10 most important SEC alums in Super Bowl 50
With both starting quarterbacks hailing from conference schools, SEC products will have a huge impact on the outcome of Super Bowl 50.
Expect many of the key plays in next Sunday’s games to be made by former SEC players.
Here’s a list of the 10 most important SEC alums in Super 50:
10. Carolina SS Roman Harper (Alabama): Before Nick Saban arrived in Alabama, Harper was making plays for the Crimson Tide. He also makes them in the NFL. Fourth on the Panthers with 73 tackles, Harper will be called upon to make sure tackles and prevent Peyton Manning from hooking up deep with receivers Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders or over the middle with tight ends Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis.
9. Denver DE Malik Jackson (Tennessee): The 6-foot-5, 293-pound Jackson must get pressure on Cam Newton and keep the Panthers quarterback from escaping the pocket. Jackson hd 45 tackles and 5 sacks.
8. Carolina LT Michael Oher (Ole Miss): Brought to Carolina to cover Newton’s blind side, Oher has done the job. The assignment against a fierce Denver pass rush should be daunting. The Broncos led the NFL with 52 sacks, though Newton may be the toughest quarterback to sack.
7. Denver FS Darian Stewart (South Carolina): The Broncos’ third-leading tackler with 73, Stewart must be tough against the Panthers’ running game while preventing Newton for running for huge yardage and keeping tabs on deep receivers as the quarterback buys time with his scrambling ability.
6. Denver ILB Danny Trevathan (Kentucky): The Broncos’ leading tackler with 109, including 73 solos, must produce his trademark steady performance against the dangerous Newton and the Panthers’ running backs. Stopping the Panthers’ ground game might force Carolina into mistakes.
5. Carolina DE Charles Johnson (Georgia): Injured most of the season, Johnson returned for the playoffs and supplied one sack in each game and contributed a forced fumble against Arizona. Protecting an ailing Peyton Manning is a major key for Denver. If Johnson can apply steady pressure, it makes the underdog Broncos’ task that much more difficult.
4. Denver SLB Von Miller (Texas A&M): The Broncos need big plays from their All-Pro defender, who produced a team-high 11 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Miller is fast enough and powerful enough to keep Newton from getting loose for big plays. His ability to create turnovers may give the Broncos a needed edge.
3. Carolina WLB Thomas Davis (Georgia): Can Davis play with a broken arm suffered in the NFC Championship Game? It seems he’s going to try. The Panthers’ All-Pro defender ranked second on the team with 105 tackles and added 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. His loss on the outside would be a major blow to the Panthers.
2. Carolina QB Cam Newton (Auburn): Why No. 2 instead of No. 1? Simple. He’s healthy and more certain than Manning to give an outstanding performance. The best player in the NFL this season, Newton accounted for 50 TDs, including 15 on the ground. Newton gives the Panthers an unstoppable weapon against the NFL’s most unyielding defense. Newton doesn’t have any easy assignment. Taking care of the ball against Denver and its struggling offense will be of primary importance.
1. Denver QB Peyton Manning (Tennessee): Another Super Bowl victory may be the biggest reason why the soon-to-be 40-year-old Manning is still playing. It’s been an especially tough season for Manning. There’s been continuous calls for the Broncos to go with Brock Otweiler. But Manning did enough to get the Broncos to the Super Bowl and beat old nemesis Tom Brady to get there. Manning’s stats are horrible — a 67.9 quarterback rating with 17 interceptions and only 9 TD passes. But this is one game. If the Broncos can protect Manning, he can he provide the type of performance that made him one of the game’s all-time great quarterbacks.