Road to Atlanta Week Eleven: Down goes Georgia and down goes Butch

The Vanderbilt football team is defeated by the University of Kentucky on Saturday, November 11, 2017.

Just one week after clinching an SEC East championship, Georgia suffered its first loss of the year in a blowout against Auburn. The Bulldogs, who were ranked No.1 in the College Football Playoff poll, still control their own destiny in the SEC, and will face the Iron Bowl winner in Atlanta in December.

Georgia was outgained by Auburn 488-230 on its way to a 40-17 loss. The Bulldogs allowed 167 of those yards to Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson. In contrast, Georgia’s running game, which had been this team’s strong suit up to this point, could only muster up 46 yards.

Jake Fromm was sacked four times by the Auburn defense and had little time to throw. He ended the day with a mere 13 completions for 184 yards and a touchdown.

Florida’s free fall has no end in sight after a 28-20 loss to South Carolina. New starting quarterback Malik Zaire left the game with a knee injury and was replaced yet again by Feleipe Franks, who will start for the Gators going forward.

The game was full of mistakes from both sides. Florida threw one interception and lost two fumbles, while South Carolina threw three picks and lost a fumble. Both offense lines failed to establish a pocket, and each allowed seven sacks.

South Carolina running back A.J. Turner carried the ball 22 times for 136 yards, and fellow back Mon Denson rushed for two touchdowns.

Kentucky crushed Vanderbilt 44-21 in Nashville.

Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur uncharacteristically tossed four interceptions and was forced to throw 43 times as the Commodores completely abandoned the ground game early. The offensive line struggled mightily in protection, as they allowed five sacks and six tackles for loss.

Benny Snell ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns, and he continued to terrorize SEC East defenses. With the strong performance, Snell became only the ninth Wildcat to rush for 2,000 yards in his career and the first to have two consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards rushing.

In Butch Jones’ final game as head coach of the Volunteers, Tennessee lost 50-17 to a newly revitalized Missouri squad. Missouri gained 658 yards to Tennessee’s 285.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock completed 13 of his 28 attempts for 217 yards and four touchdowns. In a change of pace, the Tigers utilized their running backs more. Ish Witter ran wild for 216 yards on 24 carries, and Larry Rountree III added 18 touches and 155 yards.

Tennessee started true freshman Will McBride at quarterback due to Jarrett Guarantano’s ankle injury. McBride tossed two interceptions to go with one touchdown and 139 yards. He also ran 14 times for 63 yards, which was more than any of the Volunteer running backs.

In Week 12, most teams nationally are playing schools from mid-major conferences as warm up games before rivalry week, but the SEC East is full of conference games. Georgia hosts Kentucky in Athens in an absolute must-win, as it looks to rebound from an embarrassing loss to Auburn. Wofford visits in-state foe South Carolina before the Gamecocks play their actual in-state rival Clemson the following week. Florida hosts UAB, a team with twice as many wins as the Gators do in its first season back since football was cut in 2014. LSU comes to Knoxville to face a Tennessee team led by interim coach Brady Hoke. Missouri visits a Vanderbilt team that is still winless in SEC play.

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