Here’s a look at the three best SEC games this weekend.
There are eight games involving SEC teams and most are of the “ehhh” variety. But the two best SEC games this week are two of the best games in the nation, and because they involve the league’s top two teams, each has big implications on the national title hunt.
3. Tennessee (4-5) at Missouri (4-5)
When/TV: 7:30 p.m.
The skinny: That it’s the second Saturday in November and this is one of the three best games in the SEC this week is a good reminder that the SEC is down this season. These teams are not good, but there is some intrigue, nonetheless. The “Butch Jones Watch” continues unabated for at least another week, and every week you wonder if this is it for Jones. His team still has a shot at bowl eligibility, but a win in this one basically is a must if the Vols want to go bowling. Mizzou has just one conference win, and it came last week against a reeling Florida team (actually, “reeling” is not descriptive enough; go ahead and provide your own adjective). But the offense-minded Tigers have a legit chance to win out, with Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas remaining on the schedule. It’s hard to see UT’s defense stopping Missouri’s offense. That means UT is going to have to score – a lot.
RELATED: This week’s SEC Power Rankings
2. Alabama (9-0) at Mississippi State (7-2)
When/TV: 7 p.m., ESPN
The skinny: Alabama is coming off a physical win over LSU, and Mississippi State is coming off a desultory performance in a win over UMass. Thus, there’s no question that the Tide had to work much harder than the Bulldogs last week. And the Tide also is going to have to put up with those incessant cowbells. But there is a lot of history working against Mississippi State: Alabama owns this rivalry, having won 81 of the 101 games (not counting the “vacated” wins), including an 18-4 record in Starkville. The Tide also has a nine-game winning streak in the series. Mississippi State’s defense must shut down the run if it is going to pull the mega-upset. And a little more on that nine-game winning streak: Mississippi State has managed to score in double figures just twice in that span and scored just 70 points total.
1. Georgia (9-0) at Auburn (7-2)
When/TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS
The skinny: This will be the 121st renewal of “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry,” the 74th consecutive season the teams have played but just the fourth time both are ranked in the top 10 in the media polls (Georgia is second, Auburn 10th). Both teams want to win in the same manner: Run the ball offensively and shut down the run defensively. Both have done quite well in both facets. Georgia leads the SEC and is eighth nationally in rushing offense at 279.3 yards per game; Auburn is third in the SEC and 19th nationally at 236.7 yards per game. Georgia is second in the SEC and fifth nationally in rushing defense at 89.0 yards per game; Auburn is third in the SEC and 24th nationally at 126.4 yards per game. Both teams have rushed for 26 touchdowns. Georgia has allowed four rushing touchdowns, and Auburn has allowed six. Both quarterbacks have shown the ability to thrown it around, though.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
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