Perception vs. Reality: Week 12
It’s time to look at key questions across the SEC involving Saturday’s Week 12 slate of games:
Perception: Alabama’s out of the Playoff with a loss to Miss. St.
Alabama fans were not happy with Tuesday’s latest College Football Playoff rankings. Despite last week’s overtime victory at LSU, the Crimson Tide were shown no love from the selection committee and placed behind TCU in the pecking order of elites just outside of the top four. Nick Saban knows if his teams wins out, they won’t have a beef with the CFP. But two losses? That could prove fatal to the Crimson Tide’s chances.
Reality: Crimson Tide would still be SEC’s highest 2-loss team
Considering Auburn and Ole Miss are currently Nos. 9 and 10 as two-loss teams in the CFP Poll, Alabama would still likely come in ahead of the Tigers and Rebels if it lost to an unbeaten No. 1 Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. The committee seems to respect quality losses based on how they’ve voted thus far. Should Auburn beat Georgia, Gus Malzahn’s team would strengthen its at-large case before the Iron Bowl and as a result, provide the Crimson Tide with an opportunity at an impressive win in the rivalry showdown on Nov. 29.
Perception: Mizzou’s lack of offense a concern at Texas A&M
We’ve already looked at the Tigers’ dip in offensive production in an earlier story this week, a noticeable change from last season’s run to a division title. On the other sideline, Texas A&M has found its rhythm offensively under Kyle Allen who is set to make his third career start Saturday against the current Eastern Division frontrunner. Mizzou’s offensive line has been inconsistent throughout and the Aggies’ one strength defensively is off the edge, led by freshman sack leader Myles Garrett. Worst case scenario for the Tigers is that they get into a shootout in College Station with a quarterback who is playing with confidence.
Reality: If defense performs, Tigers won’t need much from Maty Mauk
Highlighting Mizzou’s obvious strength this season, the Tigers’ front seven holds a sizable advantage over Texas A&M’s offensive line heading into this weekend’s game. Shane Ray and Markus Golden lead a defense that’s notched the third-most sacks in the SEC and has given up only four touchdowns over its last three games. Part of the reason Mizzou’s been able to move ahead in the East despite an underperforming offense, notably Maty Mauk, is the other side of the football. The Tigers are an SEC-best plus-7 in turnover margin since Oct. 11, a statistic that helped Mizzou win 12 games last season.