Road to Atlanta Week Ten: A champion emerges


The Commodores play the WKU Hilltoppers on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Vanderbilt won 31-17.

Betsy Goodfriend, Senior Writer

With another month left in the season, Georgia clinched the SEC East title and a spot in the SEC championship game. This marks Georgia’s first division title since 2012. The Bulldogs, who are ranked No.1 in the College Football Playoff poll, locked up the East after they handed the division’s current second-place team, South Carolina, its third SEC loss.

South Carolina gave Georgia a respectable fight, but the Bulldogs prevailed 24-10.

Georgia’s stingy front seven only allowed the Gamecocks to rush for 43 yards, and the defensive backs did their part as well, intercepting quarterback Jake Bentley twice to round out a strong defensive performance.

On offense, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 183 rushing yards for Georgia.

South Carolina’s defense could only muster up a single sack against Georgia’s offensive line. The lack of pressure allowed quarterback Jake Fromm to complete 16 of his 22 pass attempts for 196 yards.

Florida’s free fall continued with a 45-16 loss to Missouri. In interim head coach Randy Shannon’s first game, graduate transfer Malik Zaire got the nod at quarterback, but he failed to provide a spark for the offense. The ground game was ineffective as well, and only provided 93 yards on 31 attempts.

Missouri running back Larry Rountree ran the ball 15 times for 83 yards and three touchdowns. He also averaged 33 yards per kickoff return.

The Tigers’ defense, which had struggled lately, collected eight tackles for loss on the day and recovered a fumble.

Vanderbilt ended its five-game losing streak when the Commodores defeated Western Kentucky 31-17. The defense got back on track after allowing 233 points to opponents in the past five games. Vanderbilt had six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in the game.

Running back Ralph Webb picked up 104 rushing yards and tacked on a touchdown for the Commodores, and wide receiver Trent Sherfield caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.

Kentucky allowed the game-winning touchdown to Ole Miss with just five seconds left on the clock and lost 37-34 at home. Running back Benny Snell Jr. did all he could for the Wildcats. Snell rushed 28 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

Kentucky’s defense allowed Rebels backup quarterback Jordan Ta’amu to throw for 382 yards and four touchdowns, as the secondary could do nothing to stop the junior college transfer.

Tennessee ended a four-game skid with a 24-10 nonconference win over Southern Mississippi.

Running back John Kelly continued to be the only positive force on a weak Volunteer offense by running for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Will McBride replaced an injured Jarrett Guarantano at the end of the first half, but he completed just one pass for eight yards in two quarters of work.

The Volunteer defense recovered a fumble and intercepted Southern Miss once to save yet another hopeless offensive performance by Tennessee.

In Week 11, Georgia heads to Jordan-Hare Stadium to play cross-divisional rival Auburn in a matchup of Alabama’s two strongest remaining challengers. Florida visits South Carolina hoping to try to work its way back to bowl eligibility. Vanderbilt hosts Kentucky on its own road to 6-6. Missouri hosts Tennessee, who is looking for its first SEC win of the season.