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Week 11 SEC Talking Points: West Division

Here are the main storylines entering the weekend for one of college football’s toughest divisions.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Chad Kelly AND Trevor Knight are both out now. Whose backup quarterback has more success?

Alex Dusza (@alexdusza): Who knows? Jake Hubenak for Texas A&M at least has some experience which could give him a leg up. He first drew some significant playing time, ironically, at Ole Miss last year and ended up starting the Music City Bowl. For Ole Miss, Jason Pellerin has played some mop up duty and has, for some reason, had a role as a relatively ineffective short yardage quarterback. Ole Miss has discussed pulling the redshirt off last year’s number one quarterback prospect, Shea Patterson. At this point, that seems a risky proposition unless Pellerin struggles mightily. The edge as far as the question has to be with Hubenak simply because at this point he has more experience and is playing for the better team.

Jonathan Waldrop (@aukiwal83): Very good question. I think you have to look a little outside the player and more inside the system. Both offenses employ tempo, Ole Miss more than A&M, but one is certainly more pass-heavy than the other. Pellerin’s experience is obviously minimal and as Alex said, pulling Shea Patterson’s redshirt at this point seems a little pointless for lack of a better word given the way Ole Miss’ season has gone to this point. Not to say Freeze should give up on the season, but there has to be a little foresight, here. That being said, I like A&M’s offensive balance over Ole Miss’. To play for Freeze you have to be lightning quick and Hubenak at least has Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams to hand off to. Giving the Aggies’ the edge.

Tom Stephenson (@tcstephenson1): At least in November 2016, it’s probably Hubenak. Ole Miss’s backup (whether it’s Jason Pellerin or Shea Patterson) certainly has more upside, but we already have a pretty good idea what Hubenak can do -- and while he has his limitations, there will probably be fewer growing pains in the near term than there will be with a pair of almost completely untested freshmen for Ole Miss. That said, raw talent could propel Ole Miss’s new QB higher (whoever it is); I just think that right now, either or both of them will play like freshmen.

Does Auburn’s performance against Vanderbilt concern you, or should we chalk it up to being against a competitive Vanderbilt team?

Alex Dusza: Probably more the latter. Vanderbilt seems to have improved somewhat, even if their record does not reflect it yet. Auburn should run the table to the Iron Bowl and at that point, winner take all for the West and you’d be hard pressed to pick against either them or Alabama against whoever comes out of the pile of mediocrity that is the SEC East.

Jonathan Waldrop: Yeah, that game was more about Vanderbilt than it was Auburn. The only thing that would concern me about Auburn right now is that their run game got gashed pretty hard in the first half of the Vandy game and that set up more pass attempts that were actually successful. Kevin Steele has done a magnificent job with that unit, but you do have to start wondering if there are some cracks showing. I don’t see them losing to UGA this weekend, so they’ll get to Bama with a 9-2 record and a shot at the West. If they follow Dave Aranda’s blueprint for success against the Tide’s read option and limit Hurts, then Auburn’s offense can definitely get more points than LSU and that would make for an intriguing scenario.

Tom Stephenson: Yeah, you really have to consider the fact that Sean White (for whatever reason) didn’t play in the first half, and that was where most of Auburn’s struggles were coming from. Once White came into the game, Auburn’s offense mostly looked fine, and the defense did about what you’d expect them to do against Vanderbilt -- granted, Kyle Shurmur had one of his best games as a college quarterback, but Auburn mostly shut down Vanderbilt’s run game. In the end, this looked more like Auburn was sleepwalking and/or not taking Vanderbilt seriously than any real cause for concern.

Who finishes higher in the standings: Arkansas, Auburn or LSU?

Alex Dusza: Auburn. Even though the other two have already played Alabama and Auburn still has to, Auburn has the tiebreaker over both Arkansas and LSU. If we’re talking about the overall rankings, I still would lean for Auburn to be the highest ranked as I do not think they will lose until the Iron Bowl and should be very highly ranked nationally by then.

Jonathan Waldrop: Auburn, definitely. They’re easily the second-best team in the West right, which makes them the second-best team in the SEC. Even with the loss to A&M. They won’t lose until ‘Bama and even that’s up in the air. Auburn has really hit their stride as of late which is very reminiscent of 2013 Auburn. That’s kinda scary.

Tom Stephenson: Auburn. Why is this even a question? Auburn should beat Georgia, and even with a loss in the Iron Bowl they’d do no worse than a tie with LSU and would still finish ahead of Arkansas in the standings.