SEC football returns this weekend with the fabled Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn as the marquee matchup while fellow SEC West schools Ole Miss and Mississippi State duke it out for the annual Egg Bowl. Florida and Georgia, who sit at No. 1 and No. 2 in the SEC East get favorable matchups against Kentucky and South Carolina, respectively. The SEC announced on Monday that Missouri vs. Arkansas is postponed due to COVID-19, so instead Missouri welcomes Vanderbilt as the Commodores’ rivalry game vs. Tennessee is now postponed.
No. 23 Auburn (5-2) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
Saturday, Nov. 28 – Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
2:30 p.m. on CBS
Once again, Alabama has shown how it’s the best team in the country after a 63-3 walloping of Kentucky this past Saturday. Quarterback Mac Jones didn’t even have to play the whole game as freshman phenom Bryce Young threw for 53 yards and a touchdown. The Crimson Tide displayed its versatile offense, scoring five touchdowns on the ground between four different rushers who combined for 234 yards on 39 carries, an average of six yards per carry. His passing game was also on point as receiver Devonta Smith caught nine passes for 144 yards and a pair of scores. After being tied at halftime against Tennessee, Auburn picked things up and outscored the Volunteers 20-7 in the second half to win 30-17. Tennessee led Auburn in total yards, passing yards, rushing yards and yards per play, so the Tigers should be concerned about those numbers as they face perhaps the most dynamic offense in the country. Tennessee running back Eric Gray gave Auburn a lot to handle on the ground as he ran for 173 yards on 22 carries — an average of nearly eight yards per carry. This does not bode well for Auburn as it now has to handle a bevy of talented Alabama rushers, including Najee Harris, who has the most touchdowns in the SEC and the second most rushing yards. Expect Alabama to pummel Auburn on the ground and have an efficient passing game as the Crimson Tide inches closer to an eventual SEC Championship matchup with Florida.
Prediction: Alabama 37, Auburn 20
No. 13 Georgia (5-2) at South Carolina (2-6)
Saturday, Nov. 28 – Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, S.C.
6:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Georgia played Mississippi State at home and had one of the weirdest games of the weekend, winning 31-24. Georgia typically shows up well with its ground game, but logged just eight total rushing yards. Thankfully, quarterback J.T. Daniels, making his first start as a Bulldog since transferring from USC, threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns with a 73 percent completion rate. It seems Kirby Smart has found his quarterback until Stetson Bennett recovers from his shoulder injury. Georgia’s defense was wildly off compared to their normal performance, allowing 336 passing yards, which kept Mississippi State in the game. This seems to be an irregularity for Kirby Smart’s team, and it will likely get its defensive issues fixed over the course of the week. South Carolina, in its first game post-Will Muschamp, went scoreless in the first half as quarterback Collin Hill went 6-of-10 for 39 passing yards. Interim head coach Mike Bobo threw in four-star freshman Luke Doty at the start of the second half, and he provided some offensive consistency as he went 14-of-23 on 130 yards passing and ended up being the team’s leading rusher with 59 yards on 11 carries. However, Georgia is simply too talented for the Gamecocks to keep up with for an entire game.
Prediction: Georgia 30, South Carolina 17
Vanderbilt (0-7) at Missouri (3-3)
Saturday, Nov. 28 – Faurot Field – Columbia, Mo.
11 a.m. on SEC Network
The SEC announced this matchup on Monday with Arkansas vs. Missouri being postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing issues in the Razorbacks program. Vanderbilt was originally supposed to host Tennessee, but that game has also been postponed with the Commodores taking Arkansas’ place this weekend against Missouri. Vanderbilt has shown signs that they might be able to finally get in the win column after putting up a good fight against Florida at home, losing 38-17. You might look at the score and think that’s not good at all, but Florida has only scored fewer than 40 points one other time this season. Freshman quarterback Ken Seals also played fairly well against the No. 6 team in the country, throwing for 319 yards and a pair of touchdowns and breaking Vanderbilt’s freshman passing yards record, which is impressive for just seven games. Missouri is now 3-1 in its last four games after beating South Carolina 17-10. The Tigers looked like they would win handedly, leading 17-0 at halftime, but they proceeded to go scoreless in the second half. Missouri and South Carolina were essentially even in all notable categories, so the Tigers have to find a way to get some more offensive consistency. The sudden schedule change will affect both teams’ preparation, but that aspect favors the Tigers since they get to remain at home while Vanderbilt has to prepare for a new opponent and go on the road after expecting to play a Saturday night rivalry game.
Prediction: Missouri 28, Vanderbilt 21
Mississippi State (2-5) at Ole Miss (3-4)
Saturday, Nov. 28 – Vaught Hemingway Stadium – Oxford, Miss.
3 p.m. on SEC Network
After winning just one of its last five games, Mississippi State nearly pulled off the upset against Georgia with quarterback Will Rogers playing well along with the defense shutting down Georgia’s running game. The Bulldogs did allow 401 passing yards and four passing touchdowns, however, which is not a good sign when you have to play a Lane Kiffin-led offense that throws for 352 yards a game and scores 41 points per game. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral has led his team to consecutive 50-point games against Vanderbilt and South Carolina while firmly maintaining his spot as the third best quarterback in the SEC, statistically speaking. He ranks third in the conference in passing yards and quarterback rating, and second in completion percentage and passing touchdowns. Ole Miss’ offense led by Matt Corral is simply too much for Mike Leach’s Bulldogs to handle right now, even coming off a good performance against an AP Top 25 team.
Prediction: Ole Miss 42, Mississippi State 24
No. 6 Florida (6-1) at Kentucky (3-5)
Saturday, Nov. 28 – Kroger Field – Lexington, Ky.
11 a.m. on ESPN
It’s really hard to predict how Kentucky is going to do offensively each weekend. This past weekend the Wildcats scored only three points, the weekend before they scored 38 points and three weekends ago, they scored three points. They’re wildly inconsistent in the air, as they still have not thrown for 1,000 yards this season, but boast the second-best running attack in the conference with 1,424 rushing yards trailing the first place Ole Miss Rebels by only 65 yards. Then you look at their points per game this season, which is fourth worst in the SEC. At best, they are an average team with an inconsistent offense, so when facing Florida, who statistically is perhaps the most prolific offense in the country, you’re going to get behind at times and have to turn to the passing game. That scenario does not favor the Wildcats whatsoever. Gators quarterback Kyle Trask once again had a great game against Vanderbilt, throwing for 383 yards, three touchdowns and hitting nine different targets. The Florida defense might not be the best, but it can handle an offense like Kentucky that will have to rely on its ground game to even have a chance at winning this game.
Prediction: Florida 54, Kentucky 21