10 Things We Learned About the SEC in Week 7
The race to become SEC champions in 2012 became a lot more exciting following the results in Week 7.
After LSU defeated South Carolina 23-21, Florida is now the clear-cut leader in the SEC East, while LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State control their destiny in the SEC West.
Exciting times ahead, right? Let's hope it's as exciting as the LSU-South Carolina showdown, Mississippi State-Tennessee confrontation and Texas A&M-Louisiana Tech shootout this past Saturday.
Here's what we learned around the league in Week 7.
LSU Regained Its Growl
LSU was a sleep walking giant all season long. Without any swagger whatsoever, this team entered games lackadaisically and barely got by teams such as Towson and eventually lost to Florida in The Swamp in Week 6.
Alas, this team came to life. It's as if Liam Neeson stood at the entrance in Death Valley and commanded "release the Kraken!"
LSU marched onto the field and outgained South Carolina 406 to 211 in total yards. You know, the same South Carolina squad that beat Georgia 35-7 the previous week. Yeah, these Tigers are back, back into the national championship conversation that is.
No Running Back Issues for Bama
Alabama answered any questions about the running back position in a hurry against Missouri.
No Dee Hart and Jalson Fowler? No problem. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon proved that they can carry the heavy lifting for this team.
Against the Tigers, Lacy and Yeldon posted ridiculous numbers. Both backs combined for 321 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Lacy averaged 9.8 yards per carry while Yeldon averaged eight. Talk about a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield.
Ole Miss Is Better Than Auburn
Even though Ole Miss is having a better season than Auburn, you had to think Auburn would show some resolve this week.
The storyline was set up perfectly for them. The Tigers lost to Arkansas, Gene Chizik apologized to the Auburn fans for the loss and the team was going on the road with everyone doubting it.
A perfect time to "rise," don't you think? Well, Ole Miss had other plans. The Rebels jumped out on top 14-0 early, and though Auburn rallied and went ahead 17-14, the Rebels recaptured the lead and pulled away late.
Ole Miss received its first SEC win since Oct. 2, 2010 (the same year Auburn won the national championship), and Auburn is officially the worst the team in the SEC West. Funny world we live in.
AJ McCarron Is a Trooper
A.J. McCarron had to weather more than one storm in the Crimson Tide's 42-10 victory against Missouri.
In the third quarter, McCarron twisted his knee in the game and showed grit as he stayed in and made sure his team escaped with the victory.
Whether you like McCarron, you have to give credit to this guy for toughing it out and playing through the pain. He simply does whatever the coaching staff asks him to do.
Bad knee and all, McCarron kept his interception-free season going in the victory. In fact, McCarron now has 227 straight passes without an interception.
Zach Mettenberger Still Has Work to Do
Transitioning from one of the SEC's best quarterbacks to one of the worst quarterbacks in the league—Zach Mettenberger has yet to find his groove.
After questionable play-calling and horrid pass protection for most of the season, Mettenberger was able to dodge a lot of the blame for LSU's offensive woes. Well, he can't after LSU's win against South Carolina.
LSU's play-calling was on-point, and the offensive line gave Mettenberger plenty of time to make key throws, yet Mettenberger still struggled with his accuracy and reads.
In the win, Mettenberger completed less than 50 percent of his passes, threw for just 148 yards and had an interception. LSU won despite the performance from its quarterback, but that's a talent that these Tigers have had to develop in the past five years.
Mississippi State Is for Real
All right, Mississippi State, we see you.
The Bulldogs faced their stiffest competition of the year, and they passed with flying colors. Johnthan Banks made plays and continues to prove that he's the best cornerback in the league, while State's offense presented a balanced attack and posted 450 total yards. But why is a win against a 3-3 squad significant?
Well, Tennessee is a nice gatekeeper. The Vols are a team that's not quite good enough to beat the elite teams in the conference, but they have enough firepower to beat average teams in the league. So they make for a nice measuring stick for SEC teams.
With Mississippi State's 41-31 victory, the Bulldogs proved that they truly are a force in the SEC.
Florida Can Overcome Trap Games
It's so easy to lose in the SEC on the road, especially after an emotional, grinding contest with one of the best teams in the league one week prior.
Thus, Vanderbilt was a trap game for Florida. The Gators just won a hard-fought battle against LSU at home, then traveled to play Vanderbilt. With a huge matchup against South Carolina taking place next Saturday, Florida could have easily looked ahead and played down to Vanderbilt.
Credit Will Muschamp and this coaching staff because the Gators came out focused and beat the Commodores, 31-17.
This team continues to impress with its remarkable intangibles, and really, Florida's determination and second-half psyche is what separates the Gators from their opponents.
Texas A&M Can Ride Johnny Manziel in Close Games
This weekly Johnny Manziel ad is brought to you courtesy of the Louisiana Tech defense.
OK, so maybe Manziel is in every "things we learned this week in the SEC" article, "big whoop, wanna' fight about it?"
Manziel is in every week because he's having one of the greatest freshman seasons anyone has ever seen. Have you seen this guy's stats lately? In a game that called for excessive scoring, Manziel answered the call with six total touchdowns.
Manziel threw for 395 yards and rushed for 181, but more importantly, he made the big plays when his team needed some breathing room. The Aggies won, 59-57, and as predicted, Manziel was the difference-maker.
SEC Race Is Going to Be Insane
The SEC is wide open for seven teams.
LSU, Mississippi State, Alabama and Texas A&M control their destiny in the SEC West, while Florida, South Carolina and Georgia will battle it out in the SEC East.
Should South Carolina beat Florida next week, the SEC East will be in a three-way tie, while LSU and Texas A&M's clash will most likely eliminate a contender in the SEC West.
Every week from here on out means something in the SEC, and as a fan of this great league, you can't help but feel giddy like a school girl.
SEC West Took the Power Back
The SEC West gave its best Lee Corso impression in Week 7 when it told the SEC East, "not so fast my friend!"
After Florida defeated LSU in Week 6, the SEC East was gaining momentum and had two teams ranked above LSU going into Week 7. But then, the SEC West flexed its muscles.
Mississippi State's and LSU's big wins over two of the top four teams in the SEC East shifted the balance of power back over to the SEC West.
The balance of power in the SEC continues to seesaw, and really it's made this season that more entertaining.