Three & Out appears every Sunday and Wednesday in 2010 to give you three SEC thoughts, news and notes. In today's edition, we take a look at the showdown in Jacksonville, Auburn's "trap game," and a team that had a great afternoon…by doing nothing.
AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A COCKTAIL PARTY
The 2010 edition of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Georgia and Florida was a must-win game for both schools – and they certainly played liked it.
It's hard to believe, but Florida still controls its own destiny in the SEC East, thanks to a 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia. It was the first overtime game in the history of the rivalry, the biggest win of the season for the Gators and the most devastating loss for the Bulldogs.
Florida could have folded. Will Hill and Chas Henry didn't let that happen.
After throwing away a two touchdown lead and allowing the Bulldogs to force overtime, Hill picked off Aaron Murray's pass and nearly took it to the house to end the game, but stepped out on the five-yard line. No problem. Chas Henry (you know, the guy who became the goat following the Gators' loss to Mississippi State) kicked the game-winning 37-yard field goal to become the hero for the Gators, and stick the dagger into the hearts of the Bulldogs.
For the Bulldogs, this loss is devastating. They went from SEC East contender to a team that's eliminated from SEC East contention in a matter of four hours. They must win two of their final three games (Idaho State, No. 1 Auburn and Georgia Tech) to become bowl eligible.
Above all else though, it continues Georgia's trend of futility in its biggest rivalry on the schedule. This was Georgia's chance. Florida was struggling mightily and Georgia was hot; but for the 18th time in the last 21 years, the Bulldogs leave the Cocktail Party with an L. Georgia couldn't beat the worst Florida team in 20 years, which doesn't bode well for the future of the rivalry.
Houston Nutt's game plan was simple Saturday night. Stack the box to prevent Cam Newton from going nuts on the ground. For the most part, that plan worked – it was the other parts of the Auburn offense that got the job done.
Yeah, Newton wasn't so bad. He finished the afternoon 18-of-24 for 208 yards and two touchdowns, 45 rushing yards on 11 carries, and one Heisman-esque touchdown catch. But it was freshman Mike Dyer that stole the show in Oxford. The true freshman running back posted a career-high 180 rushing yards on 21 carries.
I said it in last week's Three & Out, and I'll say it again this week – Cam Newton doesn't make Auburn a one-man show, and Saturday's game vs. Ole Miss proved it. Excluding Newton's rushing production, the Tigers still racked up nearly 300 rushing yards against an Ole Miss defense that was designed to stop the run – and they did it with a true freshman running back leading the charge on the road.
Auburn's offensive turnaround under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn the last two years has been truly remarkable. In 2008 the Tigers were utterly inept on offense, but Malzhan transformed them into one of the most dynamic offensive machines in the country. If it's not Newton, it's Dyer. If it's not Dyer, it's Onterio McCalebb. If it's not McCalebb, it's Darvin Adams. Auburn's coaching staff has been excellent this year formulating its game plan, and Saturday was just another example.
The team that gained the most in the SEC Saturday afternoon was sitting at home. With Missouri and Michigan State losing, Oregon and Auburn stand as the only two remaining undefeated BCS teams. That bodes well for Alabama.
Alabama came into Saturday as the highest-ranked one-loss team, and if it can win out, beat Auburn and win the SEC Championship Game, will finish 2010 with a pretty strong resume. The Crimson Tide still has three ranked teams (LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn) left, and if it can win out, will likely play another ranked team in Atlanta. The computers will like that a lot.
Alabama won't jump and unbeaten Oregon, so that road block still remains; but if Oregon falls, I don't see the BCS putting Boise State vs. the TCU/Utah winner in the BCS National Championship Game. That would leave Alabama as the likely beneficiary.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at
Don't forget to check out "Y'all Play Nice" from CFN's Russ Mitchell and Brian Harbach every Thursday during the season.
2010 Three & Out Archive