Paschall: Bama-LSU was fun; now about those Vols PATs

Crimson Tide photos / Jalen Milroe set a record for an Alabama quarterback Saturday night with four rushing touchdowns in the 42-28 win over LSU.
Crimson Tide photos / Jalen Milroe set a record for an Alabama quarterback Saturday night with four rushing touchdowns in the 42-28 win over LSU.

We've all seen movies that had us gripped but lacked the ending to match.

The first half of "Full Metal Jacket" is so intense that I struggle to remember the rest, while "Bull Durham" and "Stripes" are among the entertaining flicks whose final 20 minutes are their worst.

That was how Alabama's 42-28 downing of LSU felt Saturday night after a first half in which Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels rushed for 127 yards and Crimson Tide counterpart Jalen Milroe ran for 102 in a 21-21 deadlock. Milroe ultimately finished with 155 and became the first Alabama quarterback ever to reach the end zone four times, and he guided an attack that compiled 507 yards and would not be denied on third down.

"Our offense did a fantastic job in this game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a news conference. "I'm so proud of our team, and it's a great team win, but our offense controlled the tempo of the game, especially in the second half, and I think that was the difference. The key was being 11-of-14 on third down, which allowed us to keep the ball and kept it away from them.

"This is probably as close to a complete game as we've played all year."

Daniels unfortunately had his evening cut short two minutes into the fourth quarter by a head injury that was caused by Tide linebacker Dallas Turner on a roughing-the-passer penalty. The Heisman Trophy candidate had thrown for 219 yards and rushed for 163.

It was a sensational show by both quarterbacks that was enjoyable to all except the two defenses.

"When you play in a game like this, you've got to encourage the defensive players to keep playing," Saban said. "The last four times they had the ball, we got stops on defense, which is huge when the score is 28-28."

Said LSU coach Brian Kelly: "We were fighting our tails off to get stops out there. It's just a difficult situation when you have a quarterback who's gifted like that."

Would Alabama have won had Daniels stayed healthy? Probably so, but it's a movie ending we would love to have witnessed.

***

While the theme music for the "SEC on CBS" telecasts cannot be matched, I will not miss the network's ridiculous six-day options that give college football fans so little time to prepare for games.

If you're a fan of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons or Tennessee Titans, you know before the start of each season what time their final home game starts. By comparison, CBS announced Sunday afternoon that is has selected the Tennessee at Missouri game for this Saturday afternoon's 3:30 Eastern telecast, which was followed by ESPN picking Ole Miss at Georgia for its 7 p.m. kick, and the SEC Network taking Florida at LSU for a 7:30 start.

Until Sunday, none of those six fan bases knew what time their teams would play.

Television's stranglehold on college football is beyond problematic, and TV's spearheading of conference realignment has left us with Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Washington-Washington State and Oregon-Oregon State playing this season for the final time in the foreseeable future. TV's influence has made college football unmistakably worse.

Sorry, I just need to get that off the chest from time to time.

***

Georgia's three closest calls this season have been the 27-20 win at Auburn on Sept. 30, Saturday's 30-21 topping of Missouri, and the 24-14 comeback triumph over South Carolina on Sept. 16.

The Bulldogs won the second half in those contests by a combined score of 58-21.

"They believe in our system," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "We have built a culture of a competitive edge in the fourth quarter. We believe that we're the best conditioned, and that we're going to win the game in the fourth quarter by relying on each other.

"We've got a lot of positive leaders out there."

That was experienced and echoed Saturday by Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz.

"They're champs, and that's what champs do," Drinkwitz said. "You've got to knock them out, and we couldn't knock them out. They've got a championship mindset.

"They've been in these games before."

Georgia can clinch its sixth SEC East title in the last seven years this Saturday with either a win over Ole Miss or a Tennessee loss at Mizzou. The Vols are the only other team with a chance at the 32nd and final East crown.

***

Jarquez Hunter's touchdown runs of 67 and 56 yards in the first quarter ignited Auburn to a 31-15 win at Vanderbilt that has given the Tigers a 5-4 record entering their final three games.

Auburn plays at Arkansas this week before hosting New Mexico State and rival Alabama.

"The first logical step in our rebuild here is gaining bowl eligibility, which we've done every year I've taken over a program in the first year," Tigers coach Hugh Freeze said. "We did it at Arkansas State, Ole Miss and Liberty, and I think that's really invaluable. No. 1, you want to do it for your seniors. No. 2, you want to do it for your fans. No. 3, you want the extra practices and another chance to compete.

"We're one step closer, but we've got some hard games, too."

***

Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart completed 24 of 33 passes for 387 yards and two touchdowns against Texas A&M's respected defense, and he engineered a nine-play, 75-yard drive that put the Rebels up 38-35 with 1:40 remaining.

After Ole Miss won by that score once Randy Bond's 47-yard field-goal attempt for the Aggies was tipped as time expired, Rebels coach Lane Kiffin said Dart needed a brighter outlook on life.

"Jaxson came off the field and was like, 'We scored too fast,' and I said, 'Can you be positive, please?'" Kiffin said. "Then he's like, 'They're going to make the kick,' and I'm like, 'Can you be positive?' Then, after the game, he was like, 'OK, I'll stop being negative.'

"I think he was watching too much Bobby Knight this week about the power of negative thinking."

Kiffin provided several verbal jabs last week at Texas A&M's expense, referring to the Aggies as the "most talented 5-3 team ever," and then he defeated them for a third consecutive year to saddle Jimbo Fisher with a 5-4 record with a trip to LSU still to go. Fisher's Aggies have now lost nine consecutive true road games.

"I have no problem with Lane," Fisher said. "We're coaching our guys. The streak I want to get off is just winning on the road and winning period for our football team."

***

Who knew extra points could be so dangerous?

When Tennessee scores quickly on offense -- the Vols had touchdown drives of 28 seconds, 61 seconds and 47 seconds during the first half of Saturday's 59-3 trouncing of Connecticut -- it is quite common to see an offensive lineman stay on the ground for a couple of minutes following the extra point. The delay gives the Volunteers defense more rest before returning to the field, with Jackson Lampley, Masai Reddick and Addison Nichols taking turns Saturday performing that role before returning to the sideline without any assistance.

***

Losing to two-time national champion Georgia at a neutral site is one thing, but losing at home to 2-6 Arkansas is something else completely.

The tough times are continuing for Florida second-year coach Billy Napier, the former Murray County High School quarterback. Napier has an 11-11 record with the Gators and tests the next three weeks at LSU, at Missouri and home against Florida State.

"When you lose games, there is going to be criticism," Napier said Saturday after falling to Sam Pittman's Razorbacks 39-36 in overtime. "I understand it. I've grown up in this profession, and it comes with the territory.

"We knew this was going to be a challenge, and we're right in the middle of it."

Napier's 22-game record in Gainesville, as one would expect, pales in comparison to those of Steve Spurrier (19-3), Urban Meyer (18-4), Dan Mullen (17-5), Jim McElwain (16-6), Will Muschamp (15-7) and Ron Zook (14-8).

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.

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