As the season comes to a close, the Thanksgiving rivalries heat up with bowl and conference results on the line. Teams have been preparing for this week all year. Here are the matchups to look for in the Southeastern Conference in Week 13.
No. 1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) vs. Auburn (7-4, 3-4 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 24 — Bryant-Denny Stadium — Tuscaloosa, Alabama
2:30 p.m. on CBS
As one of the nation’s most storied rivalries, the Iron Bowl has been a highly anticipated SEC showdown for the 2018 season. Alabama is undefeated under the Heisman contending arm of sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and boasts the conference’s top offense. Tagovailoa has thrown for 2,865 yards, with an astonishing touchdown to interception ratio of 31 touchdowns to two picks. The Tide’s offense averages 539 yards a game, meaning this team is further helped by its defense’s impressive performance. Alabama is ranked eighth nationally in total defense, allowing 282 yards to opponents on average. All in all, the Crimson Tide has proved to be nation’s most complete team, but Auburn hopes to get in the way of its rival’s championship run. The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is having a solid season with 2,294 yards and 12 touchdowns. Auburn looks decent defensively, allowing opponents 372 yards per game. Auburn will have to focus on the fundamentals and play the game of the year if they hope to upset the Tide. Watch for Alabama to cruise over its opponent as they have all season.
Prediction: Alabama 38, Auburn 10
No. 13 Florida (8-3, 5-3 SEC) at Florida State (5-6, 3-5 ACC)
Saturday, Nov. 24 — Doak Campbell Stadium — Tallahassee, Florida
11 a.m. on ABC
This matchup is for all the bragging rights in the state of Florida. The Gators go into this meeting looking impressive with a strong defense that has been troubling offenses all season and ranks 37th nationally, allowing 354 yards per game. Florida has struggled offensively, however, and sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks has been rather inconsistent this year. Franks has thrown for 20 touchdowns, six interceptions and averages 184 yards a game. The Gators need to improve this offense in order to come out with a win. The Seminoles, on the other hand, have struggled this season. Florida State is ranked 107th nationally in total offense and is not much better defensively, with a national ranking of 67th. The key for Florida State will be defending junior quarterback Deondre Francois, who has been feeling the pressure all season. Francois will also need to limit turnovers, as he has 10 interceptions on the season. Look for Florida to dominate Florida State defensively on its way to a win in Tallahassee.
Prediction: Florida 32, Florida State 17
No. 21 Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4 SEC) at Ole Miss (5-6, 1-6 SEC)
Thursday, Nov. 22 — Vaught-Hemingway Stadium — Oxford, Mississippi
6:30 p.m. on ESPN
This Thanksgiving Day classic spotlights the state of Mississippi for the Egg Bowl between the Bulldogs and the Rebels. Mississippi State comes in with the best defense in the conference, under the leadership of senior defensive end Montez Sweat. He has 45 tackles and 10 sacks in 2018 and has remained the dominating force on this team. The Bulldogs only allow 281 yards to opponents and rank seventh nationally in total defense. Offensively, however, Mississippi State will have to improve, as it averages 392 yards per game. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has struggled in conference play this season, and an upset similar to last season could be a big statement win for the end of the season. Offensively, the Rebels are playing well under the leadership of senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. He has 3,831 yards this season and is deadly when his offense clicks. Defensively, Ole Miss will need to be on the ball Thursday, as it has struggled all season and ranks 125th nationally. Watch for the Bulldogs to halt the Rebel offense and get revenge with a big win.
Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Ole Miss 21
No. 17 Kentucky (8-3, 5-3 SEC) at Louisville (2-9, 0-8 ACC)
Saturday, Nov. 24 — Cardinal Stadium — Louisville, Kentucky
6 p.m. on ESPN2
This rivalry matchup features a strong Kentucky team looking to end its exciting regular season with a major win. Kentucky has been playing great football with a stout defense that ranks 18th nationally and allows only 321 yards per game to its opponents. The Wildcats also have a great playmaker in junior running back Benny Snell Jr., who has 1,335 yards in 2018 and 12 touchdowns. Kentucky could be ranked at the end of the season for the first time since 1984 if they pull off the win on Saturday. Meanwhile, Louisville has struggled in 2018 with only two wins. The Cardinals have fired head coach Bobby Petrino and are looking for a statement win over their rival. They will have to hold Kentucky’s offense, but that means improving a defense that is ranked 117th nationally. Look for the Wildcats to end one of their best seasons with a strong win behind Snell and their defense.
Prediction: Kentucky 38, Louisville 17