The SEC standings have begun to take their final form with the distance between teams becoming more prevalent. This weekend is somewhat uneventful with ranked teams Florida, Georgia and Alabama each facing teams with losing streaks and records. Arkansas travels to Missouri in what is probably the most influential game of the weekend, standings-wise. Finally, Kentucky hosts South Carolina in a night game at Kroger Field.
Arkansas (3-5) at Missouri (4-3)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – Faurot Field – Columbia, Mo.
11 p.m. on SEC Network
The Razorbacks have been out of the college football world since a 27-24 home loss to LSU on Nov. 21. Last weekend they didn’t have enough players to compete, but they should have a sufficient roster when they travel to Columbia this Saturday. Most importantly, they will get head coach Sam Pittman back on the sideline after a positive COVID-19 test kept him away from Arkansas’ last two games, both losses. Missouri, on the other hand, is coming off of back-to-back wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt. With this game being at home, the Tigers have the upper hand with not having to travel for consecutive weeks. The Tigers have sneakily gotten themselves into third place in the SEC East behind Florida and Georgia, and they will likely need to win this Saturday to keep that spot with Kentucky right on their tail. Statistically speaking, Missouri has the upper hand as it is ahead of the Razorbacks in rushing defense and is actually first in the conference in passing yards allowed per game. The Tigers also only allow an average of 25 points per game compared to Arkansas, which allows 30.9. Arkansas is having to deal with a bit of a layoff, which can have some effect on an offense’s efficiency, they also have to travel and they are facing a superior defense that is on a win streak.
Prediction: Missouri 28, Arkansas 21
No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at LSU (3-4)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, La.
7 p.m. on CBS
The Crimson Tide continued to show its dominance with a 42-13 Iron Bowl win over No. 22 Auburn, without head coach Nick Saban. There’s really nothing Alabama doesn’t do well. It is in the top three in the SEC in passing and rushing yards per game and scores the most points per game while its defense only allows 18.5 points per game. In its win, quarterback Mac Jones went 18-of-26 and tossed five touchdowns with 302 passing yards. His favorite target was DeVonta Smith, who hauled in seven balls for 171 yards and two scores as the remaining receivers had 131 yards on 11 catches and three touchdowns. This team is virtually unbeatable and will get its ninth win of the season this Saturday against LSU with or without Saban on the sideline. The Tigers are coming off a loss to Texas A&M in which they ran for only 36 yards and were a measly 2-of-16 on third downs. They did pass for 231 yards; however, receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. was the recipient of 134 of them and he opted out of the remainder of the season the day after the game. LSU also doesn’t have consistency at the quarterback position with Max Johnson and TJ Finley splitting time in the loss. Johnson was in on LSU’s last drive, and he finished 14-of-22 with 113 yards and a touchdown, so he may be the answer for the time being.
Prediction: Alabama 42, LSU 14
South Carolina (2-7) at Kentucky (3-6)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – Kroger Field – Lexington, Ky.
6:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Kentucky has played a pretty uninspiring brand of football over its last five games. The Wildcats are 1-4 over that stretch of time with a 38-35 win over Vanderbilt. Outside of the Vanderbilt win, Kentucky has not scored more than 10 points in any of its last five games and continues to be putrid through the air. Quarterback Terry Wilson Jr. went 10-of-18 for 62 yards and threw two interceptions in a loss to Florida this past Saturday. Luckily, the Wildcats are playing South Carolina, which has the third-worst rushing defense in the SEC. This is huge for the Wildcats who run for 175.9 yards per game, the fourth-best average in the conference. They also have the second-most total rushing yards in the SEC this season. South Carolina hasn’t won since October, and have been marred by a downright terrible scoring defense that gives up 35 points per game. Kentucky’s defense on the other hand only gives up 27 points per game. All statistics point to a Wildcat win this weekend on their home turf. Though, it will be a close game that hinges on one or two key possessions.
Prediction: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 16
No. 6 Florida (7-1) at Tennessee (2-5)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, Tenn.
2:30 p.m. on CBS
Florida extended its win streak to five games with a 34-10 win over Kentucky on Saturday as Heisman candidate Kyle Trask went 21-of-27 with 256 passing yards and three touchdowns. He now leads the conference in passing yards and touchdowns, and is narrowly trailing Mac Jones for the top spot in quarterback rating. He’s been simply brilliant and there’s no way that changes against Tennessee this weekend. He and Kyle Pitts have been an exceptional duo as the tight end caught all three of Trask’s touchdown passes against Kentucky. The only question is will they be good enough to take down Alabama in the SEC Championship game? That remains to be seen of course, but all signs indicate they are the only team in the conference that could do it. The Volunteers are in the midst of a five-game losing streak that will go up to six this Saturday. Running back Eric Gray has proven himself to be a great three-down back as he stands at fifth in the conference in total rushing yards and has really come alive over the last couple games for Tennessee. He is just a sophomore so expect him to be a big part of head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s plans over the rest of the season heading into 2021. But he won’t be enough to carry the Volunteers to an upset on Saturday, though he could give Florida’s defense fits as it sits in the middle of the pack of the SEC in rushing yards allowed per game.
Prediction: Florida 54, Tennessee 23
Vanderbilt (0-8) at No. 9 Georgia (6-2)
Saturday, Dec. 5 – Sanford Stadium – Athens, Ga.
3 p.m. on SEC Network
The Commodores made college football and sports history on Saturday against Missouri when kicker Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a power-five college football game. Fuller was Vanderbilt soccer’s starting goalkeeper and played in the SEC soccer title game just six days before accomplishing the feat. However the team still lost 41-0 to Missouri as head coach Derek Mason and the Vanderbilt football program parted ways on Sunday. The Commodores are in the midst of an 0-8 season, and offensive coordinator Todd Fitch will serve as interim head coach. Mason went 27-55 over his six seasons in Nashville and is only the second head coach in program history to lead the Commodores to two bowl games. Georgia is coming off a 45-16 win against South Carolina and a brilliant performance on the ground. The Bulldogs rushed for 333 yards between six rushers and scored four times. James Cook averaged 17.3 yards per carry and scored twice as Zamir White averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored twice himself. JT Daniels, who started in his second game as a Bulldog, went 10-of-16 and 139 yards. Not a crazy statline by any means, but Kirby Smart needed a consistent signal caller to lead his offense, and Daniels appears to be that guy for the time being. He doesn’t really have much of a choice though as it was revealed that quarterback D’Wan Mathis had entered the NCAA transfer portal over the weekend. In regards to the game, expect Georgia to once again have success on the ground against Vanderbilt as the Bulldogs earn their seventh win and stay in the CFB Playoff Committee’s top 10.
Prediction: Georgia 34, Vanderbilt 10