In & around SEC football


SEC Championship Review
To make the playoffs, Auburn needed to beat Georgia for the second time in four weeks. The Tigers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead but that was all the offense Auburn could muster on the afternoon, as Georgia pulled away for a 28-7 win to secure the SEC title. Kerryon Johnson was hobbled, carrying the ball only 13 times for 44 yards, and the Auburn offense was limited throughout the game. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham only completed 50 percent of his passes while throwing for 145 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart Jake Fromm was 16 of 22 in passing for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs rushed for less than 50 yards during the first two meetings between the two rivals but flipped the script during the SEC Championship Game. Georgia rushed for 238 yards, led by D’Andre Swift’s 88 yards and a touchdown on only seven carries. Nick Chubb had 77 yards and Sony Michel gained 45. Georgia improved to 12-1 overall while Auburn dropped to 10-3.
SEC rankings
1. Georgia (12-1, 8-1)
2. Alabama (11-1, 7-1)
3. Auburn (10-3, 7-2)
4. LSU (9-3, 6-2)
5. Miss. State (8-4, 4-4)
6. Missouri (7-5, 3-4)
7. Texas A&M (7-5, 4-4)
8. South Car. (8-4, 5-3)
9. Kentucky (7-5, 4-4)
10. Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5)
11. Vanderbilt (5-7, 1-7)
12. Arkansas (4-8, 1-7)
13. Florida (4-7, 3-5)
14. Tennessee (4-8, 0-8)
SEC bowl picture
After defeating Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia clinched a spot in the College Football Playoffs. The Bulldogs are in the midst of their best season in over three decades, and Kirby Smart has done a tremendous job in turning this team into a championship contender in only his second year. Georgia will play Oklahoma in the se-mifinals in the Rose Bowl, with the winner advancing to play in the national title game.
Clemson is the No. 1 team in the country, followed by Oklahoma and Georgia. The fourth spot was between Alabama and Ohio State, and the Crimson Tide was the only team in the top eight not playing on Championship Saturday. Many thought the committee would take Ohio State over Alabama Ohio State after the Buckeyes won the Big 10 title, but Nick Saban’s team made it into the playoffs for the fourth straight time when the committee announced its decision. Alabama will meet Clemson for the third straight season. The two teams have played in the national title game in the last two years.
Auburn is heading to the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day for a matchup with undefeated UCF. It’s the second straight year that the Tigers will appear in a New Year’s Six bowl game. In other SEC action, Missouri meets Texas in the Texas Bowl after winning six straight games to end the season. Texas A&M plays Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl, while Kentucky faces Northwestern in the Music City Bowl.
Mississippi State and Louisville square off in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., and South Carolina faces Michigan in the Outback Bowl. LSU and Notre Dame play in the Citrus Bowl. The five SEC teams that didn’t make a bowl are Ole Miss (the Re-bels were banned from a bowl), Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Florida.
SEC coaching carousel
Last week, Florida, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all filled their head coaching vacancies. Florida hired Dan Mullen, Mississippi State hired Joe Moorhead and Ole Miss gave interim coach Matt Luke the full-time gig. The coaching carousel continued this week as Texas A&M made perhaps the biggest move of any school in the country.
Auburn. There were rumors that Gus Malzahn could leave for Arkansas after the Tigers lost in the SEC Championship Game. The Hogs had targeted Malzahn, but he decided to re-sign with Auburn. Malzahn reportedly signed a seven-year, $49 million-dollar ex-tension with the school. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is rumored to be in the mix for the vacancy at Tennessee. Steele played linebacker at Tennessee in the late 1970s.
Texas A&M. When the Aggies fired Kevin Sumlin, boosters identified one candidate to replace him. The school offered Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million-dollar deal, which he accepted before the Seminoles’ last game against Louisiana-Monroe. The deal will make Fisher one of the highest paid coaches in the country, and the move was regarded as a home run hire for Texas A&M.
Arkansas. Once Gus Malzahn turned down Arkansas, the Razorbacks were forced to turn their attention to other candidates. Memphis coach Mike Norvell was expected to be in the mix but he signed an extension to stay in Memphis. Reports began to surface earlier this week that Arkansas decided to hire SMU coach Chad Morris to replace Bret Bielema. Morris was formerly the offensive coordinator at Tulsa and Clemson before taking the head coaching job at SMU. He took over a struggling Mustang program and increased its win total each season. Morris is friends with Malzahn, as the two have similar backgrounds, and Malzahn and Dabo Swinney both recommended Morris to Arkansas. The offense will look much di-fferent for the Razorbacks next season, as Morris runs an up-tempo offense.

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