10 Things We Learned About the SEC in Week 11
Everything changed in Week 11 in the SEC.
The conference is no longer in the driver's seat. It is no longer the power conference holding all of the cards at the table. Rather, the SEC is looking for a way to get back into the national championship mix.
Following Texas A&M's 29-24 upset victory against Alabama, the SEC's worst nightmare started to come true. With Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon still undefeated, the SEC's chances of defending its title national championship are beginning to fade.
Now, it's up to Alabama or Georgia to win out and get help from teams playing Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon. In Week 11 of the SEC season, the whole national championship picture changed.
1. Shock and Awe Wears All White
Color me shocked. College football, you have to love it, don't you?
You have to love it because there's nothing like it. Nothing is as it seems and a sure victory is but a myth in this sport. That's what still gives the SEC hope heading down the stretch.
But after so much talk about Johnny Manziel and critics questioning Alabama's greatness last week, surely the Crimson Tide would come out and flex their muscles, right?
Well, Alabama didn't start flexing until the team was down 20-0. No one questioned Manziel's greatness, but leading his team to an upset victory in Bryant-Denny Stadium was something many considered unrealistic. Many were wrong.
2. Alabama Didn't Learn from LSU and Florida
The blueprint was there.
In previous SEC matchups, Manziel had early success against the Tigers and the Gators, but LSU and Florida made adjustments on the fly and contained Manziel enough to win the game. Alabama, on the other hand, didn't.
And Alabama had an advantage. The Crimson Tide had both games to analyze, and somehow the greatest defensive mind in college football let Manziel beat him.
Alabama made simple mistakes early by allowing Manziel to get outside and create plays. Poor execution and poor game-planning early in the game led to Alabama's downfall, but give Texas A&M credit, too. The quarterback draws early in the game helped keep the Crimson Tide defense off balance.
But at the same time, fans have come to expect dominance from Nick Saban's defenses, and that certainly didn't happen Saturday.
3. Zach Mettenberger Is Progressing
Zach Mettenberger is getting into a groove, folks.
After throwing for 298 yards and a touchdown against Alabama, Mettenberger followed up with a 273-yard, two-touchdown performance against Mississippi State.
Want to hear something depressing? Mettenberger is the first LSU quarterback to throw for back-to-back 200-yard games since 2008. No one understands quarterback struggles quite like LSU fans.
But, hey, it looks like those days may be coming to an end. Mettenberger is starting to look like a real SEC quarterback, and Ole Miss and Arkansas better be ready to defend the pass as well as the run against this LSU team.
Wow, it feels like those words haven't been in the same sentence in years.
4. Johnny Football Is Here to Stay
Hey, Heisman voters, does Johnny Football have your attention now?
It's time to show the freshman some love. You want stats? Look no further than this guy.
Not only is he leading the SEC in rushing yards (1,014) and rushing touchdowns (15), but he has 2,780 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Put those stats up against anybody in the country.
Significant win? Johnny Manziel just led his team to a victory against the No. 1 team in the nation, so, yeah, he has that as well.
Heisman moment? Every week this guy plays he has a Heisman moment. It's time to make him a serious candidate.
5. Georgia Stole Florida's Swagger
What's the deal, Florida?
Has the Georgia loss taken the chomp from the Gators? Ever since the Bulldogs beat the Gators, Florida has put together two lackluster offensive performances.
The Gators barely beat Missouri 14-7 last week, and against UL-Lafayette on Saturday, it took a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the final seconds to pull out a 27-20 win.
A win is a win, but barely edging these much less superior teams isn't what the No. 6 team in the nation should be doing.
6. Tyler Wilson's Toughness in the Pocket Is Unmatched
There's something special about a quarterback who hangs in the pocket and takes a pounding for the sake of his football team.
Arkansas' Tyler Wilson epitomizes that more than any other quarterback.
Against the most fierce defensive lines in football, Wilson will hang in the pocket and wait until the very last minute to throw the ball, even if he has to take monster hits from guys such as Jadeveon Clowney.
It's what Wilson does week in and week out, and though it doesn't help his health in any way, it allows his receivers more time to get open. Plain and simple—it takes guts to hang in the pocket like that in the SEC.
7. Mississippi State's Secondary Was Vastly Overrated
Before the season, Mississippi State had a solid case for having the best secondary in the league.
With players such as Johnthan Banks, Corey Broomfield and Darius Slay in the defensive backfield, Mississippi State fans had a strong argument.
But after Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU tore this team up through the air, their arguments are no longer valid. A.J. McCarron scorching the secondary with 208 yards and two touchdowns? Eh, alright, we'll let that one pass.
Johnny Manziel getting the best of the back four with 311 yards? That's understandable. But after Zach Mettenberger picked this group apart Saturday, it's time to admit that these defensive backs were overhyped.
8. Georgia's Now the Hottest Team in the League
Say hello to your SEC East champions.
Actually, say hello to the hottest team in the SEC. Since losing to South Carolina on Oct. 6, the Bulldogs have reeled off four straight victories, with the last two against Ole Miss and Auburn being blowouts.
This defense is playing electric, with Jarvis Jones leading the way. Plus, Aaron Murray threw for 592 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in his last two outings.
Is it possible that the Bulldogs will come into the SEC Championship Game as the favorite? Can Alabama bounce back from the loss and regain its dominant demeanor in time?
This is setting up as quite an exciting championship game.
9. Missouri Is More Successful in the SEC Than Tennessee
Derek Dooley cannot win in the SEC.
Coaches should be given enough time to build a program. But after going 0-6 in the SEC with the offensive weapons at hand, Dooley's time is up.
He knows it. Tennessee fans know it and college football fans, in general, know it. Tyler Bray had a nearly flawless day through the air on Saturday, throwing for 404 yards and four touchdowns, but even that wasn't enough to beat Missouri.
To make matters worse, Tennessee had the game won and let Missouri tie it up late. So with Missouri's 2-5 conference record, the Tigers already have won more SEC games this season than Tennessee has in the past two.
10. The Dynamic Has Changed
Kevin Sumlin, as The Joker would say, "you've changed things forever. There's no going back."
Texas A&M might have single-handedly ended the SEC's reign as the premiere conference in college football. More importantly, the Aggies may have cost the SEC its seventh straight national championship.
Now, SEC fans are huge supporters of USC, Stanford, Oregon State and Texas. If any of those teams can upset two out of the three unbeaten BCS teams, the SEC will still have a shot at a berth in the National Championship Game.
For the time being, Alabama and Georgia need to take care of business and meet in the SEC Championship Game with only one loss.
The SEC's reputation is at stake.