Alabama claimed the SEC West crown a bit early, thanks to a blowout of Mississippi State and Georgia’s win over Auburn.
Florida took a step towards repeating as East champion with a victory over South Carolina, while Tennessee kept pace with a track meet triumph over Kentucky.
So, how it happen? Let’s dish out some blame for each SEC school’s Week 11 loss:
Defense (50 percent): Alabama did whatever it wanted. Mississippi State allowed 218 yards on the ground and another 397 through the air. Only Samford gained more yards against the Bulldogs this season.
Must be something about playing Alabama schools.
Offense (25 percent): As Nick Fitzgerald goes, so goes the Mississippi State offense. He went nowhere against the Crimson Tide, rushing for just 15 yards and completing 10 of his 33 passes.
Opponent (25 percent): The Bulldogs were 29-point underdogs for a reason. They were playing on the road against the No. 1 team in the land, so leaving with a win was always going to be a tall order.
Offensive line/running game (50 percent): In their recent three-game winning streak, the Gamecocks rushed for an average of 175.3 yards per game. They managed only 43 against Florida, and the inability to run the ball put too much pressure on the passing game.
Rush defense (30 percent): Jordan Scarlett had a season-high 134 yards against South Carolina. While the Gators didn’t exactly gash the Gamecocks (171 yards, 4.6 yards per carry), they were able to move the ball consistently and put points on the board.
Inexperience (20 percent): Someday, Jake Bentley and his young receivers will be able to carry the Gamecocks when the ground game isn’t working. Florida showed that day isn’t here just yet.
Rush defense (50 percent): How does a team rush for 443 yards and lose by almost two touchdowns? For starters, it can allow 376 yards and four touchdowns on the ground — as Kentucky did against Tennessee.
Red zone efficiency (50 percent): The other reason all of those rushing yards didn’t turn into more points was Kentucky’s inability to finish drives.
The Wildcats visited the red zone six times, scoring only two touchdowns while settling for three Austin MacGinnis field goals.
Third-down defense (50 percent): In a game as close as the one between Auburn and Georgia, the little things matter more than usual.
The Auburn defense, on the whole, played an excellent game against Georgia. Third downs were an issue, though.
Georgia converted seven of its 17 third-down chances. Four of those conversions helped produce the two field goals that eventually won the game.
Loyalty (30 percent): Sean White has had a solid season, and he’s a big part of the reason the Tigers reeled off six-straight wins. But he was dealing with a sore right shoulder coming into this game, and he admitted after that he hurt it a little more during the game.
With Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III standing on the sideline, Gus Malzahn stuck with White. It was loyal, but, in hindsight, not the best move. He gutted it out, but went 6 for 20 for 27 yards and an interception.
One bad throw (20 percent): Only White knows how much the injured shoulder was affecting him when he uncorked his third pass of the second half. Maurice Smith picked it off and returned it 34 yards for a score, wiping away Auburn’s 7-0 lead.
Rush defense (40 percent): Freshman Damarea Crockett ran for 154 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 7.7 yards per carry. It’s tough to be successful on defense when it’s always second-and-2.
Turnovers (30 percent): Kyle Shurmur threw a pair of interceptions, one of which Aarion Penton returned 19 yards for a touchdown.
Slow start (30 percent): Vanderbilt’s easiest path to success is to play good defense, run the ball effectively and try to get the game to the fourth quarter. Falling behind 19-0 in the second quarter didn’t allow the Commodores to do any of that.
Rush defense (70 percent): It’s a recurring theme in this week’s blame game, but Arkansas was absolutely shredded on the ground by LSU. Derrius Guice ripped off a 96-yard scoring run on his way to 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Leonard Fournette added 98 yards and three more scores.
In total, LSU had 12 runs of at least 10 yards. It’s tough to win that way.
Passing game (30 percent): Austin Allen ranks in the top four in the SEC in passing yards, touchdowns and rating, but he had an off night against the Tigers.
For the first time this season, he failed to complete 50 percent of his passes (15 for 31) while serving up two interceptions. Most of his completions and yardage came in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach, and with an inconsistent ground game, the Razorbacks need him at his best.
Fourth-quarter collapse (75 percent): When the clock hit triple zero in the third quarter of Saturday night’s game with Ole Miss, Texas A&M had a 21-6 lead. Fifteen minutes later, a true freshman quarterback making his first career start had led the Rebels to 23 points in the final period to take a 29-28 win.
Shea Patterson threw for 119 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter to leave Aggie fans scratching their heads.
Injuries (25 percent): Injured quarterback Trevor Knight’s presence, and his ability to move the chains with his legs, was sorely missed in the fourth quarter.
Safety Armani Watts went down in the second quarter with a right knee injury, and it would have been nice to have his experience in the secondary for the final period as well.