SEC: What we learned 111812

What we learned in the SEC: Week 12

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
10:00
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After another week of SEC football, here's what we learned on Saturday:

1. SEC is right back in the BCS title talk: Weird things always happen this time of year, and a week after the SEC was on the outside of the national championship picture, it's right back in after No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon both lost on Saturday. Both Alabama and Georgia beat their overmatched cupcakes, which means that if both win next weekend, the SEC title game essentially turns into a semifinal for the national championship. Just when the SEC seemed out of it, it's going to be near the top of the BCS again. In fact, three SEC teams should be in the top four. Imagine if the playoff were here and the season ended today. Notre Dame remains the only undefeated team, and to have the Irish play an SEC team in the national championship would be a major draw for college football fans.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireJohnny Manziel had another productive Saturday -- padding his resume for his Heisman campaign.
2. Bowl hope blues: For three teams, Saturday wasn't good for their bowl hopes. Arkansas' 45-14 loss to Mississippi State gave the Razorbacks their seventh loss of the year and ended their chances at making a bowl game. That means the season will officially end for the Hogs next week after the LSU game. It's not the way people there wanted the season to end, but I'm sure those same people are also ready for change in Fayetteville. Tennessee's ugly 23-point loss to Vanderbilt means the Vols will be sitting at home during the bowl season for the second straight year. Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart says no decision has been made about Derek Dooley's future, but that had to have changed Saturday night. Missouri's home loss to Syracuse means the Tigers will have to win at Texas A&M next week in order to make a bowl. Missouri gave up a last-minute touchdown after leading the Orange by three. Mizzou has made seven straight bowl games, but it looks like that bowl streak will stop because the Aggies are arguably the nation's hottest team.

3. Florida's BCS hopes rest on the offense: If the Gators are going to make a BCS bowl game, their offense has to be much better than it has been lately. Florida totaled just 356 yards in its lackluster 23-0 win over Jacksonville State. It was the most yardage the Gators have registered since they put up 403 against Vanderbilt on Oct. 13. In the last six games, Florida has averaged 232 yards of offense. It hasn't mattered who is in at quarterback, this offense just hasn't been able to get off the ground for the last month. The passing game has been dreadful and teams are loading the box to take away the run. That has to change next week against Florida State, which owns one of the nation's best statistical defenses. It almost seems like the Gators have exhausted their playbook, but some tweaks have to be made, regardless of whether it's Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett taking the snaps. Florida won't be able to lean on just its defense next Saturday.

4. Johnny Manziel takes over the Heisman race: He might have been playing in a glorified scrimmage with Sam Houston State in town, but Manziel had another terrific day on the football field. He threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 100 yards and adding two more scores. Manziel has an SEC-leading 1,114 rushing yards, which is a new NCAA record for a freshman quarterback. He also broke former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen's freshman record for total offense of 3,827 set in 2000 on the Aggies' first drive. Manziel is now the fifth player and first freshman in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards with at least 1,000 yards rushing in a season. What helps him even more is Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein tossed three interceptions in Kansas State's 28-point loss to Baylor and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner ran for just 66 yards in the Ducks' loss. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is still there, but it looks like Manziel is the new leader in the Heisman race.

5. James Franklin is the real deal at Vanderbilt: We thought Franklin was the real deal last year when he guided the Commodores to a bowl game in his first year in Nashville. But if you really want to arrive at a school you have to beat your rival and Franklin's Commodores did just that ... handily. It could have been much worse too, but Franklin chose not to run up the score. It might say more that his team is winning. Franklin has totally transformed things at Vandy and with a win over Wake Forest next week, the Commodores will get to eight wins for the first time since 1982. Real progress has been made at Vanderbilt under Franklin's two-year watch.

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