Here at Clear Your Schedule, we try to keep this a light space, where we can break down the key storylines to a particular week’s spin around the sun, but still have fun doing so.
Before we proceed with this week’s edition, though, I urge you to read this. Let’s be honest, friends. Whether you’re a Georgia fan, an Auburn fan or whichever team holds your allegiance, we all have this story somewhere within us. We don’t just figure sports out on our own. They all start with a father, a brother, a mother, a sister, a friend or someone we hold dear who shows us what it means to truly love something. This is as good of a love story as it gets.
Gosh, it’s getting a little dusty in here. Pardon me while I take care of that.
What you just read is our Biggest Thing from last week. There’s no other storyline we could invent that would top it. In the interest of skipping the other Big Things from last week, I also share this.
Laquon Treadwell’s injury broke the heart of seven-year-old Tanner Harris. The entire story is enough to remind me of so many things. Though Tanner’s response to the injury will tug at your heart strings, the story of his bonding with his dad is one of the coolest things you’ll read this year.
Even better, the letter eventually made its way to Treadwell via Twitter.
If you have kids, hug them and tell them you love them. If you have someone you love who fostered your love for sport — like my dad did for me — thank them.
Let’s just drop the mic and move on to trivia.
SEC Trivia, Week 11 (answer at the end of the column): One of the two FCS teams playing SEC competition this week has played in a bowl game. Which team played in a bowl, and in which bowl did they play?
Note: As there are multiple SEC squads playing FCS teams this week, we’ll again return the Info Button feature to introduce you to those teams. The other games get the typical Keyword Search treatment.
Keyword Search/Info Button (all times Eastern and rankings AP)
Presbyterian (5-4, 2-2 Big South) at #11 Ole Miss (7-2, 4-2 SEC)
Noon | SEC Network
Info button: The Blue Hose are enjoying a reasonably solid season, staying above .500 to this point in the season after never having a season better than 4-7 in their six years of FCS play. Two of coach Harold Nichols’ club’s losses have come to FBS competition (66-3 at Northern Illinois and 42-0 at NC State), while their other two have come to the two clubs ahead of them in the Big South standings (Coastal Carolina and Liberty). Presbyterian has never defeated an FBS team. PC’s enrollment is one of the smallest in Division I football, as just 1,300 students are enrolled at the Clinton, South Carolina school.
QB Heys McMath (So., 6’4″, 200, Savannah, Georgia) – 110-for-186, 1171 yards, 6 TD, 7 INT
RB Demarcus Rouse (Sr., 6’1″, 225, North Augusta, South Carolina) – 93 carries, 512 yards, 3 TD
WR Tobi Antigha (Sr., 6’4″, 200, Tampa, Florida) – 45 catches, 458 yards
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Despite Treadwell’s absence, this is a tough out for the Blue Hose. This is, however, a program on the rise.
#20 Georgia (6-2, 4-2 SEC) at Kentucky (5-4, 2-4 SEC)
Noon | ESPN
- This changes things: If we had played this game a few weeks ago, it may have been to decide which school would make the trip to Atlanta. Now, this is decidedly not the case. Kentucky looks to claim their first victory against Georgia in the Commonwealth in eight years, and just their third win in the last 20 games against the Bulldogs.
- Clamping down on D: Kentucky has faced quite the unenviable three-game stretch, with games at LSU and Missouri serving as the bookends for their home game against Mississippi State. The Wildcats have been blitzed for 1285 yards of total offense in those three games, boosting their average yards allowed against conference foes to 409 per game. 785 of those yards were allowed on the ground, which spells trouble against Georgia tailback Nick Chubb. Chubb has three consecutive 100-yard games spelling the suspended Todd Gurley, notching 511 yards on the ground in that span.
- Capitalizing on opportunities: This statistic sounds…well, unbelievable, but here it is. Georgia has turned the ball over just five times this season, surrendering only three points off turnovers. The Bulldogs lead the conference in turnover margin (1.63 per game), converting the 18 turnovers they have forced into 55 points. Kentucky is also extremely competitive in this department, ranking third in the SEC in turnover margin. The Wildcats have also forced 18 turnovers, while losing just ten.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: This game will be close, but look for Kentucky’s recent tailspin to continue against an angry Georgia team.
Texas A&M (6-3, 2-3 SEC) at #3 Auburn (7-1, 4-1 SEC)
3:30pm | CBS
- A new leader: Aggie freshman Kyle Allen stepped in for suspended/benched starter Kenny Hill last week, and his first full game at the quarterback position produced mixed results. The Aggies defeated ULM 21-16; however, Allen completed just 13-of-28 passes for 106 yards, adding a score and a pick. The A&M sports information department points out that the last Aggie freshman to win his starting debut was Corey Pullig in 1992.
- All things (almost) equal: Auburn displayed incredible balance in last week’s victory over Ole Miss. The Tigers rushed for 253 yards, while throwing for 254. The rushing side was likely to be expected, as Auburn leads the conference in rushing yards (277.5 per game). However, the passing side outperformed the Tigers’ eighth-ranked (SEC) passing game. The Tigers throw for just 220.6 yards per contest. A&M ranks 12th in the conference in rushing yards allowed (177.78 per game) and 11th in passing yards allowed (236.4).
- Welcome back: A&M has visited the Plains just once in school history. The Aggies defeated Auburn 63-21 in Jordan-Hare in 2012. Johnny Manziel completed 16-of-23 passes for 260 yards and two scores in the contest. Ryan Swope and Mike Evans hauled in a combined 11 passes for 220 yards and two TDs.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: The stars are aligned for Auburn to exact some revenge on the Aggies. Watch Kyle Allen in his first SEC road start.
UT-Martin (5-5, 4-3 OVC) at #1 Mississippi State (8-0, 5-0 SEC)
4:00pm | SEC Network
Info button: Jason Simpson’s Skyhawks are a high-octane crew, averaging greater than 30 points per game. Their only FBS game this season opened the year, a 59-14 loss at Kentucky on August 30. Martin also owns one of the more unusual statistics in FCS football, having converted 50 percent (10-for-20) of their fourth-down attempts this season. Adding to these numbers — or perhaps explaining some of them — is the fact that Martin averages just shy of 430 yards per game on offense. The Skyhawks do have a victory over an FBS team in their pocket, having beaten Memphis 20-17 two years ago. There is, obviously, quite a difference in 2012 Memphis and 2014 Mississippi State.
QB Jarod Neal (R-Jr., 6’1″, 190, Hendersonville, Tennessee) – 142-for-214, 1681 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT (backed up by former Mississippi State QB Dylan Favre and NC State QB Manny Stocker)
RB Abou Toure (Sr., 6’2″, 230, Framingham, Massachusetts) – 152 carries, 886 yards, 8 TD
LB Tony Bell (Sr., 6’1″, 200, Memphis, Tennessee) – 60 tackles, 17 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF, 3 fumble recoveries
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Simpson played at Mississippi State for two years, but don’t expect this to be a happy homecoming.
Florida (4-3, 3-3 SEC) at Vanderbilt (3-6, 0-5 SEC)
7:30pm | SEC Network
- Welcome back, running game!: Much to the chagrin of the owner of this site, Florida rushed for five touchdowns and 418 yards against Georgia last week. That is drastically out of character for the Gators on a couple of fronts; first, they had managed just nine rushing scores coming into the contest, and their previous season-high was 259 yards against Eastern Michigan in the season-opener. Further, the Gators tallied their fifth-highest single-game rushing total ever, along with their first five-TD rushing performance in four years. (That last happened against this team, and yes, this is gratuitous.)
- Welcome back, passing game!: Vanderbilt’s Johnny McCrary has established himself as a bright spot under center after some early-season struggles, and he had his true coming-out party last week against ODU. McCrary completed 20-of-29 passes for 281 yards and five scores in Vandy’s 42-28 victory. McCrary’s passing abilities also opened up plenty of running room for fellow freshman Ralph Webb. Webb carried 31 times for 166 yards and a score, and even more astonishingly, did not lose yards on any of those 31 carries. That stability will be vital against the Gators.
- Welcome back…winning games?: Last year’s 34-17 victory in the Swamp snapped a jaw-dropping 22-game losing streak the Commodores owned against the Gators. Florida still owns 23 victories in the last 25 outings against Vanderbilt, with a 24-9 Commodore victory in Nashville in 1988 the only other win by VU in the last 30 years.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Vandy looked like the Vandy of “old” last week, but struggles aside, Florida is not Old Dominion.
#4 Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at #14 LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC)
8:00pm | CBS
- Streaks come in threes: The Tide comes to Baton Rouge as owners of two three-game winning streaks. Alabama has won their last three games this season, as well as the last three against LSU. Alabama has also outscored their last two opponents 93-20, while compiling 1,071 yards of total offense. Texas A&M and Tennessee have managed just 555 total yards in those two games.
- No cupcakes: LSU plays their second-consecutive top-five team this week. That has not happened in four years, and will be just the third time in school history that has occurred. The LSU sports information department also mentions that the Tigers have defeated at least one top-ten opponent at home for five consecutive years.
- Third down for what: One of the most regularly-recognized things in successful football teams is the ability to convert third downs and extend drives, or to stop opposing offenses and limit time of possession. This game features the number one team in each area. Alabama leads the SEC (and is second nationally) in third-down conversions, moving the chains 64-of-116 times (55.7 percent). LSU, meanwhile, ranks eighth in the nation (despite leading the SEC) in third downs stuffed, as just 38-of-132 (28.79 percent) conversions have succeeded against the stout Tiger defense.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: ‘Bama is — pardon the pun — on a roll, while Death Valley on a Saturday night is a tough place to win. This one should be legendary.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: One of the two FCS teams playing SEC competition this week has played in a bowl game. Which team played in a bowl, and in which bowl did they play?
Presbyterian participated in the 1960 Tangerine Bowl. Middle Tennessee (I promise I didn’t use this question to get them into the column) defeated the Blue Hose 21-12.