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Week 7 top performers: Johnny Manziel on record pace

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Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw for four touchdowns against Western Carolina while filling in for injured starter Nick Marshall. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw for four touchdowns against Western Carolina while filling in for injured starter Nick Marshall. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
AJ McCarron, shown here in a game against Ole Miss, threw for a career-high 359 yards against Kentucky. (Source: Alabama Athletics) AJ McCarron, shown here in a game against Ole Miss, threw for a career-high 359 yards against Kentucky. (Source: Alabama Athletics)

(RNN) – Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 7 and who to watch in Week 8.

Week 7 top performers:

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Manziel hasn't been mentioned much this year, but his sophomore season is no less remarkable than last year's Heisman campaign. Against Ole Miss, Manziel led the Aggies (5-1, 2-1) to a 41-38 come-from-behind win, throwing for 346 yards, running for 113 more with two touchdowns and was named the SEC's offensive player of the week.

It was the fourth time in his career Manziel has thrown for 300 and rushed for 100, which is an NCAA record. He set another NCAA record by becoming the fastest player to reach 7,000 total yards. Manziel is averaging 377 yards per game, which is fourth in the nation and 60 yards per game better than the SEC's No. 2 (Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray).

Manziel's numbers at this point in the season are better than last year. Through six games, he has 2,262 total yards and is on pace to better his 4,600 total yards from last season, which was an SEC record.

The Aggies next face newly ranked Auburn followed by Vanderbilt.

2. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn – Johnson was enlisted to fill in for the injured Nick Marshall and was named the SEC's freshman of the week after throwing for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 62-3 win over Western Carolina.

Marshall is expected to return next week, so Johnson will return his role as back-up, but it's a good sign for the Tigers (5-1, 2-1) that he's a capable replacement should Marshall miss more time.

3. Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri – The biggest win in Missouri's brief SEC tenure came with Saturday's 41-26 defeat of Georgia. Brothers recorded 10 tackles and intercepted a pass in the red zone with under a minute to play and was named the SEC's defensive player of the week.

Quarterback James Franklin has been the Tigers' breakout star, but Saturday's win was all about the defense. Georgia was held to 4-of-11 on third down and committed four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles – and the Tigers (6-0, 2-0) jumped from No. 25 to No. 14 and remain one of two undefeated teams in the SEC, along with top-ranked Alabama.

4. Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina – South Carolina has been plagued by inconsistency, but Shaw threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns and added 37 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 52-7 drubbing of Arkansas.

It was the first game of the season where the Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1) played consistently across the board. South Carolina has four remaining SEC games, and can make the SEC championship with a win in all four and a second loss by Georgia to any conference opponent.

5. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama – Despite numerous dropped passes, including two that looked like easy touchdowns, McCarron threw for a career-high 359 yards and one touchdown in Alabama's 48-7 win over Kentucky.

McCarron has three interceptions this season, which is uncharacteristic, but he is still 15th nationally in passing efficiency with a 161.2 rating. However, that is only good for fifth in the SEC. Alabama's efficient offense is largely because of McCarron's ability to spread the ball to different receivers and use the play action to throw deep at opportune times. There appears to be only one more game that should cause the Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0) any problems – a Nov. 9 home game against LSU.

Who to watch in Week 8:

1. Maty Mauk, QB, Missouri – James Franklin's injury came at perhaps the worst time for the Tigers. Franklin was originally believed to be out for the rest of the season with a separated shoulder, but that has been downgraded to three to five weeks.

Even with a best-case scenario, Franklin would miss games against Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. Mauk, a freshman, has attempted just six passes, and three of those came against Georgia last week after Franklin left the game in the fourth quarter. He completed all three and has five completions on the season.

Florida has the No. 3 defense in the country, allowing 235 yards per game. It's not a good situation for a first-time starter to be in, and Mauk will have to find a way to move the ball against a defense that is fourth in scoring, eighth in third down conversions, second in passing efficiency and tied for fourth in first downs allowed.

2. Mack Brown, RB, Florida – On the other side of the ball will be Florida's offense, which is coming off a lackluster effort against LSU and will be without Matt Jones who suffered a torn meniscus against LSU and is out for the season.

Brown is the leading rusher for the Gators (4-2, 3-1), but only by one yard over Jones. Missouri's defense has been spotty this season against a mediocre schedule and relied heavily on turnovers to topple Georgia. Florida's offense has had turnover issues at times, notably earlier this season against Miami.

If Brown and the rest of the Gators' offense can protect the football, Florida's defense will likely do the rest.

3. Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas – Arkansas has lost four games in a row and enters Saturday's game against No. 1 Alabama coming off its biggest loss of the year. Arkansas (3-4, 0-3) is averaging 216 yards rushing a game (24th nationally, fifth in the SEC) while Alabama is allowing 87 (seventh nationally, second in the SEC).

Running back Alex Collins is second in the SEC and 11th nationally in rushing with 720 yards this season. It's going to be difficult to rely on just a rushing attack against Alabama, so Allen will have to keep the offense moving through the air against the No. 2 scoring defense in the country.

Allen has thrown for 864 yards and eight touchdowns this year, but he also has five interceptions. Against Arkansas last week, Allen threw for just 30 yards. To have any chance at beating Alabama, that number will have to be much higher.

4. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – After two weeks of being shut down by Alabama and Auburn, Wallace rebounded to throw for 301 yards and three touchdowns against Texas A&M. He also had 27 rushing yards, which is something he would like to improve on in Ole Miss' read-option offense.

The Rebels (3-3, 1-3) are coming off three consecutive losses and will face LSU this week. LSU's defense is allowing 22 points per game and Ole Miss' offense is scoring 29 points a game. Against the only defense comparable to LSU's that Ole Miss has played, the Rebels were held to 205 total yards and no points by Alabama.

The Rebels also turned the ball over twice against Alabama. Against LSU, Wallace will need to maintain consistency and get help from the running game to keep the game manageable against a team that shouldn't have any trouble scoring against the Ole Miss defense.

5. Austyn Carta-Samuels, QB, Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt has taken a big fall from its preseason expectations, losing all three conference games and facing a struggle for bowl eligibility. But Saturday's game against Georgia is coming at a good time.

Georgia is riddled with injuries and coming off a disheartening loss to Missouri, and will be on the road. Vanderbilt hasn't gotten much help from its running game this season, but Georgia's secondary has been vulnerable all year.

Carta-Samuels hovers in the mid-20s nationally in most major passing categories while Georgia's defense is 65th in total yards and 104th in passing efficiency. The opportunity for an upset is there, and if Carta-Samuels can get the ball to receivers Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause, Vanderbilt could pull it out.

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  • Toledo News Now Poll

  • Who do you think will win this week's games featuring ranked teams (No. 22 Florida at No. 14 Missouri and No. 24 Auburn at No. 7 Texas A&M)?

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

    Florida and Auburn
    14%
    50 votes
    Florida and Texas A&M
    43%
    149 votes
    Missouri and Texas A&M
    28%
    99 votes
    Missouri and Auburn
    15%
    51 votes