Saturday, November 23, 2013
SEC Week 13 primer
By Greg Ostendorf
It's going to be hard to top last Saturday's Auburn-Georgia finish, but there are plenty of intriguing matchups in the SEC again this weekend, and at least one or two games likely will come down to the final drive. Who's going to make the game-winning catch? Who's going to kick the game-winning field goal? Week 13 will provide us the answers.
The West will be decided next weekend, when Alabama and Auburn get together for the Iron Bowl, but the East could be decided this Saturday in Oxford, Miss. Missouri currently has a one-game lead over South Carolina, but if the Tigers slip up on the road at Ole Miss, the Gamecocks can punch their ticket to Atlanta for the SEC title game. Missouri will welcome back quarterback James Franklin who hasn't made a start in over the month because of a shoulder injury. The senior threw for 1,577 yards and 14 touchdowns in the team's first six games. However, he faces an Ole Miss team that has lost only once at home, in the final minutes against Texas A&M.
Speaking of Texas A&M, the Aggies will visit LSU on Saturday in what could be the weekend's most exciting game. Quarterback Johnny Manziel is gunning for his second straight Heisman Trophy, and his performance in Death Valley could go a long way in helping secure the prestigious award. He has better numbers than he did a year ago, but he has yet to beat a ranked team. The main reason for that has been Texas A&M's porous defense, and LSU has plenty of firepower to outscore Manziel and company if the game turns into a shootout. Between the two teams, there will be plenty of NFL talent on hand, with skill players such as Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill.
The weekend's biggest rivalry game will take take place in Knoxville, Tenn., where Tennessee will host Vanderbilt in the battle for the Volunteer State. It never has been much of a rivalry because of how dominant Tennessee has been, but the Commodores are quickly changing that under coach James Franklin. They won big last year, and they have been the better team this season, winning three of their last four games. Tennessee has played better at home, though, and the Vols need to win out if they want to reach a bowl game.
Elsewhere in the East, Georgia will return home to face Kentucky, looking to bounce back from last week's heartbreaking defeat at Auburn. The biggest question will be whether Mark Richt goes with the black jerseys as a tribute to quarterback Aaron Murray and the rest of the seniors in their final home game. There have been rumors all week in Athens. Regardless of what color jersey he wears, expect Murray to go out on a high note.
The Arkansas-Mississippi State game doesn't rank too high on the docket for Saturday, but it should make for an interesting contest. The Razorbacks are at home and searching for their first SEC win under first-year coach Bret Bielema. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs still have a shot to make a bowl game if they win their last two games. A loss, though, could spell trouble for coach Dan Mullen. It doesn't help that MSU's quarterback situation is so up in the air. Both Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell are battling injuries, and there's a chance neither will be able to play against Arkansas. That leaves freshman Damian Williams to start on the road. Mullen said he wouldn't announce a starter until right before kickoff.
The rest of the conference is either off this week or facing FCS opponents. Here's the rundown of today's games.
- Mississippi State at Arkansas, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC TV
- Coastal Carolina at South Carolina, 1 p.m. ET, PPV or ESPN3
- Chattanooga at Alabama, 2 p.m. ET, PPV or ESPN3
- Georgia Southern at Florida, 2 p.m. ET, PPV or ESPN3
- Texas A&M at LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
- Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- Kentucky at Georgia, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
- Missouri at Ole Miss, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN