What you need to know about every SEC West opponent in Week 12
While LSU and Alabama both cruised and Ole Miss escaped College Station with a massive win over Texas A&M, the rest of the SEC West didn’t fare too well last week.
Auburn suffered a tough loss at Georgia, and Arkansas and Mississippi State both came out on the wrong side of blowout losses to the Tigers and Crimson Tide, respectively.
Alabama clinched the SEC West title last Saturday, but there’s still some drama left in Week 12. Here’s what you need to know about every SEC West opponent in Week 12:
Chattanooga (8-2) at Alabama (10-0)
Chattanooga PPG: 36.1
Chattanooga PPG allowed: 16.9
Strength: While nobody is giving the Mocs a chance against the Crimson Tide, Chattanooga is more than competitive on the FCS level. The Mocs have averaged more than five touchdowns per game, running for 2,147 yards and passing for 2,118 more.
Must stop: Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield, from Lovejoy, Ga., has been efficient behind center, throwing for 2,067 yards and 23 touchdowns. Running back Derrick Craine has rushed for 772 yards and nine touchdowns.
Notable: Chattanooga last visited Tuscaloosa in 2013. Alabama won 49-0.
Mississippi State (4-6, 2-4 SEC) vs. Arkansas (6-4, 2-4)
Mississippi State PPG: 28.1
Mississippi State PPG allowed: 31.9
Bulldogs’ strength: Regardless of whether Mississippi State wants to run or pass, the Bulldogs are at their best when the ball is in the hands of quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. The signal-caller anchors the balanced offense. Mississippi State has thrown for 2,153 yards and rushed for 2,136, and both the passing attack (19 TDs) and running game (14 TDs) have generated points.
Must stop: Fitzgerald is undoubtedly the biggest threat to the Razorbacks. He has thrown for 1,850 yards and 16 scores, while also running for a 854 yards and eight touchdowns, both of which lead the Bulldogs on the ground. Fitzgerald is a better runner than passer, but he has weapons in wide receivers Fred Ross (664 receiving yards, 9 TDs) and Donald Gray (587 yards, 4 TDs).
Notable: The Bulldogs have won the past four meetings, including a 51-50 thriller in Fayetteville last season.
Arkansas PPG: 28.8
Arkansas PPG allowed: 29.9
Strength: If the Razorbacks are rolling, they are both running the ball utilizing their passing attack. However, the Arkansas offense has had some Jekyll and Hyde tendencies through the first 11 weeks of the season. Still, with 2,504 passing yards and 1,587 yards on the ground, the Hogs’ offense is capable of getting it done either way.
Must stop: For the Bulldogs to be successful, they’ll want to shut down running back Rawleigh Williams III, who has rushed for 1,004 yards and seven touchdowns. When opponents take him out of the mix, the Razorbacks become one-dimensional, which is never good for a team that prides itself on dominating the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Austin Allen (2,501 yards, 20 TDs) has been stellar in his debut season behind center, especially with Drew Morgan (519 yards, 3 TDs), Jared Cornelius (480 yards, 4 TDs) and Keon Hatcher (467 yards, 5 TDs) out wide.
Notable: Even though the Hogs are amidst a four-game losing skid against the Bulldogs, Arkansas holds a 15-10-1 advantage in the all-time series.
Alabama A&M (4-6) at Auburn (7-3)
Alabama A&M PPG: 37.1
Alabama A&M PPG allowed: 26.2
Strength: Even though quarterback De’Angelo Ballard is more than capable of throwing the ball, the Bulldogs, like Auburn, favor the run. It starts with Ballard, who ranks behind only running back Jordan Bentley for the team lead in rushing yards. In all, the Bulldogs have rushed for 2,217 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Must stop: It starts at quarterback, where Ballard has thrown for 1,894 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 850 yards and seven scores. As dangerous as he is, the Tigers will want to keep an eye out for Bentley, who leads the team with 869 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Ballard’s favorite targets are Tevin McKenzie (492 yards, TD) and Jonathan Dorsey (434 yards, 4 TDs).
Notable: You have to go back to 2012 for the last time these in-state foes met. Alabama A&M traveled to Auburn for that meeting, and the Tigers cruised 51-7.
Florida (7-2, 5-2 SEC) at LSU (6-3, 4-2)
Florida PPG: 26.2
Florida PPG allowed: 13.3
Strength: Even though the Gators allowed Arkansas to score 31 points in Week 10, they still boast one of the best defenses in the country. The 13.3 points they allow per game ranks fifth in the nation, and Florida has relied on its defense to lead the way all season long. Offensively, the Gators are relatively balanced, though, quarterback Austin Appleby and the passing game are still working to find their groove.
Must stop: When Appleby drops back to pass, Antonio Callaway is easily Florida’s best option outside with 533 receiving yards and two scores. On the ground, Jordan Scarlett leads the way with 617 yards and six rushing touchdowns.
Notable: If Florida wins, the Gators win the SEC East and head to Atlanta to play Alabama. A loss clears the way for Tennessee to win the East.
Vanderbilt (4-6, 1-5 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4)
Vanderbilt PPG: 19.9
Vanderbilt PPG allowed: 22
Strength: The Commodores favor the run and for good reason, running back Ralph Webb has been phenomenal this season and is on the verge of becoming the program’s career rushing leader. But he isn’t the only Vanderbilt player who has made an impact on the ground, Khari Blasingame can be deadly inside the red zone. With Kyle Shurmur far from perfect at quarterback, the Rebels can expect a healthy dose of the run this weekend.
Must stop: Webb has made the biggest impact for the Commodores this season, rushing for a team-best 935 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. Although he has only rushed for 306 yards — his longest run went for 22 — Blasingame leads the team with eight rushing scores. When Shurmur drops back to pass, he’ll look for C.J. Duncan (393 yards) and Kalija Lipscomb (306 yards, 2 TDs).
Notable: Ole Miss not only leads the all-time series 50-38-2, but the Rebels have also won the past three meetings. Last year, Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt 27-16 in Oxford.
Texas San Antonio (5-5) at Texas A&M (7-3)
Texas San Antonio PPG: 30.8
Texas San Antonio PPG allowed: 30.3
Strength: Although the Roadrunners’ running game (1,704 yards, 21 TDs) and passing attack (2,041 yards, 20 TDs) have yielded similar numbers, UTSA wants to run the ball as much as possible: 404 rushes to just 286 passes, with Jalen Rhodes and Jarveon Williams acting as the featured backs.
Must stop: Even though Williams has had more carries, Rhodes leads the team with 709 rushing yards. He and Williams (675 yards) have scored eight touchdowns apiece, while quarterback Dalton Sturm has rushed for four touchdowns, including one from 51 yards out. Sturm can throw the ball (1,748 yards, 16 TDs) too, and his favorite pass-catchers to find are Josh Stewart (591 yards, 4 TDs) and Kerry Thomas Jr. (303 yards, 7 TDs).
Notable: Even though the Roadrunners stumble into College Station with a 5-5 record following a 63-35 loss at Louisiana Tech last week, they nearly upset Arizona State in September. However, the Sun Devils ultimately pulled out a 32-28 win to avoid the scare this Conference USA team provided.