The only game with a significant impact on the SEC standings in Week 9 turned out to be a thriller. South Carolina, left for dead after trailing 17-0 entering the fourth quarter, rallied to beat Missouri to keep its SEC East title hopes alive. Elsewhere, Johnny Manziel was brilliant in Texas A&M’s win over Vanderbilt; Alabama rolled, as expected, over Tennessee; and Mississippi State outlasted Kentucky on Thursday night in Starkville.
SEC Week 9 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw, nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0. About two hours later, the Gamecocks walked off the turf at Faurot Field with an improbable 27-24 win in double-overtime. Shaw was the man most responsible for Carolina’s season-saving win. The senior completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns — despite not playing the entire first half. The Gamecocks tied the game when Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 2-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game into a second overtime when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 15.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Quarles, one of the more underrated players in the SEC, was disruptive in the middle of the South Carolina defensive line. The junior from Hodges, S.C., recorded six tackles, including three for a loss (and two sacks) in the Gamecocks’ double-overtime win over Missouri. Quarles leads South Carolina with 10.0 tackles for a loss and 7.0 sacks — five more than his more famous teammate, Jadeveon Clowney.
Team of the Week: South Carolina
South Carolina kept its SEC East title hopes alive with an improbable comeback win at Missouri. The Gamecocks, who entered the day two games behind Mizzou in the loss column, rallied from 17-0 down in the fourth quarter and eventually won the game in the second overtime when MU’s Andrew Baggett missed a 24-yard field goal. South Carolina is now 4-2 in league play with games remaining at home against Mississippi State and Florida. Missouri, now 3-1, still has to play Tennessee and Texas A&M at home and Ole Miss and Kentucky on the road. Florida and Georgia both have two losses as well.
Coordinator of the Week: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M
The SEC’s worst defense — at least statistically — had its best day of the season on Saturday afternoon. Texas A&M, which had allowed an average of 532.0 yards in SEC action, limited Vanderbilt to 329 yards and only 4.3 yards per play. The Commodores were playing with a redshirt freshman quarterback (Patton Robinette) making his first start, but this was still an impressive performance by the Aggies’ defense. A&M had allowed at least 250 yards rushing in every SEC game this season — including 379 in the loss to Auburn two weeks ago — but held Vanderbilt to 95 on 44 attempts.
Freshman of the Week: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Johnson, a true freshman from Montgomery, Ala., was forced into action when Nick Marshall went down with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter. Johnson responded, completing 10-of-16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic. Johnson connected with Sammie Coates for a 36-yard TD on his first play of the game and then found Coates again for a 67-yard score later in the second quarter.
• Johnny Manziel, playing through a shoulder injury, had career-lows in rushing yards (11) and rushing attempts (four) — and two of his attempts came on sacks. Prior to Saturday, Manziel’s fewest carries and yards both game in the 2013 season-opener against Rice, when he had 19 yards on six attempts in one half of action.
• Alabama has not allowed more than two touchdowns to an SEC team not named Texas A&M in the regular season since the 2010 Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. In the last two regular seasons, Alabama has given up 71 points in two games against Texas A&M and a total of 78 points in its other 11 SEC games.
• Missouri let a late lead slip away, but the Tigers continue to get solid play from their defensive line. Mizzou held South Carolina to only 75 yards rushing on 35 attempts for a 2.1-yard average. Mike Davis, who entered the day as the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to a season-low 51 yards on 19 carries. His previous low was 77 yards on 17 carries against Vanderbilt.
• It’s a small consolation for Tennessee — which lost 45-10 at Alabama — but the Vols had to be pleased with the play of tailbacks Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. The two combined for 90 yards on 19 carries (a 4.7-yard average) against the SEC’s top rushing defense. Neal leads the team with 763 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
• Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood had the first 100-yard game of his career on Saturday afternoon. The senior caught a season-high six passes for 112 yards in Bama’s win over Tennessee.