In Week 9, an undefeated LSU team outlasted a top-10 Auburn team, a Kentucky team with a wide receiver filling in at quarterback topped Missouri, Alabama defeated Arkansas without its starting quarterback and Tennessee won another game at Rocky Top. This week, the SEC will host a rivalry game between two top-10 teams, while others are on a quest to become bowl eligible.
Mississippi State (3-5) vs Arkansas (2-6)
Saturday, Nov. 2 — Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium — Fayetteville, Arkansas
3 p.m. on SECN
This matchup pits the bottom two teams of the SEC west against each other. After a loss to Texas A&M in College Station, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will be on the road once again as they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. Mississippi State’s offense is led by junior running back Kylin Hill and freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader. Hill has rushed for 793 yards and six touchdowns this season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Mississippi State’s struggling offense will compete against one of the worst defenses in the SEC this week. Arkansas is currently allowing 227 passing yards and 191 rushing yards per game. While Mississippi State has seen some success in the run game, Arkansas has struggled in all facets. The Razorbacks head into the week with uncertainty at the quarterback position as Nick Starkel was benched for redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones against Alabama. They will try to lean on the rushing ability of running back Rakeem Boyd and the receiving ability of tight end Cheyenne O’Grady. Boyd has run for over 700 yards and five touchdowns this season. O’Grady is Arkansas’ leading receiver with 33 catches for 372 yards and three touchdowns. The duo should have productive games against a Mississippi State defense that is allowing 243 passing yards and 159 rushing yards per game. A win for the Bulldogs puts them one step closer to bowl eligibility, while a loss for Arkansas effectively ends their chances of reaching a bowl game.
Prediction: Mississippi State 31 Arkansas 24
Ole Miss (3-5) vs No. 11 Auburn (6-2)
Saturday, Nov. 2 — Jordan-Hare Stadium — Auburn, Alabama
6 p.m. on ESPN
The Ole Miss offense will face a challenge this week against No. 11 Auburn’s physical defense. Mississippi freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee may miss the game as he recovers from a knee procedure. This issue could limit Mississippi’s offensive production as Plumlee is averaging over 5.9 yards per rush and has four rushing touchdowns this season. If he’s unavailable, Ole Miss will still have quarterback Matt Corral, senior transfer running back Scottie Phillips and sophomore wide receiver Elijah Woods. With the Rebels looking to pass more, Auburn cornerbacks Javaris Davis and Noah Igbinoghene will have to help the defensive line stop Mississippi’s passing attack. On the opposite side of the field, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix needs to step up after completing less than 45 percent of his passes for 135 yards against then-No.2 LSU. However, the odds are favorable for him as the Mississippi defense allows 284 passing yards and two passing touchdowns per game. Something that could help improve efficiency for the Tigers is the continued success of freshman running back D.J. Williams. Against LSU, Williams averaged 10 yards per carry, and he’ll have the opportunity to repeat that success against a Ole Miss defense that is currently allowing 125 rushing yards per game. The Auburn offense has a favorable matchup against the Rebels’ defense, but Ole Miss could make things interesting with its potent offense.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Ole Miss 17
Vanderbilt (2-5) vs South Carolina (3-5)
Saturday, Nov. 2 — Williams-Brice Stadium — Columbia, South Carolina
6:30 p.m. on SECN
The Vanderbilt Commodores are coming off a bye week after upsetting then-No. 22 Missouri last week. In that victory, Vanderbilt started freshman quarterback Mo Hasan, who may miss this week’s game after entering concussion protocol. This would require previous starter, graduate transfer Riley Neal, to lead the Commodores against a South Carolina defense that allowed 41 points to Tennessee last week. South Carolina looked nowhere near as competitive last week as it had been against Georgia and Florida. The defense allowed 41 points and over 400 yards of offense, and the Gamecocks’ offense struggled as freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski completed only 55 percent of his passes. Graduate transfer running back Tavon Feaster only ran for 4.2 yards per carry. Fortunately for South Carolina, Vanderbilt is allowing over 200 rushing yards per game and over 250 passing yards per game, which means Hilinski and Feaster each could have career-high days passing and rushing the ball. Both teams are in need of a win so they don’t lose the opportunity to play in a bowl game this postseason.
Prediction: South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 10
No. 8 Georgia (6-1) vs No. 6 Florida (7-1)
Saturday, Nov. 2 — TIAA Bank Field — Jacksonville, Florida
2:30 p.m. on CBS
The No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a bye week and are looking to have a two-dimensional approach on offense, led by junior running back D’Andre Swift and junior quarterback Jake Fromm. However, the No. 6 Florida Gators have the defense to make things difficult for Georgia’s offense. Florida’s secondary, led by cornerbacks CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson, and safeties Donovan Stiner and Jeawon Taylor, will be covering receivers George Pickens, Demetrius Robinson and Lawrence Cager. Offensively, Florida will have the challenge of competing against a stingy Georgia defense. The passing game is led by redshirt junior quarterback Kyle Trask, who is averaging 245 passing yards per game since entering in relief of injured junior quarterback Feleipe Franks against Kentucky. Florida’s rushing offense is led by senior running back Lamichal Perine and sophomore running back Dameon Price, who are averaging a combined 5.2 yards per carry. The Gators need better passing and rushing performances to win against the Georgia defense, which allows only 181 passing yards and 86 rushing yards per game.
Prediction: Florida 31, Georgia 24