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Week 8 top performers: Marshall helps Auburn pull big upset

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Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall (14) runs for a touchdown against Texas A&M. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall (14) runs for a touchdown against Texas A&M. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
Alabama running back Kenyon Drake rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdown against Arkansas. (Source: Alabama Athletics) Alabama running back Kenyon Drake rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdown against Arkansas. (Source: Alabama Athletics)
South Carolina running back Mike Davis will be an important player if the Gamecocks are to upset Missouri this week. (Source: South Carolina Athletics) South Carolina running back Mike Davis will be an important player if the Gamecocks are to upset Missouri this week. (Source: South Carolina Athletics)
With an injury to starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, Patton Robinette (4) might get the start this week against Texas A&M. (Source: Georgia Athletics) With an injury to starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, Patton Robinette (4) might get the start this week against Texas A&M. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
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(RNN) – Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 8 and who to watch in Week 9.

Week 8 top performers:

1. Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn – Marshall was named the SEC's offensive player of the week after throwing for 236 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Auburn's 45-41 upset of Texas A&M.

It was a career-high rushing day for Marshall but teammate Tre Mason led the Tigers (6-1, 3-1) with 178 yards to help pace Auburn to 615 total yards against an Aggie rushing defense that ranks last in the SEC. Auburn's rushing offense is the SEC's best.

The win was a massive one for Auburn, which lost 63-21 to the Aggies last season. Auburn only has one more ranked team on its schedule – No. 1 Alabama in the season finale that could be for a trip to the SEC Championship Game.

2. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri – At the beginning of the season, all eyes were on Jadeveon Clowney, but Sam has turned out to be the best defensive lineman in the conference this season.

In Missouri's 36-17 win over Florida, Sam had three sacks, bringing his season total to nine sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Those numbers are good for second and fourth in the country, respectively, and he was named the SEC's defensive player of the week.

Missouri's offense has been getting all the credit this season, but the Tigers' defense has been nearly as impressive. Missouri (7-0, 3-0) forced three turnovers against Florida (4-3, 3-2) just a week after forcing four against Georgia (4-3, 3-2).

3. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – Wallace has been criticized this season for his inconsistency, but that wasn't the case against LSU last week.

Wallace guided the Rebels (4-3, 2-3) to a 27-24 win over LSU, including engineering a drive in the final three minutes to set up a game-winning 41-yard field goal by Andrew Ritter. Ole Miss gained 525 yards against the Tigers (6-2, 3-2) and Wallace threw for 346 of them, spreading the ball to 10 receivers.

Wallace didn't throw for a touchdown, but the Rebels got their running game moving again and Jaylen Walton ran for two of Ole Miss' three touchdowns.

4. Kenyon Drake, RB, Alabama – Alabama's offense was under fire earlier this season for lackluster performances against Virginia Tech and Colorado State. Following a 52-0 rout of Arkansas, those concerns are over.

Drake is the back-up running back to T.J. Yeldon, but rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns, including a 46-yard run in the second quarter. He still didn't lead the team, however, as third-stringer Derrick Henry broke an 80-yard run to finish with 111 yards. In all, the Tide rushed for 352 yards.

Alabama (7-0, 4-0) plays Tennessee this week before a bye week and a showdown with LSU.

5. Michael Palardy, K/P, Tennessee – Speaking of Tennessee, the game with Alabama now has new meaning following the Vols' 23-21 upset of South Carolina (5-2, 3-2).

Palardy played a big role in that win, converting three of his four field goal tries, including a 19-yard game-winner. Palardy also punts for Tennessee (4-3, 1-2) and six of his eight punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. Two were downed inside the 10.

He was named the SEC's special teams player of the week.

Who to watch in Week 9:

1. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Johnny Manziel gets all the credit, but Evans is an unsung hero of the Aggies' offense. Evans has caught 43 passes for 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns. That's half of Manziel's touchdown throws and slightly less than half his passing yards.

Evans has also caught several passes from Manziel that were ill-advised and has bailed the QB out of tight spots several times. His 6-foot-5 frame is difficult to guard, and it should be no different against Vanderbilt this weekend.

After the loss to Auburn, the Aggies (5-2, 2-2) need a lot of help to make the SEC championship game, and it's difficult to see everything they need to happen taking place (A&M must win out, Alabama has to lose three times and Auburn has to lose twice). The Aggies are now mainly playing for a trip to the Cotton Bowl and an outside shot a BCS bowl game.

2. Austyn Carta-Samuels/Patton Robinette, QB, Vanderbilt – It isn't good not to know who your quarterback will be entering a game against Texas A&M, but the Aggies' defense has been so bad it may not matter.

Carta-Samuels suffered a leg injury and his status isn't known for Saturday's game. He threw for 111 yards against Georgia before being replaced by Robinette, who threw for 107 yards. Both threw an interception and neither threw a touchdown.

A&M's defense has been suspect all season and has given up 30 points or more in five of the Aggies' seven games. Vanderbilt's win over Georgia was big for their postseason chances. A win over A&M would put the Commodores (4-3, 1-3) one win away from bowl eligibility.

3. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee – It's a tall order facing Alabama's defense, which is No. 1 nationally in scoring. If Tennessee is to have a chance to win, Neal will have to move the ball on the ground, which is something no team has done successfully against the Crimson Tide this season.

Tennessee is resurgent and looking to make a bowl game after upsetting South Carolina last week. The Vols are in the middle of a five-game stretch against ranked opponents with Missouri and Auburn coming next.

4. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina – Quarterback Connor Shaw is hurt and hasn't been practicing this week, so he may not play against Missouri. Whether he plays is inconsequential because back-up Dylan Thompson is more than capable, and South Carolina is at its best when it can run the ball effectively.

Keeping Missouri's offense off the field and the scoring low will be important for the Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2). South Carolina is the only SEC East team with a chance to make the SEC championship game that hasn't yet played Missouri.

If the Gamecocks lose, they can forget about the championship game. Even with a win over Missouri, South Carolina would need another SEC team to topple the Tigers to make the trip to Atlanta. It's a must-win over a surprisingly undefeated team in a year when South Carolina has been inconsistent and unpredictable.

5. Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri – Who needs James Franklin when you have Maty Mauk? The Tigers are hoping it isn't them. Mauk, a freshman, threw for 295 yards and a touchdown over Florida and he'll be called on to deliver again versus South Carolina.

Missouri has two ranked teams left on its schedule and plays one of them this weekend. If the Tigers can pull off a win in that game, they would only need to win two of their remaining four games to make the SEC championship game.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • Web Poll

  • Who do you think will make the SEC championship game from the SEC East?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Missouri
    72%
    207 votes
    South Carolina
    20%
    56 votes
    Georgia
    4%
    12 votes
    Florida
    4%
    12 votes
  • Web Poll

  • Who do you think will make the SEC championship game from the SEC West?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Alabama
    52%
    69 votes
    Auburn
    42%
    56 votes
    Texas A&M
    3%
    4 votes
    LSU
    3%
    4 votes
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