10 Things We Learned About the SEC in Week 12
With No. 1 and No. 2 going down in Week 12 action, SEC teams resurfaced in the national championship picture with the SEC Championship Game potentially serving as a play-in game.
Despite Kansas State and Oregon being upset, the action was relatively normal in college football's most dominant conference. Well, that's mostly due to the opponents SEC teams faced.
The theme in the SEC might as well have been a cupcake, but surprisingly, games around the league remained competitive. Most fans, like those of South Carolina, would argue that the games were too close for comfort.
And while some fans might be worried about how close some of these seemingly easy games on the schedule became, Tennessee fans are staying in their rooms after watching their team get gutted by Vanderbilt.
The week didn't provide marquee matchups, but there was plenty to learn through all the nail-biting action.
SEC Egos Nearly Cost Teams a Loss
Steve Spurrier was right.
Heading into the Gamecocks' game against Wofford, Spurrier told media members that his team is capable of losing with a few turnovers and momentum switches that favor Wofford.
Immediately, fans and media members alike sneered at such comments and dismissed them. And why wouldn't they? But as South Carolina entered the fourth quarter tied 7-7, fans soon realized the Ol' Ball Coach had a point. Teams such as Florida and Georgia had close halftime scores as well with Jacksonville State and Georgia South, respectively.
Every time Nick Saban or another SEC coach talks about how good their opponents are, fans tend to laugh because they think those coaches are being somewhat political. But the truth is—SEC coaches say these type of things to prevent close games with lesser opponents from happening.
Johnny Manziel in Lead for Heisman
Even though kicking PATs might not be his forte, Johnny Manziel is now the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
After Collin Klein failed to lead his team past Baylor and threw three interceptions in the process, Klein may have cost himself the Heisman.
The reason for that would be because Johnny Football is sweeping the nation, and against a Sam Houston State, Manziel had another Heisman-caliber performance.
Manziel passed for 267 yards, rushed for 100 yards and totaled five touchdowns in the 47-28 victory. Can the freshman really win the Heisman? It's looking more likely each and every week.
Les Miles Is Seriously Unpredictable
You know how some people fake crazy? Yeah, that's not the case with Les Miles.
Rather than trying to seem crazy to intimidate opponents or get inside their heads, Miles is exactly what his nickname illustrates: mad.
The Mad Hatter went on a postgame tirade about how his seniors have played for him in their careers, and it was all unexpected. It's not like this is a bad group of seniors that the media were about to question Miles about.
But that didn't stop Miles from defending his group and going absolutely berserk in describing Odell Beckham's punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter. When it comes to Miles, you're better off expecting the unexpected.
Alabama Wants in on This Style Points Business
Hey Oregon, Alabama can beat up on poor defenses too.
The BCS forces teams to not only win but win impressively. And though it goes against the old-school way of playing football, sometimes you have to give inferior teams a merciless beatdown.
That's what Alabama did in the first half. Leading 42-0 at the half, Saban and the Crimson Tide let off the gas in the third quarter and won the game 49-0.
So see—hanging a lot of points up in the first half on a weak defense isn't that impressive at all. It's what you do against the gritty defenses, such as Stanford's, that counts.
State Remembers How to Play Defense
Speaking of defense, it looks like one unit remembered how to play it last Saturday.
Mississippi State has one of the better defenses in the SEC, but the past few weeks it's played like it has one of the worst.
After getting pummeled by Alabama, lit up by Texas A&M and trampled by LSU, this Bulldogs' defense was reeling. That's not exactly a good thing when Tyler Wilson and Arkansas comes to town.
And after giving up two early scores to Wilson, the Bulldogs clamped down, forced five turnovers and pitched a shutout for the remainder of the game. It's what ultimately led to Mississippi State's 45-14 victory.
Florida's Offense Remains Stale
Florida wins, but boy, it's ugly.
Even though Jeff Driskel didn't play in this matchup, Florida's offense remained unimpressive in victory. And it's not like Driskel's absence had that big of an impact.
With Driskel in there, the Gators' offense has been lackluster, as well. Since losing to Georgia, Florida is averaging just 314 yards per game against the likes of Missouri, UL-Lafayette and Jacksonville State.
Florida's averaging just 140 yards passing in those three games and has won those games by an average of 12.3 points. The Gators' offense better pick it up before it's time to face Florida State.
LSU and Ole Miss Could Get Back to Their Classical Games
Ole Miss showed everyone last Saturday that the LSU/Ole Miss rivalry isn't dead yet.
After LSU's 52-3 thrashing against the Rebels last year, it was beginning to seem like Ole Miss was no longer in LSU's league.
Well, the Rebels reminded LSU and its fans that this rivalry is nowhere near dead. Last Saturday night, Ole Miss gave LSU its best shot and nearly pulled off the upset. It was a classic game between these two that came down to the very end.
LSU walked away with a 41-35 victory, but the Rebels walked away with respect.
Vanderbilt Is the Premiere School in Tennessee (for the Time Being)
Vanderbilt is no longer getting bullied around by Tennessee.
Oh no, in fact, it seems to be the other way around. In a strange day where fans were growing upset with their teams for playing down with lesser competition, Tennessee fans ended the night hoping their Vols could have kept the game competitive against Vandy.
Yeah, it was that bad. Seriously, Vanderbilt thrashed Tennessee 41-18. Who would have predicted this 10 years ago? Heck, who would have predicted it five years ago?
Now, Tennessee is left without a bowl and a coach, while Vanderbilt enjoys its 7-4 season.
LSU Can Lean on Zach Mettenberger Late in Games
Zach Mettenberger is officially a weapon for LSU.
When Ole Miss had the lead early into the game, Mettenberger and the LSU offense displayed what fans thought they were immediately inheriting with Mettenberger under center.
With a long play-action pass that set up a 27-yard Jeremy Hill run, Mettenberger proved that it's no longer safe to load the box. But that's not all he proved in that game.
As the game went on, LSU relied on Mettenberger's arm, and he came through with key passes late in the game. Mettenberger finished the game with 282 passing yards and put his team in perfect position to win.
The SEC Is Back in the Driver's Seat
Well, that didn't last long.
It feels good to be an SEC fan this week, doesn't it? Notre Dame deserves to be No. 1 with its undefeated ranking, and really, that No. 1 ranking doesn't matter right now.
What matters is that No. 2 spot, and should Georgia and Alabama meet in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 with only one loss, it'll serve as a play-in game.
The SEC now controls its destiny again, and the quest for seven straight continues next week with Alabama taking on Auburn and Georgia battling Georgia Tech. Roll SEC.