By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 12 Review
Alabama breezed past Mississippi State, 38-7, last week but the win was certainly not the headline in Starkville. The Crimson Tide lost quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the season after he dislocated his hip late in the first half on a sack. The injury ended his season and likely his career in Tuscaloosa. Tagovailoa was 14-18 for 256 yards and two touchdowns in less than two quarters, and he finished his season with over 2,800 yards, 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Alabama’s playoff hopes now rest upon the shoulders of Mac Jones. Nick Saban’s team likely needs a decisive victory over Auburn to have a shot to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season. UA also needs some help from other teams, including losses from Georgia and Oregon. The Tide improved to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play. Alabama hosts Western Carolina on Saturday (Nov. 23) before the regular season finale at Auburn.
Auburn Week 12 Review
Despite outgaining Georgia by nearly 80 yards and possessing the ball more frequently in Bulldog territory, Auburn lost at home, 21-14, last Saturday (Nov. 16) to drop to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in SEC play. Bo Nix threw the ball 50 times for 245 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 42 yards and a score but also missed an easy throw on fourth-and-2 that would at the very least have moved the Tigers into the red zone. Auburn’s defense held Georgia to just 250 total yards, but the AU offense did not get going until the fourth quarter and could not overcome a 21-0 deficit. The Tigers host Samford this Saturday (Nov. 23) in a tune-up game before Alabama visits for the Iron Bowl.
SEC football standings
1. LSU (10-0, 6-0)
2. Georgia (9-1, 6-1)
3. Alabama (9-1, 6-1)
4. Florida (9-2, 6-2)
5. Auburn (7-3, 4-3)
6. Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2)
7. Tennessee (5-5, 3-3)
8. Kentucky (5-5, 3-5)
9. Missouri (5-5, 2-4)
10. Ole Miss (4-7, 2-4)
11. South Carolina (4-7, 3-5)
12. Mississippi State (4-6, 2-5)
13. Vanderbilt (2-8, 1-6)
14. Arkansas (2-8, 0-6)
Week 13 Previews and Predictions
Week 12: 5-1; season: 73-21
Game of the Week: Texas A&M at Georgia (-13.5). Georgia is currently projected to be in the playoff field but has zero margin for error over the next three weeks. That means the Bulldogs must beat Texas A&M, Georgia Tech and LSU. That’s certainly not an easy task, and the Aggies have quietly been playing good football over the last few weeks. A Georgia win on Saturday sets up an SEC championship game with massive playoff implications. Prediction: Georgia 24, Texas A&M 16.
Western Carolina at Alabama (-57). Mac Jones is 1-0 as a starter and will be 2-0 after Saturday. The sophomore quarterback will see the best defense he’s ever seen next Saturday in Auburn, however, and the Crimson Tide offense needs to be clicking to earn a win and to impress the playoff committee. Jones has a plethora of weapons at his disposal, so the Alabama offense should still find success over the next two weeks. Prediction: Alabama 59, Western Carolina 6.
Samford at Auburn (-48.5). The Auburn offense was sluggish again last Saturday, and while the Tigers started moving the ball in the fourth quarter, it was still too late. AU needs more success in the first half on offense, especially with Alabama visiting next week. Gus Malzahn’s offense relies heavily on the running game to set up everything else. So far, it has not produced on early downs. Prediction: Auburn 55, Samford 9.
UT-Martin at Kentucky (-29.5). Kentucky is 5-5, but Mark Stoops has engineered another remarkable season considering how many of his players have been injured this year. The Wildcats are on third string quarterback Lynn Bowden, Jr., who played receiver for most of his collegiate career, but they keep winning and are only one win away from reaching a bowl game for the fourth straight season. Prediction: Kentucky 45, UT-Martin 16.
East Tennessee State at Vanderbilt. Despite being 2-8 thus far, Derek Mason received a vote of confidence from administration and is expected to return to the Vanderbilt sidelines in 2020. This has been a disappointing season for the Commodores, and the only SEC team that has endured a worse season is Arkansas. A loss to ETSU might change the minds of administration. Prediction: Vanderbilt 42, ETSU 17.
Arkansas at LSU (-44). The LSU offense looks unstoppable every time it takes the field. Despite throwing two interceptions, Joe Burrow was sensational last week against Ole Miss and probably has the Heisman Trophy locked up. The Tigers should have no trouble dispatching Arkansas on Saturday, and likely would only have to split their remaining two games against Texas A&M and Georgia in order to make the playoffs. The Hogs already fired coach Chad Morris and are searching for their third head coach in the last three seasons.
Abilene Christian at Mississippi State (-37). This has not been a season to remember in Starkville, and the Bulldogs likely must beat Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to reach a bowl game. The Bulldogs’ struggles mainly have been on the offensive side of the ball, even though that was expected to be the strength of this team. Prediction: Mississippi State 48, Abilene Christian 10.
Tennessee at Missouri (-4). Both the Volunteers and Tigers need one more win to become bowl eligible, but these programs have been trending in opposite directions over the past few weeks. After an abysmal start to the year, Tennessee has rebounded strongly and played well in recent games. Missouri has struggled with injuries and has been largely inconsistent over the past month. A win over Tennessee would be big for the Tigers’ morale heading into another winnable game against Arkansas next week. Prediction: Missouri 24, Tennessee 20.