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2016 SEC Football Week 12 Talking Points: West Division

Alabama is the king of the SEC West again. However, there’s plenty more to talk about around the division, too.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If Kamryn Pettway was healthy, do you think Auburn beats Georgia, or would they have lost either way?

Alex Dusza (@alexdusza): The game was close as it was and with Sean White being hurt, it would have at least given Auburn another option so I would lean towards yes. The game really shows how little either John Franklin or Jeremy Johnson are trusted to give Auburn another option at this point in the season, but Pettway has been the key to Auburn’s season since it has turned around.

Julian Council (@JulianCouncil): 100%, no doubt in my mind. Georgia isn’t a good football team. Auburn is when Kam Pettway and Sean White are healthy. Simple as that. The “what if” game doesn’t matter because neither was the case on Saturday, but the Tigers are the better football team.

Jonathan Waldrop (@aukiwal83): Absolutely. Pettway has put entire games on his back this year because of the lack of a passing game. He’s the very definition of the workhorse running back and with him, they beat Georgia by at least 10 points.

Tom Stephenson (@tcstephenson1): Yes. Auburn’s defense held Georgia to 13, and with a healthy Pettway I see no reason to think they’d score less than that.

Are we witnessing another A&M meltdown?

Alex Dusza: We’re all familiar with #NovemBERT (which may have been canceled or delayed this year), but we need a term for Texas A&M’s November swoons. After dropping their game against Ole Miss for the third straight season, Texas A&M will win this week against UTSA but will likely be the underdog against LSU to close out the regular season. Drop that and that is their last four SEC games after starting 4-0 in SEC play. I’d call that a meltdown for sure.

Julian Council (@JulianCouncil): Sure looks like it. Or, we’re witnessing A&M being just as average as every other team in the league not named Alabama. The Aggies weren’t the fourth best team in the nation when the committee ranked them there and they aren’t much better than the other teams in the SEC. Trevor Knight’s injury comes into play with the two losses to the Mississippi schools, but you can’t lose to those two teams.

Jonathan Waldrop: Following up with Alex’s term for an Aggie meltdown, the only one I can think of is Texas SHA&M. Not really that good. I’ll keep thinking. Anyway, I guess we are witnessing another meltdown. This one didn’t help with Trevor Knight going out, though. That was a real punch to the gut for them, because he was doing a great job this season. The LSU game is in College Station this year, so they may have something up their sleeves, but the reality is they’ll probably finish the season 8-4. Not sure what could be on the horizon for Sumlin if that’s the case.

Tom Stephenson: Maybe, though the Knight injury is a mitigating factor. We knew all along that the Aggies had a serious depth problem behind Knight at QB, and so them dropping two in a row since he went down was totally predictable.

Better chance of making the Sugar Bowl - LSU or Auburn?

Alex Dusza: LSU. Florida is so banged up that LSU should handle the Gators comfortably and, with Texas A&M’s November swoon in full effect, LSU would have beaten a trio of decent SEC foes to end the regular season while Auburn will likely have dropped a pair of games to their biggest rivals.

Julian Council (@JulianCouncil): That’s a really tough question. Auburn is likely to finish 8-4, while the Tigers could end up 8-3 if they win out. It’s hard for me to grasp how an 8-win team could play in the Sugar Bowl in this modern-era of college football. Of course, the cancelled November 19th game to reschedule the Florida game would have likely been a ninth. I’m going to dance around this question and say that neither do and that A&M does.

Jonathan Waldrop: LSU. It’s not an easy path with Florida and A&M left, but knowing what their defense can do and having at least talented skill position guys on the offense gives me the confidence that they finish the season 9-3. Auburn, on the other hand, will probably finish 8-4. Not to say that they can’t win the Iron Bowl, but if Sean White and/or Kamryn Pettway are not healthy by then, I just don’t see it happening.

Tom Stephenson: Can I say “neither”? Whatever you think of Texas A&M right now I think they’ll find a way to pull out a win over LSU in College Station and that will put them in the Sugar in all likelihood. Or somehow, somebody from the East gets it.

Your thoughts on Shea Patterson’s performance?

Alex Dusza: My view is skewed here as I am an Ole Miss fan, but Saturday’s game left me as pumped after a game that I have been since last year’s Alabama game. He will have some growing pains with the offense at some point and that type of performance is far from unrealistic to expect every game, but the early returns are super positive.

There were some things he can do to improve, but likely came from nerves with a first game. The option pitch to Akeem Judd that lost several yards and a ball he pitched out of bounds are examples of plays that he will have to learn how to accept taking a loss of two or three yards on a play rather than losing 10, but that should come with more game experience and work with the first team offense rather than running the scout team offense.

Julian Council (@JulianCouncil): I went back-and-forth last week on if I agreed with the decision to burn the redshirt of Shea Patterson. There were plenty of upsides, while the one big downside was him getting injured. Both definitely still exist. I thought that he was masterful and proved to be another bright spot for the future of the league at that position. I won’t say that he’s the next Manziel because we’ll never seen someone like Johnny again, but he’s going to be fun to watch the next few years in Oxford.

Jonathan Waldrop: Well, that was a worthy burning of a redshirt, wasn’t it? We’ve talked a lot about Jalen Hurts’ poise as a true freshman, but he’s been able to cultivate that over 10 games. Patterson basically went in against a John Chavis defense cold and led a helluva comeback. Obviously, there’s a reason he was so highly rated coming out of high school last year. I, also, don’t think this was a Garrett Gilbert situation, either. Patterson’s touch on the ball is so so good and he’s going to be special for that team over the next two-three years.

Tom Stephenson: I’ll be honest and say I didn’t watch the second half of this game, but leading your team back from a two-touchdown deficit in a hostile environment? That’s impressive no matter how you did it.