Welcome back to our next installment of SEC Weekend previews. There are a few huge matchups this weekend, and some of them could factor into the Bowl picture later this season. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Vanderbilt vs. Missouri
Early in the season, these two teams have had disappointing seasons. Last year was a great one (by Vandy standards) for the Commodores, but they have faltered early and often. Opening the season with a 1-4 record, the lone win to Presbyterian, Vandy has struggle mightily. Missouri’s struggles with “old man football” have been well chronicled as they started their first season in the SEC. The Tigers are 3-2, but 0-2 in SEC play. As bad as Missouri has been, they are too talented, offensively, for Vandy to get much traction. Mizzou finally gets that elusive SEC win.
Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss
Texas A&M is one of the hottest teams in the country. Offensively, the Aggies have been clicking on all cylinders behind quarterback Johnny Manziel. They absolutely mauled Arkansas 58-10 in their last outing. Ole Miss is coming off a loss to the Crimson Tide, however the Rebels were able to score fourteen points on the number one team in the nation, no small feat. That performance was something for Ole Miss to build on, but Coach Hugh Freeze is causing a bit of a stir by opening up the quarterback position to competition. With the positive play of Bo Wallace, that is a curious move and one that will probably undo the good momentum for Ole Miss.
Texas A&M 54-27
#20 Mississippi State vs. Kentucky
This is the best Mississippi State team that Dan Mullen has ever had in Starkville and it shows. The Bulldogs are undefeated on the year and look to stay that way to stage an epic showdown with Alabama down the road. Kentucky has been absolutely dreadful this season. The Wildcats only have a win over Kent State to their name. To make matters worse, quarterback Maxwell Smith is out this game, and Kentucky is rotating to quarterbacks in his place against one of the better defenses in the SEC. The old cliché is if you have two quarterbacks you have none. That will prove true for this game.
Mississippi State 45-10
Arkansas vs. Auburn
If you would have said before the season that Auburn would be double digit favorites over Arkansas people would have thought you belonged in a padded cell. Yet, that is exactly where everything has come to. Nothing has gone right for Arkansas. At times, the Hogs seem to play for pride, but when the game gets difficult, they simply quit. Auburn showed some life against LSU. They were twenty-one point underdogs, but held the Tigers to just twelve points. If Auburn gets an early lead on Arkansas they can run up the score and get some confidence going through the rest of the season. Arkansas will quit again Saturday.
#5 Georgia vs. #6 South Carolina
This is the game between the two favorites in the SEC East. It is a matchup of strength on weakness. Aaron Murray has been the best quarterback in the league, and even though he lost his top receiver this week, South Carolina is very poor at defending the pass. The problem for the Bulldogs will be protecting Murray from Carolina’s ferocious pass rush. Carolina has been efficient on offense with Connor Shaw managing the offense and Marcus Lattimore finally getting the running game going a little. In a game this close, it always comes down to the quarterback and Aaron Murray is better.
#4 LSU vs. #10 Florida
The second top ten match-up in the SEC. Florida is 4-0 and seem to be playing well. LSU is 5-0 and has looked anything but good, primarily on offense. Florida went on the road and beat the super-hot Texas A&M Aggies and high octane offense of Tennessee. LSU throttled the Washington Huskies (who beat the team that beat USC), but have looked lethargic against Auburn and Towson, teams supposedly not in their league. LSU’s offense has yet to get in sync with problems at receiver (drops), offensive line (pass protection) and quarterback (turnovers) and now the Tigers face the best defensive team to date. On the other side, while Florida has taken care of the ball they have given up a ton of sacks. And thought Driskel has been efficient, he has made mistakes that lesser defense could not capitalize on. The Tigers will be the best defensive team he will see thus far as well. LSU is the more talented team, but their prior performances do not inspire much confidence. This is the most difficult pick of the week, but talent wins out in the Swamp.
Those are our thoughts on this wekeend’s slate of games. What do you guys think of these games? Do you disagree with the big matchups? Let us know in the comments!