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 five of the best football plays and feats for the SEC in Week 13.
By Steve Wright
5 – SEC bowl eligibility
Week 13 saw both Florida and LSU reach the six wins required for bowl eligibility. That means that of the 14 teams in the league, 13 will be going bowling. The LSU win was particularly impressive given that it was a 27-24 upset win over a Texas A&M team that has looked at times like the best in the entire league this season. The 93% of teams bowl eligible in a single season is a record for an FBS conference and all that the league needed for complete dominance would have been James Franklin back at Vanderbilt.
4 – Damone Clark
In Ed Orgeron’s last game at LSU, he had a number of his players step up. One player that stepped up – and took over the game against Texas A&M – was linebacker Damone Clark. Clark had 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, and 2.5 sacks against the Aggies. His two individual sacks were back-to-back and in the waning moments of the game, securing the win for his side. Orgeron clearly has a lot of respect for Clark and the work he has put into making himself better, work that sees LSU going bowling this season.
3 – John Metchie vs. Auburn
Alabama wide receiver John Metchie had himself a game against Auburn. Part of this was because he had no other option – the running game went nowhere and elite deep threat Jameson Williams was ruled out of the second half on a targeting call – but the way Metchie stepped up was phenomenal. Metchie had 13 catches – including the game-winning play in the two-point conversion overtime – for 150 yards. The craziest stat though is that Metchie was targeted 24 times by Bryce Young. For most of the game, he was THE only option Young had and Metchie came through down the stretch in a massive way.
2 – Will Levis breaking ankles
Will Levis pretty much defined himself this season as a pocket passer. So of course in the ‘Cats biggest rivalry game he would go off, rushing 14 times for 113 yards and four touchdowns. This was enough to tie the single-game rushing touchdown mark at Kentucky. Yet it was one of his non-touchdown runs that made jaws drop. The score was 38-7 ‘Cats in the fourth quarter when Levis took the shotgun snap and kept the ball on an RPO. With nothing open he started to run, throwing one nonsense juke that saw a Louisville defender crumple to the floor with both ankles exploding, before hurdling the next defender and eventually getting tackled. It was like something out of a video game. A big, awkward running video game.
1 – Vandy’s Hail Mary
It ended up meaning nothing, but as Vandy is the only SEC team not going bowling – and thus the only team that can’t make this list again this season – I am going to give them the top spot here. The score was 24-0 Tennessee with one second left in the first half when Mike Wright took the snap and rolled away from pressure to his right. Finding space and stepping into his throw at his own 45-yard line, Wright gunned the ball to the goal line where Will Sheppard climbed highest and grabbed the ball, clinging on as he managed to fall backwards into the end zone in the arms of a defender. The final was 45-21 Tennessee, but this play shows Vandy isn’t giving up under Clark Lea.