Week 7 in the SEC was filled with nail-biters and upsets. An otherwise dominant Georgia team lost to South Carolina by a missed field goal in overtime at home. LSU defeated Florida in Death Valley with the help of a near-perfect performance from quarterback Joe Burrow. And Tennessee beat Mississippi State for its first conference win of the season. This week, the SEC does not have any ranked matchups; however, it does give the ranked teams the opportunity to become bowl eligible while their opposition looks to spoil their near-perfect seasons.
No. 9 Florida (6-1) vs South Carolina (3-3)
Saturday, Oct. 19 — Williams Brice Stadium — Columbia, South Carolina
11 a.m. on ESPN
Only one of these teams won its game last week, and it wasn’t the team that’s currently ranked. It was the South Carolina Gamecocks that pulled off an upset against then-No. 3 Georgia in Sanford Stadium. In a strong defensive performance from the Gamecocks, defensive back Israel Mukuamu intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown. However, South Carolina also saw its freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski go down with a leg injury. With the status of Hilinski unknown, expect the Gamecock’s offense to rely on running backs Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle as well as the legs of backup quarterback Dakereon Joyner. The No. 9 Florida Gators are hoping to avenge last week’s tight loss against No. 2 LSU. Florida can start with an improved passing game under quarterback Kyle Trask, who is taking over for the injured Feleipe Franks. The Gators also have a consistent running game with running back Lamical Perine. However, the biggest factor for Florida will be how its defense plays. After allowing LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to complete 88 percent of his passes and letting Clyde Edwards-Helaire run for 134 yards and two touchdowns, this talented Florida defense will need to step up and make up for last week’s mistakes.
Prediction: Florida 24, South Carolina 10
No. 2 LSU (6-0) vs Mississippi State (3-3)
Saturday, Oct. 19 — Davis Wade Stadium — Starkville, Mississippi
2:30 p.m. on CBS
LSU couldn’t be off to a better start. The Tigers are currently undefeated and have beaten No. 15 Texas and No. 9 Florida along the way. Senior quarterback Joe Burrow has played like a Heisman candidate, throwing for over 2,100 yards and 25 touchdowns. His receivers, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Mitchell, have been nothing short of extraordinary in this six-game span. Not only do the Tigers have an explosive pass offense, but the powerful run game that has become a staple of LSU’s offense is currently led by Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has seven touchdowns on the year. This explosive new LSU offense will have another opportunity to run up the score against a Mississippi State team that is coming off a loss to Tennessee. The Bulldogs are in the middle of a quarterback battle between Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader, as both have played uninspiring football thus far in the season. The Bulldogs have running back Kylin Hill, but they have barely used him in the last few games. This game could get out of hand if LSU continues to run up the score like they have all season.
Prediction: LSU 48, Mississippi State 20
No. 11 Auburn (5-1) vs Arkansas (2-4)
Saturday, Oct. 19 — Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium — Fayetteville, Arkansas
11:00 a.m. on SECN
The No. 11 Auburn Tigers have waited two weeks to avenge their most recent loss to No. 9 Florida. The Tigers continue to have an explosive offense with speed at all skill positions, but with running back JaTarvious Whitlow currently recovering from knee surgery, freshman quarterback Bo Nix will have to step up for Auburn as he has only been completing 54 percent of his passes while throwing for only 188 yards per game. Fortunately for Auburn, its defensive line has been instrumental in the team’s success thus far this season. Senior defensive tackle Derrick Brown leads the team with three sacks and has racked up four tackles for loss this season. Defensive end Marlon Davidson has 2.5 sacks along with 4.5 tackles for loss. This front seven will face the challenge of stopping Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd, who is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has five touchdowns on the season. With the Razorbacks currently without a clear starting quarterback, this may make it easier for the Auburn defense stop Arkansas’ offensive attack from scoring points.
Prediction: Auburn 31, Arkansas 14
Kentucky (3-3) vs No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs (5-1)
Saturday, Oct 19 — Sanford Stadium — Athens, Georgia
5:00 p.m. on ESPN
The Kentucky Wildcats defeated Arkansas last week 24-20, and while that didn’t come as a surprise, it is an impressive win as their starting quarterback for the game was leading wide receiver Lynn Bowden. In his first career start as quarterback, Bowden ran the ball 24 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns while also completing seven of 11 pass attempts for 78 yards and a touchdown. While the offense is noticeably different and very new, this week, the Wildcats’ offense will face a harder opposition in the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. The stout Georgia defense, coming off an embarrassing upset, will look to stop this rejuvenated Wildcat offense. After giving up an early touchdown against South Carolina, the Georgia defense only allowed two more field goals. For the Bulldogs to win this game, quarterback Jake Fromm will need to improve from his 3-interception performance last week. Running backs D’Andre Swift and Zamir White must continue to carry the load for a powerful and time-hungry Georgia offense that is still on a quest to win the SEC East for a third-straight year. Fortunately for Georgia, the Kentucky defense has allowed more than 20 points in all but one game this season.
Prediction: Georgia 31, Kentucky 13