Hey everyone! How's kicks? As some of you may know, I spent last weekend deep in the Virginia woods, hiking a stunning section of the Appalachian Trail. Sure, I missed the UF game, but no matter! I was witness nature at its finest, and I take that as a reminder that there are more important things than sports. Besides, I already knew what was going to happen. ODS called for a comfortable win over Florida.
Well, dammit. ODS has dropped the ball on consecutive weeks. Let's review:
ODS GOT IT RIGHT: [FOOTAGE NOT FOUND]
ODS GOT IT WRONG: All the things!
Frankly, I'm surprised it took 8 games for ODS to register a whiff of this magnitude. Even in the flawed LSU simulation, there were some striking overlaps. It's possible that there was a stray stat that synced up this past week, but frankly I'm not enough of a masochist to sit and watch the game for research purposes. So instead, I'll surge defiantly ahead with this feature which is becoming a more burdensome tease with every week!
It's a huge day for the DigiCocks, who can claim the Eastern division with a win over the DigiVols. UT's been without DigiTyler Bray for several weeks now, who's out for the season with a broken collarbone. SC native Justin Worley has been a serviceable backup, but the DigiVols are out of the division race and are still vying for bowl eligibility. DigiDooley's seat is every bit as hot as his real life counterpart.
(NOTE: I had this game 95% of the way simulated and written up, and the #*&@*ing game froze. We were up 35-10 at that point.)
It's a bright and sunny afternoon in DigiColumbia. Volunteers win toss, will kick.
1ST QUARTER, or, NOT GOOD, AS OPENING DRIVES GO
The Cocks start from 20. 1st down and they'll run the option. Shaw is hit, fumbles it away, and is injured. WELL THAT DIDN'T GO WELL. UT wil take over on the USC 15. Thankfully, the red zone D steps up and holds the DigiVols to a field goal. 3-0, Vols.
Vic Hampton's return is a good one, all the way out to the 36. No word on Shaw yet, but for now, DigiDylan Thompson is in. Lo and behold, DigiDylan leads an efficient 9 play drive, capped by a DigiLatty TD run from 8 yards out. 7-3, DigiCocks.
UT will start their drive at the 30. After a couple of 1st down completions, DigiWorley can't shake a blitzing Byron Jerideau—and he'll fumble! Kelcy Quarles scoops it up, and he'll race all the way into the end zone. The fumble is reviewed—will it stand? Yes! 14-3, Gamecocks.
It's official: Shaw's out for the game with an elbow injury. With Tyler Bray out for the season, this is a battle of backups.
On the ensuing drive, Worley goes deep on 2nd and short and is picked by Victor Hampton. South Carolina will take over at the 20 yard line.
Thompson is looking very composed, relying, as we do, on short passes and zone reads. Jump to a 3rd and 7 around the 50 yard line. Thompson arcs one deep to Ace Sanders, who makes the snag and breaks two tackles before he's finally dragged down at the 15! Two plays later, Marcus Lattimore runs up the gut for a 13 yard touchdown. It's 21-3, Gamecocks.
The teams then volley 5 punts, and the 1st quarter ends somewhere along the line.
2ND QUARTER, or, DYLAN PUTTIN' UP NUMBERS
UT's looking at a 3rd and long, Worley finds TE Mychal Rivera down the sideline, and he gets a foot down. A big 3rd down conversion for Tennessee, who now has it at the USC 39. After moving into the red zone, it's Worley to Marlin Lane on a wheel route. Victor Hampton gets a hand on the pass, but Lane lays out to reel in the deflection for the touchdown. Catch of the day, and it's 21-10, USC.
The Cocks are able to move it well into UT territory, but will stall out on 4th and 3. But wait—on the field goal attempt, DT Greg Clark jumps offside and it'll result in a 1st down! DigiDooley's hollers fall on deaf ears. The Cocks won't make much of their second chance, settling for an Adam Yates field goal. It's 24-10, DigiCocks.
Worley's racking up some pass yards, but the Vols stall out again. Punt. Meanwhile, Florida leads Georgia late in the 2nd, 13-10.
3:00 remain in the half. Again, the DigiCocks are moving it. The ball's at the UT 42. Thompson fires it down the sideline, and DL Moore is uncovered—he makes grab and streaks into the end zone! A complete coverage breakdown, and it's 31-10, Gamecocks.
Another UT punt—their 5th in the last 6 drives. USC will get the ball back on their own 25 with about 1:30 remaining and 2 timeouts. Jump to 3rd and 7. Thompson airs one to Moore, and he leaps over his defender and makes the snag all the way down at the 27! Timeout, SC, 1:00 left. Jump to :40 left, ball on the 15. Thompson hits Ace Sanders on the short post for a touchdown. 38-10, Gamecocks.
UT has 3 timeouts and :19 seconds. Will they try something here? Yes, but it backfires—Worley's pass on 1st down is picked off by Akeem Auguste, and USC will have it on their own 32 with :14 remaining.
Thompson takes the snap—sacked, and they'll use the final timeout. DigiSpurrier continues his season-long war against Adam Yates' professional aspirations and has him kick a 56 yard field goal. It's no good, and what's worse, there's still :01 left on the clock. DigiWorley airmails one, and it's caught by Justin Hunter, but he's dragged down immediately, and the half is over.
D. Thompson: 18-25, 286 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT, 6 rushes, 29 yds
M. Lattimore: 12 rushes, 45 yds., 2 TD, 2 rec., 12 yds
DL Moore: 6 rec., 125 yds, 1 TD
D. Holloman: 6 tackles, 1 TFL
3rd QUARTER, or, DIGIQUA AND DIGIGOLIGHTLY IN THE SAME QUARTER NO LESS
UT gets the ball, and makes it count. On 2nd down, Worley rears back and bombs one to Hunter, who'd blown past Akeem Auguste. Hunter trots in for the score, and it's 38-17, USC.
Nothing doing for Carolina, and they'll punt. The punt is up and taken by Devrin Young, who breaks one tackle before being plastered by Quin Smith—and he fumbles it! Qua Gilchrist scoops up the loose ball and runs it 35 yards back for a touchdown! Just like that, it's 45-17, Gamecocks.
Deflated and more or less out of it, Tennessee will start the drive at the 25. Jump to 3rd and 10, and Worley fires downfield. Again, it's Justin Hunter with the impressive catch. It's a big momentum boost—Tennessee follows it with back-to-back 1st downs, and they're in the red zone. But Devin Taylor makes the sack on Worley to slow down the attack. Jump to 3rd and goal from the 20. DigiWorley has time, and he connects with Jason Croom for a touchdown in the corner of the endzone. Strange drive, and it's 45-24, UT.
No luck for USC and Hull will punt and UT will take over at their own 36. A score on this drive and it will be a 2 score game. Worley then hits Rivera for a first—the SC native QB is looking good this half. On 2nd down, its another Worley to Hunter hookup for a huge gain. Ball at the USC 11. On 2nd and 4, Worley slings it to the flat, but Sharrod DIGIGOLIGHTLY jumps in front of it for the pick! He'll return it 92 yards for the touchdown! It's South Carolina's 3rd non-offensive touchdown of the game, and it's 52-24, USC.
UT gets it back, but Worley takes a sack on 1st down at the hands of Chaz Sutton. On 2nd and 18, he tries to go deep again, but DJ Swearinger leaps up and makes the pick! It's Worley's 2nd pick in 3 throws, and his 4th on the day. South Carolina will punt it back, and UT starts at the 20.
The DigiVols are down 4 touchdowns, so they'll need to work fast. Worley is almost intercepted again, but it'll fall incomplete. And then he's almost intercepted AGAIN, making it the 4th time in 5 throws a ball has touched two hands of a USC defender. But then, of course, Worley hits Hunter on a go route for an 80 yard touchdown. That qualifies as working fast. 52-31, Cocks.
On 1st and 10, Lattimore is dropped in the backfield for a loss of 1, and that's how the quarter will end.
4th QUARTER, or, BALD ACE MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE
On 3rd and 8, Thompson has plenty of time but makes a lazy throw and his pass is picked off by LB Curt Maggitt. Tennessee will not go away, folks. The pick is brought all the way back to the USC 23.
USC's D holds on 3 downs, and UT will go for it on 4th. Worley has a man over the middle, it's the reliable Hunter—but he drops it! Turnover on downs.
The Vols are more or less out of it; even moreso after Thompson coolly leads a scoring drive, culminating in an Ace Sanders touchdown. The scoring outburst continues, and it's 58-31, Cocks. And the game cuts to the sideline to show Ace Sanders celebrating, revealing him to be bald. Weird.
Worley is having a heck of a game, but still finds his team down 4 scores. Things won't get better: his next pass is picked off by the DECIDEDLY UN-REDSHIRTED Chaz Elder. It's Worley's 5th pick of the day. USC takes over on the 42.
Play action, and a scrambling Dylan Thompson hilariously gets caught behind 4 blockers for (literally) 5 seconds without being tackled, and somehow breaks out for a big run and gains the 1st down. Two plays later, Thompson scrambles for a tough TD, gaining 6 yards after he's first hit. What a performance by Dylan Thompson, who had to take over for Shaw after the starter was knocked out on the first play from scrimmage. It's 66-31, USC.
UT takes over at the 28, and they'll continue to push. We're at 5 minutes left in the game now. UT gets into South Carolina territory, but Worley makes a cross-body throw and it's casually picked off by Damario Jeffery. It's Worley's 6th pick of the day, in case you lost count.
SC punts, and UT's back at it. Believe it or not, Worley is now up over 500 yards on the day, but at the expense of 6 interceptions. Very little of interest is happening right now, so I'll inform you that Florida beat Georgia, 26-17. Worley, by the way, just broke Peyton Manning's school single game passing record. He was then sacked by Jadeveon Clowney. That pretty much sums up his day. Tennessee's actually put together a nice drive to end the game, but it ends with Devin Taylor sacking Worley as time expires.
DigiCocks win 66-31. And with it, they win the East. (I'm so very sorry.)
D. Thompson: 25-34, 384, 3 TD, 2 INT, 10 rush, 62 yds, 1 TD, Player of the Game
M. Lattimore: 25 rush, 67 yds, 2 TD, 3 rec, 15 yds
A. Sanders: 5 rec., 139 yds, 2 TD
D. Swearinger: 10 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT
INJURIES: Connor Shaw's bruised elbow won't be severe enough to keep him out for any great length. Look for him to start against Arkansas after the bye week.
WEEKLY AWARDS: None.
DigiSEC WRAP UP:
It's official: The DigiCocks will win the SEC East. It was as hard for me to write that sentence as it was for you to read it. Out west, it might just come down to Bama and Auburn, the former being undefeated and the latter having only one conference loss. Auburn's two remaining SEC games are UGA and Florida.
AROUND THE DigiNCAA
SCORES OF NOTE:
Texas Tech 38 - Kansas State 21: In a battle of undefeateds, Texas Tech finally topples the Wildcats.
Florida 26 - Georgia 17
Auburn 35 - Ole Miss 17: Auburn continues to be a factor in the SEC West.
INJURIES OF NOTE: At this point, the NCAA injury list is so long, it's hard to see if anyone new is on the list. We'll bypass it for now.
CONCLUSION, Week 9
What can I tell ya? This game likes us. It really likes us. If only reality was so kind. Up next is Arkansas, which is ranked #11 in the country in ODS. But first, we have a bye week, which I can guarantee you will be ODS's most accurate statistical prediction yet! In next week's edition, we'll see how the stats thus far compare to the real thing. We'll try to dig out some eerie coincidences, and share a hearty guffaw at the more egregious deviations.