It’s a slower week in the SEC as #15 Kentucky, #1 Georgia, #19 Auburn, Florida, and Missouri are all on their bye week. The conference feels like a two-horse race at this point as the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide control their divisions, but a lot can still happen in a week with five games and nine SEC teams still on the weekend slate.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (12 pm ET, SEC Network)
No other team has experienced as high of a jump just to fall just as far as the Arkansas Razorbacks. After starting 4-0 with double-digit wins over #15 Texas and #7 Texas A&M, they’ve now dropped three straight in varying fashions. They got manhandled by 37 at #2 Georgia, lost a heartbreaking 52-51 shootout at #12 Ole Miss, and couldn’t get the job done against Auburn as they lost their third straight 38-23. Sam Pittman’s team, specifically their defense, needs a layup, and it looks like they’ll get it this weekend against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. After winning their opener, the Golden Lions have lost their last five. With Mississippi State, LSU, Alabama, and Missouri to wrap up the schedule, the Razorbacks could use the ‘gimme’ game before a tough conference stretch to end the year.
LSU Tigers vs. #12 Ole Miss Rebels (3:30 pm ET, CBS)
The Tigers and Rebels had quite the week following wins last week. On the LSU side, the Ed Oregon question is no longer hanging over the program as it was announced he and the school would mutually part ways at the end of this year. It was awkward timing considering LSU had just gotten some momentum with a 49-42 win over #20 Florida. We don’t need to go over what happened at the end of Ole Miss’ game against Tennessee, but, needless to say, it was a lot both physically and emotionally for the Rebels. They got out of Rocky Top with a win and may be in for another battle this weekend if Heisman-hopeful Matt Corral misses the game with an injury. It’s a game worth keeping an eye on to see how the Tigers respond after the Coach O news on top of the fact that the Rebels play must-watch football.
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (4 pm ET, SEC Network)
Mike Leach’s Bulldogs are about as mixed of a bag as you can get. They got smacked by Alabama last week and have close losses to Memphis and LSU, but they also managed to beat NC State and #15 Texas A&M. His style of coaching ensures they’ll be in games, but it can also be predictable and easier to defend even though QB Will Rogers already had over 2,100 yards over 6 games. As for Vanderbilt, they nearly broke their 16-game SEC losing streak last weekend on the road against South Carolina but lost 21-20. It’s an opportunity for the Commodores, but it’ll be a tall task for their defense that has proven to struggle against better SEC offenses.
After last week’s incident against Ole Miss, a lot of people want to see the Volunteers have some karma come back on them and there’s no worse karma than going on the road against Alabama. The Tide, even though they’re a challenge, are a different kind of challenge this year. And with how the Volunteers offense has played the last three weeks, it’ll be interesting to see how they compete against Alabama. Still, Saban’s team already has one loss and can’t afford another. They need to win out and win out big to keep their playoff hopes alive and a rivalry game against Tennessee shouldn’t give them too much of a problem.
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. (#17) Texas A&M Aggies (7:30 pm ET, SEC Network)
Shane Beamer’s Gamecocks escaped an embarrassment as they nearly lost to Vanderbilt at home last week. It’s hard to say what you’ll get out of them from game to game, and it doesn’t get any easier as they head down to Aggieland this weekend. Texas A&M seems to have gotten back on track with wins against Alabama and Missouri, but they’ll need to keep the momentum going against South Carolina with games against Auburn and Ole miss following the two weeks after this. A big part of their improvement has been Zach Calzada and the Aggie offense stepping up to the plate, and they’ll have this weekend to keep improving on it before they’ll really need the points against the Tigers and Rebels.