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Spotlight: This SEC party's just a warmup for the big one next week

Spotlight: This SEC party's just a warmup for the big one next week
Georgia's Tae Crowder (30) recovers a fumble against Florida at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

We’ll take a shot — go ahead and hold the lime — at calling the otherwise hush-hush “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” just a casual mixer before the real unhinged tailgate breaks out this coming week.

No. 7 Georgia’s 36-17 eventually easy-pour win over No. 9 Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., on the last Saturday in October set the anchor for Week 9’s calm before the storm in November.

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The Associated Press’ No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Louisiana State, expected to retain residency in that numerical neighborhood when the first College Football Playoff top 25 comes out Tuesday, had concurrent bye weeks prior to their key Southeastern Conference matchup next Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

AP No. 5 Michigan, No. 10 Central Florida, No. 11 Ohio State and No. 13 West Virginia also were on holiday.

Apparently, there wasn’t much sense of urgency for Florida either.

On Georgia’s first drive, the Gators took a five-yard delay-of-game penalty because it was pointed out that one of their players’ knee pads was not covering his knees.

It’s actually not a rule violation. Prior to this season, the NCAA recommended players wear knee pads and pants that cover the knees. When the referee asked a Florida player to leave the game because his pants didn’t cover his knee, he declined. The Gators got the penalty, turning a third and three at the Florida 12 into a first and goal at the Florida 7, and Georgia hit a field goal to go up 3-0.

A turning point could have come late in the third quarter when Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks fumbled trying to get the ball out of the shadow of the goal line. That gave the Bulldogs the ball at the one.

They ran six plays from inside the two but had to settle for another field goal for a 23-14 lead. The scoring drive: six plays, no yards, taking 3 minutes and 58 seconds.

“That has to be a record,” Florida defensive end CeCe Jefferson said. “I’m pretty sure they were tired, but you could look at them and they just looked like the ‘300’' warriors, ready for the next play.”

ON KENTUCKY’S TIME

Missouri was all but primed to crush the dreams of No. 12 Kentucky up to the last possible moment. And beyond.

Kentucky, an odd seven-point underdog at Missouri, trailed 14-9 with less than 90 seconds left, but covered 81 yards. A controversial pass-interference call as the clock expired occurred when Missouri defensive end DeMarkus Acy was called for having his back to the play while defending a pass caught by Kentucky’s Ahmad Wagner out of the back of the end zone.

That pushed Kentucky to the Missouri two-yard line for one untimed play. Sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson hit senior tight end C.J. Conrad on a down-and-out for the winning score.

“We didn’t play well, but we made the plays at the end,” Conrad said. “We called that play, and after a timeout, we almost switched it. But they put it on me. I’m proud of Terry. He’s been scrutinized so much, but look, he pulled off that 80-yard drive to get us here.”

And it leaves Kentucky tied with Georgia atop the SEC East at 5-1, and 7-1 overall. They play each other next Saturday.

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A SEMINOLE MOMENT

Florida State’s 59-10 embarrassment to No. 2 Clemson went down as the worst home loss in FSU history as half of Doak Campbell Stadium cleared by halftime.

It also got first-year head coach Willie Taggart very upset.

“That can’t be tolerated,” he said noting the team had 16 penalties for 134 yards and two players ejected for throwing punches. “One thing you can’t do, you can’t quit. You quit, you don’t play. So we’ve got to do a great job of making sure we’ve got the right guys. That’s on me and our coaches and our players and everybody that’s here.

“I think mentally we’re a weak football team … So there will be some changes come next week.”

PAYING THE PRICE

Michigan State interim President John Engler said it is “absurd” and “ridiculous” that his school was hit with a $10,000 fine by the Big Ten for last week’s pregame confrontation with rival Michigan. The conference said Michigan State violated the conference’s sportsmanship policy when its players walked across the field with arms linked and initiated contact with Wolverines players. The league also reprimanded Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh for postgame comments about the incident. …

Wyoming defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, a first-team All-Mountain West selection last season, was suspended indefinitely after being issued a summons for harassment and false imprisonment following an altercation with a hotel employee, Cowboys coach Craig Bohls said. The incident took place in Fort Collins, Colo., before Wyoming’s 34-21 “Border War” win over Colorado State on Friday night.

TALES FROM THE DT

Houston All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver missed the first game of his career because of a bruised right knee, but the Cougars pulled off the 57-36 win over No. 21 South Florida. Oliver, with 51 tackles, 13 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks as a preseason Heisman candidate, had a streak of 32 straight starts end….

Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins moved into fullback mode and plowed through for a first-quarter one-yard touchdown against Florida State, giving him three career touchdowns by three different measures. He had a fumble recovery for a TD in a Sept. 22 win against Georgia Tech this season, and a fourth-quarter one-yard receiving touchdown from Deshaun Watson in a six-point win over Troy in 2016.

BY THE NUMBERS

Central Connecticut State’s Aaron Dawson piled up a Division I record 308 yards in the second half en route to 361 total rushing yards in his team’s 49-24 win over visiting Wagner in New Britian, Conn. The 361 yards were sixth-most in FCS history. …

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, the nation's leading rusher coming into Saturday, ran for just 46 yards in 11 carries with two fumbles against Northwestern after finishing with 100 or more in eight straight games. …

Army’s 37-22 win at Eastern Michigan makes the Cadets (6-2) bowl eligible for the third straight season for the first time in program history …

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