The final week of the SEC regular-season – rivalry week – saw a bunch of interesting things happen in games that mean even more to players, coaches, and fans, than usual. Here is a look at the five worst happenings in SEC football in Week 13.
By Steve Wright
5 – Mississippi State at the end of the first half
The Bulldogs were right in the thick of the battle in the Egg Bowl late in the second quarter. They were down just 10-6 and driving for the lead. Then, on a series of plays they would later regret, Lideatrick Griffin and Ja’Quavious Marks both dropped passes they should have caught, then a field goal that would have made it 10-9 was missed. The Bulldogs never threatened again as they were down 24-6 in the fourth quarter. Missed opportunity.
4 – Jameson Williams on punt coverage
Is it just me or does it feel like Jameson Williams is about a million times too important to the Alabama passing game for him to be working in punt coverage. That proved to be correct on Saturday as Williams was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a returner in the second quarter of the Iron Bowl. Without Williams as a deep threat, the ‘Bama offense went nowhere, scraping its way to overtime and a win. Nick Saban is a great coach, but Williams should never see the field as a special teamer again – especially given the number of 3-star and 4-star recruits ‘Bama pulls each year to fill out that squad.
3 – Fight in the Swamp
Fighting before a game will work its way onto this list at the best of times. When the fight is between a couple of 5-6 teams from programs with recruiting advantages that should have them in the National Championship picture it is – frankly – embarrassing. Add in that the game was a mess and the fall from grace for both has been completed.
2 – Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma
It appears Lincoln Riley is scared of the SEC. Moments after his Sooners lost Beldam against Oklahoma State, Riley shot down any rumors linking him to the job opening at LSU. It turned out he was adamant about not playing in Baton Rouge to the point that less than 24 hours later he was out of the OU coaching job – and the challenges ahead playing in the SEC – and running off to the West Coast and the (admittedly massive) job at USC. Coaches don’t leave Oklahoma for another college football gig. Riley did, and that says everything about the power of the SEC.
1 – Bryan Harsin not going for two
We praised Mizzou head coach Eli Drinkwitz in the “Best of” sister column to this piece for going for two points and the win as the Tigers upset Florida last week in overtime. Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin had his chance to do the same thing – only his Tigers would have upset 21-point favorite and bitter rival Alabama had the coach opted to try for the win rather than kicking an extra point to extend the game. Harsin had a quarterback that could barely walk and was playing with house money against an Alabama team that had completely shifted momentum by scoring 10 unanswered points from the middle of the fourth quarter onwards to take the game to OT. If you had told the Auburn head coach before the game to call his best two-yard play to beat the No. 2 team in the country he would have snapped off your hand. Here and there, he wavered, kicking the extra point and watching his team fall in four OTs. He may never get a better chance to beat the Tide.