Week 5 in the SEC was relatively uneventful with LSU and Alabama routing South Carolina and Tennessee, respectively. Alabama remains undefeated and holds the tiebreaker advantage over Texas A&M, who sits at second behind the Crimson Tide in the SEC West. Meanwhile Auburn remains behind the Aggies in the standings after defeating Ole Miss, as Missouri got its second win of the season over Kentucky.
LSU (2-2) at Auburn (3-2)
Saturday, Oct. 31 – Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, Ala.
3:30 p.m. on CBS
Both of these teams have been off to pretty rough starts in terms of wins and losses compared to preseason expectations, so this matchup will be a chance for either to get a spark. LSU put up 52 points on South Carolina this past weekend and rushed for a staggering 277 yards as quarterback TJ Finley replaced the injured Myles Brennan and threw for 265 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brennan returned to practice this week and will start Saturday’s game, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. Meanwhile Auburn is coming off a 35-28 win over Ole Miss as receiver Seth Williams once again was quarterback Bo Nix’s favorite target with eight grabs for 150 yards and a score. Williams ranks sixth in the conference in receiving yards with 440. But it is for this exact reason that LSU may win as true freshman cornerback Eli Ricks is tied for first in the country in interceptions with three, and LSU’s All-American cornerback Derek Stingley looms on the other side. If Auburn wants to beat LSU, it will have to do it on the ground which will be a tall task.
Prediction: LSU 31, Auburn 24
Missouri (2-2) at No. 10 Florida (2-1)
Saturday, Oct. 31 – Ben Hill Griffith Stadium – Gainesville, Fla.
7:30 p.m. on SEC Alternate
This is another game with big implications in terms of standings in the SEC East. Florida, despite losing to A&M, is doing as expected and sits at second in the East while Missouri, who has bounced back from two season-opening losses, sits behind the Gators at 2-2. The Tigers put up a fight against Alabama in Week 1, losing 38-19, but followed that up with an underwhelming 35-12 loss to Tennessee the week after. Then, Missouri took down LSU in an early October shootout and most recently won against Kentucky 20-10. The Tigers enter what’s probably their most difficult part of the schedule as they host now-No. 5 Georgia after this matchup with the Gators. So in back-to-back weeks, they face the top two teams in the SEC East. Quarterback Connor Bazelak has started in both wins for Missouri and given the Tigers a more well-rounded passing game to utilize as he’s thrown for 607 yards and four touchdowns in those two games. The issue is that Florida has such a potent offensive attack, and Missouri’s defense has so far struggled against teams that have good offenses like LSU and Alabama. This seems like one of those games where talent ultimately prevails, and it doesn’t help that Missouri will be in The Swamp rather than at their home field where they upset LSU.
Prediction: Florida 44, Missouri 27
No. 5 Georgia (3-1) at Kentucky (2-3)
Saturday, Oct. 31 – Kroger Field – Lexington, Ky.
12 p.m. on SEC Network
The Kentucky Wildcats seem to be a bit stuck as on one hand they’ve handily beat bad teams like Mississippi State and Tennessee, but struggle against better-than-average teams such as Auburn and Missouri. Tennessee heads into a rough four-game stint hosting Vanderbilt and then travelling to Alabama and Florida in consecutive weeks. Georgia is coming off a loss to Alabama but has easily handled Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. Its defense is perhaps the best in the conference as it gives up the second-fewest yards per game and is No. 1 in terms of points allowed per game and rushing yards per game. Unless Kentucky’s offense, which logs the second-fewest yards per game in the SEC with 307 and throws a poor 123 passing yards per game, breaks out and stuns the Bulldogs, this will likely be a blowout in favor of Kirby Smart and Georgia as they retain the top spot in the East.
Prediction: Georgia 48, Kentucky 13
Mississippi State (1-3) at No. 2 Alabama (5-0)
Saturday, Oct. 31 – Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
7 p.m. on ESPN
Simply put, these two teams are at polar opposites when comparing their seasons so far. Alabama has dominated every team it’s faced this year and will be favored to win in the rest of its games this season even after losing dynamic receiver Jaylen Waddle to a broken ankle against Tennessee. That’s not really a huge problem for the Crimson Tide though, given it has John Metchie, Devonta Smith and Xavier Williams to mask his absence. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has lost three straight after its season-opening shootout win over LSU and has struggled mightily on offense since. Quarterback K.J. Costello has the second-most interceptions in the country with 10 and has been sacked 13 times behind an inexperienced offensive line. This game will give Alabama the opportunity to adjust its game plan with Waddle out for the year and further fine-tune its defense, which held Georgia to just 24 points.
Prediction: Alabama 52, Mississippi State 17
Ole Miss (1-4) at Vanderbilt (0-3)
Saturday, Oct. 31 – Vanderbilt Stadium– Nashville, Tenn.
4 p.m. on SEC Network
Both of these teams are on three-game losing streaks and are trying to get a win to boost their spirits. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt has been hit so hard by the COVID-19 pandemic that it has gotten two weeks off after its Oct. 17 game against Missouri was postponed to December. The Commodores have also had the most opt-outs in the conference with more than six. Thankfully they had a scheduled bye week this past week to recover as much as they could. Ole Miss’ offense scores 35 points a game, and it has played some stiff competition and put up formidable fights against teams like Alabama, Auburn and Florida. But its schedule gets much easier as the Rebels only have one more ranked team (A&M) on their schedule as of now, so they’ll be looking to break their losing streak and get on a roll. It would be nice to see the Commodores get their first conference win of the year, but their program is in too much of a rough place right now due to the pandemic and won’t be able to hold up Lane Kiffin’s Rebel offense for 60 minutes.
Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Vanderbilt 17