SEC Football: Ranking Top 10 Performances from Week 10
It was a relatively quiet week in the SEC with Alabama and LSU on bye weeks and the only notable matchup being a contest between Georgia and Florida, two unranked teams that are as beat up as you'll find in the country.
But that didn't stop the stars from shining, and the conference rich with future NFL talent once again showcased itself in a positive way.
From the return of a prominent running back to the continuing amazement dished out by a certain Heisman Trophy winner, the SEC had a number of fantastic performances on Saturday.
Let's take a look at the top 10 from Week 10.
All stats via ESPN.
10. Sammie Coates, Auburn
While the athletic Auburn defense has given the Tigers new life in the SEC and real hope of a West Division title, the offense has also shown drastic improvement, and it may be the biggest reason for success under first-year coach Gus Malzahn.
Quarterback Nick Marshall gets plenty of accolades and rightly so. But we're choosing to highlight one of his favorite targets, wide receiver Sammie Coates, as one of the 10 best players from Saturday.
The speedy sophomore had just three catches, but they went for 102 and a touchdown. Of note was an 88-yard grab to make it 28-3 in the third quarter, and that was all she wrote.
The Tigers take on Tennessee next Saturday.
9. Missouri Front 7
The Missouri Tigers beat the Tennessee Volunteers, 31-3, on Saturday, thanks in large part to a phenomenal defensive effort.
The front seven, in particular, was rather dominant in holding running back Rajion Neal to just eight yards on eight carries, which is easily his lowest output of the season.
More importantly, however, the effort was the kind you like to see out of a team in contention for an SEC East title. The schedule shouldn't be too challenging for Gary Pinkel's team until a visit from Texas A&M on Nov. 30.
8. Mike Davis, South Carolina
Another Saturday, another terrific performance out of South Carolina running back Mike Davis.
Against Mississippi State, the sophomore carried the ball 15 times for 128 yards for his seventh 100-yard game of the season.
Davis has had a breakout season for the Gamecocks, who have yet to get consistent quarterback play over the course of several weeks. Fortunately for Steve Spurrier, the ground game is alive and well and Davis' effort puts him, once again, on the list of best performances in the SEC.
7. Howard Matthews, Texas A&M
It isn't often that a defensive player from Texas A&M makes a list of best performances, but defensive back Howard Matthews' effort on Saturday, against UTEP, is hard to ignore.
The junior had a pair of interceptions in the 57-7 victory, which comes just a week after he returned an interception for a score against Vanderbilt.
Part of the reason so many are hesitant to hoist Texas A&M up as an elite team is because the defense has looked so awful throughout the season. Matthews back-to-back great performances should give hope to a secondary that must contend with both LSU and Missouri later in November.
6. Travis Labhart, Texas A&M
In keeping with the theme of selecting often-overlooked players, we're highlighting the play of Texas A&M wide receiver Travis Labhart, who had himself a very nice day at the office in the Aggies' 57-7 victory over UTEP.
The diminutive senior from Dallas tied for the team lead with four grabs, but they went for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
If Labhart can continue his strong play, it will take some of the pressure off fellow wideout Mike Davis, who has carried the load in most of the Aggies' games this season.
5. Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky
A newcomer to the list, Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow has arrived in grand fashion after a dominant performance in Saturday's 48-14 win over Alabama State.
Whitlow completed 16 of 26 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, but he also rushed for 101 yards and a pair of scores on just 10 carries.
Of note was an 88-yard scoring scamper to begin the game, and he continued to impress throughout the evening. If Whitlow can continue to provide a dual-threat option from the quarterback spot, the Wildcats offense may keep the team in games down the stretch.
4. Maty Mauk, Missouri
It seemed like an uphill battle for Missouri to win the SEC East after starting quarterback James Franklin was lost for the season.
Little did the country know that backup Maty Mauk would perform admirably in his stead. Against Tennessee, the freshman from Ohio threw for 163 yards and three scores and rushed for an additional 114 yards.
His ability to make plays with his arm and his legs has helped the Tigers offense continue without skipping a beat, and the team remains in excellent position to make it to the conference championship game.
3. Tre Mason, Auburn
In, perhaps, the best rushing performance of the day, Auburn's Tre Mason carried the ball 32 times for a whopping 168 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers' 35-17 win over Arkansas.
Mason's effort made life easy for quarterback Nick Marshall, who only attempted eight passes, and it showed why Gus Malzahn's offense has surprised so many in year one.
The challenge for Mason and company now is to not overlook games against Tennessee and Georgia with the Iron Bowl looming at the end of the month.
2. Todd Gurley, Georgia
Georgia running back Todd Gurley could easily be No. 1 on this list, but before lamenting the fact that the top spot went to someone else, appreciate the fact that Gurley appears to be healthy and ready to dominate for the Bulldogs' stretch run.
Against a stout Florida defense, Gurley carried the ball 17 times for 100 yards and a score. He also caught three passes for 87 yards and a score, with the notable play being a 73-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray in which Gurley did most of the work.
At 4-2 in the SEC East with a loss to Missouri on its record, it's going to be difficult for Mark Richt's team to make it to Atlanta. However, Gurley and the Bulldogs can still make some noise by beating Auburn on Nov. 16.
1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Go ahead and roll your eyes, as the sight of Johnny Manziel seems to elicit a myriad of responses from anger to sarcasm to plain old "I don't care."
Whatever you do, however, do it while understanding that what Manziel is doing on a weekly basis is truly incredible. Sure, Saturday's six-touchdown effort came against UTEP, but six touchdowns would be impressive against the high school down the road. (OK, that was an exaggeration).
Manziel, once again, dominated through the air and on the ground, throwing for 273 yards and four scores while rushing for 67 yards and two more touchdowns.
You'll likely see the super sophomore on this list again next week after a game against Mississippi State, before matchups with LSU and Missouri figure to challenge the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.