SEC Football: Ranking Top 10 Performances from Week 13
It wasn't exactly a riveting weekend of SEC football, but nonetheless, some big victories were earned and well-known players came to play.
Due to the weak slate of games in Week 13, many of the offensive numbers we've seen in the past were turned down a notch or replaced altogether by standout efforts from the defensive side of the ball. Still, it was an important week because it moved us into the last week of the regular season with some monster matchups still intact.
Who stood out in Week 13? Let's take a look at the top 10 performances from the SEC conference.
*All stats via ESPN unless otherwise noted.
10. WR Jarvis Landry
LSU scored perhaps its best win of the season on Saturday, a 34-10 beatdown of Texas A&M. There were plenty of standouts on the Tigers' side, including wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
It isn't unusual to see Landry have an great game, as he and Odell Beckham Jr. make up one of the elite one-two punches at receiver in all of college football. Against the Aggies, Landry had just four grabs, but they went for 87 yards and a pair of scores.
Known for his big-play ability, Landry averaged more than 20 yards per catch. His second score, a 40-yarder, put the Tigers ahead 21-3, and the lead remained a double-digit cushion even after Manziel responded with a touchdown pass.
It hasn't been a perfect season in Death Valley, but Landry made sure the raucous home crowd left with a smile.
9. RB Henry Josey
The first key to winning a football game is to establish the ground game and control the line of scrimmage. That tenet rings even more true in the SEC.
With a berth in the SEC championship dead ahead, Missouri dominated the in the trenches and emerged a 24-10 winner over Ole Miss.
Gary Pinkel's defense should get plenty of credit for holding a potent offense to just 10 points, but the play of running back Henry Josey was the biggest reason for the Tigers' victory.
Josey carried the ball 15 times for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His first score came just several minutes into the game, and his final score provided the winning 14-point margin of victory. With Franklin a dual-threat at quarterback and several other backs liable to run wild on a given weekend, the Tigers offense is dangerous even when the passing attack is dialed down.
8. RB Todd Gurley
Here's a wild guess that Georgia fans are happy Saturday wasn't the last they'd see of their star tailback Todd Gurley.
Gurley, just a true sophomore, will return next year with monster expectations, some of which were furthered by his performance in the Bulldogs' 59-17 victory over Kentucky.
The back carried the ball just eight times for 77 yards, which is nice enough on its own. But he also caught five passes for 90 yards and two scores.
A defense has to account for Gurley's strength up the middle every time he steps on the field, but he's proven that he can slip outside and be a threat on the edge as well. While the effort was fun to watch, it probably didn't surprise anyone used to watching Gurley play football.
7. QB Tyler Russell
Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell probably didn't envision his senior season playing out like it has, but his effort in the Bulldogs' 24-17 win over Arkansas brought Mississippi State to within a win of bowl eligibility.
Against the Razorbacks, Russell completed 18 of his 28 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. His final scoring pass came early in the fourth quarter and tied the game up at 17. The defense did the rest.
For the oft-injured Russell, it's been an up-and-down season, but his gritty effort in a must-win situation should be commended. The Bulldogs will host Ole Miss next Saturday, with a berth in a bowl game at stake.
6. Dylan Thompson/Connor Shaw
The tandem of quarterbacks Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw has been interesting, to say the least. But South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier pushed all the right buttons in the Gamecocks' 70-10 victory over Coastal Carolina.
Together, the two completed 16 of 22 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Both added a rushing touchdown as well, and Shaw had 39 yards on the ground.
Against the Chanticleers, winning was never going to be in question. But playing well was critical with Clemson on the horizon, and both quarterbacks made sure they ended the day with plenty of confidence.
5. QB AJ McCarron
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron didn't stand out much on a wild day of college football, and that's exactly how his head coach, Nick Saban, would prefer it.
In the Crimson Tide's 49-0 victory over Chattanooga, McCarron completed 13 of his 16 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Had the game plan asked him to do more, you can bet the senior would have obliged.
The victory, while expected, puts Alabama one game away from the SEC Championship Game, with only the Iron Bowl against Auburn standing in the way.
4. QB Aaron Murray
But he left the game after completing 18 of his 23 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns. The performance typified what we've seen from Murray throughout his now-legendary career. While there were several more noteworthy performances on Saturday, what Murray did to cap off his career will be remembered forever in Athens.
Mark Richt's team now moves forward without its leader, although if Murray's heart is any indication, he'll play as big of a role as possible in helping his teammates prepare for Georgia Tech.
3. WR Jordan Matthews
It's hard to picture Vanderbilt as a seven-win team without the play of wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
Against Tennessee, the senior caught 13 passes for 133 yards in the Commodores' 14-10 victory. For comparison, the rest of the team had 11 catches total.
Like most of the players on this list, the fact that Matthews put together a big game is hardly surprising, because it's what he's been doing all year. But you can't ever take a player like him for granted.
Even on a day in which the rest of the country went wild, Matthews managed to stand out.
2. RB Terrence Magee
If you were told that an LSU running back dominated on the ground in a 34-10 Tigers victory over Texas A&M, you'd likely assume it was Jeremy Hill and move right along. And yes, Hill did have a nice game, with 14 carries for 76 yards.
But we're actually talking about his backup, Terrence Magee, who had just 13 carries but turned them into 149 yards and a touchdown. His consistency on the ground helped LSU run the clock and pull away for a comfortable victory.
That the Aggies defense played poorly comes as no surprise, because it hasn't done much all season. But Magee stepped up and made the big plays, including a 65-yarder, and his team was rewarded with a dominating win over a quality opponent.
1. LSU Defense
Of all the great performances on Saturday, the best may have come from the LSU defense as a whole.
Quickly, name all the teams that have shut down quarterback Johnny Manziel. If you managed to name a couple from the 2012, how bout in 2013? Has anyone been able to stop the reigning Heisman Trophy winner?
Before Saturday, that answer was a resounding "no," as Manziel did whatever he wanted against everybody, including Alabama. But John Chavis' defense was able to solve the riddle with an athletic secondary and quick front seven that was able to keep up with Manziel's speed.
It's safe to say that what LSU did wasn't exactly "blueprint" material and that Johnny Football will be back. But the incredible effort from the unit as a whole will rank right up with the best performances by any defense this season.