Here’s a look at the top three individual performances by SEC players from the weekend.
3. Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson
The skinny: Johnson basically has been a one-man rushing attack for most of the season, and while he got some unexpected help Saturday against Alabama (more on that in a minute), he had another big performance. Johnson rushed for 104 yards and a TD on 30 carries, and he also threw the first TD pass of his career in the Tigers’ 26-14 win over the Tide. It was his third game of the season with at least 30 carries, and while he averaged just 3.5 yards per attempt, he was a force from his first carry to his last. His fourth-quarter shoulder injury could determine the outcome of the SEC championship game; without him, Auburn cannot win.
2. Georgia LB Roquan Smith
The skinny: Smith has been the best linebacker in the league this season, and he continued his high-level play in the Bulldogs’ win over Georgia Tech. He had a team-high nine tackles and added three tackles for loss and a sack as the Bulldogs shut down Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense. The Yellow Jackets, who needed a win to become bowl-eligible, were held to a season-low 226 yards, including a season-low 188 on the ground (131 below their season average). Smith, a junior, set a single-game career-high with the three tackles for loss. Georgia had seven tackles for loss as a team.
1. Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham
The skinny: Stidham outplayed Alabama counterpart Jalen Hurts, and that was a big reason the Tigers downed the Tide. Stidham was 21-of-28 for 237 yards in the air, and he rushed a career-high 51 yards and a TD on 12 carries to help lead the upset. Stidham’s passing numbers weren’t necessarily eye-popping, but he was extremely efficient – his 75 percent completion percentage was the highest against Alabama since Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel hit 77.4 percent of his attempts in a win in 2012 – and a big reason the Tigers were 9-of-18 on third down and had the ball 12 minutes longer than the Tide. His rushing numbers, though, truly stand out. Stidham simply hadn’t been a big weapon on the ground until Saturday. He scored on a 16-yard run for the 26-14 lead early in the third quarter, but it was his short gains – and avoidance of Alabama’s pass rush – that kept the offense humming. In wins over two top-ranked teams, Georgia and Alabama, Stidham was 37-of-51 (72.5 percent) for 451 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
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