Although Week 8 did not see any top-ranked teams play each other, LSU, Alabama and Georgia won their respective matchups in convincing fashion while Vanderbilt upset Missouri for its first conference win of the year. This week, a matchup of Top 10 opponents stands out while other bowl-eligible teams try to separate themselves from the bottom dwellers of the conference. Here are four games from around the SEC to check out this weekend.
No. 9 Auburn (6-1) at No. 2 LSU (7-0)
Saturday, Oct. 26 — Tiger Stadium — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2:30 p.m. on CBS
In one of the most fascinating matchups of the week, the Tigers of Auburn will take on the Tigers of LSU in a contest pitting two Top 10 teams against each other. The Auburn offense showed some life last week against Arkansas as freshman quarterback Bo Nix completed 12 of 17 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll look to carry that efficiency over this weekend as he comes face to face with the No. 24 LSU defense, which includes stars like cornerback Kristian Fulton and safety Grant Delpit. The LSU offense has been explosive all season with senior quarterback Joe Burrow at the helm. Thus far, Burrow has completed 79 percent of his passes while throwing for 355 yards per game and 29 touchdowns. In addition to a phenomenal passing attack, LSU has been able to rely on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to get its rushing attack going. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has scored seven touchdowns this season. With Auburn’s stout defensive line consisting of senior defensive tackle Derrick Brown and senior defensive end Marlon Davidson, the LSU offensive line will need to step up for Burrow and Edwards-Helaire as they will be facing one of their most difficult matchups of the young season.
Prediction: LSU 42, Auburn 24
Arkansas (2-5) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0)
Saturday, Oct. 26 — Bryant-Denny Stadium — Tuscaloosa, Alabama
6 p.m. on ESPN
Coming off a crushing loss to Auburn, Arkansas will look to find some answers against the No. 1 team in the nation. The Razorbacks continue to struggle with inconsistent quarterback play as they are looking to roll out quarterbacks Ben Hicks and Texas A&M transfer Nick Starkel. Fortunately for Arkansas, running back Rakeem Boyd has proven he can be a reliable source of rushing yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and rushing for five touchdowns on the season. Similarly, tight end Cheyenne O’Grady has continued to be an important pass catcher as he leads the team in receiving yards with 359. For Alabama, the offense will be without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as he recovers from ankle surgery. In the meantime, quarterback Mac Jones will be taking snaps from under center. For Jones’s first start, he will have an array of wide receiving talent in Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, as well as reliable running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson. Expect Alabama to continue to put up points against an Arkansas defense that has produced only 10 turnovers on the season while allowing 30.7 points per game — good for 93rd in the NCAA.
Prediction: Alabama 37, Arkansas 13
Missouri (5-2) at Kentucky (3-4)
Saturday, Oct. 26 — Kroger Field — Lexington, Kentucky
6:30 p.m. on SECN
After a stunning loss to Vanderbilt, Missouri is looking to regroup against a Kentucky offense that appeared severely overmatched against No. 10 Georgia. Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant was stymied last week as he completed 50 percent of his passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This week, he’ll have to improve his play against a defense that has allowed an average of 183 passing yards and less than a passing touchdown per game. This could be a big week for the Missouri rushing offense as running back Larry Rountree and quarterback Kelly Bryant will look to attack Kentucky’s porous run defense, which has allowed an average of over 180 rushing yards and over two rushing touchdowns a game. Offensively, Kentucky struggled against No. 10 Georgia last week as wide receiver-turned-quarterback Lynn Bowden only completed two of his 15 pass attempts, with the first completion coming in the fourth quarter. With quarterback Sawyer Smith’s status unknown for this week’s game, expect Kentucky to rely on its rushing attack led by Bowden and running back Asim Rose. However, they’ll be taking on a Missouri defense that has allowed only 114 rushing yards per game at an average of 3.2 yards per carry.
Prediction: Missouri 31, Kentucky 10
South Carolina (3-4) at Tennessee (2-5)
Saturday, Oct. 26 — Neyland Stadium — Knoxville, Tennessee
3 p.m. on SECN
South Carolina followed up its upset of No. 10 Georgia with a tightly contested game against No. 7 Florida in which the Gamecocks lost by 11 points. In that game, running back Tavion Feaster was their biggest source of offense as he carried the ball 25 times for 175 yards and one touchdown. After returning from an injury that sidelined him for a good part of the Georgia game, freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski had an inconsistent return to the field, completing 17 of 35 pass attempts for 170 yards and one touchdown. This week, the Gamecocks will have the ability to snatch a win in Knoxville against a two-win Tennessee team that is coming off of a loss to No. 1 Alabama. Tennessee has yet to find a consistent starter at quarterback as redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano is splitting reps with freshman Brian Maurer. While the inconsistency could be good news for South Carolina team that has caught five interceptions in the last three weeks, the Gamecocks have also allowed over 250 passing yards and two passing touchdowns per game. As Tennessee attempts to counter South Carolina’s two-dimensional attack, the Volunteers will try to find some consistency in the passing game, hoping to upset the Gamecocks at home for their third win of the season.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Tennessee 17