We have arrived at the halfway point of the season (such a sad thought) and nothing is settled in the SEC. For two weeks Georgia looked to have the Eastern Division in their back pocket. Now with injuries, a surprise Tiger team, and a more surprising appearance at quarterback, the Dawgs have legitimate concerns heading into their biggest remaining East games.
Western Carolina @ Auburn
Don’t look now, but the Auburn Tigers might be for real. Fresh off an impressive win over the formerly ranked Rebel Bears, Auburn has gone from maybe playing for a bowl to looking like an eight or nine win team. Western Carolina will be a chance for Auburn to continue to fine tune and rest some key starters. Auburn wins.
Bowling Green @ Mississippi State
Normally welcoming in a MAC team into SEC country is good news, and it could still be for Mississippi State, but there are causes for concern. Last week the Bulldogs got hammered, giving up 59 points to LSU. The Bulldog offense hung with the Tigers for the first half, but only scored three points in the second half. Bowling Green comes in with only one loss and an ability to move the ball on offense. How Mississippi State handles their emotions after last week will be key. State wins, but this won’t be a comfortable non-conference win. Mississippi State 34-27
Alabama @ Kentucky
Quietly, the Kentucky Wildcats have been competitive in all of the games they have played, except for Miami of Ohio of all teams. While it is clear that Kentucky is improving under Mark Stoops, this weekend is a whole different animal. Alabama comes in and won’t sweat this game. Alabama picks their score.
South Carolina @ Arkansas
All the hub bub with Clowney not playing last week has dominated the news this week, but the real story should be of the emergence of South Carolina running back Mike Davis. Davis leads the SEC in yards and is second in touchdowns scored. Davis has become a force for the Gamecock offense. Arkansas has shown that they are an improved squad from a year ago, though quarterback is still an issue for the Hogs. We will see more improvement for Arkansas. They will threaten South Carolina for most of the game, but the Hogs will just be too outmanned to steal this game. South Carolina 35-31.
Texas A&M @ Ole Miss
Last year the Aggies needed late game heroics from Johnny Football to escape Oxford. The Aggies return to the scene of the crime (I have no idea why they have to go back to Mississippi) and try to get another W. At the beginning of the season this looked like a game the Black Bear Rebels may be able to steal. However, a bit of luster has come off of Ole Miss losing to Alabama and Auburn. A win against the Aggies would renew the optimism coming from Ole Miss, but even with a Swiss cheese defense, the A&M offense will be too much for Ole Miss. Texas A&M 48-31.
Missouri @ Georgia
Who would have thought that Mizzou, of all teams, would enter this game with Georgia undefeated? Missouri has shown loads of improvement in their second year in the conference. A big reason is because quarterback James Franklin has been healthy this year and it has shown. Georgia shows up for this contest ravaged by injuries. As good as Aaron Murray has been, it’s hard imagining George will be able to consistently move on with so many players missing. Murray is good enough to carry Georgia against Mizzou, but the Truman Tigers will make it a bigger challenge than anyone saw at the beginning of the season. Georgia 27-20.
It is being billed as the Indomitable Force vs. the Immovable Object, LSU’s high powered offense (still can’t believe I’m using those words about an LSU offense) and the stingy Florida D. LSU is 4th in total offense and 3rd in scoring offense, while Florida is 1st in total defense and 2nd in scoring defense. Something will have to give this Saturday, but this game will be decided by the other half of this equation. Florida has experienced a bit of an offensive resurgence with the insertion of quarterback Tyler Murphy. The Gators still try to control the clock and shorten the game (a big part of Florida’s defense’s success is due to the offense holding the ball 38 minutes a game), but Murphy has shown enough skill to effectively manage the game. The LSU defense has been leaky to say the least, but did show marginal improvement in the second half against Mississippi State. If the game was not in Baton Rouge, the Tigers would officially be on upset alert. But being in Death Valley will help that beleaguered defense, and may be too much for the young quarterback. LSU 34-24.
What do you think of the matchups this week? Who will win the big one: LSU or Florida? Let us know in the comments!