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Top performers: Iron Bowl showdown looming

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Quarterback Nick Marshall (14) has Auburn in position for an Iron Bowl showdown with rival Alabama. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Quarterback Nick Marshall (14) has Auburn in position for an Iron Bowl showdown with rival Alabama. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (11) could knock off Auburn and save his team's season this week. (Source: Georgia Athletics) Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (11) could knock off Auburn and save his team's season this week. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley (32) leads the Crimson Tide with 71 tackles and is being mentioned for the Heisman Trophy, though he is a long shot. (Source: Alabama Athletics) Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley (32) leads the Crimson Tide with 71 tackles and is being mentioned for the Heisman Trophy, though he is a long shot. (Source: Alabama Athletics)
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(RNN) – Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 11 and who to watch in Week 12.

Week 11 top performers:

1. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn – Marshall ran for 214 of Auburn's 444 rushing yards in a 55-23 win over Tennessee and has the Tigers (9-1, 5-1) in position to earn a BCS bowl game. He was also named the SEC's offensive player of the week.

Auburn has followed a historic fall from grace by Gene Chizik with an equally surprising turnaround, going from 0-8 in the SEC to being on the cusp of playing for the conference championship.

2. Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri – Mauk went out on a high note, throwing for five touchdowns in Missouri's 48-17 win over Kentucky and was named the SEC's freshman of the week. He might not get to play anymore, though, because James Franklin is set to return from his injury when the Tigers (9-1, 5-1) play Ole Miss in two weeks.

Missouri is making an equal splash as Auburn, fighting for an SEC championship berth a year after not making a bowl game. Missouri has two games left – Ole Miss and Texas A&M – and may need to win them both to win the SEC East.

3. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama – The steady, reliable McCarron became Alabama's all-time leading passer with 179 yards in the Tide's 38-17 win over LSU. The no-frills approach McCarron brings to the game doesn't get him noticed much, but he's eighth in the nation in passing efficiency and has the highest completion percentage of his career this season.

Over the last three seasons as a starter, McCarron has averaged 211 yards per game and averages a touchdown every 117 yards. Last season was his best year with 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns and he's on pace to come in just under that this season.

4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – In what might have been his last game in College Station, Manziel threw for 446 yards and five touchdowns, but tossed three interceptions in a 51-41 win over Mississippi State.

Manziel has already thrown more touchdowns than last year when he won the Heisman Trophy. He's less than 400 yards from equaling his total of 3,706 from last year, is completing 73 percent of his throws (he completed 68 percent last season) and is averaging two yards a pass more than last season.

The Aggies (8-2, 4-2) can make a big push for the Cotton Bowl with a win over LSU on Saturday.

5. Jerron Seymour, RB, Vanderbilt – No one had a good statistical game for Vanderbilt, which beat Florida 34-17 on the back of four turnovers. It was the first time the Commodores (5-4, 2-4) won against the Gators (4-5, 3-4) on the road since 1945, and did it with only 183 total yards.

Seymour had three of Vanderbilt's touchdowns, and rushed for 62 yards. Quarterback Patton Robinette had the most yards for Vanderbilt with 57 passing and 26 rushing. Vanderbilt is one win away from being bowl eligible for the third consecutive year, and could get that win this week against Kentucky.

Who to watch in Week 12:

1. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina – Florida's defensive numbers have been plummeting the last couple of weeks and the Gators' rushing defense has fallen to No. 15 in the country. That's still a good ranking, but it belies their recent futility.

Florida has lost four straight games and is in danger of missing out on a bowl. In other words, they've never been easier to beat than right now. Someone has rushed for 100 yards or more against the Gators in three of their last four games, and that puts Davis in perfect position to deliver.

Davis is the SEC's leading rusher with 1,058 yards this season, which ranks him 12th nationally. South Carolina needs this win to stay alive in the race for the SEC East title. He could be in for a career day.

2. Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida – Someone else could be in for a career day as well, and he'll share the field with Davis. Taylor, a 5'10" freshman, was an afterthought on the stat sheet earlier this season. In three of Florida's games this year he didn't have a single carry. In another, he had one for 3 yards.

But in the last four weeks, Taylor has taken over and led the Gators (4-5, 3-4) on the ground with 52, 74, 76 and 47 yards and a total of two touchdowns. South Carolina has the sixth best rushing defense in the SEC (38th nationally), allowing 145 yards per game.

Bowl eligibility is a major concern for Florida right now and it will have to beat either the Gamecocks or Florida State to get it, as well as hold serve against Georgia Southern. For a team that harbored BCS hopes at the start of the season, it's a fight for survival.

3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia – The best way to beat Auburn is through the air. The Tigers rank 82nd in passing defense, which is 11th in the SEC. Georgia, however, is 12th and 86th nationally, so Murray may be called on to score often to pull out a win.

While the Bulldogs (6-3, 4-2) have had a disappointing year, Murray remained steady and is 13th nationally in passing efficiency. Georgia is barely ranked, holding onto the No. 25 position and in danger of being relegated to the Music City Bowl in a year where a BCS championship was a stated goal.

That's not good for Mark Richt's notoriously unstable support, and a win over No. 7 Auburn would be a season-saver. A loss, however, could give Richt's detractors exactly the fuel they've been looking for.

4. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn – Georgia's rushing defense is 20th nationally, and that could spell trouble for Auburn's SEC-best and No. 3 nationally rushing offense. In truth, it's a full-scale dress rehearsal for the Iron Bowl and Alabama's defense, which is the SEC's best and fifth in the country against the run.

Auburn averages 320 yards rushing a game, so it might be a moot point, but it's a matchup worth keeping an eye on. Mason is also third in the country with 16 rushing touchdowns.

Auburn needs a win over Georgia to set up an SEC West title game with the Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0), unless Alabama loses to Mississippi State. The Tigers will get an off week before playing Alabama.

5. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama – If a defensive player is in the Heisman discussion, his name is C.J. Mosley. Mosley was the SEC's defensive player of the week after making 12 tackles against LSU. He leads the Tide with 71 tackles.

Mississippi State is led by dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott, but the Bulldogs are 26th in rushing and 53rd in passing and, while the Tide's defense is fifth and 11th in those categories.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • Region 8 Responds

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  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State
    20%
    88 votes
    No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn
    77%
    331 votes
    Florida at No. 10 South Carolina
    3%
    12 votes
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