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What We Learned from the SEC in Week 13

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Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron leads him team into the Iron Bowl looking for a third straight national championship. McCarron is also chasing a long shot bid at the Heisman Trophy. (Source: Alabama Athletics) Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron leads him team into the Iron Bowl looking for a third straight national championship. McCarron is also chasing a long shot bid at the Heisman Trophy. (Source: Alabama Athletics)
Helping McCarron will be the Crimson Tide's defense, which is No. 3 in the nation and fifth nationally against the run. (Source: Alabama Athletics) Helping McCarron will be the Crimson Tide's defense, which is No. 3 in the nation and fifth nationally against the run. (Source: Alabama Athletics)
On the other side of the Iron Bowl will be Auburn, led by quarterback Nick Marshall. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) On the other side of the Iron Bowl will be Auburn, led by quarterback Nick Marshall. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
Helping pace Auburn's rushing offense, which is second in the nation is Tre Mason. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Helping pace Auburn's rushing offense, which is second in the nation is Tre Mason. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
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(RNN) – The BCS apologists are one game away from being able to say the system "worked" again.

A loss by Alabama, Florida State or Ohio State would bail out their flawed argument and "championship" "system" once again. Of course, if neither team loses, or more than one of those teams lose, their argument is pretty much dead on arrival.

I don't know about you, but I'm hoping for one of those just to see what type of idiotic logic they'll use to defend it this time.1

Here is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 13.

1. James Franklin (player) has still got it. Franklin's return to action was everything Missouri fans were hoping for – the team won. Outside of that, Franklin didn't provide much else.

Franklin threw for 142 yards and an interception and rushed for 42 yards, but the guy had been sidelined for six weeks with a shoulder injury so he needed to knock off some rust. Rust knocked. Now it's time to get ready for Texas A&M.

Missouri's 24-10 win over Ole Miss was equal parts inspiring and disappointing. The Tigers rushed for 260 yards and set up a must-see game with the Aggies that they have to win in order to make the SEC championship game. A loss would send South Carolina in their place.

The Tigers have offensive firepower to match A&M score-for-score and have the second-best rushing offense in the SEC. A&M's rushing defense is the conference's worst. The Aggies have the SEC's best passing offense. Missouri has the conference's worst passing defense. So, plan for a lot of points.2

2. Johnny Manziel won't win the Heisman. Three losses to all three ranked teams you've played is not a good thing to show up on a Heisman resume. That can change with a win over Missouri next weekend, but Johnny Lack-of-Offense can't show up like he did in Saturday's 34-10 loss to LSU.

Manziel had a decent stat day for any other player, throwing for 224 yards and rushing for 54, but he also threw two interceptions to one touchdown and never got the Aggies' offense moving. It was the first time in his career he hasn't completed at least half of his passes.

Heisman trophy candidates are dropping like flies. Oregon's Marcus Mariota suffered a big hit with Oregon's loss to Stanford and with the loss to Arizona on Saturday, he's likely done for. Baylor's Bryce Petty threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma State, but Baylor lost 49-17 in a way a top five team never should, the last touchdown of which happened when Petty lost control of the snap and booted it away while trying to make a recovery.

Florida State's Jameis Winston faces a possible arrest, and it's easy to see how voters could be tentative in choosing him based on off-field problems. Does that open the door for Alabama's AJ McCarron?

3. Florida gave up. Georgia Southern attempted three passes and completed none of them. Zero passing yards. Turned the ball over twice. Converted three of 10 first downs. Gained 429 rushing yards – 7.9 yards per carry. Won 26-20.

Run the ball. It works.

Florida needed the win over Georgia Southern to keep its flagging bowl hopes alive. It didn't happen. I don't know if I should laugh or cry or make of list of people I think will replace Will Muschamp if he gets fired. (It has only one name – see No. 6 below.)

Florida's defense was its strength. If anything, the Florida offense would let it down in a close game. But this was all about defensive ineptitude. A run-only team, as good as it may be, should not be able to get that many yards against Florida's defense, which fell from 15th nationally against the run to 32nd.

The Gators' season was a disaster even before Saturday's game with only a spoiler role against No. 2 Florida State to earn bowl eligibility left to play for. Florida couldn't even deliver the win over the cupcake it needed to keep that alive. Now it's just a potential spoiler, and you're a fool if you think they'll pull off an upset over the Seminoles.

This is Florida's first losing season since 1979, and the nation's second-longest active bowl streak is over. The Gators have given up. They have quit trying. When that happens, coaches don't survive.

4. Ole Miss needs the Egg Bowl for respect. Ole Miss has beaten all the teams it was supposed to beat and pulled off an upset over LSU, but the difference in a 7-5 season and an 8-4 season will be massive, and it all hinges on a Thanksgiving night meeting with Mississippi State.

Ole Miss got close to an upset over Texas A&M, lost by one score to Auburn and held Missouri to its fewest points of the season, but those were all losses. The Rebels also edged Vanderbilt by four and topped Arkansas by 10.

A win over Mississippi State would set up the Rebels as a team opponents will be concerned about in the future. But a loss relegates them to being the same old team that makes a lot of noise without having a lot of substance.

5. Mississippi State needs the Egg Bowl for bowl eligibility. No matter what happens, this season has been a letdown for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State played a difficult schedule and lost to every ranked team it faced.

Its most recent three wins were by one point over Bowling Green, six points over Kentucky and 24-17 over Arkansas in overtime Saturday. Ole Miss is ranked and the Bulldogs need a win Thursday to qualify for a bowl.

It's past time to break out my innovative double-barreled shotgun offense. I will not let this die.3

6. James Franklin (coach) is a magician. It's no secret I love James Franklin, and I will be emotionally scarred if he leaves the SEC. Vanderbilt is set for another nine-win season after beating Tennessee 14-10 in somewhat controversial fashion. The Commodores just need to beat Wake Forest and whatever other miserable non-SEC wretch they draw in a bowl game.

Tennessee had gotten a fourth down stop and was on its way to a crucial win. Then came the whistles and the video review. It was then ruled that Austyn Carta-Samuels was born one inch too tall for the Volunteers' liking. First down Vanderbilt, and three plays, later touchdown Vanderbilt on a fake jump pass run into the end zone.

Vanderbilt has been playing football for more than 100 years and nearly every week Franklin accomplishes something that is a first for the program. I don't know how long he's going to stay there, but it can't be long.

I'm concerned this will be his last year at Vanderbilt and no SEC team will have an opening to keep him in-house. If any SEC team fires its coach this season it would be Georgia or Florida, and both are unlikely. The only other scenario would be Steve Spurrier retiring (he's not dead so that's a long shot), Nick Saban taking whatever job Nick Saban is rumored to be taking (Alabama would go for a "big name" over Franklin, anyway) or Kevin Sumlin leaving for Southern Cal.

7. Arkansas' #karma just will not go away. It's just adding injury to insult at this point. It's been eight straight losses for the Hogs, who haven't won a game since Sept. 14.

Do you remember what life was like back then? Jameis Winston was just starting to make a name for himself and we didn't know he was accused of sexual assault, Auburn wasn't a national championship contender and Florida still had the chance to make a bowl game.

It was a simpler time. Arkansas' three wins came over Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford and Southern Mississippi. Since then it's been eight straight losses and only two of them were close. It's unfathomable that Arkansas had never lost to Mississippi State in Arkansas, but now that's no longer true.

Arkansas not only lost in overtime, but almost pulled off the rare two-score loss in overtime. Mississippi State intercepted a pass and made a good attempt at running it back for a touchdown, but it wasn't needed because the Bulldogs had already scored in the extra period.

Is it possible Bobby Petrino is actually a great coach? He had the Hogs ranked No. 3 in the country. Since his fall from grace, Arkansas has won just two SEC games – last year against Auburn and Kentucky, neither of which won a conference game.

8. Aaron Murray's career ended in the worst way possible. Forget Arkansas' karma, what about Georgia? The Bulldogs have been dealing with injuries at nearly every position and didn't do anything to deserve it.

Murray was the latest victim, suffering an ACL tear in a 59-17 win over Kentucky. The last on-field moment of the best passer in SEC history ended with him being carried off the field for an MRI that revealed Georgia's worst fears.

The only consolation is that Georgia's season was lost long before Murray's knee injury and despite his stellar career the injury will likely downgrade his NFL draft position, meaning he could end up going to a team that isn't an unmitigated disaster like Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay are (hello, Minnesota? Houston? Tennessee?).

9. Tennessee is bowl-less again. The Vols haven't made a bowl since 2010 and haven't won a bowl game since the 2007 season. That's six years and three coaches ago. Oof.

Tennessee needed to beat both Vanderbilt and Kentucky to make the postseason and it fell one inch short of accomplishing the first – and most difficult – of those. It's the second straight year Tennessee needed wins in both those games to become bowl eligible and the second straight year Vanderbilt spoiled the party.

As unlikely as it may seem, Vanderbilt is the football power in the state right now. I never thought I'd live to see that happen, and there are a lot of Vols fans who feel the same way.

10. It's Iron Bowl time. Last week, I went into the history book of Alabama and Auburn's epic rivalry. Now it's time to talk about this year's page in that weighty tome.

What's on the line is a potential fifth consecutive national championship for the game's winner. You have to go back to the Catholics vs. Convicts games between Notre Dame and Miami in 1988-89 to find a game that even comes close to that mark, and the Iron Bowl has already doubled it. The only series that has matched the Iron Bowl's mark is Notre Dame-Army from 1943-47 and the Ivy League's dominance of the late 1800s.

The teams couldn't be more different and each represents a matchup problem for the other. Alabama is the defensive juggernaut with an offense that at times has been just good enough to get the job done. Auburn has a yardage-eating running game and a defense just good enough to not give the game away.

The numbers are staggering and will match the teams' strengths directly against each other. Hitting two iron bars together, produces noise, sparks and chips on both pieces. The game won't be any different. To paraphrase Proverbs 27:17, as iron sharpens iron, so one team sharpens another.

The tale of the tape is ominous: Auburn is second nationally rushing for 320 yards/game. Alabama is fifth nationally allowing 91 rushing yards/game. Auburn has the nation's No. 11 offense. Alabama has the nation's No. 3 defense. Both teams score 39 points per game, but Auburn allows 22 and Alabama allows nine. The disparity of the numbers favors Alabama with Auburn's No. 104 passing offense and the Tide's No. 7 passing defense.

No amount of wait time is short enough for this one.4

Extra points: 1I'm still waiting for them to explain 2003's split national championship, 2004's three undefeated major conference teams (five overall) with the SEC champion being left out, 2009's five undefeated teams and 2011's Alabama-LSU rematch, so I'm not holding my breath.

2This rivalry needs a name. Some initial thoughts are The Bad Geography Bowl, The Col-Col Kerfuffle (Col-umbia and Col-lege Station? OK, that's terrible), The Farmland Flap, The Dust Bowl Dust-Up, The Tussle of Tornado Alley, The Bar-B-Q Brouhaha, The Mixed Nut Mashup (Texas' state nut is the pecan and Missouri's is the black walnut) and The Traitor Bowl – or The Battle for Benedict Arnold's Boot.

3Sample plays include the flea-flicker screen, flea-flicker reverse (handoff to RB who turns and tosses to receiver on a sweep), the reverse flea-flicker, quadruple option pass, triple pass, the screen-and-ladder, the Tim Tebow fake punt jump pass and the fake jump pass Vanderbilt used against Tennessee this week.

4Be sure to catch this week's installment of Rantankerous. There's a good chance the Iron Bowl gets brought up.

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