SEC football returns after just three games were played last weekend after four were postponed due to COVID-19. Three ranked teams will stay at home while Florida travels to Nashville to play Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, South Carolina will play its first game post-Will Muschamp era after it ended on Sunday when the two sides decided to part ways.
LSU (2-3) at Arkansas (3-4)
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium – Fayetteville, Ark.
11 a.m. on SEC Network
The Razorbacks went into Gainesville last weekend and lost to the Gators 63-35 without head coach Sam Pittman, who did not travel with the team after testing positive for COVID-19. Still, the offense performed fairly well as quarterback Feleipe Franks threw a pair of touchdowns to receiver Michael Woods, whose two catches went for 129 yards. Running backs Trelon Smith and Rakeem Boyd combined for 20 carries and 174 yards with two touchdowns. Virtually no team in the country can handle Florida’s offense, so the Razorbacks should have their heads held high when they host LSU this weekend. Meanwhile, the Tigers have yet to play a game since Halloween when they were on the bad end of a 48-11 blowout against Auburn. They will be well-rested, but in the grand scheme of things they’ve shown no promise of improvement. They’ve had a turnstile at the quarterback position all season, which is a stark contrast to a year ago, and their defense gives up 34 points per game which ranks fourth worst in the conference. The Razorbacks get their head coach back for a home game against the defending national champions, have more momentum and have been steady over the last month.
Prediction: Arkansas 27, LSU 16
Tennessee (2-4) at No. 23 Auburn (4-2)
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, Ala.
6 p.m. on ESPN
Other than a shocking upset to South Carolina and a loss to Georgia, the Auburn Tigers have looked fairly well especially coming off of two straight wins against Ole Miss and LSU. In his last two games, quarterback Bo Nix has thrown for nearly 540 yards and four touchdowns and has hit six different targets in each game. His good play bodes well for Auburn as the Tigers host Tennessee, who has lost four straight games since starting the year 2-0. The Volunteers have allowed 38 points per game in their four losses with the most recent one coming against Arkansas. Shockingly the Volunteers’ defense sits around the middle of the pack in the SEC statistically, but Auburn’s is a tad more consistent. Tennessee played three different quarterbacks in its last game, so it’s hard to know what to expect out of that group, but running back Eric Gray is coming off a 123-yard performance against the Razorbacks, so perhaps he could be a spark plug that gives Auburn some fits. The Tigers’ next two scheduled games are against Alabama and A&M though, so don’t expect them to let Tennessee hang around for too long this Saturday, especially at Jordan-Hare.
Prediction: Auburn 37, Tennessee 21
Kentucky (3-4) at No. 1 Alabama (6-0)
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
4 p.m. on SEC Network
There’s really not much else to say about the Crimson Tide. It has averaged 49 points per game over its last five contests and quarterback Mac Jones will likely win the Heisman award if he continues this dominance. Its three remaining games consist of Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas, and it ranks third in the conference against the run which is essentially the only way Kentucky produces anything offensively. The Tide is undefeated, hasn’t played one bad game all year and likely is looking ahead to facing Florida in the SEC Championship game. As said previously, Kentucky’s offense thrives on the ground as it ranks second in the SEC in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game. Its passing game, on the other hand, is the worst in the SEC by a lot. The Wildcats has yet to cross the 1,000 passing yard threshold this year and is the only team in the conference who has not done so. Their defense isn’t awful by any means, but they did just give up 35 points to Vanderbilt, who sits near the bottom of the SEC in multiple categories. This will be simply another tune-up game for Nick Saban and his squad.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Kentucky 17
Missouri(2-3) at South Carolina (2-5)
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC.
7:30 p.m. on SEC Alternate
After losing to Ole Miss last Saturday, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner announced on Sunday that the football program and head coach Will Muschamp have decided to part ways. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will serve as interim head coach. The 2-5 Gamecocks are in the midst of a three-game losing streak in which they gave up 159 points and allowed over 700 yards of offense while sitting at sixth place in the SEC East. South Carolina had lost 17 of its last 20 games after Saturday’s loss, and Muschamp recorded a 28-30 record since being hired in 2015. The Gamecocks will simply try to finish out the season as Missouri fights for third place in the SEC East — currently sitting behind Kentucky. Its last game was a loss to Florida on Halloween, but its last four contests of the season are all very winnable games. After South Carolina, the Tigers will play Arkansas at home, Mississippi State in Starkville and Vanderbilt at home. Missouri wants to perform well in these last four games to push for a 6-3 record, and if it is to finish that well it would be the Tigers’ best season in terms of winning percentage since 2014. The program also missed out on a bowl game in 2019, so they will no doubt be giving it all they got as they enter the home stretch. A game against a team who just let go of their head coach is the first step in that direction.
Prediction: Missouri 27, South Carolina 14
Mississippi State (2-4) at No. 13 Georgia (4-2)
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Sanford Stadium – Athens, Ga.
7:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Georgia comes into this game looking for answers at the quarterback spot. Stetson Bennett is out with a shoulder injury he suffered in the loss to Auburn earlier this month and D’Wan Mathis wasn’t exactly great as a replacement, going 4-of-13 for 34 yards and two interceptions. That leaves USC transfer JT Daniels as the other signal caller who could see time against a very bad Mississippi State team. Luckily for Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs, their three upcoming games are against some of the worst teams in the conference in Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt so they will have several chances to figure out what to do at quarterback. Mississippi State on the other hand is tumbling toward the end of the regular season, going 1-4 in its last five with its win coming against Vanderbilt at home 24-17. Freshman quarterback Will Rogers isn’t doing awful, but certainly not good enough to win games week in and week out, and he won’t be able to do a whole lot against Georgia’s defense. Georgia ranks fifth in the conference against the pass and first against the run while Mississippi State’s offense is the worst rushing team in the SEC and only scores 16 points a game. Georgia may come out sluggish to start but expect them to pick things up and score consecutive drives while shutting down Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense.
Prediction: Georgia 35, Mississippi State 10
No. 6 Florida(5-1) at Vanderbilt (0-6)
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Vanderbilt Stadium – Nashville, Tenn.
12 p.m. on ESPN
Last time Vanderbilt beat Florida was back in 2013 when James Franklin was the head coach of the Commodores and Will Muschamp the Gators. Since then, Florida has run the series and averaged 44 points per game over the last three matchups. It will probably be more of the same on Saturday with them averaging 512 yards per game, 372 passing yards per game and 46 points per game in this 2020 season. Quarterback Kyle Trask trails behind Mac Jones for second in the SEC in quarterback rating, has thrown 28 touchdowns which leads the SEC ahead of Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral by six and completes 70 percent of his passes. With a Vanderbilt team that gives up 36 points per game and 443 yards per game, Trask and the Florida offense should be firing on all cylinders like they have over the course of their six games this fall. Vanderbilt’s offense though has picked this up as of late scoring 73 points in their last three games compared to them scoring only 26 points in their first three games of the season. It obviously hasn’t translated into any wins, but the backfield duo of freshman quarterback Ken Seals and running back Keyon Brooks have performed fairly well together and have the ability to put up a couple scores against a Florida defense that statistically sits in the middle of the conference in most categories. But make no mistake, the Gators’ offense is potent and powerful and will make sure the Commodores don’t spoil their season.
Prediction: Florida 48, Vanderbilt 20