Here’s a look at the three best SEC games this weekend.
It’s rivalry weekend, and each of the nine games involving SEC teams has at least one intriguing storyline. But these three stood out.
Truth be told, one far outshines the rest. That tends to happen when both teams have legitimate national title hopes in late November.
3. Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3)
When/TV: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
The skinny: Clemson has won three in a row in the series and needs a win to remain a viable candidate for the College Football Playoff. But the Gamecocks could pose a threat because of their opportunistic defense; South Carolina is plus-9 in turnover margin. Clemson doesn’t cough it up that often, though, with just 11 turnovers on the season. South Carolina absolutely needs a big game from QB Jake Bentley. The teams have met every year since 1909, making this series No. 2 at 109 consecutive meetings; it’s behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin, which will be played for the 111th consecutive season Saturday.
2. Texas A&M (7-4) at LSU (8-3)
When/TV: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
The skinny: Will this be it for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin? Rumors are swirling that he is out after this game, and talk already has centered on Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher as a possible replacement – and that Sumlin will be in play for the UCLA vacancy. The Aggies’ rush defense isn’t good – A&M has surrendered 200-plus rushing yards in six of its seven conference games – and that can’t be comforting to Sumlin and defensive coordinator John Chavis with Derrius Guice on the other sideline. LSU has won five of its past six since an inexplicable loss to Troy, with the only setback in that span to Alabama in a game in which the Tigers outgained the Tide.
1. Alabama (11-0) at Auburn (9-2)
When/TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS
The skinny: The Iron Bowl looks particularly intriguing this season. The SEC West title is on the line, which means a trip to the SEC championship game and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff still within reach for both. Alabama has scuffled a bit of late, with its run defense showing some cracks. Can Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson, the league’s leading rusher, take advantage? Alabama QB Jalen Hurts continues to come up big when needed, but the Tigers’ defense will be the best he has seen. Auburn and Alabama are two of the three teams nationally ranked in the top 20 in both scoring offense and scoring defense (Penn State is the other). Alabama has won seven of the past nine Iron Bowls.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
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