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Alabama is still the team to beat in the SEC.
Outside of Missouri and Auburn already having surpassed their win totals from a year ago and starting 6-0 and 5-1 — we all expected that, right? — the SEC has played out as expected through the midway point. Johnny Manziel has been Johnny Manziel. Alabama has been Alabama. And Jadeveon Clowney, who had 25 tackles and 6.5 sacks through six games last season, has two sacks and 13 tackles. There are plenty of interesting matchups left in the SEC East to see who will face SEC West favorite Alabama.
Midseason Awards and Second-Half Picks: ACC | Big 12 |Big Ten | Pac-12
SEC 2013 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions
Coach of the Year: Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Who saw this coming? History perhaps. In Pinkel’s 13 years at the helm of Mizzou, the program had not posted back-to-back losing seasons since his first two years. Six wins and no defeats later, that streak looks safe. The Tigers are second in the SEC in scoring (45.7 PPG), sixth in scoring defense (23.0 PPG) and third in total offense (515.7 YPG). They will be without QB James Franklin (shoulder) the remainder of the season, but should be able to make some noise with four of the six remaining games at home.
Newcomer of the Year: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
The USA Today First-Team All-American and Under Armour All-America Game MVP has not disappointed. Hargreaves III is tied for the conference lead in interceptions (3) and passes defended (8). He has helped a Gator defense that is the third in the nation and tops in the SEC in both total defense (235.3 YPG) and passing yards allowed (152), third in the SEC in interceptions (8) and second in the league in points allowed per game (13).
Offensive Player of the Year: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The first-half suspension in the season opener has been the only sophomore slump for Manziel. He is tops in the SEC in passing (305.8 YPG) and total offense (377), second in total offensive touchdowns (19) and passing efficiency (184.1) and 10th in rushing (71.2 YPG). Oh, and he’s helped lead the Aggies to a 5-1 record — accounting for 562 yards and five scores in a 49-42 loss to Alabama — with four straight home games on the horizon before closing out at LSU and Missouri.
Defensive Player of the Year: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
The Athlon Sports’ All-SEC First-Team player is seventh in the conference in tackles per game (8) and quarterbacks a Crimson Tide defense that has limited their last four opponents to 16 points, including a 14-quarter streak without a touchdown. He has helped anchor a defense that — outside of allowing a school-record 628 yards against Texas A&M — has surrendered 208.2 yards and 5.2 points per game on average to the other five opponents.
Midseason Disappointment: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
A preseason Athlon All-SEC First-team receiver, Cooper has just 12 catches for 164 yards and no scores. It is a far cry from the record-setting freshman season of a year ago when he went 59-1,000-11. Cooper had his best game of the season last week (3-64-0 in a blowout of Kentucky), but foot and toe injuries seemed to have derailed his second season with the Crimson Tide.
Midseason Surprise: Missouri
From being picked sixth in the SEC East to being 6-0 at the midpoint of the season, including a road-win at No. 7 Georgia last week, Missouri has already put together a great sophomore SEC campaign. The Tigers are scoring 45.7 points per game, including an average of 46 in their first two SEC games. Four home games with trips to Kentucky and Ole Miss left make for a friendly schedule. Losing QB James Franklin for the remainder of the regular season (shoulder) makes it a lot more difficult.
Three Things to Watch in the Second Half
Missouri without James Franklin
His shoulder injury suffered against Georgia leaves Mizzou without the SEC’s third-most productive offensive player (311.2 YPG), its fourth-leading passer (262.8) and its sixth-most efficient quarterback (156.2) with 1,577 yards on 67.7 percent passing and just three interceptions. With an often-injured Franklin last season, the Tigers won five games. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, who split reps evenly with Franklin in the spring, will step in. But the trend of the Mizzou offense not turning the ball over and the defense creating turnovers must remain.
SEC East title picture
Well, Missouri defeating Georgia and losing Franklin in the process sure makes it interesting at the top. South Carolina has already lost to Georgia and travels to Missouri Oct. 26. That game and the Nov. 2 Georgia-Florida game will really begin to unfold the story. It will kick off the Gators' three-game gauntlet of games — versus Georgia, at LSU and Missouri. Georgia also still has to travel to Auburn on Nov. 16. Mizzou is the wildcard, sans Franklin, but does play four of its last six at home.
Can Alabama run the table?
With four home games left — three where they will be heavy favorites — and a road trip to Auburn for an Iron Bowl — which they have won five of the last six meetings — there’s no reason to think 11 wins won’t happen. Getting to No. 12 means defeating LSU in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9.
Top Five Games in the Second Half
Florida at Missouri (Oct. 19)
The Tigers already went on the road and put a dent in Georgia’s SEC East plans, and now they return home to try and do the same to Florida. Whether Maty Mauk can lead this high-scoring offense past the high-powered Gator defense is the question.
Florida vs. Georgia (Nov. 2, Jacksonville, FL)
The World’s Largest Cocktail Party will go a long way in deciding the SEC East race. The loser, already having a loss in league play, will likely be out of the race. Both teams will arrive in Jacksonville off of a bye week.
LSU at Alabama (Nov. 9)
Only three of the last nine meetings have been decided by one score, including three overtime games. LSU leads 5-4 during that time. Outside of the Iron Bowl, this should be the only hurdle for Alabama to clear and secure the SEC West title. Already with a loss to Georgia, it’s a must-win for LSU, and then Texas A&M is next.
Florida at South Carolina (Nov. 16)
So, if the Gators survive a trip to Missouri and Jacksonville, and the Gamecocks get out of Fayetteville, Knoxville and Columbia intact, then welcome to the SEC East championship game.
Texas A&M at LSU (Nov. 23)
LSU halted Texas A&M’s run through the schedule — if only briefly — last season in College Station. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies arrived on a five-game winning streak, having averaged 53 points per game during that streak. LSU left with a 24-19 win — the fewest points A&M has scored in the last 12 games.
SEC Second-Half Predictions
(Logos are of projected winner for each game)
1. South Carolina
|at TN||at Mizzou||Miss. State||Florida||Coastal Carolina||Clemson||Final Record|
|at Mizzou||Georgia||Vanderbilt||at SC||Ga. Southern||FSU||Final Record|
|at Vanderbilt||Florida||App. State||at Auburn||Kentucky||at Ga. Tech||Final Record|
|Florida||South Carolina||Tennessee||at UK||at Ole Miss||TAMU||Final Record|
|South Carolina||at Alabama||at Mizzou||Auburn||Vanderbilt||at UK||Final Record|
|Georgia||at TAMU||at Florida||Kentucky||at TN||Wake Forest||Final Record|
|at Miss. State||Alabama State||Missouri||at Vanderbilt||at UGA||Tennessee||Final Record|
|Arkansas||TN||LSU||at Miss. State||Chattanooga||at Auburn||Final Record|
|at Ole Miss||Furman||at Alabama||TAMU||Arkansas||Final Record|
3. Texas A&M
|Auburn||Vandy||UTEP||Miss. State||at LSU||at Mizzou||Final Record|
|at TAMU||FAU||at Arkansas||at TN||Georgia||Alabama||Final Record|
5. Ole Miss
|LSU||Idaho||Arkansas||Troy||Mizzou||at Miss. State||Final Record|
|at Alabama||Auburn||at Ole Miss||Miss. State||at LSU||Final Record|
7. Mississippi State
|Kentucky||at SC||at TAMU||Alabama||Arkansas||Ole Miss||Final Record|