Associated Press

No. 11 Florida on brink of SEC East title after chomping Georgia

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It wasn’t supposed to happen this year, what with Jim McElwain still picking up the pieces left by the Will Muschamp regime and quarterback Will Grier suspended for the rest of the year and then some. It wasn’t supposed to happen this year, but it is. After a 27-3 thrashing of Georgia Saturday in Jacksonville, No. 11 Florida all but clinched a spot in its 11th SEC championship game and first since 2009.

All that’s required from here is a win over Vanderbilt next week. If that doesn’t happen, all the Gators would need is a win over South Carolina the following week (both games are in The Swamp) or a ‘Dores loss to Texas A&M or Tennessee in the weeks to follow. Point is, Florida is winning the SEC East, Georgia is not, and it could not be more obvious why.

On a day when neither team found consistent play from its quarterback, Florida did everything Georgia did not, staking itself to a 20-0 halftime lead through the trusted bit of well-timed opportunism the Gators have used throughout McElwain’s first season. The downpour started when Georgia’s Reggie Davis muffed a punt at his own five-yard line, and Florida’s Nick Washington recovered in the end zone to give the Gators a 6-0 lead (the ensuing PAT was blocked). The score remained that way until Florida quarterback Treon Harris, who’d missed nine straight passes to that point, hit Antonio Calloway for a 66-yard catch-and-run score with 5:06 to play in the second quarter.

As if that didn’t end the game right there, Florida’s defense made sure of it two plays later when Vernon Hargreaves III snagged a tipped interception at the Georgia 20 and returned it to the five-yard line. Kelvin Taylor punched in a three-yard score two snaps later.

Georgia had a chance to pull within two scores early in the third quarter when Davin Bellamy sacked and stripped Harris at the Florida 26, but the Bulldogs settled for a 27-yard Marshall Morgan field goal. The Dogs had one more chance midway through the fourth quarter when, facing a 2nd-and-goal at the Florida 3, Bauta tossed a pressured throw into the end zone, which deflected off Jalen Tabor‘s right hand and into the waiting arms of Florida’s Keeanu Neal.

The Gators hammered the final nail in the coffin with a six-play, 80-yard drive, punctuated by a 16-yard Taylor touchdown run.

Making his first career start, Bauta confirmed Georgia’s offense is comprised of one injured running back and zero capable quarterbacks. The junior completed 15-of-33 passes for 154 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions. With no passing game to help him and no Nick Chubb to spell him, Sony Michel struggled to find room with just 11 carries for 45 yards.

Florida ran roughshod over Georgia for the second year in a row, as Taylor led the charge with 23 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns, Jordan Scarlett added nine carries for 96 yards. Harris rushed 10 times for 39 yards while connecting on 8-of-19 throws for 155 yards and a touchdown.

In all, the score can be accurately and acutely summarized in two statistics: Florida out-rushed Georgia 258-69 and enjoyed a whopping 5-1 turnover margin.

The loss drops Georgia to 5-3 (3-3 SEC) on the year, and clinches a 10th straight season without an SEC championship and a third straight year without an SEC East crown in a span when the division hasn’t produced a national championship contender.

That is, outside of this Florida team that just implanted its cleat in Georgia’s chest.

Ohio State may get two defensive starters back in Week 8 vs. Purdue

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Ohio State’s injury-hit defense bent but didn’t break (too much) in a closer-than-expected win over Minnesota this past weekend.  With a matchup against a more potent offense in the offing this weekend, the Buckeyes appear set to be a helluva lot healthier on that side of the ball this coming Saturday than they were the last.

Both defensive end Jonathon Cooper and linebacker Malik Harrison missed the 30-14 win over the Gophers because each was in concussion protocol.  With Purdue looming in Week 8, Cooper and Harrison have been cleared and are expected to play against the Boilermakers.

Through six games and before last Saturday, Harrison’s 25 tackles were second on the team.  Cooper replaced All-American Nick Bosa, who underwent surgery after suffering a core muscle injury in Week 3 and could be sidelined for another month at least, in the starting lineup.

Another two defensive starters could be getting healthier as well.  From the Associated Press:

In addition, starting defensive tackle Robert Landers, who has been limited by an unspecified injury, is probable for the game, while starting cornerback Damon Arnette, who was hurt in the Penn State game, is questionable, Meyer said.

Purdue is currently 42nd in scoring offense (33.5 points per game) and 10th in total offense (510.2 yards per game).

Thanks to Georgia’s loss, Ohio State moved up to No. 2 nationally in both major polls.

All-Freshman B1G TE Louis Dorsey tweets transfer from Illinois

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As he announced on Twitter, Bennett Williams left Illinois earlier this month because of a dismissal.  Because of a decidedly different reason (?), the Fighting Illini has felt yet another personnel loss.

On the same social media website utilized by his former teammate, Louis Dorsey announced that he has “decided it is in my best interest to transfer and continue my career elsewhere.” Dorsey gave no specific reason for his midseason move.

Dorsey was suspended during the spring of this year for violating unspecified violations of team rules.  He was also suspended for the first three games of the 2018 regular season for the same reason.

As a true freshman in 2017, Dorsey led the Illini with three receiving touchdowns; was second in receiving yards with 395; and fourth in receptions with 22.  His 18 yards per reception were tops on the team.  BTN.com named the 6-6, 225-pound Dorsey to its All-Freshman Team for that performance.

Because of his off-field issues, Dorsey has played in just one game and not caught a pass this season.

Tennessee loses LB Jonathan Kongbo to torn ACL

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Heading into this weekend’s rivalry game against Alabama in Knoxville, Tennessee’s linebacking corps has taken a hit that will be felt for the rest of 2018.

Late in the third quarter of Tennessee’s huge Week 7 upset of Auburn this past weekend, Jonathan Kongbo went down with an injury to his right knee and didn’t return to the game.  Over the weekend, Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that Kongbo was diagnosed with a torn ACL.

Obviously, Kongbo, who is expected to undergo surgery at some point this week to repair the damage, will miss the remainder of the 2018 season.  As this was his final year of eligibility, it also means that this effectively ends the linebacker’s collegiate playing career.

The fifth-year senior had started five of the six games this season for the Vols.  In that half of the regular season, he had accounted for 11 tackles, four quarterback hurries and an interception.  The pick came in the second quarter of the upset of the Tigers.

Last season, Kongbo started 10 games.

After throwing and landing punches on Mizzou player, Alabama DL Raekwon Davis will lose playing time

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An on-field incident in Week 7 will cost Raekwon Davis on the field in the future.  Just when and how much remains to be seen.

During Alabama’s romp over Missouri this past weekend, the defensive lineman was caught by the all-seeing television broadcast eye punching (x3) Mizzou offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton.  Not only did the cameras catch him, but so did the officiating crew, who flagged Davis for unsportsmanlike conduct.

While Davis very publicly apologized to Pendelton, and the human punching bag very graciously accepted…

… there will be, after Nick Saban spoke with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey about the incident, playing-time repercussions for the lineman.

“We will have him do some things and I think it should affect his playing time in the future,” the head coach said.

Again, just what effect specifically the incident will have on Davis on the field is unclear.

Davis is currently sixth on the Crimson Tide with 27 tackles while his three tackles for loss are tied for sixth.  Alabama will face rival Tennessee, coming off a huge upset of then-No. 21 Auburn this past weekend, in Knoxville this coming Saturday.