Despite loss, Bray moves to top of passing chart - Tucson News Now

Despite loss, Bray moves to top of passing chart

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Tennessee's Tyler Bray gets hit as he throws against Georgia earlier in the season. Most of Bray's passes end better than this one. (Source: Georgia Athletics) Tennessee's Tyler Bray gets hit as he throws against Georgia earlier in the season. Most of Bray's passes end better than this one. (Source: Georgia 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 recap:

1. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee

It was a losing effort, but Bray threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns and became the SEC's most prolific passer in a 51-48 loss to Missouri. Bray averages 320 yards a game and leads the SEC in yards, yards per game, completions and touchdowns. And because of Tennessee's porous defense the Vols (4-6, 0-6) have needed every one of them. Bray is also tied for the lead in interceptions, despite not throwing any against Missouri.

Tennessee's offense climbed to second in the conference in scoring and total yards and took over the top spot in passing yards after the outing. Two of Bray's passes came in overtime and both tied the game and forced another overtime period. In the fourth OT, the offense was shut out and UT lost by a field goal.

2. Kendial Lawrence, RB, Missouri

Lawrence had his best game of the season with 153 yards and two touchdowns and helped Missouri overcome a 14-point deficit in route to its win over Tennessee. He was able to take advantage of Tennessee's rushing defense, which is next to last in the SEC, and moved up to fifth in the conference in rushing, averaging nearly 82 yards a game.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin threw for 226 yards and four touchdowns, but the Tigers (5-5, 2-5) gained more yards on the ground than through the air thanks to Lawrence's 153 and Franklin's 43 yards rushing.

3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

The 253 yards passing and 92 yards rushing Manziel picked up are in line with what he does every week, but what was different was that he did it against No. 1 Alabama. Manziel had struggled against tougher defenses, but was able to light up the Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1) with 20 points in the first quarter en route to the Aggies (8-2, 5-2) victory.

"Johnny Football" has now become the hottest topic in college football, especially his chances at the Heisman Trophy. Manziel hadn't been discussed as a Heisman contender before the 29-24 win over Alabama and now is being looked at as the potential frontrunner. He's the only player in the SEC averaging more than 100 yards rushing per game, is third in passing and second in the nation in total offense.

4. Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

Now that LSU has discovered its passing game, unfamiliar names are starting to pop up in the box scores. Landry isn't exactly an unfamiliar name, but it was his first 100-yard game of the season and only the second 100-yard receiving game for the Tigers (8-2, 4-2) this year.

Landry is tied for ninth in the conference in receptions per game with four, after grabbing nine balls in the 37-17 win over Mississippi State. LSU's passing offense has climbed into the top 10 in the conference after sitting near the bottom for a few weeks, opening up more opportunities for Landry and LSU's leading receiver Odell Beckham, who is 14th in the conference in yards per game.

5. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Taking advantage of Auburn's rushing defense, which is last in the SEC and ranked No. 104 in the nation, Gurley and Keith Marshall each went over the century mark for the first time in more than a month. Gurley had 116 yards rushing and Marshall picked up 105. Each had one touchdown.

The game moved Gurley into second in the conference in rushing – first among running backs – with 97 yards per game, and pulled Georgia (9-1, 7-1) to within a yard of overtaking Alabama for the No. 2 rushing offense in the SEC. It also helped Georgia clinch a berth to the SEC championship game, where it is likely to meet Alabama.

Who to watch in Week 12:

1. Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is bowl eligible and jockeying for position to the best bowl possible. The SEC is all but guaranteed two teams with BCS bowl berths and there is such a logjam between the third and seventh bowl-eligible teams that even if Vanderbilt could get to eight wins, the best bowl available will be the Music City Bowl, and the Commodores (6-4, 4-3) could probably lose a game – or two – and still go there.

While bowl position isn't likely to improve much, Vanderbilt's rise to success can get a bigger boost with a win over in-state rival Tennessee, which would have the dual effect of eliminating the Vols from bowl contention. Tennessee's passing offense is first in the SEC and Vanderbilt's passing defense is third in the conference. But the Vols have the worst defense in the SEC, and rank 13th in the conference in both passing and rushing defense, as well as last in scoring defense.

2. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee

If Vanderbilt's passing defense, which is 14th in the nation, can slow Tennessee's aerial assault, the Vols will have to go to the ground, where the Commodores' defense is weaker (10th in the SEC).

Neal averages 74 yards a game and hasn't had a large role in Tennessee's offense due to the success of its passing game and futility on defense. Neal has shown the ability to pick up yards when given the chance, and he will be called on to help Tennessee pick up its first SEC win and stay in the running for a bowl.

3. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

Arkansas is on the hunt for bowl eligibility as well, and its passing offense, which is third in the SEC, will face Mississippi's State defense, which has shown in the last three weeks it is not what its earlier numbers suggested.

The Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) have the No. 8 passing defense in the SEC, allowing 216 yards per game, but surrendered 311 yards to Johnny Manziel two weeks ago and 273 to Zach Mettenberger last week. Alabama's AJ McCarron threw for 208 yards against it as well. A loss eliminates the Razorbacks (4-6, 2-4) from bowl contention, and Mississippi State is desperate to end its three-game skid.

4. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

LSU can still make the SEC championship game if Alabama falls to Auburn in two weeks, and the Tigers are in the hunt for a BCS at-large berth, so the Tigers can't afford to take anyone lightly. Mettenberger has stepped up his production significantly the last two weeks and now faces Ole Miss, which has the No. 11 passing defense in the SEC, the worst of the conference teams LSU has faced.

Ole Miss' rushing defense isn't much better, so LSU shouldn't have a problem getting its rushing game going and opening up room for Mettenberger to take advantage.

5. Jeff Scott, RB, Ole Miss

Ole Miss will have to run the ball against LSU to have a chance, but the Tigers have the No. 2 rushing defense in the SEC – No. 7 in the nation – so it won't be easy. LSU's passing defense is even better – first in the SEC and third in the nation

If Scott can't pick up some yards on the ground to open the field for the passing game, the Rebels (5-5, 2-4) will be forced into a must-win against Mississippi State for bowl eligibility to close the season.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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