It’s almost time for another Saturday of SEC football. Here’s a look at this weekend’s action:
No. 11 Florida at South Carolina, ESPN
Jim McElwain is right; his team did steal one at home against Vanderbilt this past weekend. That kind of effort -- and four turnovers -- won’t get the job done if Florida expects to stay in the playoff hunt and play well in the SEC Championship Game. They don’t have that kind of margin for error, not even against a 3-6 South Carolina team that's coming off two close conference losses. If Treon Harris doesn’t take care of the football, Florida could be in trouble on the road in Columbia.
Georgia at Auburn, CBS
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is all knotted up at 55-55-8. So after the nosedive both teams have gone through this season, there’s at least those bragging rights to play for. It’s a small consolation when you consider Georgia and Auburn were preseason picks to meet in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. But the unexpected happened and here we are, with both teams saying there’s a chance they’ll play multiple quarterbacks Saturday.
North Texas at Tennessee, SEC Network
First it was Kentucky, then South Carolina. Now it’s on to North Texas before Missouri and Vanderbilt. The opportunity to run the table and finish with eight wins is right there for Tennessee. But the real question is how much improvement the Volunteers will make over that time. Can the passing game take a step forward? Will more playmakers emerge on defense? They’ll have to answer those questions without star defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt, who looks to be done for the regular season with a hip injury.
3:30 p.m. ET
No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State, CBS
“So far, so good.” That’s what Alabama coach Nick Saban said earlier this week when asked how his team has responded after its declarative win against LSU. “I don’t think that anything that’s happened in the past is going to have an effect on this game,” he said. But it’s hard to see how human nature doesn’t creep in. Riding high and ranked No. 2 in the country, it would be natural for players to let off the gas a bit. They shouldn’t, though -- not against Mississippi State, which is ranked No. 17 and boasts the best QB in the conference in Dak Prescott.
4 p.m. ET
Kentucky at Vanderbilt, SEC Network
Who would have thought a month ago that Vanderbilt would be the favorite in this game? The host Commodores are giving three points to Kentucky, a team that started off hot by winning four of its first five games before going on a four-game losing streak. The offense, which looked to be headed in the right direction with Patrick Towles at quarterback, was limited to fewer than 100 yards passing against Georgia last weekend. Now the question becomes whether coach Mark Stoops makes a change under center against a Vanderbilt defense that’s quietly among the best in the conference.
7 p.m. ET
Western Carolina at Texas A&M, ESPNU
This game is coming at the right time for Texas A&M, which has lost three of its past four, starting with the 18-point beatdown at the hands of Alabama. The offense struggled to the point where coach Kevin Sumlin felt compelled to make a change at quarterback, going to freshman Kyler Murray. But will Sumlin stick with Murray after three interceptions in a loss to Auburn last weekend? If Sumlin is going to make a change, now’s the time to do it before the final two games of the regular season against Vanderbilt and LSU.
7:15 p.m. ET
Arkansas at No. 9 LSU, ESPN
They’re knocked out of the top four. They're no longer in control of their own destiny in the SEC. So how does LSU respond after such a disappointing loss at Alabama? Will the offense regroup? Will it remember how to keep defenses off Leonard Fournette in the backfield? Will the defense be ready for another physical running back? Alex Collins and the Razorbacks have won four of their past five and are eager for more.
7:30 p.m. ET
BYU at Missouri, SEC Network
In the end, Missouri’s players didn’t miss much practice. But after going on strike, what’s their level of focus entering a game against a quality BYU team? Coach Gary Pinkel said he was “really concerned” with how his players were compartmentalizing the week’s events, including a threat on social media that led to two arrests. With so much controversy swirling around the program off the field, what will we see on the field Saturday?