Week 13 in the SEC: Recap of Action Around the League
Thankfully, the 2020 regular season is finally in the books.
The SEC season will be remembered for opt outs, COVID-19 protocols and schedule changes.
But before the year can be filed away into the history books, there were a few more bits of business to be decided. Texas A&M had to protect its high ranking, the Magnolia Bowl came down to the final minute, Mississippi State needed to make a final statement and oh yeah, there was still the conference title to be determined.
Here is the final chapter of the SEC regular season:
NO. 1 ALABAMA, NO. 7 FLORIDA
If Alabama has an offensive weakness, no one has found it this season. Najee Harris set a SEC Championship game record with five touchdowns. He ran for 178 yards and had 67 yards receiving. Mac Jones threw for 418 yards and five touchdown and found his favorite target DeVonta Smith who caught 15 passes for 184 yards and scored twice. The ball was spread around, however. Eight Alabama players caught a pass in the game.
Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts combined for 15 catches for 282 yards and each had a touchdown for the Gators and Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards and three scores. But Florida’s ground game was minimal at best making the Gators one-dimensional. Florida rushed for only 54 yards and averaged just 2.1 yards per attempt.
NO.5 TEXAS A&M 34, TENNESSEE 13
After a stagnant first half, Texas A&M was able to come back stronger after the break to beat the Volunteers. Of course, it helps a team win when it can possess the ball for almost three-of-the-four quarters in a game! The Aggies’ offense was on the field for an incredible 44 minutes, 12 seconds. Kellen Mond threw for 281 yards and a score with Jalen Wydemyer grabbing five passes for 71 yards.
Tennessee’s offense showed sparks that bode well for next season. But in this game, the Vols could not sustain enough of a punch to win. Harrison Bailey and J.T. Shrout combined for 189 yards passing and each threw a touchdown. That could set up an interesting quarterback battle in the spring in Knoxville. Cedric Tillman provided one of the highlight moments of the Volunteers’ season when he laid out and made a diving 46-yard touchdown from Shrout.
LSU 53, OLE MISS 48
Max Johnson is for real. The LSU freshman threw for 435 yards and three touchdowns and Kayshon Boutte went wild catching 14 passes for 308 yards and all three of Johnson’s touchdown tosses. The Tigers took advantage of multiple Ole Miss miscues to run their record to 5-5 and avoid becoming a defending national champion with a losing record.
Ole Miss was in the giving mood Saturday turning the ball over six times and that was the difference in the game. Matt Corral threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns and he ran for a game-high 158 yards. Braylon Sanders stepped in for the departed Elijah Moore and had four catches for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 51, MISSOURI 32
Mississippi State concluded a sandwich season. It started with a rout at LSU and ended with a beat down of Missouri, but between the two there was not a lot to cheer about. Saturday Will Rogers threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns and Jaden Wally caught five of those passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Mizzou ended the season in disappointing fashion. Larry Roundtree III ended his career with 121 yards rushing, but the Tigers only gained 342 yards in the game. Connor Bazelak was able to throw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times. Devin Nicholson paced the Tigers with 13 tackles, two of them solo stops.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.