SEC studs and duds: Week 12
Our list of the SEC’s best and worst in Week 12:
1. Dak Prescott & Brandon Allen: Two of the SEC’s best went toe-to-toe Saturday in Fayetteville and proceeded to do nothing but trade haymakers for 60 minutes. And it was great. The maturation of both senior quarterbacks was evident, with Prescott never looking more comfortable as a pocket passer and Allen making precise throws into tight coverage look routine. Both had record-setting days, with Prescott throwing for 508 yards in the 51-50 win, while Allen gave the Hogs every opportunity for another incredible victory, with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions.
2. Cyrus Jones: Alabama record-keeping for punt returns only goes back to 1944, but that’s plenty far enough to know that Jones is having a pretty good couple of weeks. He returned two touchdowns for scores in Saturday’s 56-6 win over Charleston Southern, covering 43 and 70 yards, becoming the first player in Alabama history to do so. That gives Jones three punt return touchdowns in the past two weeks, making him also the only player in the Alabama history books to return punts for touchdowns in consecutive weeks.
3. Kentucky’s offensive line: With redshirt freshman Drew Barker making his first career start against Charlotte on Saturday, the Wildcats needed to make him as comfortable as possible. It’s hard to imagine they could’ve done better than churning out 415 yards on 44 carries in a 58-10 victory. The win keeps Kentucky’s bowl hopes alive heading into the season finale against Louisville.
1. The SEC East: Sorry Tennessee and Kentucky. You guys did fine Saturday. Your guilt is by association, because your division mates played like they belonged in the lesser half of the AAC this week. Division champ Florida escaped in overtime against 2-9 Florida Atlantic, and Georgia needed an extra session to put Georgia Southern away. But at least they won. The same can’t be said for South Carolina, which fell 23-22 to The Citadel, giving up 350 yards on the ground in the process. Missouri and Vanderbilt also looked back in losses.
2. LSU: With Les Miles reportedly coaching for his job, the Tigers played like they were lobbying for a realignment to the East. We don’t mean to make light of the dire situation in Baton Rouge that’s unfolded over the course of the last month. After falling 38-17 to Ole Miss on Saturday, the Tigers now have lost three straight games for the first time in Miles’ tenure, with each defeat coming in increasingly ugly fashion.
3. Arkansas’ pass defense: Dak Prescott and his deep and talented corps of receivers deserve every accolade coming their way after torching the Razorbacks Saturday. They were thoroughly impressive. But let’s also not pretend they were carving up the ’85 Bears out there. Arkansas is last in the SEC in pass defense by a wide margin and their weakness has been exposed by every decent quarterback on their schedule. The problem extends to every level, with the front four rarely applying pressure, the linebackers a liability in zone coverage, and the secondary missing too many tackles, allowing short gains to become game-breakers. It’s not a new issue for the Hogs, but it was especially problematic Saturday.