Wild Weekends: Southern Comforts

One part of the country dominated the football landscape this past weekend.

This past weekend, the southern section of the U.S. dominated football as the big stories, big teams, and big happenings of the those few days either took place in the south or involved teams from the south making the trip north and still getting the job done. The SEC’s conference play began with many happenings, the most surprising being #8 Alabama potentially positioning themselves as the team to beat in the SEC West with a thorough beating of Arkansas. Third-ranked Georgia went out west for the first time in 48 years and dominated Arizona St. and Rudy Carpenter to the tune of 27-10 with four sacks on Carpenter and only two total rushing yards for the Sun Devils. And these two teams play each other this coming weekend.

LSU sneaks by Auburn in Saturday night thriller

This game proved to be every bit the seesaw battle we thought it was going to be. Brandon LaFell’s 18-yard touchdown with just over a minute to go provided the go-ahead and game winning score for the sixth-ranked Tigers from Baton Rouge with a 26-21 in this year’s Tiger Bowl.

The second and third quarters told completely different stories and provided the drama that the fourth quarter would have.

Auburn would dominate quarter number two scoring two touchdowns unanswered via a one-yard TD run by Ben Hill and a Gabe Mckenzie interception return late in the half to give the tenth-ranked Tigers a 14-3 halftime advantage.

LSU would score two touchdowns of their own unanswered in the third Jarrett Lee throwing his first of two touchdown passes in the game and running back Keiland Williams firing a 22-yard touchdown pass as the quarter ended to give LSU a 17-14 lead heading into the final frame.

Colt David added a field goal early in the fourth and also kicked one in the opening quarter.

Chris Todd threw a 15-yard touchdown to Robert Dunn to give Auburn the lead with just over six minutes to go. Todd finished the day 17/32 with 250 yards and that touchdown.

In this game of big plays and more passing than usual for an SEC game, the forgotten man turned out to be LSU running back Charles Scott who led all rushers with 132 yards on the ground on 21 attempts.

Florida makes statement with 30-6 domination of Tennessee

Florida/Tennessee has provided several classics in recent years. This past Saturday was far from one of them.

The fourth-ranked Gators’ defense was on full display forcing three Volunteer turnovers—two on fumbles, one interception—and holding Tennessee scoreless through the first three quarters; all of this despite the Volunteers out gaining Florida on offense. By the time Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard, the Gators were enjoying a 27-0 lead.

The defense and help from a running game that netted 121 yards (minus Tebow’s rushing yards) made the game much easier for last year’s Heisman Trophy winner. Tebow ran for only 26 yards on the day and threw 8/15 for 96 yards, but threw touchdowns to Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez.

A 78-yard punt return in the first quarter by Brandon James was the other Gator touchdown on the day.

Cowboys dominate with Barber and not Owens leading the charge

This was the NFL’s first marquee game on Sunday Night and like most games with major hype attached, this one became a rout.

Marion Barber was the central figure in the Cowboy’s 27-16 road win rushing for a career high 142 yards and adding a two-yard touchdown that put Dallas up for good.

The battle between Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers would go to Romo because he got the W, but from a statistical perspective, it might have been a push. Romo threw for 260 yards on 17/30 with a touchdown and an interception; Rodgers threw for 290 yards on 22/39 and had to run in the Packer’s only touchdown himself.

Romo’s interception came as Dallas attempted to break the game’s 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter. It was intercepted by Nick Collins and was returned 61 yards. Collins’ pick resulted in a Packer field goal making the game 6-3.

The Packers did succeed in one vital area Sunday: they contained Terrell Owens. One of the best receivers in football, playing against an aging secondary, caught only two passes for 17 yards and was a non-factor in Dallas’ win.

Ironically, it was rookie running back Felix Jones that broke the game open for Dallas with a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave Dallas a 10-6 lead. Jones finished with 76 yards on six carries for the day.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I would be just plain inconsiderate if I were to forget the exploits of Ronnie Brown this past weekend directly attributing to the Miami Dolphins—a team that went 1-15 last year—ending the longest regular season winning streak in NFL history (21) on Sunday. The former Auburn running back scored five touchdowns with four rushing and one throwing becoming the first NFL player since 1923 to achieve the feat. Wow, just wow. Not only was it Brown’s domination of the New England Patriots’ defense, at New England by the way, but it was the play selection of the Dolphins Sunday that resembled something out of the 1930’s working to absolute perfection with four of Brown’s touchdowns coming on direct snaps and with the Patriots defense in a kind of bewilderment unseen even with last year’s Super Bowl taken into consideration. I gave this example of southern dominance this past weekend a chance to stand alone because the domination and considering the teams involved warrants writing about this game separate from all others. It gives me hope for Brown who after a fantastic start had hit a wall of sorts last season and looked to have lost all of his momentum. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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