Week 6 in the SEC saw Florida’s defense embarrass Auburn’s Bo Nix, Ole Miss rush for over 400 yards against Vanderbilt and Georgia overcome an early deficit to destroy Tennessee in Rocky Top. This week, several SEC rivals face off against each other with playoff implications, bragging rights and bowl eligibility on the line. Let’s look at what’s happening around the SEC this week.
No. 7 Florida (6-0) at No. 5 LSU (5-0)
Saturday, Oct. 12 — Tiger Stadium — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
7 p.m. on ESPN
The top matchup of the weekend sees Florida, fresh off a huge win over Auburn, traveling to Death Valley in hopes of pulling off another upset against LSU. This season, the Gators have put themselves in position to challenge Georgia for the SEC East, thanks to their great defense and solid play from quarterback Kyle Trask. Against the Tigers, the Florida defense smothered Auburn, forcing quarterback Bo Nix to make silly mistakes and creating four turnovers. On the season, Florida has the fifth best scoring defense in the nation and is tied for second in forcing turnovers. This year, the Gators face an LSU team with extra momentum, as its new lethal passing attack has made it one of the most dangerous teams in the country. With Joe Burrow under center this season, the Tigers have the second best passing offense in the nation, throwing for 431.8 yards per game, and they lead the nation in scoring with 57.8 points per game. If the Gators hope to win this game, they will need the rushing attack — led by Lamical Perine — to make another appearance and for Trask to limit mistakes, as his three fumbles against Auburn nearly cost them the game.
Prediction: LSU 31, Florida 17
South Carolina (2-3) at No. 3 Georgia (5-0)
Saturday, Oct. 12 — Stanford Station — Athens, Georgia
11 a.m. on ESPN
This early matchup sees South Carolina travel to Athens to try and pull a miracle upset against Georgia. The Gamecocks, have struggled in the early part of the season, losing a close opener against North Carolina before blowout losses to Alabama and Missouri. But in its last game — a win over Kentucky — South Carolina showed promise. Tailbacks Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle both rushed for over 100 yards, while the defense was able to force Kentucky into making mistakes. Georgia enters this matchup with a chance to build on its early-season success, including keeping pace with Florida in what has turned into a two-team SEC East race. For the Bulldogs, a strong rushing attack, along with the steady play of quarterback Jake Fromm, has created an offense with a dynamic attack. Combined with a defense that stifled Tennessee in the second half, Georgia is a legitimate threat for the National Championship. In this matchup, South Carolina will need to be aggressive on the ground and have quarterback Ryan Hilinski limit mistakes if the Gamecocks hope to upset Georgia.
Prediction: Georgia 31, South Carolina 14
Ole Miss (3-3) at Missouri (4-1)
Saturday, Oct. 12— Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium— Columbia, Missouri
6:00 p.m. on ESPN2
Ole Miss and Missouri promises a fun SEC matchup, as both teams possess high-powered offenses with traits that make them hard to defend. Missouri — led by transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant — has one of the most explosive offenses in the SEC, totaling 456.8 yards of offense while scoring 39 points per game. With Bryant under center and Larry Rountree III running for 5.3 yards per carry, the Missouri offense has created a balanced attack that has allowed the Tigers to overcome an opening day loss to Wyoming, winning their last four games by at least 20. Not to be outdone, Ole Miss possesses a powerful offense, totaling 438 yards per game despite only scoring 27.2 points per game. Most of the Rebels’ offense comes from their potent rushing attack, which averages 234.3 yards per game, including 413 rushing yards in their previous game against Vanderbilt. The key to the game will be which defense can slow down the other’s offense, which gives Missouri the advantage. This season, the Rebels’ defense has allowed 421.2 yards per game, while the Tigers defense is the third best in the country in total yards allowed, only giving up 231.3 yards per game. Look for Missouri’s defense to handle themselves against Ole Miss.
Prediction: Missouri 28, Ole Miss 17
Arkansas (2-3) at Kentucky (2-3)
Saturday Oct. 12 — Kroger Field — Lexington, Kentucky
6:30 p.m. on SEC Network
In this battle of two teams near the bottom of the SEC standings, Arkansas and Kentucky square off, both fighting to remain bowl eligible. For Arkansas, the Razorbacks come into this matchup after nearly upsetting No. 23 Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic. On offense, the Razorbacks will look to get tailback Rakeem Boyd going early. The transfer from Texas A&M has been a bright spot for their offense, rushing for over 100 yards in each of Arkansas’ two wins. With the Wildcats’ defensive struggles against the run, giving up 171.2 yards per game, look for Boyd to be a big factor for the Razorback offense. For the Wildcats, the key to the season will be to fix their quarterback situation, which has been in flux since Terry Wilson got injured against Eastern Michigan. With Troy transfer Sawyer Smith struggling, look to see Kentucky experiment throughout the game, including placing talented wideout Lynn Bowden in Wildcat formations.
Prediction: Kentucky 21, Arkansas 14