By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 11 Review
A handful of first half errors put Alabama in a 33-13 hole at halftime against LSU last week, and a valiant second half effort came up just short in a 46-41 home loss. A red zone turnover on the opening possession of the game and an interception in the first half were the two biggest blunders for the Crimson Tide offensively, and they could not slow down quarterback Joe Burrow and the LSU offense on the other side of the ball. Burrow threw for 393 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 64 yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns and he caught nine passes for 77 yards and another score. Burrow is now the heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and his Tigers are in the driver’s seat to win the SEC West Division and make the playoffs. UA quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns but only completed 21 of his 40 passes. Najee Harris had a career game on the ground in rushing for 146 yards and a score. He also made an impressive catch on a wheel route for a touchdown. Devonta Smith caught seven passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. Alabama is far from eliminated from playoff contention and only dropped to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Crimson Tide no longer control their own fate, however, and they will need some help to get in the playoff field for the sixth straight year. Alabama dropped to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in SEC play.
SEC football standings
1. LSU (9-0, 5-0)
2. Alabama (8-1, 5-1)
3. Georgia (8-1, 5-1)
4. Florida (8-2, 5-2)
5. Auburn (7-2, 4-2)
6. Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2)
7. Tennessee (5-5, 3-3)
8. Kentucky (4-5, 2-5)
9. Missouri (5-4, 2-3)
10. South Carolina (4-6, 3-4)
11. Mississippi State (4-5, 2-4)
12. Ole Miss (4-6, 2-3)
13. Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5)
14. Arkansas (2-7, 0-5)
Week 12 Previews and Predictions
Week 11: 4-3; season: 68-20
Game of the Week: Georgia at Auburn (+2.5). Since the Tigers have two losses and cannot qualify for the SEC title game, Auburn’s playoff chances are extremely slim. However, AU can spoil one or both of its rivals’ chances to make the postseason. Auburn hosts both Georgia and Alabama in the next three weeks, and the Tiger defense is good enough to keep Auburn in both games. The key will be the progression of the AU offense and whether or not quarterback Bo Nix can make enough plays through the air. Auburn matches up well with Georgia, and this should be a great matchup for the Auburn defense. Auburn and Georgia are only two of seven teams in all of college football that have not allowed over 24 points in a game this season. Saturday’s game likely will be a low-scoring affair, and it could come down to which defense creates the most turnovers and short fields. Prediction: Auburn 20, Georgia 17.
Alabama at Mississippi State (+20.5). While Alabama does not control its fate anymore, UA can help its case by dominating opponents down the stretch. The Crimson Tide has two road games at Mississippi State and Auburn and needs impressive performances to show the committee that they are deserving of a playoff spot. Mississippi State had a week to prepare, but that should not matter against an Alabama team with something to prove. Prediction: Alabama 45, Mississippi State 17.
Florida at Missouri (+7). Florida pummeled Vanderbilt last week, and while the Gators likely won’t win the East Division, they can still finish the regular season with a strong 10-win season. Missouri has struggled in recent weeks and quarterback Kelly Bryant’s injury certainly has not helped. Bryant is expected to return against the Gators, but he will be facing an elite Florida defense on Saturday. Prediction: Florida 31, Missouri 24.
Kentucky at Vanderbilt (+10.5). Despite a close loss to Tennessee, Kentucky still has an opportunity to reach a bowl game. The Wildcats are on their third-string quarterback – who is actually a wide receiver – but Kentucky remains a tough out and has three chances to earn two wins down the stretch. Vanderbilt is trending in the wrong direction, and it is possible the school decides to move on from Derek Mason if the team finishes 2-10 or 3-9. The Commodores did upset Missouri a few weeks ago, but they might have to win out for Mason to keep his job. Prediction: Kentucky 20, Vanderbilt 16.
LSU at Ole Miss (+21). The Tigers just earned their most important victory since 2011 at Alabama, and everyone is rightfully praising Ed Orgeron and the Tigers. That makes this spot at Ole Miss even more dangerous. LSU can likely afford a loss and still make the playoffs, but there are some difficult games upcoming, so the Tigers cannot afford to overlook an Ole Miss team that is a little better than its record indicates. No one would blame the Tigers for coming out flat on Saturday in Oxford, but they need to avoid an upset with games against Texas A&M and likely Georgia on the horizon. Prediction: LSU 41, Ole Miss 31.
South Carolina at Texas A&M (-10.5). Since South Carolina’s stunning upset over Georgia, the Gamecocks lost to Tennessee, Florida and Appalachian State. It’s tough to gauge whether Will Muschamp’s job is in danger, but the Gamecocks have been disappointing in recent weeks and must finish the year against Texas A&M and Clemson. Meanwhile, the Aggies have played better in their last few games and they need this win, especially with matchups against Georgia and LSU on deck. Prediction: Texas A&M 37, South Carolina 24.