Steve's SEC preview: Strongest week yet!
This is one of the strongest weeks yet for SEC matchups, and there are several key contests. Idle are Tennessee and top-ranked Alabama.
LSU (5-0) at Florida (4-0)
The Tigers will edge the Gators! Click HERE for my in depth preview of LSU-Florida.
ARKANSAS (1-4) at AUBURN (1-3)
This might be the most intriguing conference matchup of the week, and it has nothing to do with the postseason aspirations of either team. Just how bad is Arkansas? Bad enough to be torn apart by Texas A&M last week, and in the process falling to dead last in the nation in the turnover margin. The Hogs defense is thoroughly putrid, but the real surprise has been the fact that they can’t run the ball despite having a deep running back corps. The Razorbacks would still have had hope against Auburn, were it not for an impressive defensive showing the Tigers put up against LSU two weeks ago.
So what we have is Auburn, with no offense and a mediocre defense, going up against Arkansas, which has no defense and a mediocre offense. The Razorbacks are the more potentially dangerous team, but the Hogs haven’t shown any evidence of actually being dangerous. With this game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, I got to give the game to Auburn on general principle.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-0) at KENTUCKY (1-4)
The Bulldogs’ biggest test so far has been from Troy, which should tell you something about the quality of the scheduling in Starkville.
Mississippi State needs to get off the bus and act interested if they want to win this one because Kentucky will show up to play. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they just don't have the personnel for any advantages here. Expect the visiting Bulldogs to carve big running holes through the porous Kentucky defense.
VANDERBILT (1-3) at MISSOURI (3-2)
Missouri seems to have stopped the leaking in the ship, reeling off a couple of big out-of-conference wins. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has regressed each week since the opener, especially on offense.
That's bound to hurt Vandy in this game because Mizzou can move the ball effectively. If the Tigers can control turnovers and stay balanced on the attack, they should notch a home win.
TEXAS A&M (3-1) at OLE MISS (3-2)
Give credit where it is due. Hugh Freeze has done a lot with an Ole Miss team that seemed to lack talent last year. Kevin Sumlin has done quite well in his first year at Texas A&M also, as they are a team that is clicking on all cylinders.
This should be a fun game to watch if you like offense. The difference in the game is going to be the Aggies' defense, which should find a way to stop Ole Miss more than the Rebels' defense will be able to stop A&M. The Aggies will win the shootout and notch another SEC West win.
GEORGIA (5-0) at SOUTH CAROLINA (5-0)
Both of these teams have destructive defensive fronts, and both sport offenses with explosive players in the backfield. So where's the advantage? Well, it’s Georgia's overall experience. The Bulldogs are largely composed of guys who have fought, lost, got up, and fought better the next time around. South Carolina has grown into a very formidable opponent week in and week out, but they are still missing experience and enough depth for me to feel comfortable picking them in this contest.
It will probably remain close, but in the end, Georgia's playmakers and experience should lead the Bulldogs to a win and one step closer to the SEC East crown.