The last few weeks of Southeastern Conference football have featured a slew of great games. This week? Perhaps not so much, though Florida-Georgia and Tennessee-Missouri could get interesting. Here’s a look at those games, as well as the others on the schedule, below.
Mississippi State at South Carolina (-13): This is a great opportunity for both teams; for MSU coach Dan Mullen, it’s a chance to prove he can beat a good team. For Carolina, it’s a chance to prove it can be consistent. I’m not sure that I trust either team to do either. Where I think Carolina has an edge is with its athletic defensive line, which can help limit the damage that MSU quarterback Dak Prescott can do. Carolina, meanwhile, should be able to control tempo between the ball-control passing of Connor Shaw and running abilities of one of the league’s best tailbacks, Mike Davis. Carolina 37, MSU 20
Georgia (-3) vs. Florida (Jacksonville): Nobody would have believed you if you’d said that when these two rivals played, neither would be ranked. Of course, it’s also hard to believe the rash of injuries that both teams have suffered. Health’s the key here, and that’s where Georgia, which returns star runner Todd Gurley and starting receiver Michael Bennett. The Bulldogs have defensive issues, but they’re probably not as big as Florida’s offensive issue, and that’s why I like Georgia on Saturday. Georgia 23, Florida 16
Auburn (-7.5) at Arkansas: As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes there are lines that just jump off the page as being wrong, and this seems like one of them, because I’d have guessed Auburn to be a 13-14-point favorite today. Perhaps it’s because of the war of words between coaches Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn that this line is closer, but no matter, I don’t think the Razorbacks, who have been out-scored by 107 points the last two weeks, can keep up with an Auburn team that has finally made me a believer. Auburn should be able to assert its will on the ground and although its defense isn’t dominant, the Razorbacks lack the firepower to give a defensive coordinator a whole lot of concern. Auburn 40, Arkansas 17
Tennessee at Missouri (-10.5): The Vols have been pretty competitive, but were in over their heads at Alabama last week. It’s hard to hold that against the Vols too much because it’s Alabama, so let’s put that one aside and judge the Vols on how they’ll match up against Missouri. Tennessee coaches like Josh Dobbs, but he’s in a tough spot against a really good Missouri team today. Where the Vols can help themselves is with a good offensive line that should be able to neutralize the Missouri pass rush. Where I think UT will have trouble is against a big, athletic group of wideouts who will also benefit from a diverse but effective running game. Missouri, too, will be playing a freshman quarterback in Maty Mauk, but his supporting cast on offense is a lot better and that’s the difference. Missouri 37, Tennessee 20
Alabama State at Kentucky (-27.5): I haven’t been really kind to the Wildcats this season, but the truth is, a brutal schedule that’s included four teams in the Top 25 when the Wildcats played them hasn’t helped at all. The Hornets will probably be able to move the ball against a UK defense that isn’t that good, but the ‘Cats have also shown some recent promise in moving the ball. UK needs an easy win, and it’ll get one tonight. Kentucky 48, ASU 20
UTEP at Texas A&M (-47.5): UTEP’s defense is one of the most wretched in the country, which means that Johnny Football should have a field day. Will the Aggies’ defense be able to sustain the improvement they showed against Vandy last week? I don’t know, but today it won’t really matter. A&M 66, UTEP 23