Really looking forward to the Wildcats coming to the Plains."

The Tigers (4-2, 2-2) were off last week and will host Troy Saturday at 8 p.m. The Trojans appeared to be no slouch early on, defeating Missouri 24-14. But since then, losses to New Mexico State (22-18) and last week at Arkansas State (13-9) have taken some shine of what looked to be a promising campaign.

"I think that it's important for our team to focus on how we need to play to be a dominant team on a consistent basis," said LSU coach Nick Saban. "It really is not about who we are playing, but how we approach how we play. It's going to be important that we improve on our last game and this bye week."

LSU is 31-0 in its history against teams from the Sun Belt Conference. Saturday's game will be the first meeting between the Tigers and Trojans.

With two weeks to prepare for Saturday's game against Florida, the Bulldogs (1-5, 0-3) come in healthier than they've been in quite some time.

"We are coming off an open week and it probably is the most healthy we've been," said Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom. "We are starting the second half (of the season) and we are coming and seeing if we can finish strong."

The Bulldogs have not played Florida since 2001. Mississippi State's last win against the Gators was a 47-35 victory in Starksville in 2000, breaking a 72-game win streak against unranked opponents for Florida.

The Rebels played not one, not two, but three different quarterbacks last week against Tennessee. And it still wasn't enough as the Vols escaped Oxford with a 21-17 win.

Sophomore Ethan Flatt started at quarterback while redshirt freshman Robert Lane and junior Michael Spurlock also saw time under center against Tennessee. It was the second game in a row the Rebels have used all three quarterbacks.

Ole Miss has an open date this week before hosting Auburn on Oct. 30.

"We have some improving to do as a team and some healing to do," said coach David Cutcliffe. "We have a real tough test in two weeks against Auburn."

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