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September 15, 2008

SEC Notebook

SEC Press Release

Four conference games highlight the Sept. 20 schedule - Alabama visits Arkansas at 11:30 a.m. CT on Raycom Sports, Tennessee hosts Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports, Vanderbilt travels to Ole Miss at 6 p.m. CT and LSU visits Auburn at 6:45 p.m. CT on ESPN. Georgia visits Arizona State in a non-conference tilt on ABC Sports at 8:13 p.m. ET while South Carolina hosts Wofford at 7 p.m. ET and Mississippi State travels to Georgia Tech at 11 a.m. CT. The MSU-GT game will be televised by Raycom Sports' ACC package. For live coverage of the game in SEC regional television markets, please consult your local listings.

The SEC continues to have the nation's top non-conference winning percentage. The SEC is 23-3 against non-conference foes, an 88.5 percentage. Since 1992, the SEC has won 77.0 percent of all of its non-conference tilts.

The SEC continues to lead the nation with five teams ranked in this week's AP and USA Today polls. For the first time in SEC history, five teams are ranked in the AP Top 10.

Arkansas senior offensive tackle Jose Valdez is this week's SEC Community Service Team Player of the Week and will be highlighted on Raycom Sports telcast of the Alabama at Arkansas game.

After three weeks, SEC stadiums have been filled to 98.29 percent of capacity. In 22 home games, SEC stadiums have seen 1,658,370 fans, an average of 75,380 per game.

The LSU-Auburn tilt this weekend will see two of the three winningest programs in the SEC since the 2003 season. Since 2003, LSU is 58-10 leading all SEC schools while Auburn is third at 53-14. Georgia is second at 54-14.

The Florida-Tennessee tilt this weekend will see two fo the three winningest programs in the SEC since the 1998 season. Since 1998, Florida is 95-34, second among SEC schools, while Tennessee is 94-35, third of SEC schools. Georgia is 1st at 100-30.

In research done by the SEC office, there have only been six games in NCAA FBS history that have finished with a 3-2 score. There have been none in SEC vs. SEC play. The latest before Saturday night's Auburn-Mississippi State game was a 3-2 win by Clemson over Duke on Oct. 16, 1965 in Durham, N.C.

The SEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee marks its second annual "Together We Can" food drive, with food collections and financial donations being accepted at athletic events at all 12 SEC schools between Sept. 19-28. During last year's food drive, more than 40,000 pounds of food and donations were delivered to local food banks and shelters.

Miss. State's Derek Pegues has moved into 5th place in the SEC career record books in kickoff return yards (1,896) and total return yards (2,567).

Alabama has accounted for four of the longest offensive drives this season in terms of plays.

SEC TEAM-BY-TEAM NOTES

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

QB John Parker Wilson tied the Alabama career record for TD passes, getting his 40th and 41st aerial scores against the Hilltoppers ... PK Leigh Tiffin moved into 4th place on the Tide career field goals chart ... Tiffin has made 39 field goals in his Alabama career ... Alabama's defense has held opponents less than 100 yards rushing for four straight games (dating back to 2007 Independence Bowl) ... RB Terry Grant had his first rushing TD of the season against WKU after scoring eight as a freshman last season ... CB/RS Javier Arenas recorded his first career sack against WKU .... RB Glen Coffee rushed for 97 yards on 11 carries against WKU - all in the first half.

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS

The Arkansas-Texas game was postponed to Sept. 27 due to Hurricane Ike ... QB Casey Dick threw for 323 yards against UL-Monroe, the 11th 300-yard passing game in Arkansas history ... It's the second straight week Dick has accomplished the feat (318 vs. Western Illinois) ... He is second in Hog history with 38 career TD passes and tied for second in career completion percentage (55.5) ... Junior TB Michael Smith had a career-high 157 yards on 22 carries and two TDs ... DE Jake Bequette, CB Tramain Thomas and SS Dallas Washington got their first starts of the season ... WR Joe Adams, TE Andrew Davie, WR Lucas Miller and TB Michael Smith earned first starts on offense.

AUBURN TIGERS

The last time Auburn won a game by only scoring 3 points came in a 3-0 victory at Miami, Fla. on Oct. 4, 1974 ... In research done by the SEC office, there have only been six games in NCAA FBS history that have finished with a 3-2 score ... The last was Clemson beating Duke 3-2, on Oct. 16, 1965 ... The Auburn defense has shut out its opponent in the first half in all three games this season ... Tiger opponents are now 3-of-46 on third downs this season ... The 116 total yards by Miss. State is the fewest allowed by Auburn since 2004 (110 by Kentucky) ... Antonio Coleman has earned a sack in all three games this season.

FLORIDA GATORS

A Ben Hill Griffin Stadium record crowd of 90,833 witnessed Gator-Hurricane matchup ... Florida has not committed a turnover in each of its last four outings ... Junior QB Tim Tebow now has 130 pass attempts without an interception, a Florida record (old: 121, Danny Wuerffel) ... Tebow is now 9th all-time at Florida with 5,473 career total offensive yards ... Six Florida players made their first start of the 2008 season: WR Riley Cooper, RB/WR Percy Harvin, TE Aaron Hernandez, DT Terron Sanders, LB Brandon Spikes, DE Justin Trattou ... Senior PK Jonathan Phillips recorded his first career field goal on his first career attempt (29 yards) ... The Gators put together a season-high 95-yard scoring drive.

GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Since 2001, Georgia is now 26-4 in opponents' stadiums ... Opponents are just 4-for-9 in scoring attempts in the redzone this season against Georgia ... On offense, Georgia is 10-for-10 in the redzone this season with nine touchdowns ... The Bulldog defense has recorded seven shutout quarters in its three games this season ... The Gamecocks tallied just 18 yards rushing on 16 attempts against the Bulldogs, the lowest by an SEC team against Georgia under Mark Richt ... Junior P Brian Mimbs had a career-long 77-yard punt against Carolina, tying the seventh longest in school history ... Freshman FL A.J. Green logged three catches for 61 yards against Carolina.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Kentucky's 20-14 win over Middle Tennessee was UK's 12th consecutive non-conference victory, currently tied for the third-longest streak in the nation ... Boston College has an 18-game such streak followed by LSU (16) while Georiga and the Widlcats are tied for third (12) ... QB Mike Hartline completed 28 of 47 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs ... Dicky Lyons caught a career-high 12 passes for 79 yards ... The last time a UK player caught 10+ passes was Rafael Little with 11 catches vs. Tennessee last season ... Lyons ranks 8th on the career receptions list (127), 5th on the career receiving yards list (1,643) and tied for 4th on the career receiving TD list (17).

LSU TIGERS

Two LSU players made their first collegiate starts against North Texas - OT Al Woods and DB Phelon Jones ... Three Tigers made their first career appearances against NT - QB Jordan Jefferson, DT Kentravis Aubrey and DE Sidell Corley ... The Tigers have won 16 straight non-conference games ... WR Brandon LaFell tied a career high with seven catches against the Mean Green ... WR Chris Mitchell set career highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (50) ... PK Colt David had two field goals against North Texas and has 40 in his career ... Ten of his field goals have come from 40 yards or longer ... RB Charles Scott rushed for 102 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns.

OLE MISS REBELS

Ole Miss' 103 points in its first three games is the most in a three-game stretch since 2003 ... WR Mike Wallace registered his third career 100-yard receiving game and the first of the year with four catches for 101 yards against Samford ... RB Cordera Eason had career-highs and team-bests 13 carries for 68 yards against the Bulldogs ... The Rebel defense posted 12 tackles for loss against Samford and has 20 during the last two games ... DT Peria Jerry earned his first start of the season and had six tackles against Samford ... Marshay Green returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown ... WR Lionel Breaux earned his first career start and had three grabs for 40 yards.

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

True freshman tight end Nelson Hurst earned his first career start for the Bulldogs against Auburn ... Derek Pegues, with two kickoff returns for 61 yards against Auburn, is now Miss. State's all-time leader with 1,896 yards, which is fifth in SEC history ... Terrell Johnson recorded his first career tackle for loss in the AU contest ... Tay Bowser blocked a Tiger punt in the third quarter adding to his blocked extra point he had earlier this season against Louisiana Tech ... DT Jessie Bowman had career highs in tackles (8) and tackles for loss (3.5) against Auburn ... Kyle Love recorded his first career sack ... P Blake McAdams is now 10th in SEC history in total punts.

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

WR Moe Brown pulled down career numbers against Georgia with seven receptions for 130 yards, including a 34-yard TD catch ... Junior LB Eric Norwood registered a tackle for loss against the Bulldogs giving him 30.5 in his career, which is fourth in school history ... QB Chris Smelley set a career-high for passing yards with 271 and matched previous career bests in completions (23) and pass attempts (39) against Georgia ... Senior RB Mike Davis moved into 15th place in career rushing yards at Carolina with 1,861 ... QB Stephen Garcia made his USC debut midway through the first quarter ... TE Jared Cook had three catches for 68 yards for Carolina.

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

Senior TB Arian Foster rushed 12 times for 100 yards, the 11th time he has reached the century mark in his Vol career ... Foster finished the game with 122 all-purpose yards to give him 3,374 in his career, which is now third in UT history ... Sophomore FB Kevin Cooper made his first career start against the Blazers ... Eight Vols saw their first time collegiate action against UAB ... Sophomore DB Eric Berry made his second interception of the season and the seventh of his career ... Tennessee is now 53-14 against non-conference foes under Phillip Fulmer ... WR Lucas Taylor had nine grabs for 132 yards.

VANDERBILT COMMODORES

The Commodores are 3-0 for the first time since the 2005 season It is only the second time the team has accomplished the feat since the 1984 season The win against Rice is the ninth in 10 games against non-Southeastern Conference opponents After giving up 21 first half points, the defense held Rice scoreless in the second half ... Vanderbilt has outscored opponents 45-10 in the second half this season ... D.J. Moore finished with 206 all-purpose yards (84 on punt returns, 54 on kick returns, 37 yards rushing and 31 yards on an interception return) ... For the second straight game, Jared Hawkins set career highs in yards and rushing, finishing with 20 rushes for 107 yards and a TD.

Auburn, MSU combine for SEC's first 3-2 finish

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Airtight defense with no long balls will lead to a lot of games like this, 3-2 decisions that come down to the very last ...

Play from scrimmage?

No. 10 Auburn eked out a 3-2 win over Mississippi State in football, not baseball Saturday night that was a thing of beauty for lovers of stingy defense like Tommy Tuberville, and offensive to connoisseurs of, well, offense.

It was the first 3-2 game in a Southeastern Conference football matchup, league spokesman Charles Bloom said Sunday. It's a rarity in any league. Preliminary research from other schools and leagues came up with only six other 3-2 games, the latest a Clemson win over Duke on Oct. 16, 1965, Bloom said.

The others included two Iowa State wins over Kansas State in the 1920s, TCU over LSU in 1936 and Texas in 1960 and VMI over Kentucky in 1912.

Not exactly an offensive extravaganza to set up Auburn's showdown with No. 6 LSU.

Even a former defensive coordinator like Tuberville would have liked a little more scoring.

"I am an old defensive coach so I was liking it a little bit but I wish we had scored a few more points," the Auburn coach said. "We just wasted a few opportunities. That was a true defensive game."

Wasted opportunities. Missed field goals. Woeful third-down conversions: 0-for-14 for Mississippi State; 3-for-16 for Auburn.

Errant passes. Fumbles. The list of offensive problems is endless, but so is a chart of big defensive plays.

The biggest came on Auburn cornerback Walt McFadden's one-handed, sideline-straddling interception late in the fourth quarter. Auburn's Ben Tate and Tristan Davis had both coughed up fumbles near midfield to keep the Bulldogs' hopes alive for, say, a 5-3 win.

Auburn's normally reliable kicker Wes Byrum missed from 42 and 22 yards while hitting a 35-yarder midway through the second quarter that gave the Tigers, as it turns out, an insurmountable lead.

"I never really felt threatened last night of losing that ball game once we got ahead 3-0," Tuberville said Sunday.

Mississippi State's Adam Carlson missed a 38-yarder early in the third quarter.

Boring? Ugly? Not to the defenders.

"We were out there just flying around," Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "I know the fans didn't like that type of performance, but Mississippi State's defense thinks the same, too."

Fans and poll voters alike don't care for them. The Tigers dropped a spot in the rankings.

It was the first time Auburn had won while scoring only three points since a 3-0 win over Miami in 1974. Tuberville was still a defensive back for Southern Arkansas at the time.

The Bulldogs managed just 116 total yards and six first downs and failed on all three fourth-down attempts. The Tigers had a more respectable 315 yards and 14 first downs but lost three fumbles.

Together they produced a baseball score almost. The Tigers and Bulldogs were a little more potent at the plate than that last season, combining for 14, seven and 15 runs in three meetings.

An offense found itself in the end zone only once in the game and it was the wrong one. Auburn center Ryan Pugh was flagged for holding in his own end zone to give the Bulldogs a safety and their only points.

"You could not ask for more out of the defense, you really couldn't," Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said. "When they had them back up, they kept them in the hole. They forced turnovers and they scored our only two points."

The punters were pretty busy, combining to boot 18 kicks. Blake McAdams' 10 punts included a 52-yarder that set up the fourth-quarter safety for the Bulldogs.

Both teams had hobbled running backs. Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon sustained a groin pull two days before the game and was held to 5 yards on seven carries.

Auburn's Brad Lester went down with a sprained neck in the third quarter after gaining 51 yards.

Tuberville said an MRI on Lester done Sunday showed no damage, but Auburn will have a neurosurgeon check Lester out in Birmingham. The coach wasn't sure when Lester would return to practice.

Tate's 92 yards included a 39-yarder to convert a late third-and-8 play and allow the Tigers to run the clock out.

Bulldogs quarterback Wesley Carroll was 10-of-25 for 78 yards, including the late pick by McFadden.

"The bottom line is we just didn't make the play," Croom said. "We didn't make the throw and when we did make the throw we didn't make the catch. Auburn is very tough defensively and particularly up front."

Mississippi State defensive lineman Jessie Bowman had eight tackles, including 3.5 for a loss and forced a fumble.

Auburn, meanwhile, had nine tackles for loss and at times seemed already in the backfield by the time Mississippi State's backs got the ball.

"It is all about defense when you go on the road," Tuberville said. "We gave up zero first downs on 14 (third-down) chances and only 116 yards total offense. You can win a lot of games that way."



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