Last weekend was full of intriguing match-ups around the SEC. We had a Vanderbilt team go into The Swamp and defeat Florida for the first time in nearly 70 years (It was also HottyToddy.com’s upset of the week last week).
The Alabama-LSU game was the most anticipated game last Saturday with College Gameday in Tuscaloosa. And LSU kept up with the Tide for a while but by the end of the third quarter, Alabama was imposing their will. The Tide rolled the Bayou Bengals 38-17.
Texas A&M ran up and down the field on Mississippi State, winning the game pretty easily despite the 51-41 score. Missouri continued on it’s path of destruction through the SEC East by blowing out Kentucky 48-17. Ole Miss became bowl eligible for the second straight year in a row
Last weekend may have had blowout victories but this weekend promises to have closer games.
We’ll start our preview with The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
No. 7 Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC) vs. No. 25 Georgia (6-3, 4-2 SEC)
This time last year the Auburn program was in disarray having zero wins in the SEC and looking at a very powerful Georgia team coming in. The game went as expected and Georgia steamrolled the Tigers into the field.
What a difference one year makes, though. Gus Malzahn has his team playing at a high level with a ton of momentum. Auburn is coming off a dominating performance against Tennessee, in which they won 55-23. A huge part of that victory was quarterback Nick Marshall rushing for a staggering 214 yards on only 14 carries (15.3 yards per carry).
Georgia became bowl eligible last week by defeating FCS foe Appalachian State 45-6 at home. Aaron Murray finally broke the SEC’s career touchdown record and the Bulldogs appear to have some momentum after winning two straight games. However, the Bulldog defense has had it’s struggles against the running game this year. With Nick Marshall coming off a huge game running the ball and running back Tre Mason looking solid, the Tigers should win this game. But with Aaron Murray at quarterback, Georgia will be able to keep it close.
No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) at Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4 SEC)
Alabama is coming off a huge blowout win over rival LSU and is — as if this is not always the case — riding high on momentum. On the flip side Mississippi State is coming off two straight road losses to South Carolina and Texas A&M. The Bulldogs gave a valiant effort last week against A&M, particularly Dak Prescott who gave an inspiring performance only days after his mother had passed away.
It’s going to take a perfect game from Mississippi State and Alabama will have to play uncharacteristically sloppy in order for the Bulldogs to have a chance. AJ McCarron will continue to provide consistent quarterback play and the offensive and defensive fronts will impose their will on the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball. Expect the Tide to roll in Davis-Wade Stadium Saturday.
Alabama-41 Mississippi State-13
No. 10 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. Florida (4-5, 3-4 SEC)
The Gamecocks have been riding high ever since they went to Missouri and knocked off the undefeated Tigers. South Carolina and Florida both close out their SEC schedules this week, when they meet in Columbia. South Carolina is coming off a bye week and two weeks to prepare for a Gator team that’s, how do I put this nicely — terrible. They were manhandled by Vanderbilt on Homecoming last week and the team seems to have given up on the season.
“A must win” is what this game has been described as for both teams. This is a must win game if Florida wants to keep their 22-year bowl appearance streak alive and it’s a must win for South Carolina if they want to have a chance at winning the East. Florida is going to have to get pressure on Connor Shaw if they want to win this game. But with Spurrier’s Gamecocks playing at a high level the last two games and coming off a bye week, it’s just not going to happen.
South Carolina-35 Florida-20
Kentucky (2-7, 0-5 SEC) at Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4 SEC)
This game is usually a battle for who will not finish at the bottom of the SEC. Well it’s not exactly like that this year because Vanderbilt has won five games and is looking to become bowl eligible for the third straight season. It does have an impact on who will or will not finish last in the SEC this year, however.
Kentucky is still winless in the SEC along with Arkansas from the western division. If the wildcats can pull off the upset, they will more than likely not finish at the bottom of the conference for the second straight season. The Wildcats have shown some promise this season playing tough against Louisville and nearly pulling off a Thursday night upset of Mississippi State in Starkville. But this Vandy team is on a mission this wee to become bowl eligible, so it is unlikely that the upset happens.
Ole Miss (6-3, 3-3 SEC) vs. Troy (5-5, 3-3 Sun Belt)
In this week’s only SEC out of conference game, the Ole Miss Rebels host the Troy Trojans from the Sun Belt Conference. The Rebels are bowl eligible for the second straight year but Hugh Freeze and his players have been vocal that they aren’t satisfied with just six wins.
Bo Wallace lit up Arkansas in last week’s 34-24 victory passing for a career high 416 yards and three touchdowns. The Troy defense hasn’t been very impressive this year giving up 26 or more points in all of their games. With the Rebels finally getting their offense into a rhythm, this doesn’t bode well for the Trojans.
The Troy offense has had some success throwing the ball. They rank 15 in the nation in passing-yards-per-game (324.4). But the Ole Miss defense has faced better quarterbacks on the year so that should help but a damper on the Trojan passing attack. The Rebels shut down and run over the visiting Trojans en route to their seventh victory.
Ole Miss-45 Troy-17
–Justin Taylor, Associate Editor, HottyToddy.com
–You can email Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org