- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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After a quiet week, the SEC returns with a pair of marquee matchups this Saturday -- LSU at Georgia and Ole Miss at Alabama. The conference season is officially upon us, and it’s time to take a look at some notes from the ESPN Stats & Info:
In the last 10 years, every meeting between Georgia and LSU has featured both of them ranked in the AP top 20.
LSU's last loss in August/September was Sept. 16, 2006 at Auburn. By Saturday, it will have been 2,569 days since that game. Since then, the Tigers have won 32 straight August/September games with every other FBS team losing at least three times in August/September in that time.
Georgia’s Todd Gurley is emerging as one of the top running backs in the country and leads the SEC in rushing yards per game this year (125.7) after finishing second last season behind Johnny Manziel. Gurley has big-play ability too, with 13 rushes of at least 10 yards this season, tied for most in the SEC (with Alex Collins at Arkansas).
LSU RB Jeremy Hill -- who was suspended for the season opener against TCU -- had a big game last week against Auburn with a career-high 183 rushing yards and a career high-tying three TDs. At halftime, Hill had 151 of LSU’s 153 rushing yards. Hill has been efficient on his runs this year, picking up 8.3 yards per rush. That’s tops in the SEC among players with 40 rushes.
Alabama has won nine straight and 17 of the last 19 meetings with Ole Miss (some of those wins were later vacated). Ole Miss hasn’t won in Tuscaloosa since 1988, going 0-11 there since.
In the AP poll era (since 1936), Ole Miss has never defeated an AP No. 1 team. The Rebels are 0-8 against AP No. 1 teams. Of those eight losses, four have come against LSU, two against Alabama and one each against Florida and Tennessee.
Here’s one for the “wow” category. As dominant as the Crimson Tide appear to be, they’ve actually been outgained this season (1,119-1,112 total yards). Of the 29 remaining unbeaten teams in FBS, Fresno State is the only other team being outgained so far.
Arkansas and Texas A&M are meeting in Fayetteville for the first time since 1990 when both were members of the Southwest Conference. Texas A&M rolled the Razorbacks 58-10 last season in College Station. From 2009-11 they met in Arlington, Texas each year.
This is the road opener for A&M this season, but Aggie fans shouldn’t fret. Manziel has yet to lose a game away from College Station. In road/neutral site games, the Aggies are 7-0 when Manziel plays. At home, they are 7-3 in such games. But Bret Bielema-coached teams are almost unstoppable at home. In his coaching career, his teams are 47-5 in home games, including 3-0 since coming to Arkansas.
Kevin Sumlin’s next win will be the 50th of his career. He’s currently 49-20.
South Carolina has won 11 straight games (including bowls) against nonconference opponents since losing to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. That’s tied with Baylor for the third-longest active winning streak against nonconference opponents (Alabama 21, Texas Tech 17).
Jadeveon Clowney has lined up at right defensive end on 80 percent of his defensive snaps this season. South Carolina’s pass defense has been more effective when moving Clowney around the defensive line. Opponents are averaging fewer yards per play and limiting big plays at higher rate when Clowney is lined up at left defensive end or as a tackle.
Florida has won 26 straight games over Kentucky, the longest current win streak for one team over an opponent in an uninterrupted series. Kentucky has not defeated Florida since 1986.
Florida will start freshman Tyler Murphy at quarterback Saturday, replacing the injured Jeff Driskel, who will miss the rest of the season with broken fibula. In his first appearance last Saturday against Tennessee, Murphy played well, finishing with a 98.1 Total QBR for the game. That was not only the fourth-highest QBR of the weekend, it was the highest by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow had a 98.9 Total QBR against Vanderbilt in 2008.
Although they are off to a 1-2 start, Kentucky appears to be much improved offensively under new head coach Mark Stoops. The Wildcats are averaging 490.0 total yards per game, which is T-25th in the FBS, and 7.3 yards per play, which ranks 12th.
Through three games, quarterback James Franklin has Missouri’s offense ranked seventh in the NCAA in total offense (567.0 ypg), eighth nationally in scoring offense (47.0 ppg) and sixth nationally in third-down conversion rate (59.6 percent). Individually, Franklin ranks 10th nationally, and second in the SEC, in total offense.
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