Here’s a look at three best SEC games this weekend.
Two SEC teams are on bye weeks — Mississippi State and Tennessee — but every other league team is involved in a conference game; this is the only week of the 2017 season that there are zero non-conference games in the SEC.
This far from a scintillating week on paper. What that means, of course, is that something unbelievable is going to happen. Truthfully, though, it’s hard to see where that could happen this week.
Here are the top three matchups.
3. Arkansas (2-2) at South Carolina (3-2)
When/TV: 4 p.m., SEC Network
The skinny: Both have – for now, at least – aspirations for a nice mid-level bowl. Alas, the loser will need to set its sights a bit lower – like the Birmingham Bowl or Independence Bowl. Arkansas will look to get its rushing attack going with Devwah Whaley and friends. The Gamecocks’ rush defense has been spotty, and that could give the Hogs an edge. In the two games without star WR Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards has caught 10 passes for the Gamecocks – but he hasn’t scored this season. That needs to change. He and TE Hayden Hurst could have success against Arkansas’ secondary. There will be two talented quarterbacks on view in Arkansas’ Austin Allen and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, though Allen has yet to get untracked this season.
2. Alabama (5-0) at Texas A&M (4-1)
When/TV: 7:15 p.m., ESPN
The skinny: Generally, a game featuring teams that are a combined 9-1 would get higher billing. But despite A&M’s record, no one really expects this to be close: The Tide are favored by 26.5. On the road. Texas A&M’s run defense stats look good, but Alabama is a different level. If the Aggies’ run defense really is as good as the stats would imply (95.8 yards per game), this could be interesting. But that is a gigantic “if.” A&M has some top-notch skill-position talent, but it’s hard to see true freshman QB Kellen Mond – who gets incrementally better each week and boasts some explosiveness – being able to handle Alabama’s physical defense. The Tide has won four in a row in the series; the margin in the past three has been 133-37.
1. LSU (3-2) at Florida (3-1)
When/TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS
The skinny: Forget all that happened last year – the Hurricane Matthew-caused postponement of the game, the moving of the game from Gainesville to Baton Rouge, the pre-game scuffle, the Gators’ goal-line stand in the final seconds. And forget that this is Florida’s homecoming and that the honorary “Mr. Two Bits” will be former Florida pitcher Alex Faedo, who helped the Gators beat the Tigers in the College World Series. Instead, focus on LSU’s record, that the Tigers are coming off a homecoming loss to Troy, that Troy ran all over LSU’s defense and that Ed Orgeron already is feeling immense heat. And things ain’t exactly going swimmingly for Florida, which has nine guys suspended, lost its starting quarterback to a season-ending injury last week, has zero depth at linebacker and may be without its leading receiver (Tyrie Cleveland) because of a high ankle sprain. This is not going to be aesthetically pleasing for either side. Neither team will feel all that comfortable throwing the ball, meaning it’s all about the run. It’s also to fair to consider this a referendum on the depth of each division. If Florida – which looks to be the second-best team in the East – can’t beat an LSU team that got run over by Troy, well, that just means the East is worse than everyone thinks. And everyone thinks it stinks already. This should be one of the nastiest games in the SEC this season.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.