Winners and losers after SEC Week 12: A third-string QB, a backup kicker and ... a thrown shoe
It would normally mark the end of the regular season, but SEC Week 12 both leaves us with a few games left for next week and with some big surprises. We’ll unpile it all and give you the winners and losers of SEC Week 12.
A difficult season like LSU’s hits everybody hard, but especially the guys buried on the depth chart who watch other players bumble and stumble along. Johnson is a guy who certainly could have packed it in. He wasn’t the first or second option for LSU at quarterback. But in the best game of the Tigers’ season, Johnson made all the right plays and led the Tigers to heights which would have been unimaginable after a brutal Week 1 loss. For sticking it out and playing a crafty, winning game, Johnson ends up as a winner in our book.
Yeah, yeah, so the squib kick two weeks ago wasn’t anything fancy. And now she just made two extra points. There are going to be some foot-dragging Neanderthals out there who would find a way to discredit Fuller if she nailed a 50 yard field goal to win Vandy’s first game of the season. The bottom line is that Fuller did something that — to name one specific team — Alabama has struggled with in recent seasons. She did so in a sport that certainly wasn’t her first sport and with a fair number of people just waiting for her to screw it up. Not only did she come through, but she broke through a glass ceiling with style, going 2-for-2 on extra points and becoming the first woman to score points in a Power 5 game. That’s two more PATs than 99.999999% of people reading this column will ever make. Maybe she will hit a 50-yarder next week. On some level, it wouldn’t be surprising.
The offense and the various playmakers get all the headlines, but the Crimson Tide defense has slowly but steadily improved since Alabama’s shootout win over Ole Miss. It won’t be the powerful offense that will stand out next week against Florida or in the playoff. Everybody who makes it that far can score points. Instead, the defense that leads the Tide onward.
It took almost the entire season, but the Georgia Bulldogs finally caught on to the fact that they have one outstanding player split out wide. Pickens hadn’t managed a 100-yard receiving game in the season. In fact, his only previous 100-yard receiving game was in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor. But he picked up 126 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Mizzou and showed some meaningful connection with J.T. Daniels, which can’t hurt either guy moving forward.
People Who Wanted 9 SEC Games
Look, this is the story. Everybody outside the SEC wants the SEC to play more games. Had Florida not played LSU this week, they’d still be very much involved in the College Football Playoff picture. Instead, a less deserving squad (Ohio State?) will jump them for the CFP just because it avoided playing enough games to take any substantive competitive risks. As soon as COVID-19 is in the rear view mirror, the SEC will play 8-game conference schedules. If you wonder why, look at Florida.
Shades of Elijah Moore’s urinating dog celebration here, but Wilson single-handedly kept the LSU game-winning drive alive by throwing the shoe of an LSU player and picking up a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Insert your Austin Powers Random Task joke here. But obviously, as Moore could tell Wilson, the coaching point is not to let your emotions hurt your team.
Florida’s offense was a thing of beauty this season. Well, okay, Kyle Trask’s passing game was a thing of beauty. But Florida managed to lap Georgia and still mess the season up, because the defense just did not show up against Texas A&M and LSU. Giving up 41 and 37 points to those two teams was just stunning. And Grantham’s defense was the only thing that kept Florida from being the second 10-0 team in the SEC.
The bottom of the SEC
It just wasn’t a good week for the little brothers of the SEC. Yes, LSU pulled an upset, but it’s not like they belonged at the bottom. Arkansas got crushed, Mizzou was demolished, Vanderbilt was outgunned and Mississippi State slogged through probably the ugliest game of the week. Down the stretch of the season, maybe it was depth, maybe it was motivation. But it wasn’t a good week for the bottom of the SEC.