When Auburn felt it necessary to bench quarterback Jeff Burger, who has a penchant for running afoul of the rules, the No. 6 Tigers chose the right man to take up the slack.
Sophomore Reggie Slack, filling in while the Tigers wait to hear from the NCAA about Burger's latest indiscretion, threw three first-half touchdown passes Saturday to lead unbeaten Auburn to a 38-7 victory over Mississippi State.
'Ol' Reggie did all right for his first time out,' Auburn Coach Pat Dye said.
Slack, who had completed only 6 of 12 passes for 95 yards previously this season, was 11 of 17 for 185 yards after learning the previous day he would replace Burger, the nation's second-ranked major-college passer.
'I looked at this as an opportunity to show everybody what I can do,' Slack said. 'I had prepared myself to back up Jeff today. I just thought about what I had to do and played the game in my mind.'
The victory moved Auburn, 6-0-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the SEC, into second place in the league, a half game behind No. 4 Louisiana State (3-0 in the SEC and 6-0-1 overall), which was idle Saturday.
Georgia (3-1, 6-2) took over third place, a half game ahead of No. 11 Florida and No. 18 Alabama, who also had open dates, by edging Kentucky 17-14 when Lars Tate scored on a 5-yard run with only 1:08 left.
In other Southeast action Saturday, No. 3 Miami went to 5-0 with a 48-10 romp at Cincinnati; Tennessee jumped to a 22-point halftime lead en route to a 29-15 triumph over Georgia Tech; No. 20 South Carolina beat East Carolina 34-12; Ole Miss defeated Vanderbilt 42-14; Southern Mississippi clipped Memphis State 17-14; Tulane outslugged Virginia Tech 57-38 and Louisville dumped Akron 31-10. No. 5 Florida State was idle.
Burger, who was in trouble earlier for alleged plagiarism and was bailed out of jail by an Auburn coach, allegedly accepted an airplane ride on a hunting trip from an Auburn alumnus earlier this month. Auburn, while not declaring him ineligible, held him out of Saturday's game while awaiting a ruling from the NCAA on whether that constituted a violation.
Dye said he didn't believe the trip was a rules violation and said Burger would practice for the Florida game. 'Jeff is No. 1 and Reggie is No. 2,' he said.
Kentucky took a 14-0 lead over Georgia by scoring two touchdowns in a 3:37 span of the first quarter. The Bulldogs closed to 14-10 midway through the third quarter on a 14-yard run by reserve quarterback Wayne Johnson, then scored the winning TD on their next possession after a 92-yard drive bogged down at the Kentucky 6-yard line.
'We were down early, but we fought back,' said Georgia Coach Vince Dooley, who was released Thursday from a hospital where he had undergone treatment for a heart ailment.
Redshirt freshman Reggie Cobb rushed for 140 yards and two first-quarter touchdowns to lead Tennessee. However, the Volunteers lost their No. 1 quarterback, Jeff Francis, who sprained his ankle in the closing minute of the first quarter. Francis entered the game with 1,209 yards passing and was 7 of 11 before being injured.
Miami, sticking mainly to the ground on a cold, damp night in Cincinnati, had three runners rush for more than 100 yards. Freshman Leonard Conley had 120 yards on eight carries and Melvin Bratton and Warren Williams had 114 and 101 yards, respectively.