Week 11 brings us some sexy matchups within each of the games. Here are four worth keeping an eye on this weekend:
Johnny Manziel vs. Alabama’s defense: This is the matchup we all want to see this week. Johnny Manziel going against statistically the second best defense in the country. Manziel was limited against Florida and LSU, and Alabama certainly has the players, coach and scheme to limit him once again. But Manziel is not just a runner, and he’s getting better as a thrower with growing confidence each and every week. Last week he completed 30 of 36 passes (83 percent) for 311 yards against Mississippi State. He’s combined for 3,449 yards and 31 touchdowns. He shows creativity at its finest, and Alabama will likely put six defensive backs on the field, much like LSU, and try to contain Manziel’s potential 30-yard runs to three-yard runs. Much is at stake Saturday – the Heisman and a shot at a national championship. We’ll see if Manziel can fare better against the Tide than he did against the Gators or Tigers.
Hugh Freeze vs. James Franklin: Two of the hottest up-and-coming coaches will be going head-to-head Saturday in Oxford. This game means so much for each program, and it’s a benchmark for each to know exactly where they stand and which program is on the faster track of reaching their ultimate goal. Freeze and Franklin have their teams headed in the right direction with the energy and passion it takes to compete in this league. In order to change the culture at both programs, each coach will need to bring in better players to make that happen, and Freeze and Franklin are both recruiting well in the 2013 class. The reality is that both Vandy and Ole Miss have been the laughing stock of the SEC over last few years, each in their own division. With each program sitting at five wins with three games to go, it’s likely both will clinch a bowl berth. But the winner this weekend clinches it first. It’s an underrated game, and it will be a chess match by these two good-looking head coaches.
Jeremy Hill vs. Mississippi State run defense: Jeremy Hill has been an animal for LSU this season. He’s a big reason they beat South Carolina, and he was a big reason the Tigers went to Kyle Field and beat the Aggies. In the last three games, Hill has rushed for 358 yards and four touchdowns, answering the bell for his team when they needed it the most. For the better part of this season, Mississippi State looked like an underrated defense ready to state their case against better offenses. That hasn’t happened yet, as both Bama and Texas A&M have hung 76 points in two games. However, if MSU can get it together and limit Hill and the running game, there is a chance they beat LSU Saturday. Hill will be key, with his raw power and quickness, and the matchup between he and State’s defense will be interesting to watch.
Tennessee’s offensive vs. Missouri’s defense: Don’t look now, but Missouri has a top six defense in the SEC. The Tigers are only allowing 327 total yards per game and 185 yards through the air. That’s what Tennessee excels in. The Vols are averaging over 36 points per game and over 323 yards per game through the air by quarterback Tyler Bray. The good news for Tennessee fans is they can score 40-plus points per game, but the bad news is they will have to. Tennessee’s defense is statistically the worst in the SEC, but Missouri’s offense is 12th in the league. The real matchup will be whether the Tigers can stop the air attack from Bray and his receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. These two teams have combined for just a 1-10 record in SEC play this season.
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