With the Thanksgiving weekend rivalry games on the horizon, many teams are competing for key wins before season’s end. Week 12 features some out-of-conference games and some in-conference showdowns in the SEC with plenty on the line. Here’s a look at action heading into this weekend:
Rice (1-10, 0-7 USA) vs. No. 7 LSU (8-2, 5-2 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 17 — Tiger Stadium — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
6:30 on ESPNU
LSU enters this game as one of the strongest teams in the nation. They have bounced back since their humbling loss to Alabama and are looking to finish the season strong. The Tigers feature one of the strongest defenses in the nation, ranking 34th nationally in total defense. LSU only allows 343 yards a game to opponents on average and that largely has to do with the performance of junior linebacker Devin White. He has registered 89 tackles on the season and is one of the biggest leaders on the squad. White’s play should give trouble to a Rice team that is struggling offensively, averaging 324 yards a game. Senior quarterback Shawn Stankavage has struggled in 2018 and has 10 interceptions with 10 touchdowns and 1,227 yards. Rice and Stankavage will have to play their best football all season to give the Tigers a run for their money and LSU will win this one convincingly.
Prediction: LSU 45, Rice 7
Arkansas (2-8, 0-6 SEC) vs. No. 21 Mississippi State (6-4, 2-4 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 17 — Davis Wade Stadium — Starkville, Mississippi
11 a.m. on ESPN
This Western showdown pits a struggling Arkansas on the road against a strong Mississippi State team. The story for the Bulldogs all season has been their stellar defense, which is ranked first in the conference. Mississippi State allows 281 yards a game to opposing teams and features a gifted senior defensive end in Montez Sweat. Sweat has 41 tackles in 2018, along with 10 sacks. Meanwhile, Arkansas averages 362 yards per game and is dead last in the West in total offense. Junior quarterback Ty Story has been inconsistent this season but has 1,423 yards in the air. He will have to limit turnovers and rely on his defense to get out of Starkville with a win. Watch for Arkansas to falter early and the Bulldogs to crush drives defensively.
Prediction: Mississippi State 28, Arkansas 10
Missouri (6-4, 2-4 SEC) vs. Tennessee (5-5, 2-4 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 17 — Neyland Stadium — Knoxville, Tennessee
2:30 p.m. on CBS
This Eastern matchup could come down to an offensive shootout with both teams’ offensive approaches and lack of defense. Missouri is an offensive juggernaut ranked 17th nationally and is led by a quarterback who is looking strong in his senior campaign. Drew Lock is averaging 264 yards per game and has 21 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Meanwhile, Tennessee is led by another talented quarterback in sophomore Jarrett Guarantano, who has 1,768 yards in 2018 and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions. The Volunteers have truly struggled protecting Guarantano however and this has killed many offensive bursts they have displayed. It will be a close one through the first quarter, but the Tigers will quickly find a rhythm while Tennessee struggles to meet the Missouri offensive output.
Prediction: Missouri 38, Tennessee 24
Ole Miss (5-5, 1-5 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (4-6, 1-5 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 17 — Vanderbilt Stadium — Nashville, Tennessee
6:30 p.m. on SECN
This is an inter-divisional game that features two teams desperate for a win. The question will be who can unify together for what should be a close game. Ole Miss is coming off of a tough loss to divisional rival Texas A&M. The Rebel defense allowed over 500 yards to the Aggies, making the unit a hindering factor for this team. On the other hand, senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu is leading a very impressive offense, which averages 535 yards a game and is ranked fifth nationally. Vanderbilt may struggle with containing that explosive unit as they allow 421 yards on average to opponents. Senior Commodore quarterback Kyle Shurmur has been the bright spot for this struggling Vanderbilt squad, as he averages 228 yards a game and has 17 touchdowns with five interceptions. This game will come down to which team can play with a balanced approach and superior defense. Look for Ole Miss to overwhelm the Commodore defense on the way to a vital win.
Prediction: Ole Miss 42, Vanderbilt 28