SEC football recap (11-12-11)

SOUTH CAROLINA 17, FLORIDA 12

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns to lead South Carolina to a 17-12 win over Florida on Saturday.

Freshman Brandon Miles ran for 120 yards as the No. 15 Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 Southeastern) pounded the Gators (5-5, 3-5) and left themselves a chance to make it to a second straight SEC title game.

South Carolina led 14-3 after Shaw's sneak just before the half, but Florida rallied. A 2-yard touchdown run by Jacoby Brissett made it 14-12, but the Gators never threatened again.

The win gives South Carolina six SEC victories for the first time since joining the league in 1992. But the Gamecocks will need Georgia to lose to either Auburn on Saturday or Kentucky next week to win the SEC East.

VANDERBILT 38, KENTUCKY 8

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Zac Stacy ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns, and Jordan Rodgers threw for 207 yards and two TDs as Vanderbilt routed Kentucky 38-8 Saturday in snapping a two-game skid.

The Commodores (5-5, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) moved a win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 and just the second since 1982 with two games remaining.

Kentucky (4-6, 1-5) had won two straight and eight of the last 10 in this series. The Wildcats, with freshman Maxwell Smith making his first road start, never threatened in this game and now must win both at No. 14 Georgia and in their home finale against Tennessee to extend their school-record streak to a sixth straight bowl game.

Vanderbilt sacked Smith four times and forced a turnover.

GEORGIA 45, AUBURN 7

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes to surpass Matthew Stafford's school record and No. 14 Georgia romped past No. 24 Auburn 45-7 Saturday, moving within one win of playing for the Southeastern Conference championship.

The Bulldogs (8-2, 6-1 SEC) won their eighth in a row with a dominating performance in the Deep South's oldest rivalry. They raced to a 35-7 halftime lead over the stunned Tigers (6-4, 4-3) and finished with their biggest win in the series since 1946.

Georgia can clinch its first division title in six years at home next weekend against Kentucky.

Murray now has 27 TDs for the season -- nine in the past two weeks. He broke the school mark of 25 set in 2008 by Stafford, a top pick in the NFL draft.

ALABAMA 24, MISSISSIPPI STATE 7

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Trent Richardson rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown, Alabama's defense gave up just 131 total yards and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide beat Mississippi State 24-7 on Saturday night.

It was a typical no-frills victory for Alabama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference), which has won nine of its last 11 against Mississippi State, including four straight. The Crimson Tide defense has held 11 straight opponents to 14 points or less.

Alabama struggled again with field goals, missing two of them in the first half after missing four in last week's loss to No. 1 LSU. But Richardson and Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns, made up for those miscues.

Mississippi State (5-5, 1-5) remains one victory from bowl eligibility. Third-year coach Dan Mullen is now 2-11 against SEC Western Division rivals, with both victories coming against Ole Miss.

The Bulldogs averaged just 2.2 yards per play.

Richardson didn't have his typical Heisman-caliber performance, finding little running room against Mississippi State's defense, especially in the first half. But he got stronger as the game progressed, with an explosive 25-yard run early in the fourth quarter to Mississippi State's 4.

Two plays later, he plowed through the line for a 2-yard touchdown that gave the Tide an insurmountable 17-0 lead. He had 88 of his 127 rushing yards in the second half.

Alabama could've had a bigger lead much sooner, but struggled once again with the kicking game. The Tide missed two field goals -- a 49-yard attempt by Cade Foster and a 31-yarder by Jeremy Shelley -- before taking a 7-0 lead in the second quarter after Lacy's 2-yard touchdown run.

But Mississippi State's kickers couldn't kick straight either.

The Bulldogs blew their best opportunity late in the first half when Cameron Lawrence intercepted A.J. McCarron's pass and returned it to the Alabama 4-yard line. But the ensuing three plays lost yards, and Brian Egan missed a 29-yard field goal as Mississippi State came up empty.

McCarron completed 14 of 24 passes for 163 yards and an interception.

Mississippi State did have one rally early in the fourth quarter. LaDarius Perkins returned a kickoff 68 yards to Alabama's 22-yard line and three plays later Russell threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Chris Smith as the Bulldogs pulled within 17-7.

But Alabama buckled down from that point. Lacy's 32-yard touchdown with 1:18 remaining pushed the lead to 24-7.

Mississippi State's two-quarterback system with Chris Relf and Tyler Russell had been effective over the past few weeks, but failed to generate much momentum against the Tide. Mullen even briefly tried third-stringer Dylan Favre in the second half, but nothing worked.

Russell had the most success, completing 13 of 25 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Mississippi State had only 12 yards rushing.

LSU 42, WESTERN KENTUCKY 9

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard each scored two touchdowns, and No. 1 LSU overcame a slow start to defeat Western Kentucky 42-9 on Saturday night.

One week after playing most of LSU's 9-6 overtime victory at Alabama, Jordan Jefferson made his first start of the season against the Hilltoppers, hitting 8 of 14 passes for 168 yards, including a 59-yard scoring strike to Rueben Randle.

LSU (10-0), which came in favored by nearly six touchdowns, led only 14-7 at halftime before dominating the second half.

Keshawn Simpson had a 2-yard touchdown run for Western Kentucky (5-5), which saw its winning streak end at five.

Hilltoppers quarterback Kuwaun Jakes completed 11 of 24 passes for 97 yards and was intercepted once by linebacker Tahj Jones.

LOUISIANA TECH 27, OLE MISS 7

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Chad Boyd and Javontay Crowe scored defensive touchdowns, and Matt Nelson added a pair of field goals, helping Louisiana Tech rally for a 27-7 win Saturday night over Mississippi.

Boyd scooped up a mishandled backfield exchange and raced 33 yards for a third-quarter touchdown while Crowe's 26-yard interception return in the fourth helped the Bulldogs erase a 7-0 deficit. Nelson added field goals of 43 and 35 yards.

The win was the fifth straight for Louisiana Tech (6-4), which defeated a Southeastern Conference team for the first time since beating Mississippi State 22-14 in 2008.

Ole Miss (2-8), following Monday's announcement that fourth-year head coach Houston Nutt would not return next season, lost its fifth consecutive game.

Louisiana Tech led 10-7 at halftime, tying the game on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Colby Cameron to Taulib Ikharo and a 43-yard field goal by Nelson on the first half's final play.


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