Sunday, February 25, 2018
Sports

Iron Bowl tops huge weekend for SEC

It's rivalry week for several SEC teams and many are playing for more than bragging rights.

This year's Iron Bowl, featuring No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn, is the main attraction. The winner clinches the SEC's Western Division and a trip to Atlanta for the league championship game Dec. 7. The teams have never been ranked this high at the same time for the Iron Bowl.

"I love these kinds of games," Alabama safety Landon Collins said. "They're going to talk a lot of trash and that's the type of thing I like. I don't like quiet games; it takes that fire out of me."

Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium figures to be the loudest it has been in a long time.

"Everybody's going to be playing their best football," Auburn center Reese Dismukes said. "You're going to be playing your best, and it's going to be a hostile environment that you live for."

Several other matchups also have implications.

The Missouri-Texas A&M matchup features two former Big 12 foes. If the fifth-ranked Tigers win, they'll clinch the SEC's Eastern Division. If they lose, No. 10 South Carolina goes to Atlanta to play for the SEC crown because it holds the tiebreaker over Missouri via a head-to-head win.

The Tigers have bounced back from last year's 5-7 season, improving to 10-1 overall and 6-1 in league play. Texas A&M lost to LSU last weekend but still has defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at QB.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Missouri offensive lineman Max Copeland said. "The bigger the stakes, the funner it gets."

When Clemson and South Carolina play, it will be the first time both teams are in the top 10 at the same time for the rivalry. The Gamecocks are also trying to beat Clemson for an unprecedented fifth straight time.

Assistant award: The offensive coordinators set to play in Saturday's Iron Bowl are among the 40 names on the list for the Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant in college football. Alabama's Doug Nussmeier, and Auburn's Rhett Lashlee are joined by FSU defensive coordinator Jerry Pruitt. The winner will be announced Dec. 10.

California: Quarterback Jared Goff, who broke Cal's single-season records for yards passing (3,508) and total offense (3,446), had surgery on his right shoulder and is expected to be ready for spring practice.

Michigan: Athletic director Dave Brandon took to his blog a day after a top recruit expressed reservations about coach Brady Hoke's status to write that Hoke will lead the program "well into the future" despite this season's 7-4 mark, ESPN reported. Jabrill Peppers, a cornerback from Paramus, N.J., who is Michigan's top recruit for 2014, told espn.com he plans to take official visits elsewhere because of "the rumors about Coach Hoke possibly not being there.''

UNLV: Coach Bobby Hauck, 12-37 in his fourth season, agreed to a new three-year contract that will take him through 2016.

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