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Barnhart's burning questions for Week 13

16 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Here are our Five Burning Questions about SEC Football for Week 13:

 So what's the Alabama game plan for Mac Jones against Western Carolina?

Alabama has two games left in the regular season against FCS representative Western Carolina (3-8) at home this Saturday and No. 15 Auburn (7-3) on the road. With a 9-1 record and a No. 5 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, Alabama knows it needs to win out in order to stay in the CFP discussion.

The Crimson Tide will have to do it without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip injury last week against Mississippi State and has been lost for the rest of the season.

So the game with Western Carolina is about getting Jones, who has completed 45 of 65 passes (69.2 percent) for 566 yards and four touchdowns, ready to go to Auburn. It's about getting Jones prepared for the biggest game of his life.

He got a start earlier this season against Arkansas on Oct. 26 after Tua injured his ankle against Tennessee. In that game, Jones completed 18 of 22 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

 Georgia has already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game. So what does Saturday's game with Texas A&M actually mean for the Bulldogs?

A lot. A whole lot.

For Georgia (9-1), No. 4 in the CFP rankings, it is really simple: Beat improving Texas A&M (7-3 with four straight wins) on Saturday and struggling Georgia Tech (2-8) on Nov. 30 and the Bulldogs will enter the Dec. 7 SEC Championship Game at 11-1. If they upset No. 1 LSU in Atlanta, Georgia goes to the College Football Playoff. If the Bulldogs lose, they are out.

It has been argued that Georgia could lose to Texas A&M on Saturday and still go to the playoff if it beats LSU and is an 11-2 SEC champion. Could it happen? Yes. But a two-loss team has never made the CFP since it began in 2014. Georgia is coming off a tough, emotional win at Auburn (21-14). The Bulldogs can't afford to come out flat against the Aggies.

 Can Missouri get its offense figured out in time to play Tennessee?

The numbers don't lie. Missouri (5-5, 2-4) has not scored a touchdown in nine quarters of football. The Tigers started 5-1 and have now lost four straight. In those four losses, the Tigers scored a grand total of 27 points. Missouri has gone 30 straight possessions without scoring a touchdown.

That's not good.

Coach Barry Odom told reporters this week that Mizzou would be simplifying some things in hopes of getting the offense out of the doldrums.

Missouri needs a fix in a hurry because the Tigers are about to play a Tennessee team (5-5, 3-3) that has won four of its last five games. The only loss in that stretch was to Alabama (35-13) in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate. A win would clinch a bowl game for Tennessee, something that seemed impossible after the Vols started 1-4.

 Arkansas will play its first game under interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. Can the Razorbacks (2-8, 0-6) hang in there with No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge?

Not really. And here's why:

As expected, LSU came out a bit flat last Saturday at Ole Miss. The week before, the Tigers won one of the biggest games in school history when they beat Alabama 46-41 in Tuscaloosa to become No. 1 in the CFP rankings.

LSU gave up over 400 yards rushing to Ole Miss last Saturday, but the Tigers also rolled up over 700 yards of offense and won by 21 points (58-37). So with LSU returning home for the first time since Oct. 26, look for the Tigers to have a little pep in their step and for quarterback Joe Burrow to continue to make his case for the Heisman Trophy with some more huge numbers.

 What is Auburn (7-3) playing for as the Tigers close out the season against Samford and No. 5 Alabama?

No way to sugarcoat this: Last week's 21-14 loss to Georgia was a monumental heartbreaker for the Tigers, whose three losses have come to now No. 1 LSU (23-20 on the road), No. 4 Georgia (21-14), and then No. 10 Florida (24-13 on the road).

But there are goals - big goals - still to be reached for Auburn.

First, Auburn has to take care of Samford (5-6), an FCS team from the Southern Conference.

Then there is the Iron Bowl, which is always a season unto itself. Beating Alabama for the second time in three years on what will be senior day at Jordan-Hare Stadium would be a monster achievement, particularly for those players who came back for this season hoping to make a run at a championship.

It would be Gus Malzahn's third win over Nick Saban in Malzahn's seven seasons as Auburn's head coach. No other SEC coach can say that.

By beating Samford and Alabama and winning a bowl game, Auburn would win 10 games in a season for only the 15th time in school history.