Monday, July 28, 2014 · 6:20 a.m.

The SEC Roundup: Week 12

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Auburn running back Tre Mason is helping the Tigers lead the SEC in rushing in 2013. (Photo: David Johnston)

Welcome to the SEC roundup. Nooga.com will look back, look ahead and rank all the SEC teams each Thursday as they prepare for the upcoming week of SEC action.

1. Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC)

Those hoping to see Alabama challenged by LSU got their wish – at least for a little over a half. The Tide and the Tigers were tied at 17 in the third quarter before the defending champs reeled off the game’s final 21 points. It showed that Alabama is human, but also reminded people that it is still the class of the SEC. Matchups against Mississippi State and Chattanooga should be little more than warm-ups for the season finale against Auburn in the Iron Bowl – a game that will likely have championship implications.

Last week: Alabama 38. LSU 17

This week: vs. Mississippi State

2. Auburn (9-1, 5-1)

Auburn already had the best rushing offense in the conference, but that didn’t stop the Tigers from putting up a historic performance on the ground at Tennessee last week. Led by strong rushing efforts from quarterback Nick Marshall (214 yards, 2 TDs) and running back Tre Mason (117 yards, 3 TDs), the Tigers piled up 444 yards on the ground against the Vols. Auburn needed just three completed passes in the dominating 55-23 victory. They control their own destiny in the SEC West with challenging games against Georgia and Alabama remaining.

Last week: Auburn 55, Tennessee 23

This week: vs. Georgia

3. Missouri (9-1, 5-1)

The East-leading Tigers had no letdown against last-place Kentucky. Quarterback Maty Mauk had an efficient day – completing five of his 17 passes for touchdowns, including a school-record four to sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham, who is beginning to live up to the hype of being the former No. 1 recruit in the nation. Mizzou gets a week off to prepare for a two-game stretch against Ole Miss and Texas A&M that will determine its postseason destiny.

Last week: Missouri 48, Kentucky 17

This week: BYE

4. Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2) 

Quarterback Johnny Manziel put up his regular huge numbers, including 446 yards and five touchdowns. However, his three interceptions helped keep visiting Mississippi State in the game until the closing minutes. The Bulldogs had a chance to cut it to one score with approximately a minute remaining, but a failed 2-point conversion attempt sealed a win for the Aggies in what might’ve been the draft-eligible Manziel’s final game in College Station. The Aggies have a week off followed by showdowns with LSU and Missouri. A BCS bowl is very much within their grasps if they finish strong.

Last week: Texas A&M 51, Mississippi State 41

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. (Photo: David Johnston)

This week: BYE

5. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2)

Quietly, the Gamecocks have kept themselves in good position in the East. If they can defeat a beat-up Florida team this week and Auburn beats Georgia as well, they only need one loss from Missouri against Ole Miss or Texas A&M – two formidable opponents – to clinch the division. It’s not a given by any means, but they must like their chances of making it to Atlanta despite losing to Georgia and Tennessee earlier in the year.

Last week: BYE

This week: vs. Florida

6. LSU (7-3, 3-3)

Credit the Tigers for battling at Alabama. They were the first team since Texas A&M in Week 2 to give Alabama a challenge that lasted into the second half. But, in the end, that game proved that LSU has fallen a step behind its Western Division nemesis. LSU has the week off to prepare for Texas A&M and an offense that regularly puts 40-plus on the board. LSU’s normally-dependable defense hasn’t been as staunch in 2013, making the Tigers vulnerable to a fourth loss if they don’t play better against the Aggies.

Last week: Alabama 38, LSU 17

This week: BYE

7. Georgia (6-3, 4-2)

Georgia also remains alive in the East, but the Bulldogs need a win at Auburn and get some help from others this week for that to remain true. Star running back Todd Gurley took a light load (13 carries) in their 45-6 win over Appalachian State last week, meaning he should be the healthiest he’s been in a while for this week’s showdown with Auburn. The Bulldogs should be able to put some points up against the Tigers next week. They will need them. Auburn is averaging 38.6 points per game and leads the conference in rushing offense at 320 yards on the ground per contest.

Last week: Georgia 45, Appalachian State 6

This week: at Auburn

8. Ole Miss (6-3, 3-3)

There were some nervous moments against a struggling Arkansas squad last week. The Rebels led by just three in the third quarter, but a career day from quarterback Bo Wallace (416 yards, 3 TDs) kept them from falling victim to an upset against the Razorbacks. Big plays were key for Wallace and the Rebels. Touchdown tosses of 72 and 52 yards helped Ole Miss separate from Arkansas late in the third quarter. Expect the Rebels to expand their winning streak to four games after a matchup with non-conference foe Troy this weekend.

Last week: Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24

This week: vs. Troy

9. Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4)

The Commodores survived a four-game stretch against Missouri, Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida with an impressive 2-2 mark. The high point was last week’s 34-17 triumph at Florida, which was Vandy’s first win there since 1945. The ‘Dores need just one more win against either Kentucky, Tennessee or Wake Forest to qualify for their third bowl in three years under James Franklin. To put that in context, Vandy had only been to four bowls ever before Franklin arrived in Nashville. But this squad probably isn’t thinking just bowl eligibility – it has a chance to improve its postseason destination if it wins out.

Last week: Vanderbilt 34, Florida 17

Florida coach Will Muschamp (Photo: Billy Weeks)

This week: vs. Kentucky

10. Florida (4-5, 3-4)

Injuries have piled up at an alarming rate and coach Will Muschamp is feeling the heat after a 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt in The Swamp. The Gators have now dropped four straight. They need to win two of their last three to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time since 1990. That’s much easier said than done with South Carolina and Florida State both still remaining on the schedule. Adding to the challenge is a shoulder injury for quarterback Tyler Murphy, who will be a game-time decision for this week’s game at South Carolina.

Last week: Vanderbilt 34, Florida 17

This week: at South Carolina

11. Tennessee (4-6, 1-5)

The Vols find themselves in a familiar situation. Just like the last three years, they must win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to become bowl eligible. They fell short the last two years, but pulled it off in 2010. In terms of record, UT is about where many picked them at this point in the year. The Vols’ lack of competitiveness the last few weeks has been concerning, though. Tennessee has dropped its last three against Alabama, Missouri and Auburn by a total of 131-36. Coach Butch Jones gets a week off to prepare for the two-game stretch that will determine his postseason fate in his first year in Knoxville. 

Last week: Auburn 55, Tennessee 23

This week: BYE

12. Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4)

MSU actually outgained Texas A&M (556-537) on Saturday, but ultimately fell 51-41 to the high-scoring Aggies. Texas A&M gave the Bulldogs opportunities. The Aggies committed 10 penalties and turned it over three times, however, MSU couldn’t capitalize enough to pull off the upset. Quarterback Dak Prescott continues to impress. He piled up over 300 yards of total offense, including 154 on the ground in the losing effort. It gets no easier with Alabama up next. Assuming a loss to the Tide, MSU must then knock off Arkansas and Ole Miss to reach bowl eligibility.

Last week: Texas A&M 51, MSU 41

This week: vs. Alabama

13. Arkansas (3-7, 0-6)

The Razorbacks dropped their seventh straight in a 34-24 loss at Ole Miss last week. At least they are shrinking the gap a bit. They were defeated by Alabama and South Carolina by a combined total of 104-7 a few weeks back, but they’ve only lost by an average of 14 in the last two games against Auburn and Ole Miss. Arkansas has the week off before trying to save some dignity against Mississippi State and LSU to close out the season. The Razorbacks will stay home for bowl season for the second consecutive year.

Last week: Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 24

This week: BYE

14. Kentucky (2-7, 0-5)

Kentucky’s game against Missouri went about as poorly as expected for the Wildcats. They fell 48-17 and allowed Mizzou QB Maty Mauk to throw for five touchdowns. The game was virtually over by halftime with Missouri up 28-3 at the break. Even with the toughest part of the schedule over with, it’s hard to project any more wins for Mark Stoops’ squad. The Wildcats have games at Vandy and Georgia left as well as a home date with Tennessee. They could pull one of those upsets off, but it seems unlikely at this point.

Last week: Missouri 48, Kentucky 17

This week: at Vanderbilt

Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga

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