The SEC never fails to deliver, does it?
I’ll allow you a second to catch your breath and weep — there are only two more weeks of the SEC’s regular season, and the 2013 season is nearly over. We march on to week 13 next Saturday.
Here are the biggest takeaways from week 12:
Miracle on The Plains: What can you say about Auburn’s miracle win? They should have kept their foot on the pedal in the second half, but they allowed Georgia to score three fourth-quarter touchdowns to march right back into it. At one point in the first half, Auburn had 24 first downs and Georgia had run 20 total plays. Then, the second half happened, and Auburn was already looking ahead to the Iron Bowl at halftime. Thankfully, they escaped with a 73-yard, 4th-and-18 prayer from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis, who never even saw the ball in the air, that will go down as one of the greatest plays in Auburn history. The Tigers’ first-half team looked like it can compete with anyone in college football, but they’ll have to play for four quarters to beat Alabama, not two and some change.
Related: Auburn-Georgia biggest takeaways
The biggest winner: Not only did South Carolina escape an upset bid by Florida, but Georgia also lost, making the Gamecocks the day’s biggest winner, aside from The Plains’ Miracle. USC is right where they want to be to get to Atlanta. South Carolina’s conference schedule is now over, and the Gamecocks wait on Missouri’s final two games. The Tigers have to win both games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M to get to Atlanta, and Carolina looks like they’re in perfect position. But Mizzou still controls their own destiny, and they are sitting right where they want to be, too. The SEC East is a two-team race, and it’s going to be a spectacular finish.
Related: Florida-South Carolina highlights
Playing down: Could last night’s Alabama team beat Auburn? Could it win an SEC Championship? A national championship? Alabama looked lethargic and unimpressive. Clearly after an emotional win against LSU, there was a hangover. I’m not all about style points nor do I really believe in them, and sometimes you have to grind out wins against teams that raise their level of play. But MSU didn’t exactly raise their level of play. The Tide played down to their competition, coughing it up four times and successfully completing just 4-12 on third down. That Alabama team looked like the one that opened the season against Virginia Tech. Thankfully for Alabama, MSU made just as many mistakes and didn’t take advantage of the mishaps.
Related: Alabama-Miss State highlights
The Iron Bowl: What a game it’s going to be! It’s great for the state of Alabama; it’s great for the SEC, and it’s great for the rivalry. Alabama and Auburn will decide who wins the SEC West and ultimately will help shape the national title picture. It’s just like everyone predicted during the preseason, right? The SEC’s greatest rivalry is turning into the biggest second-half game of the season, and neither team played their best Saturday.
Ready for Mizzou: The Rebels racked up a school-record 751 yards and threw up a 51-spot against Troy. The Rebels are looking to become one of the hottest finishers down the stretch, and they are primed for Mizzou next week. The offense has posted four games in a row of over 500 yards of total offense. If you liked the Vandy/Ole Miss shootout to open the season, you’ll love Missouri/Ole Miss next week. It’s setting up to be a high-scoring thriller, with two better-than-advertised and underrated defenses.
Related: Ole Miss-Troy highlights
Vandy continues rolling: The Commodores keep rewriting their record book, and they are now bowl eligible for the third straight season…another record. It wasn’t pretty against Kentucky, but the Dores are bowl eligible before both Florida and Tennessee. Think about it. And speaking of Tennessee, the state’s heated rivalry cranks back up Saturday in Knoxville with the Commodores traveling to Neyland. Franklin’s team is +8 in TO margin in the last two games against Florida and Kentucky.
Related: Vanderbilt-Kentucky highlights
A tough 6-4: This just hasn’t been Georgia’s season, from the key injuries and special teams struggles to losing on an inconceivable last-minute 73-yard TD prayer that tipped off two Georgia defenders. Is it surprising the Achilles Heel reared its ugly head again in the Georgia secondary? It’s been the defense’s problem all year, and it happened again. Nine times out of 10, teams don’t get burned for it, but this one time it happened. Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and Bulldog Nation will replay that over in their minds all season and all offseason. But, man, Aaron Murray was a warrior, totaling four touchdowns and one split open forehead. He didn’t deserve to lose that game; he was the only real reason they were in it.
Showed a pulse: Kentucky didn’t play well enough on offense to escape Nashville with a win, but the Cats’ defense, led by DE Bud Dupree and DT Donte Rumph, showed more of a pulse than they have in a while. The Wildcats need athletes to play on offense for the future, and they’ll look back on the Vanderbilt game, along with Western Kentucky, as the game(s) that got away. Still, there’s some fight left in the Wildcats, and the Tennessee game could be more entertaining than anyone in the Volunteer state would like. The most important thing for the Wildcats is keep fighting and make sure the recruiting class doesn’t unravel for any reason.
Leave you wanting more: Mississippi State isn’t that far away from being a good team, and the brutal schedule is punishing them down the stretch. Without QBs Dak Prescott and without Tyler Russell in the second half, the Bulldogs hung tough, thanks to four takeaways by the defense. But missed opportunities crushed MSU, and they couldn’t take advantage of the field position. They missed a field goal, threw an INT in the end zone and had two turnover on downs in Bama territory. Russell’s INT in the end zone will be on his mind for a long time. You get a sense that things are so close to clicking they leave you wanting more. The program isn’t headed in the wrong direction, and you have to give Dan Mullen another season no matter the outcome in the final two games.
Upset bid: Florida almost put an upset together against South Carolina, but again, the offense failed to deliver down the stretch. However, freshman Kelvin Taylor, who rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense came to play. Once again special teams didn’t show up and the Gators committed costly penalties down the stretch. Freshman QB Skyler Mornhinweg actually looked better than anticipated, and I thought Florida should have taken some calculated shots earlier in the game when they had the Gamecocks on the ropes. You just knew the Gators’ defense couldn’t play perfectly down the stretch and USC would eventually put a couple drives together and find a way to win it. Florida has to beat Georgia Southern and FSU to become bowl eligible.
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