The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 17, 2013

Florida faces Missouri in intriguing SEC showdown

Associated Press

— A look at five things to watch in the Southeastern Conference during Week 7 of the season:

GAME OF THE WEEK: Florida at Missouri: The 14th-ranked Tigers (6-0, 2-0 SEC) are the only Eastern Division team unbeaten in conference play and can give their league title hopes a giant boost by knocking off No. 22 Florida (4-2, 3-1) in their first SEC home game of the season. Both teams are dealing with injuries. Missouri quarterback James Franklin is out three to five weeks with a sprained right shoulder. Florida running back Matt Jones is out for the season after undergoing surgery Monday to repair torn meniscus in his left knee.

BEST MATCHUP: Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio "Tiny" Richardson vs. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney: These two will be facing off at least part of the time Saturday in a matchup between two potential first-round draft picks. Richardson cemented his status as top NFL prospect by holding Clowney in check for most of South Carolina's 38-35 victory over Tennessee last year. Clowney delivered when it mattered most, though, as he got past Richardson to sack Tyler Bray and force a fumble with Tennessee driving in the final minute.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: LSU hasn't allowed a touchdown in its last six quarters. Last week, Florida failed to score a touchdown against LSU for the first time in this series since a 20-3 loss in 1979. ... Alabama QB A.J. McCarron improved his record as a starting quarterback to 31-2 last week to become the SEC's all-time leading quarterback in career winning percentage (.939). He moved ahead of Alabama's Jay Baker (35-2-1, .934). ... Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has completed 73.2 percent of his passes so far this season, which would break the SEC record set by Kentucky's Tim Couch in 1998 (72.3 percent).

LONG SHOT: Auburn at Texas A&M: Auburn climbed into the national rankings at No. 24 this week after a surprising 5-1 start to the season, including a 2-1 mark in the SEC. But the Tigers haven't beaten any teams the caliber of No. 7 Texas A&M, which leads the SEC in scoring with nearly 48 points per game. Aggies' QB Johnny Manziel is averaging 377 total yards per game.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Missouri QB Maty Mauk: Franklin's injury leaves Missouri in Mauk's hands as it attempts to remain unbeaten. Mauk, a redshirt freshman, replaced an injured Franklin in the fourth quarter and went 3 of 3 for 23 yards in a 41-26 victory over No. 15 Georgia, which was ranked seventh at the time of the game. Now he faces Florida, which leads the SEC in total defense. "He is a pretty poised guy," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "He is thoroughly excited about the opportunity at hand."