Alabama Crimson Tide: Alabama Crimson Tide
Unbelievable isn't it? The Tigers were 3-9 a year ago. Now they're 12-1 and SEC champions, and things broke their way to open the door for them to head back to the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game for the second time in four seasons. What an incredible story. As a result of its 59-42 win over Missouri in the SEC championship game on Saturday at the Georgia Dome and Ohio State's loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, Auburn is BCS title-game bound.
What does that mean for the rest of the league and those teams' bowl destinations? Alabama is almost certainly headed to the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The next pick belongs to the Capital One Bowl, and South Carolina should be headed to Orlando for that one. As for the AT&T Cotton Bowl, it's looking like Mizzou is the favorite to land that spot.
That leaves an interesting sequence for the next few bowls in the pecking order. The Outback Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl and the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl are each potential destinations for LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia. The selections could go a couple different ways, but we take a stab at how we think it'll shake out below.
As for the next tier, it appears the AutoZone Liberty Bowl has its sights set on Mississippi State, which would kick Vanderbilt to the BBVA Compass Bowl. Here are our full projections for bowl selection Sunday, and soon enough, we'll find out the fate for each of these squads.
VIZIO BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 6: Auburn
Allstate Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2: Alabama
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: South Carolina
AT&T Cotton Bowl, Jan. 3: Missouri
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: LSU
Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31: Texas A&M
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Georgia
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Dec. 30: Ole Miss
AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31: Mississippi State
BBVA Compass Bowl, Jan. 4: Vanderbilt
The 6-foo-5, 240 pound defender said after the game he will likely take all five of his official visits before signing day on Feb. 5.
The No. 70 prospect in the country, who was visited by Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal this past week, said the Crimson Tide will get one of his visits next month.
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The SEC -- the conference that so frequently in the bowl selection system's 16-year history has had teams benefit from a higher-ranked counterpart's stumble just before the finish line -- is poised to pull a magic trick once more before the sport moves to a playoff system next fall.
That's the only way that the SEC's unprecedented run of seven BCS titles will have a chance to continue -- probably.
The debate has raged for a week, since Auburn's miracle win against Alabama knocked the defending-champion Crimson Tide off the top of the heap, over whether a one-loss SEC champion belongs in the title game over an undefeated team from a power conference.
Of course, SEC partisans would argue the “power” in power conference is debatable when it comes to either Ohio State or Florida State's league affiliation. And they have a point, as the facts support an SEC-slanted position in an argument that is less scientific than it is emotional.
Even in what is considered a down year for the SEC, Auburn and Missouri will both have played a significantly more difficult schedule than the potential Big Ten champion Buckeyes or ACC-winning Seminoles. According to the ESPN's strength of schedule ratings, Auburn played the toughest schedule of the foursome and the 38th-toughest slate in the FBS. Missouri (45th) was next, with Ohio State (64th) and Florida State (68th) facing significantly smoother paths to reach this point.
The Buckeyes and Seminoles haven't lost, though, which makes it appear extremely unlikely that the SEC champion creeps past either of them as long as Ohio State beats Michigan State and FSU topples Duke on Saturday night.
Should one or both of them lose, that's when things could get especially tricky. The SEC will have a chance to extend its title streak -- this much we know -- but which team(s) will get the title shot(s)?
With a win on Saturday, Auburn seems like a safe bet. But what if Mizzou wins in Atlanta? Will it be Gary Pinkel's Tigers playing for it all in Pasadena?
Or will it be No 4 Alabama, which benefited from higher-ranked opponents' late stumbles in both 2011 (Oklahoma State) and 2012 (Kansas State AND Oregon) to play for the BCS title after late-season losses of its own? Just like this season, Alabama didn't even win the SEC in 2011 before receiving a rematch shot against LSU in the title game, and it's not inconceivable that such an opportunity could arise again.
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide has won three of the last four BCS titles, however, and the program has established itself as the best in the game, even if it lost a week ago. Surely it deserves the benefit of the doubt, right? We shall see.
This BCS scenario could turn into another mess, and more often than not, such situations have worked out in an SEC program's favor during the BCS era.
Let's not go counting unhatched chickens just yet, however. None of these hypotheticals will matter -- once again, probably, -- unless one of these unbeaten teams falls on its face.
Forgive those of us in the Southeast for almost expecting it, Buckeyes and Seminoles. If there is anything we will remember about the BCS era, it's that this scenario has existed over and over since the bowl selection series came into existence. And time and again, unbeaten teams have choked away a chance to slam the door on the SEC's title streak.
The door seems closed right now, but it isn't bolted shut. Saturday will determine if the rest of the nation can finally break from its precedent and keep an SEC team from slipping in at the last second.
- Auburn AD responds to Sports Illustrated story about Texas being Gus Malzahn's dream job.
- Should Malzahn or Missouri's Gary Pinkel be SEC coach of the year? Discuss!
- Mizzou and Auburn have to regroup from huge wins last week.
- Texas president Bill Powers on Thursday tried to quash the rumors about the Horns going after Nick Saban, saying, "We don't have an opening."
- Alabama DB tweets that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played the Iron Bowl with a torn meniscus that he said needed surgery this week.
- LSU dismisses freshman RB Jeryl Brazil.
- Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin, who was just named Missouri's Chancellor-elect, takes a look back on the Aggies' move to the SEC and the Kevin Sumlin hire.
- Two years ago, Missouri RB Henry Josey tore up his knee. His comeback typifies the Tigers' season.
- What did we learn in the SEC this season? The West is no longer just Bama and LSU.
- Gamecocks fans are campaigning for an AT&T Cotton Bowl berth.
- The TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl has emerged as an option for LSU.
- Scanning bowl projections for Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
- A report in the Columbus (Miss.) Dispatch claims the Bulldogs, who finished the year with a 6-6 record, have a deal to go to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. ... That would drop 8-4 Vanderbilt to the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 4.
- Narrowing the field in the search for Florida's next offensive coordinator.
- Former UGA standout Tim Worley believes Todd Gurley is "right there with Herschel Walker."
- Bret Bielema and his staff are meticulous about recruiting. His message to prospects: "We came here to win the SEC."
- Top UK quarterback recruit clarifies that he didn't drive Mark Stoops' Mercedes. Well, OK then.
That's how it ended for the previously invincible Alabama Crimson Tide last Saturday, falling to those charmed Auburn Tigers who stayed alive in the SEC West thanks to not one, but two last-second miracles. Chris Davis' fateful sprint to the end zone led to AJ McCarron's unceremonious jog to the locker room, one vaulting his team to the conference title game while another was sent silently away to ponder a future absent another championship ring.
It's still hard to fathom that Alabama's run to Pasadena, Calif., was thrown off course so quickly. One second a game-winning field goal was within reach, the next Davis was racing out of Alabama's grasp and toward history. A sea of Auburn fans flooded the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium and moments later Alabama's players exited the visitor's locker room stunned, shocked that their dreams were dashed in such an unlikely fashion.
The look in their eyes: How could it have been?
Alabama had everything lined up to make history of its own this season. The quarterback was in place, the defense was unstoppable, and the coach was pulling all the right strings.
Hurdling Texas A&M in College Station and LSU at home in Tuscaloosa wasn't easy, but the Tide found a way. McCarron, with 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions, led the offense back on both occasions. C.J. Mosley, who completed a second consecutive 100-tackle season, led the defense to stops when it needed them most. And Saban, despite being without some of the key parts from previous championship teams, guided the ship with a steady hand.
With some of the top talent in college football, would Alabama have beaten No. 1-ranked Florida State in the VIZIO BCS National Championship? Saban might think so. He said after Saturday's loss that, "I still think we have one of the best teams in the country." Most Vegas oddsmakers agree, even today having the Tide as favorites over the Seminoles in a hypothetical matchup.
Alabama athletic director Bill Battle penned a blog on the school's website this week that began, "It's hard to win 12 games!" He later wrote, "There was never a time during the game that I didn't feel confident Alabama would win -- until we lost!"
In most instances, you'd call Battle's use of exclamation marks over the top. But in this case, it was well deserved. Battle, like the rest of the program, is still reeling from the collapse, the hard fall from championship hopes to longing for a shot at redemption that's at best a year away. He had the coach. He had the team. He just didn't have fate on its side. It's unclear whether any of those components will be on his side come 2014.
As Battle would write toward the end of his essay, "We're all counting on you to show up 'loud and proud' for our next game" -- whatever that game may be. It could be the Discover Orange Bowl, the Allstate Sugar Bowl or some other well-slotted bowl game, but it won't be the BCS title game.
Auburn and Missouri are now the SEC's best hope at reaching Pasadena and the chance of an eighth straight national champion from the conference. And even so, their résumés may not be enough to unseat Florida State or Ohio State. Alabama, for its part, would have had no such problem had it survived the final seconds in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
So while Saban and the Tide may watch Saturday's title game thinking, "what if?" the rest of the SEC might be thinking the same thing on Sunday when the bowl pairings are revealed.
If only Auburn -- and seemingly destiny -- hadn't interfered.
Year of dominance: The top 15 prospects in the ESPN 300 are all scheduled to take part. That means that all 13 five-star prospects in the class will be competing, including No. 1 Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). All told, 28 of the top 30 prospects in the ESPN 300 are on an UA All-America roster.
SEC leads the way: It comes without surprise that the SEC has the most committed prospects taking part, with 34. The Big Ten and ACC have 13 each, the Big 12 has three and the Pac-12 has two. Notre Dame has five commits in the game.
The SEC West alone has 25.
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- The Seattle Times reports that Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is one of two frontrunners for the Washington head coaching vacancy.
- Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson warns his Tigers about allowing big plays. ... After a slight concussion, linebacker JaViere Mitchell returned to practice and is expected to play on Saturday.
- Missouri's defense knows it will take discipline to slow down Auburn's running game.
- Steve Spurrier says the AT&T Cotton Bowl is at the top of South Carolina's list. But BCS rules will limit the Gamecocks' bowl possibilities this year.
- What are Zach Mettenberger's NFL prospects with a torn ACL?
- Texas' new athletics director addressed the challenges of reviving the Longhorns' rivalry with Texas A&M.
- Nothing less than a bowl appearance in Year 2 will be acceptable for Tennessee. ... The Vols picked up an ESPN 300 wide receiver commit on Wednesday. And he might have tipped UT's hand when it comes to next year's QB battle.
- Where will the Commodores be bowling after an 8-4 season?
- In a season that saw Florida lose its top three offensive tackles for significant time to injury, a former Gator OT is ironically enjoying good health as he plays his sixth and final season for Boston College.
- Two of the top running backs in the Magnolia State, one an Ole Miss commit and the other a Mississippi State pledge, will square off on Saturday with a state title on the line.
- Mark Stoops knows it won't be an easy task to build his Wildcat program.
- An 0-8 season did nothing to shake Bret Bielema's faith in his plan to revive the Razorbacks.
UT adds 11th ESPN 300 prospect
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The latest update to the RecruitingNation class rankings features a number of moves due in large part to the release of the ESPN Junior College 50 rankings. Within the conference, Alabama still has a strong grasp on the top spot with all 14 schools in the top 35 classes nationally. Here's a look at the conference's rankings .
Trending up: Both Texas A&M and Auburn are trending up thanks to the release of the ESPN JC 50. The Aggies jumped from No. 5 to No. 4 and into the top 3 in the conference rankings with junior college offensive linemen Avery Gennesy (Southhaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) and Jermaine Eluemunor (Rockaway, N.J./Lackawanna College) coming in at No. 13 and 15 in the ESPN JC 50. Auburn junior college commitment D'haquille Williams (Reserve, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) and Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River Community College) came in at No. 1 and 9 in the JC 50. Auburn jumped from No. 14 nationally to No. 12, and the Tigers are in striking position on several other highly-ranked prospects.
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It's been a few days since the debacle on The Plains and nothing is going to take the sting away from watching Chris Davis outrun the field goal team for the game-winning touchdown as time expired. The shock is still wearing off. Auburn is moving on to the SEC Championship Game and you're probably still questioning whether Nick Saban should have tried that long field goal from Adam Griffith, or better yet, whether he should have kicked it on fourth-and-one a few drives earlier. Maybe you're still reeling over Amari Cooper's dropped touchdown or the false start that negated what would have been a made field goal from Cade Foster.
Instead, what's most troubling was how Saban and Kirby Smart's defense once again failed to stop a spread, uptempo offense. Tre Mason ran inside and outside the tackles at will and Nick Marshall was able to evade the pass rush too easily. After that and what we saw earlier this season from Texas A&M, isn't it time to come to grips with the fact that Alabama needs to do something to slow down these types of attacks?
Gus Malzahn might indeed be the best offensive play-caller in the country. And, yes, Johnny Manziel is a freak of nature and arguably worthy of a second straight Heisman Trophy. Sometimes these things can't be helped. But the body of evidence is growing to suggest that Alabama has a real problem on its hands.
It's not like Saban and Smart didn't know what they were getting into. We heard all during the offseason how they were working to slow down Johnny Football and adjust to the tempo of no-huddle schemes. Alabama is nothing if not familiar with the work of Malzahn. There was more than enough tape from his time at Auburn and Arkansas State to know the zone-read was going to be a focal point of the game. Nothing they saw from either Auburn or Texas A&M was unfamiliar, except maybe the remarkable production their offenses gained on what's supposedly the best defense in college football.
"Their running game has had a lot of success against everybody all year long," Saban said after the loss at Auburn. "They have a very difficult offense to defend. Like I said, it takes a lot of discipline."
But discipline is what Saban's defenses have been known for all along. They don't go for the sack or the big play. Players are told to maintain their gaps and let the scheme work its magic. More often than not it does. Not against Auburn, though, which rushed for 296 yards, the most Alabama has given up since 2011. Auburn averaged 4.2 yards before contact on designed rushes, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Alabama entered Saturday averaging an SEC-best 1.5 yards before contact per rush.
"You certainly have to stop the run a little better than we did today to have a chance to beat a team like this."
Mason's 164 yards rushing was the third most of any player against Alabama in the last decade. Marshall's 99 yards on the ground was the most allowed by a quarterback in the Saban era. The zone-read Mason and Marshall ran accounted for 270 yards on 38 attempts. That 7.1 yards per carry average was nearly double what Alabama entered the game allowing on zone-read plays (3.4).
Said veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley: "On some plays we messed up on our technique and [Marshall] made us pay, and some plays he made on his own."
In short, Alabama didn't have an answer for Auburn, just as it didn't against Texas A&M earlier this season.
Lost in the Alabama's sprint toward an undefeated season was how the defense gave up a school-record 628 yards of offense that day in September. Manziel threw for 464 yards, many of which came on plays where he scrambled to buy time for his receivers. He ran for 98 more yards of his own. Mike Evans abused Alabama's cornerbacks to the tune of 279 yards receiving, the most in Texas A&M's history and the most the Tide had allowed since 2001. When the Aggies got on a roll, they couldn't be stopped.
Making sense of what Texas A&M and Auburn did to Alabama's defense won't be easy, but it's a job that must be done. If not, repeat performances will come next year and the year after that.
If Alabama wants to retain the mantle of the best defense in college football, it has work to do. Saban and Smart have shown they're some of the top minds in the game, but now maybe more than ever they have to prove it.
ESPN JC 50 defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Goldsboro, N.C./East Mississippi Community College) committed to the Crimson Tide following an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa last week.
“I committed to Alabama,” Reed said via text message. “The relationship with the coaches, and the opportunity to join a great team. It’s a great way to become a better person and player.”
Reed, who ranks No. 30 in the recently released ESPN JC 50, made official visits to Kentucky on Oct. 11, Tennessee on Oct. 18, Ole Miss on Nov. 10 and Mississippi State on Nov. 15.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Reed has been a nationally recruited prospect for the better part of three years. He signed with Florida last year after his freshman season at East Mississippi Community College, but failed to meet entrance requirements. He returned to EMCC, and this season and has continued to be a force in the middle for the Lions, who will play for the NJCAA National Championship Dec. 8 in Biloxi, Miss. Reed is on schedule to graduate in December and plans to enroll at Alabama in January.
Reed is a teammate of former Alabama defensive end D.J. Pettway (Pensacola, Fla./East Mississippi Community College), who was dismissed after being charged with second-degree robbery. Pettway was on campus in Tuscaloosa with Reed last week, and could possibly return to the Crimson Tide.
Reed is Alabama's 24th commitment, including 18 ESPN 300 prospects. The class is headlined by No. 3-overall Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) and No. 6 Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), both five-star prospects.
Alabama remains in the running for No. 1-ranked Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), No. 11 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), No. 12 Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) and No. 13 Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), among others.
- When he was at Florida, Urban Meyer touted the SEC's strength of schedule as a reason for his Gators to jump over a Big Ten school to play in the national championship. Can the case he made be used against his Buckeyes this season?
- Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says he has Ohio State ranked No. 2 ... for now. After attending the Iron Bowl last week, he'll be watching Saturday's championship games intently.
- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel isn't lobbying for his Tigers' chances to reach the BCS national championship game if they win on Saturday. He's focused on Auburn.
- Two years ago there was some discord over the Alabama-LSU rematch for the national title. Would an Auburn-Alabama rematch draw even more ire this season?
- Florida's search for a new offensive coordinator will continue through bowl season.
- After South Carolina beat Clemson last Saturday, Steve Spurrier declared Connor Shaw the Gamecocks' best QB ever. Now others are agreeing.
- LSU is familiar with the scenario of losing its starting QB just before its bowl game. The same situation occurred in 2005 and 2008.
- Some scouts say Johnny Manziel will be a top-12 NFL draft pick.
- Mississippi State senior safety Nickoe Whitley will miss the Bulldogs' bowl game after surgery on Monday to repair a torn ACL.
- And finally, Georgia WR Chris Conley is a Star Wars nerd. Awesome.
Auburn, Alabama and Missouri are all in the top five of the BCS standings, all have one loss on their records and all are in danger of missing out on the title game in Pasadena, Calif. For a conference that has won seven straight national championships, it has to be an odd feeling being on the outside looking in.
One has to wonder what Gus Malzahn, Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel think of the College Football Playoff coming next year and not this postseason. Would we even be having these debates?
Where it all started: Alabama was a given from the start. Before Auburn was a "team of destiny," the top-ranked Crimson Tide was a team eyeing a date with history. A third straight national championship seemed like a foregone conclusion as long as AJ McCarron was throwing passes and C.J. Mosley was leading the defense. Beating Texas A&M and LSU was the only hiccup, and beyond that it was smooth sailing for Alabama as it carved through a relatively easy schedule with a string of seven games that included Colorado State, Ole Miss, Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. Alabama emerged in November undefeated and the presumptive favorite to run the season start to finish No. 1.
For Auburn, it was understood that seven or eight wins would be a good season for Malzahn's first year as coach on The Plains. After what former coach Gene Chizik and his staff left behind -- dissent and an utter lack of confidence being the biggest of baggage -- it would be a miracle if Auburn was simply competitive. But when Nick Marshall transferred from Garden City Community College in August and won the starting quarterback job, everything changed. And the come-from-behind game-winning drive he led against Mississippi State would forever turn the course of the Tigers' season. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen told me that if they won maybe "the seasons could have been reversed. We might have had the confidence they're having and the great run they're having right now." Fans and prognosticators didn't fully embrace Auburn's title hopes until wins over Texas A&M and Georgia, though. Both involved coming from behind and both showed the tenacity of a program with a chip on its shoulder. Saturday's win over Alabama further solidified their billing as a "team of destiny" and a serious contender to reach Pasadena.
No one thought Missouri could turn things around so quickly, either. Pinkel's foray into the SEC yielded a mountain of injuries and a smattering of wins -- two to be exact. Missouri looked years away and the preseason polls reflected that. The Tigers weren't in the top 25 and many predicted they'd finish near the bottom of the SEC West. But scheduling helped ease Missouri into contention. Pinkel was able to start the season off 3-0 with easy non-conference wins over Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. And instead of backfiring, the diminutive competition early on paid off in confidence as the Tigers beat then SEC East powers Georgia and Florida back-to-back to start the conference slate. Wins over Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, coupled with a drop off from the rest of their division, landed the Tigers atop the East and in line for a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
Where it went wrong: Missouri has to be kicking itself for losing at home to South Carolina on Oct. 26. It took an overtime period and starting quarterback James Franklin being out, but the Tigers fell. Connor Shaw came off the bench for the Gamecocks and led an improbable comeback, bringing his team back from 13 points down in the fourth quarter. If Missouri had held on, it would be undefeated and there would be a much different conversation going on today as a win over Auburn in the SEC title game would almost automatically mean a trip to the national championship game.
One-loss teams generally have their best shot of making it back into the championship picture when that one loss comes early. And luckily for Auburn, it followed that mold. After early wins against Arkansas State and Mississippi State, the Tigers went on the road to LSU and one of the most difficult visitor's environments in Death Valley. As Les Miles would say, "It was a very stiff, wind-driven dew." In other words, it rained cats and dogs, and Auburn's offense staggered early on. LSU jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Auburn tried to mount a comeback with 21 second-half points, but LSU running back Jeremy Hill & Co. were too much. The loss didn't seem like much at the time -- Auburn was still in the infancy of its title run -- but looking back, it meant everything. Had the game at LSU come later in the year when Auburn had more confidence and Marshall was more familiar with the offense, who knows if it would have turned out differently.
Conversely, Alabama had a loss at the exact moment when it couldn't afford one: the final game of the regular season. By falling to Auburn on the road and losing out on a shot at playing in the SEC Championship Game, Saban's squad has no second chance to impress voters before the bowl games are determined. There will be no opportunity to show the loss to the Tigers was a fluke. Even though it was No. 1 versus No. 4 and the game literally came down to the final second on the road, Alabama won't be forgiven. But such is life when you're the top team in college football.
Where it got back on track: As just noted, there hasn't been a bounce-back moment for Alabama yet. But if you're a fan of the Crimson Tide, you have to appreciate the way your quarterback handled the aftermath of the loss at Auburn. McCarron, as fierce a competitor as he is, provided context to the defeat when he told reporters that at the end of the day it's just a game. When fans came after kicker Cade Foster for missing three field goals, McCarron said, "Times like this people need to realize the sun's going to rise tomorrow." Where it sets, however, remains to be determined. There's a chance Alabama makes it to the Orange Bowl or even the Sugar Bowl, but until Missouri and Auburn play in the SEC Championship Game, it's anyone's guess how it plays out.
Auburn, meanwhile, got back on track almost immediately after losing on the road at LSU. How games against Ole Miss and Western Carolina provided the perfect remedy for defeat as Auburn went 2-0 before heading out to College Station, Texas, to take on the then-top 10 Aggies and Johnny Football. The defense rose up late and Marshall lead the Tigers on the come from behind win that solidified Auburn's standing and vaunted them into the top 15 of most rankings. Winning against Florida Atlantic, Arkansas and Tennessee was a breeze, and last-second wins over Georgia and Alabama were the final dominoes to propel Auburn to an 11-1 record and a berth in the SEC title game.
Give Missouri credit for weathering the storm like it did. Losing to South Carolina at home was bad enough, but it had to move on not knowing when Franklin would be back under center. Maty Mauk didn't let the offense miss a beat, however. Missouri's freshman quarterback came out the next week against Tennessee and threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns, running for 114 yards as well. The next week against Kentucky he passed for 203 yards and five touchdowns. Franklin would come back and lead the offense in wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M to close out the regular season, but without Mauk, who knows where Missouri would be today? Mauk may not play anymore this year, but he'll go down as an unsung hero in the Tigers' run to the SEC title game.
Will Rocky Top be home sweet home?
Four-star receiver Josh Malone, the nation’s No. 48 player out of Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp, has already signed financial aid agreements with Tennessee, Georgia, Clemson and Florida State, but he will announce his decision at noon ET Wednesday on NBC Sports Network. The RecruitingNation Hot Board has Malone projected to select Tennessee. The Volunteers were smart and were the first to use the signing of the financial aid paperwork as a tool in the recruiting process. Because he was technically “signed” UT coaches were able to have regular contact with him. Shortly after, the three other schools followed suit.
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Looking over the newly released ESPN JC 50, there are several recruits on that list already committed to SEC schools. There are also many that still remain undecided. With signing day quickly approaching, here’s a closer look at five prospects, who’s destination is still unknown.
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