Week 13 of the 2016 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the SEC. The weekend rivalry slate featured a win by LSU over Texas A&M on Thursday night, while Missouri upset Arkansas on Friday afternoon. The action picked up again on Saturday, as Georgia Tech and Kentucky scored upsets over their in-state rivals, Mississippi State reclaimed the Egg Bowl trophy with a victory over Ole Miss and Alabama remained undefeated after a 30-12 win over Auburn.
With the third weekend of November games in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the SEC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 13:
SEC Week 13 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
Thanks to a big performance from Fitzgerald, the Egg Bowl trophy is headed back to Starkville. The sophomore completed 8 of 17 throws for 109 yards and three scores and gashed the Ole Miss defense for 258 yards (a new school record) and two touchdowns on the ground.
Defensive Player of the Week: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham continued to bolster his case for SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors by helping Vanderbilt upset Tennessee on Saturday night. The junior linebacker tied for the team lead with 10 tackles, recorded one pass breakup and forced a fumble at the third of the third quarter that helped the Commodores gain control of the game.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Eddie Gran, Kentucky
Gran has been a key cog in Kentucky’s seven-win campaign, as the offense emerged as one of the SEC’s top ground attacks and adapted after an early injury to starting quarterback Drew Barker. The Wildcats recorded 581 yards in Saturday’s win over Louisville, with quarterback Stephen Johnson throwing for 338 and the ground game generating 229. Kentucky also went two-for-two in red zone trips and 10 of 18 on third-down attempts.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama
The Crimson Tide suffocated Auburn’s offense in Saturday’s 30-12 victory. The Tigers never reached the end zone and only one drive lasted more than 50 yards. Auburn’s ground attack entered Saturday’s game ranked No. 1 in the SEC but was held to just 66 yards on 26 attempts. Pruitt’s defense also limited the Tigers to just two third-down conversions on 12 attempts and generated seven tackles for a loss.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
Hurts led the way for Alabama’s offense in the Iron Bowl victory against Auburn. The true freshman completed 27 of 36 throws for 286 yards and two scores and rushed for 37 yards and one touchdown. Hurts also led the offense to points on four out of the final five drives.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Cale Garrett, LB, Missouri
Garrett was instrumental in Missouri’s upset over Arkansas. The freshman tied for the team lead with 10 tackles and his interception in the third quarter prevented a score in the red zone by the Razorbacks.
Team of the Week: Vanderbilt
The Commodores secured bowl eligibility for the first time under coach Derek Mason and in-state bragging rights for a year with a 45-34 victory over Tennessee on Saturday night. Vanderbilt’s offense continued to show marked improvement, as this unit recorded 608 yards, 27 first downs, went 8 of 14 on third-down attempts and scored on all six red zone trips. The defense stepped up in the second half, holding Tennessee to just three points on five drives.
Unsung Hero of the Week: Stephen Johnson, QB, Kentucky
All of the attention on quarterback play in Saturday’s Kentucky-Louisville game was clearly focused on Lamar Jackson. However, it was the other quarterback – Kentucky’s Stephen Johnson – that quietly delivered a standout performance. Johnson completed 16 of 27 throws for 338 yards and three scores and rushed for 83 yards on eight attempts to help the Wildcats win 41-38.