Best SEC Games for Week 13
Rivalry week is upon us.
It is a week that we anticipate with excitement and anxiety. Rivalry week is thrilling for obvious reasons, but it also marks the end of the regular season.
2015 will go down as one of the most exciting college football seasons ever. The SEC, in particular, was filled with excitement each and every week including last week. If you missed any of the action, here are the things you need to know heading into rivalry weekend:
- Florida narrowly survived Florida Atlantic's upset bid. The Gators needed overtime to beat the Owls, 20-14.
- Florida was not the only SEC East team that needed a little extra time to hold off an upset. Georgia was able to defeat Georgia Southern 23-17 in overtime.
- LSU lost its third consecutive game for the first time ever with Les Miles as head coach. Ole Miss routed the Tigers at home, 38-17.
- South Carolina's season took yet another hit when they were upset by the Citadel, 23-22.
- In the most exciting game of the week, Mississippi State defeated Arkansas in a shootout, 51-50.
Everything that we saw this season comes down to this week. Anything can and will happen when two rivals meet on the gridiron. We expect all games to be exciting, but here are the top three games we think you should keep an eye on:
**Note: All stats, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of cfbstats.com**
The Iron Bowl is arguably the most fierce rivalry in all of sports. Alabama is a heavy favorite to take down the struggling Tigers, but this is the kind of game where your previous record gets thrown out the window. This rivalry rarely disappoints.
The Crimson Tide essentially became a new team after their loss to Ole Miss earlier in the season. They have averaged over 34 points per game since that that time and are ranked third nationally in total defense. The passing game has been inconsistent at times, but Derrick Henry carried the team throughout. Henry leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (21) and is a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy. Auburn will have to find a way to slow him down if it plan on winning.
But, of course, the Tigers have to do a lot more than just slow down Henry. Gus Malzahn prides himself on running the ball effectively, which has proven to be an almost impossible task against a Tide defense that has only allowed six rushing touchdowns all season. Malzahn will need to execute a plan that airs the ball out more in an effort to expose what may be his opponent's only weakness. This will be a tough task considering that Auburn quarterbacks have thrown nine touchdown passes this year combined.
The hatred between these two teams and their fan bases is one of the best story lines in and of itself. This game could get ugly in a hurry or the desire for Auburn to beat their in-state rival may lead to a close matchup.
The Egg Bowl is a rivalry that is often overlooked by spectators. The reason for this is due to both teams' lack of historical success, but that is no longer the case as Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen have changed the culture at their respective schools.
Ole Miss has had an up and down season, but the Rebels are currently floating on cloud nine after routing LSU last weekend. On top of that, the Rebels can still technically make it into the SEC Championship as long as they win and Alabama loses. Freeze knows better than to put blind faith into another team, so his focus should be getting his team ready to play a hungry rival that is coming off a big win of their own. Ole Miss cannot afford to overlook the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State cannot be taken lightly because it has something that no other team has: Dak Prescott. The senior has thrown for 3,159 yards, while putting up an additional 478 yards on the ground. Prescott will play a huge role in his team's bid to beat their in-state rival, but he cannot do it by himself. Ole Miss has a gunslinger of its own in Chad Kelly. The Bulldogs, who are ranked ninth in the conference in pass defense, will have to find a way to slow down Kelly and his number one target Laquon Treadwell.
This may not be the most heated rivalry, but it certainly is one of the more evenly-matched rivalry games of the week. This certainly will be a game that you will want to tune into if you like close games.
We know this is not a conference matchup between two SEC teams, but this is still one of the better rivalry games of the weekend. A struggling Florida will try to regain some confidence with a big win after a few unsettling close calls the last few weeks.
Florida's recent decline can be blamed on its offense. Will Grier's suspension is where it all got started. Since his suspension, the team has averaged 176 yard per game after averaging almost 250 pass yards per game before his suspension. The Gators are fortunate to have a rock solid defense to help them survive teams like Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic. They will need it this week against Florida State's superstar running back Dalvin Cook.
Cook's presence will need to be felt, but he will need a little help from his quarterback, who Jimbo Fisher announced would be Sean Maguire and not Everett Golson. Maguire has thrown the ball well in his last two starts, but he has not faced a secondary like the one he will see on Saturday. It is also vital that the defense be prepared despite Florida's recent scoring struggles. Jim McElwain is an offensive minded coach, who knows how to coach his team up in big games.
It is important that Florida focuses on the task at hand and not look ahead to the SEC Championship. The Gators have an opportunity to sneak into the playoff if the cards fall into the right place. FSU also has an opportunity to play in of the New Year's Six bowl games if they win.