SEC Week 12 Preview: Slow Week Leading To A Big Finale
College football was turned upside down in week 11. Five of the top ten teams lost including two SEC schools. Last week's losses in the conference have already changed the course of the season, so it is important to know everything that happened.
If you missed any of the action, here is what you missed:
- For the second week in a row, Texas A&M dropped a game to a team from the state of Mississippi. The Aggies could not handle Ole Miss despite the Rebels being without Chad Kelly.
- It was a pick-six that ended up being the deciding factor in Georgia's 13-7 upset win over Auburn. The Tigers' loss helped Alabama clinch the SEC West.
- In a game that is normally close, LSU dominated Arkansas, 38-10.
- Florida got one step closer to Atlanta by securing a 20-6 win over South Carolina.
This week will be much slower in regards to the amount of exciting games. This is mostly due to the fact that teams are getting ready for rivalry week next week. Still, there are one or two games this we
It is safe to assume that morale is at an all-time high in Athens after a big rivalry win over Auburn last week. Georgia failed to score an offensive touchdown, but the Bulldogs will take a win over a top-10 team any day of the week. The momentum from that win will certainly carry into this week's game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Ragin' Cajuns are not your average "low tier" team. They do have one of the Sun Belt's top defenses, which will benefit the team well as they match up against an offense that ranks 12th in scoring defense in the SEC. Still, Louisiana-Lafayette is not accustomed to facing this level of talent on a week-to-week basis.
Georgia clearly needs to step up its production on the offensive side of the ball. It may be too late at this point in the season, however, a game like this may give the team the opportunity to get some much needed improvement on offense with true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason.
Texas A&M has quickly fallen from grace following its second consecutive loss. The Aggies, who were once ranked in the top four, have lost three of their last four games, so a win this week is a must. Despite the team's struggles, a win this week should not be difficult to achieve.
With all due respect to UTSA, the Road Runners do not have enough talent on either side of the ball to upset the Aggies. The team does manage to force a lot of turnovers, which could benefit them against A&M quarterback Jake Hubenak. However, UTSA has allowed 34 sacks this season, which is never a good sign when going up against the likes of Myles Garret and Daeshon Hall.
A win over the Road Runners would be a very important morale boost for Texas A&M before they face LSU. It may not come easily though. UTSA is one win away from bowl eligibility, and three of their five losses were decided by nine points or fewer.
It is normally pretty difficult to decide which conference game is the most important in any given week. That is not the case this week as LSU and Florida make up their cancelled game from earlier this season. If the Gators had a time machine, they would likely go back in time and just play this game because this is a brand new LSU team they are facing.
The Tigers are 3-1 since the time they were originally supposed to play Florida. The team has scored at least 38 points in all three of those wins while averaging over 500 yards of offense in each of those games. Superstar running back Leonard Fournette has been very effective in LSU's resurgence. Fournette has six rushing touchdowns in his last three starts after only having two in the six games prior.
Of course, LSU will have its hands full this weekend against Florida's defense. The Gators rank third nationally in total defense by only allowing 266 yards of offense per game. Florida will force LSU to rely on their passing attack, which is the Tigers' one major weakness right now. However, the Gators will likely struggle to score against LSU's defense due to weaknesses of their own.
This game will be very important in determining who wins the SEC East. If the Gators lose then Tennessee controls their own destiny, so Florida must win out if they want to make it to Atlanta.
Tennessee not only has to cheer for a Florida loss, but they also have to win out. Missouri should not be a difficult opponent, but we have learned that the SEC East is very unpredictable this season.
The Tigers have very little to play for other than spoiling someone else's season. They grabbed their first conference win of the season last week against Vanderbilt, so they will certainly look to continue that trend. The team ranks second in total offense in the SEC, but will need to find a way to slow down Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs.
Dobbs and the rest of the Vols' offense will certainly have to score quickly and often. Tennessee's defense has been the downfall to their potential success by allowing almost 500 yards of offense per game in conference play including giving up a season high 635 yards to Kentucky last week. Those numbers are not favorable when going up against an offense as dangerous as Missouri's.
The pros and cons for both teams still favor Tennessee, but Missouri will certainly put up a fight. If Butch Jones wants to see his team in Atlanta then this is a must win.
At one point this season, it seemed unlikely that South Carolina would make a bowl game. Now the Gamecocks are just one win away from bowl eligibility. With all due respect to Western Carolina, it is very likely that South Carolina will get the win this weekend.
Improvement on offense has been the key to the Gamecock's recent success. In their 2-4 start to the season, the team averaged 14 points per game. During their 3-1 run since South Carolina has averaged 42 points per game. Those numbers are not overly impressive, but it speaks to the team's improvement in a short period of time.
Anything can happen in college football, and the Gamecocks are certainly not the best team in the SEC. However, a upset here is very, very unlikely.
In the theme of improvement, Kentucky also needs a great amount of praise. Just a few weeks ago, the Wildcats were in the hunt to win the SEC East. While that is no longer the case, the team can become bowl eligible with a win on Saturday.
It is unfair to give a team little to no chance to win, however, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Austin Peay will win. Austin Peay has not won a single game this season. In other words, they will not be able to score enough points needed to outmatch the Wildcats on Saturday.
This matchup features two SEC West teams that have shown signs of promise and signs of inconsistency. Mississippi State struggled all year long until an upset win over Texas A&M boosted their spirits. Meanwhile, Arkansas has key wins over teams like Florida and Ole Miss, but the Razorbacks were routed by Auburn.
Arkansas, while it has shown inconsistencies, should be the favorites despite being statistically even. The Razorbacks have a much more established passing game with quarterback Austin Allen, and Mississippi State has allowed an SEC worst 277 passing yards per game.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, must find a way to utilize quarterback Nick Fitzgerald through the air and on the ground. Arkansas has allowed an SEC worst 29 rushing touchdowns this season, so it is critical that Fitzgerald has a game similar to the one he had in the Bulldogs upset win over Texas A&M.
Mississippi State is fighting for bowl eligibility. In order to do that they must win their final two games of the season. The outcome of this game will be based primarily on which team is the most consistent.
Unlike Austin Peay, Chattanooga has an excellent record this season. The Mocs are 8-2, and they are currently ranked in the top-15 of the FCS. So why is it almost impossible to think they will win on Saturday? Because they are playing Alabama.
The Crimson Tide leads the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, total defense, rushing defense, and scoring defense. In addition to that they are the number one ranked team in the country, and the only undefeated Power Five team still standing. A loss on Saturday would easily be the biggest upset in the history of college football.
A win for Auburn may not be as cut and dry like it is for Alabama. That is only because the Tigers best quarterback and running back have injury concerns. Still, without Kamryn Pettway and Sean White, Auburn should still win without issue.
Team morale is probably at a season low because the team no longer controls their own destiny to Atlanta. However, a dominant victory on Saturday will give the team a much needed boost before heading to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl.
Ole Miss opened up a new chapter to the future of the program when they decided to start freshman Shea Patterson. The Rebels had to burn a redshirt in order to start Patterson, but it certainly paid off.
Many Rebels' fans see Patterson as their own version of Johnny Manziel (or at least the college version of Manziel). Patterson passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his first start last Saturday, He also rushed for 64 yards in the 29-28 win over Texas A&M. He presence has already put a new life in this team.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt's bowl hopes took a turn for the worst when they loss to Missouri on Saturday. The Commodores must now win out to make it to the postseason, which seems highly unlikely. Still, Vanderbilt's defense has proven they can stop dual threat quarterbacks, and they may give Ole Miss' freshman phenom a run for his money.
The Rebels certainly feel much more confident heading into this matchup, but Vanderbilt has surprised us once or twice already this season. Will they do it again?