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Top performers: Run game spurs Auburn's turnaround

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Auburn's Tre Mason (21) scores one of his four touchdowns against Arkansas. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Auburn's Tre Mason (21) scores one of his four touchdowns against Arkansas. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
Georgia's Todd Gurley (3) runs against Florida. (Source: Georgia Athletics) Georgia's Todd Gurley (3) runs against Florida. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
LSU's Odell Beckham (3) makes a catch against Georgia. Beckham will be instrumental in the Tigers' game against Alabama this week. (Source: Georgia Athletics) LSU's Odell Beckham (3) makes a catch against Georgia. Beckham will be instrumental in the Tigers' game against Alabama this week. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
Alabama's Kenyan Drake (17) makes a run against Arkansas. Drake has turned into a key component of Alabama's offense in recent weeks. (Source: Alabama Athletics) Alabama's Kenyan Drake (17) makes a run against Arkansas. Drake has turned into a key component of Alabama's offense in recent weeks. (Source: Alabama Athletics)
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  • What We Learned from the SEC in Week 1

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(RNN) – Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 10 and who to watch in Week 11.

Week 10 top performers:

1. Tre Mason, RB, Auburn – Auburn has the No. 6 rushing offense in the country and Mason has been a huge reason why. He added 168 yards and four touchdowns to his total, which is at 921 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season, in the Tigers' 35-17 win over Arkansas. Mason was named the SEC's offensive player of the week.

Auburn may earn a trip to the SEC championship game one year removed from an 0-8 conference record. The Tigers (8-1, 4-1) don't have much room for error and have to win what could be three difficult games against Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama to make it.

2. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina – One week after playing savior in a comeback win over Missouri, Shaw showed no effects of his injury and led South Carolina to a 34-16 win over Mississippi State with 147 yards and four touchdowns.

South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) is off this week but plays Florida on Nov. 16. A win over the Gators keeps South Carolina chances at the SEC championship game alive, which would happen with another conference loss by Missouri.

3. Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri – Not much offense was needed in Missouri's 31-3 win over Tennessee, but Mauk provided plenty of it anyway. He threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 114 yards, the first time a Missouri quarterback has posted a 100/100 game since joining the SEC. His effort earned him the SEC's freshman of the week honor.

It might also earn him a trip to the bench, because James Franklin was reportedly able to play against the Vols. According to that report, Franklin's possible return might have caused Mauk to play better. Don't expect him to keep starting once Franklin is ready because Missouri (8-1, 4-1) can't afford to take another loss.

The Tigers play Kentucky this week, and if Franklin isn't back in that game, he should be when they play Ole Miss after a bye week.

4. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – The Aggies played UTEP, but Manziel threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns in their 57-7 win.

Manziel is fifth in the country in passing yards and third nationally in total offense, averaging 381 yards per game. Both numbers are ahead of Heisman Trophy hopefuls Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Another Heisman candidate – Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion – is slightly behind Manziel in total offense, but leads the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

5. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia – Saturday's win over Florida was big for the Bulldogs, who have been limping the last few weeks with injuries across their depth chart. One of those injury problems seems to be solved as Gurley ran for 100 yards and a touchdown against a defense that is allowing just 107 yards rushing per game.

The win can be seen as a salvaging one for Georgia's season and bowl status. The Bulldogs (5-3, 4-2) should become bowl eligible this week against Appalachian State and still have games against Kentucky and Georgia Tech, and are likely eyeing the Chick-fil-A Bowl in their own back yard.

Who to watch in Week 11:

1. Odell Beckham, WR, LSU – Alabama is allowing 179 passing yards a game, Zach Mettenberger throws for 276 yards per game and Beckham averages 112 receiving yards per game. Additionally, Beckham is fifth in the nation in receiving yards and second in the nation in all-purpose yards. In short, if he doesn't have a good game, LSU won't win.

LSU scores 40 points per game. Alabama's defense allows nine. While LSU primarily relies on its running game, that isn't enough to top Alabama. The Tigers (7-2, 3-2) will have to move the ball through the air and be effective on special teams, which is why Beckham is the most important player for them this week.

The Tigers are one of only three SEC West teams eligible to make the championship game and a win over Alabama would give them the tiebreaker over both Alabama and Auburn. However, LSU would still need both teams to suffer another conference loss.

2. Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama – A statistical breakdown in LSU's favor can be made similar to the one above for Alabama, but it isn't nearly as strong. The Tigers allow 21 points per game (31st nationally) and Alabama scores 41 (10th nationally). The Tigers are 21st in the country in total defense, allowing 351 yards per game, but are 50th (eighth in the SEC) in rushing defense.

That sets up nicely for Alabama, which rushes for 210 yards per game (26th nationally, fifth in the SEC). Drake is not Alabama's starting running back, but he has exploded in recent weeks, rushing for 100 yards against Arkansas and Kentucky, 99 yards against Ole Miss and leading the Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0) on the ground against Tennessee.

Drake has 491 yards and seven touchdowns this season and is averaging 7.8 yards per carry. He also has caught nine passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. The game will likely be decided in the fourth quarter, and he has shown both the ability to make breakout runs and fumble at inopportune times.

3. Jerron Seymour, RB, Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt is two wins away from bowl eligibility and hasn't lost consecutive games this season. Seymour isn't getting much publicity due to the Commodores' record (4-4, 1-4), but he has nine touchdowns and averages more than 5 yards per carry.

Florida's defense is 16th in the country against the run, and Vanderbilt will have to find a way to punch through a unit that allows 101 rushing yards and 189 passing yards per game.

4. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – One win will make the Rebels (5-3, 2-3) bowl eligible, and this week's game against Arkansas is a prime opportunity to get it. Wallace has guided Ole Miss to surprising wins over LSU and Texas but also to tough losses against Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M.

Arkansas is trying not to lose its seventh straight game and pick up its first conference win. If Wallace stays consistent, the Hogs won't be able to get it.

5. Tyler Russell/Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State – This week comes with a completely different challenge for the Bulldogs' signal-caller. Prescott's mother died Sunday after a year-long bout with cancer, and his status for Saturday's game in College Station is uncertain.

The Texas A&M matchup is huge for Mississippi State, which will be trying to rebound from a 34-16 loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs (4-4, 1-3) haven't lost back-to-back games this year but are in the middle of a three-game stretch against ranked opponents. Not getting a win in any of those games would mean the Bulldogs would have to beat Arkansas and Ole Miss to close the season in order to become bowl eligible.

The problem for the Bulldogs is turnovers. Prescott threw three interceptions against South Carolina, and Mississippi State turned the ball over five times total. Those miscues led to an 18-point loss in a game where they outgained the Gamecocks offensively.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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