Auburn Can't Come to Grips

From Associated Press

No. 20-ranked Mississippi got a scintillating blend of clutch plays and breaks Saturday to move closer to its first Southeastern Conference West Division championship.

Brandon Jacobs had a one-yard touchdown run to cap an 85-yard drive with 2:39 left, and Ben Obomanu dropped a pass in the end zone on Auburn's final drive, helping Mississippi to a 24-20 victory at Auburn, Ala.

Mississippi moved to 6-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1962. A victory over No. 4 Louisiana State (8-1, 4-1) on Nov. 22 would put the Rebels in the SEC championship game.

Mississippi (8-2) defeated Auburn (6-4, 4-2) for only the second time in the last 11 meetings. Rebel quarterback Eli Manning put up mediocre numbers by his standards -- 19 of 30 passing for 218 yards -- but threw for two touchdowns and came up with three big plays on the game-deciding drive.

On third and 11 at the Mississippi 19, Manning connected with Bill Flowers for a 16-yard gain. On the next third-down play, he lofted a long pass that a tightly defended Lorenzo Townsend caught along the left sideline and turned into a 49-yard gain.

After Manning set up first and goal at the one-yard line with a two-yard sneak, Jacobs plunged into the end zone.

Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, the SEC's lowest-rated passer, then completed four consecutive passes to move the Tigers to the three-yard line.

On third and two, Campbell rolled right and, with two defenders in pursuit, spotted a wide-open Obomanu in the end zone. The ball went through the sophomore receiver's hands, hit him on his No. 2 and bounced off.

On fourth down, a nearly identical play ended with Campbell forced to loft it toward Jeris McIntyre, but Eric Oliver batted it away at the last second.

"I really haven't dropped a pass in practice or anything for about two weeks now," said Obomanu, who had a 68-yard touchdown among six catches for 150 yards. "It hurts real bad."

No. 17 Florida 35, Vanderbilt 17 -- Ciatrick Fason ran for two touchdowns and Keiwan Ratliff returned an interception for a touchdown at Gainesville, Fla., as the Gators (7-3, 5-2) won their fourth in a row. Florida moved alone into first place in the SEC East ahead of idle Georgia (7-2, 4-2). Vanderbilt (1-9, 0-6) lost its 23rd consecutive SEC game.

With 56 seconds left, Ratliff set a Florida record with his eighth interception of the season, returning it 52 yards for the touchdown.

Alabama 38, Mississippi State 0 -- At Starkville, Miss., Brodie Croyle threw three touchdown passes in the first half -- two going to Zach Fletcher for 32 and 86 yards -- as the Crimson Tide (4-6, 2-4) ended a conference losing streak at four.

Mississippi State (2-7, 1-4) has lost three in a row and been outscored, 125-30, since Coach Jackie Sherrill announced he will retire at the end of the season.

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