Steve Geller: Inside the SEC - WEEK 8
College football enters its eighth week and excitement couldn't be higher in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is riding high above the country with their undefeated and unanimous #1 ranking. We've seen the resurgence of the East division, in particular Florida as they now control their destiny to the SEC championship.
Beyond the high rankings are high hopes. They're playing for history with every game in Starkville. Taking care of Middle Tennessee will be essential this weekend, but looming even larger is the massive contest with Bama. Can the Bulldogs stay focused?
Time go to inside the SEC...
LSU (6-1) at Texas A&M (5-1)
Auburn (1-5) at Vanderbilt (2-4)
Auburn's offense had a much improved outing against Ole Miss, but failed to maintain momentum and once again the defense folded like a cheap umbrella in the fourth quarter. On the year, the Tigers have been outscored 62-3 in the 4th quarter, and that 3 was in the first game of the season. Vandy is not all that special, but they cause turnovers on defense and they know how to pounce on a vulnerable opponent when the opportunity presents. I expect the Commodores defense to get a late turnover or two that will put them in position to score just enough to take down the Tigers.
South Carolina (6-1) at Florida (6-0)
The Gamecocks crystal football shattered in the waning moments of the LSU game and now can ill-afford to drop another conference game, if they hope to make a run at the championship game in December or anything of significance beyond. Meanwhile the Gators looked bored most of the night with Vanderbilt, before finally finishing them off...and Florida is poised to take another step towards wrapping up the division. The formula for Will Muschamps's Gators is going to be the same as it was against LSU: stifle the run game and make the QB beat you. While Connor Shaw is better than Zach Mettenberger, he can be contained as evidenced last weekend. Expect Florida to use a heavy dose of the run game to wear out the South Carolina defense and pull out a close game.
Georgia (5-1) at Kentucky (1-6)
The Bulldogs had a week off to lick their wounds, while the Wildcats lined up and took another loss. Look for Georgia to exorcise some frustrations and work out any final kinks they can against this outmatched SEC East foe. Big Blue is just trying to stay above Auburn in the “worst team in the league” race at this point.
Middle Tennessee State (4-2) at Mississippi State (6-0)
Mississippi State is a prime example of a team that learns how to ride momentum and now the Bulldogs are on the verge of a special season. This week's draw out of the Sun Belt is no chump, but MSU's continually improving line play and balance on offense should be enough to propel them to a 7-0 start and a showdown with the Crimson Tide next week.
Alabama (6-0) at Tennessee (3-3)
Nick Saban's Alabama squad has still yet to play that complete game and now the Tide's biggest concern is mounting injuries and a second straight long road trip. Tennessee, meanwhile, is quickly slipping off into a deep sleep having lost three SEC games in a row. The Vols fought hard in all of those games, but they haven't had the pieces in place to finish. There's your difference in the game. Bama, in spite of injuries and youth, is so deep and so well-coached; they've overcome lapses and hiccups in games particularly down the stretch. I expect Tennessee to come out guns blazing, but just like previous contests only to peter out as the game wears on with Alabama chalking another dominant victory.