Here’s what’s news in and around the Southeastern Conference, with rivalry weekend upon us.
Gators wrap up SEC East
Florida looked two bruised and beaten up to challenge LSU in Baton Rouge last Saturday. Surprise! not only did the Gators, 14-point underdogs, do that, but they also beat the Tigers when the UF defense stopped running back Derrius Guice on a fourth-and-goal play on the last snap of last Saturday’s game.
With that, UF coach Jim McElwain becomes the first coach in SEC history to win his division in his first two seasons.
The Gators now earn the right to play a certain juggernaut from Tuscaloosa next weekend.
A bad week at Missouri
Missouri not only has the fewest SEC football wins this year (one), but it had a bad week outside its 63-37 pasting by Tennessee last Saturday.
First, just hours after running for 225 yards against the Vols, freshman running back Damarea Crockett was arrested on marijuana possession. He’ll miss Missouri’s game against Arkansas this weekend.
Finally, the Tigers may have an academic scandal involving athletics on their hands as well.
Fun times in Columbia.
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- South Carolina
- Mississippi St.
THIS WEEK’S PICKS
LSU (-4) at Texas A&M, THURSDAY, 6:30, ESPN
A healthy Myles Garrett made a difference for A&M last weekend; will the Tigers have their star, Leonard Fournette, ready also? For that matter, A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, thought to be out for the year, could also play. With both teams suffering crushing recent losses, who’s more motivated? I’ll go with the team with the better defense—that’s LSU, which gives up just 4.7 yards per play and 14.1 points per game. LSU 20, A&M 14
Arkansas (-8) at Missouri, FRIDAY, 1:30, CBS
This could have been an awful matchup for Arkansas had Missouri had Crockett available, as the Razorbacks have given up 5.9 yards or more per carry six times this season. Instead, it’ll be Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams III who steals the show. Arkansas 34, Missouri 31
Auburn at Alabama (-17), 2:30, CBS
I would have loved to have seen this with Auburn quarterback Sean White and Kamryn Pettway healthy, and although Pettway should play, White, even if he does go, has looked awful in recent weeks with shoulder issues. Coach Gus Malzahn may have to trust Jeremy Johnson against the Crimson Tide in White’s place, and that’s really, really, really not a good thing. Alabama 31, Auburn 10
Tennessee (-7.5) at Vanderbilt, 6:30, SEC Network
The Vols have given up nearly 900 yards on the ground the last two weeks, and Vanderbilt wants to control the tempo with running back Ralph Webb, who looked a lot healthier last week in VU’s rout of Ole Miss. But, also look out for Vandy utility man Darrius Sims, who’s been getting more touches lately and is exactly the type of player who can give the Vols trouble. Linebacker Zach Cunningham has the unenviable task of watching out for UT quarterback Josh Dobbs, but, if he can do a credible job of that, I think the Commodores pull the upset. Vandy 31, Vols 30
Mississippi St. at Ole Miss (-8), 2:30, SEC Network
Yards and points, by game, given up by Mississippi State in its last five games: 554 and 40 (Kentucky), 627 and 41 (Samford), 382 and 28 (Texas A&M), 615 and 51 (Alabama), 661 ad 58 (Arkansas). I know Ole Miss’s defense isn’t exactly stellar, either, but the Rebels are playing at home for bowl eligibility and that’s the difference. Ole Miss 40, Bulldogs 34
Florida at Florida St. (-7.5), 7, ABC
This should be a defensive struggle, and Florida State should have three advantages: playing at home, better health, and superstar running back Dalvin Cook, who’s the most likely player to bust a big play in a game that could be decided by one. Seminoles 17, Gators 13
South Carolina at Clemson (-24), 6:30, ESPN
The scrappy Gamecocks have been the league’s most surprisingly competitive team this year, but, Clemson is at home playing for a College Football Playoff berth, and a young Gamecock team that has trouble scoring won’t be able to match Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Clemson 34, Carolina 17
Georgia Tech at Georgia (-4), 11, SEC Network
It’s not exactly the same as defending the triple option, but Georgia fared quite well against all Auburn’s moving parts a few weeks back. The Bulldogs give up 3.8 yards per carry and that matches up well against Tech. Georgia 20, Georgia Tech 19
Kentucky at Louisville (-26), 11, ESPN
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson will give Kentucky fits, and playing a rival helps the Cardinals get over the loss to Houston that probably eliminated them from College Football Playoff contention. But, the way Boom Williams and Benjamin Snell are running the ball, the Wildcats could keep it interesting for a bit. Louisville 42, Kentucky 27
Offensive and defensive player rankings will return next week.