Wednesday’s college football: Defense still rules SEC

Georgia coach Kirby Smart isn’t happy that his Bulldogs finally allowed not one, but two touchdowns.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart isn’t happy that his Bulldogs finally allowed not one, but two touchdowns against a Southeastern Conference opponent.

In their third league game.

Smart calls that a wake-up call for his fourth-ranked Bulldogs.

“Our defense needed that,” Smart said. “They have been told by the media and everyone else that they’re the greatest thing ever. … We didn’t play to the standard that we’re supposed to. We can get better defensively and coach off of this performance to get their attention.”

The Bulldogs still are the nation’s second-stingiest defense in Smart’s second season , giving up an average of just 10 points a game this season. They haven’t allowed more than 19 in a win at Notre Dame.

Georgia, top-ranked Alabama and No. 10 Auburn are separating themselves in the SEC.

The one thing the trio does well week in and week out, is play defense. Their defensive squads are among the top six scoring units in the country, and that has them all poised to make a run at the College Football Playoff.

“Defense wins championships and offense puts people in the seats,” said Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, who runs his own defense.

But these three teams have taken it to heart.

Alabama has allowed just 22 points in three SEC games. Georgia had a streak of six scoreless quarters before giving up its first touchdowns in league play to Vanderbilt. The second was set up by a turnover returned to the Georgia 1.

Auburn used Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo offenses as first coordinator and then head coach to overcome the Tigers’ defensive shortcomings in winning the 2010 national championship with Cam Newton and to reach the 2013 title game. Auburn’s best scoring defense was ranked 48th in 2013 in those two seasons.

Now Auburn is holding opponents to 13 points per game — sixth-best in the nation.

“Over the history of our league, if you really look, the teams that have a chance to either win championships or have a chance to win championships, they’re all playing really good defense,” Malzahn said.

Extra points

Tennessee redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is scheduled to make his first career start in place of Quinten Dormady this week as the Volunteers seek to bounce back from their first shutout loss since 1994.

... A backup quarterback for Division III Albright College in Pennsylvania has been cut from his team for kneeling during the national anthem.

Sophomore Gyree Durante took a knee before Saturday’s game. He says he was “taught you fight for what you believe in and you don’t bow to anyone.”

The school says Durante was cut because he violated a team decision to show unity by kneeling during the coin toss, but standing during the anthem.

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