Around the SEC

Sports writer Luke White previews the seventh week of SEC football.

Week 7 in the SEC features a clash of Top-15 ranked teams, must-win matchups and a contest between teams trying to revert to their winning ways.

SEC East foes Kentucky and Georgia look to stay perfect when they battle it out in Athens, Ga., while Louisiana State head coach Ed Orgeron is coaching for his job against No. 20 Florida. Auburn’s matchup with Arkansas features two of the best play-making quarterbacks in the country as both teams seek to return to the win column.

No. 11 Kentucky (6-0) @ No. 1 Georgia (6-0)

Saturday, Oct. 16 - Sanford Stadium - Athens, Ga.

With an unblemished record of 6-0, Kentucky has reached a level of national prominence it hasn’t seen since finishing 10-3 in 2018. Last week, the Wildcats handedly took down LSU 42-21 behind 147 rushing yards from junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. and 145 passing yards from junior quarterback Will Levis, a Penn State transfer. Rodriguez now ranks fifth in college football in rushing yards, with 768. Kentucky will face its biggest test of the season against No. 1 Georgia, which has established itself as the most dominant team in college football. The Bulldogs are carried by the top-ranked defense in the country, having allowed a mere 5.5 points and 201 yards by opponents per game. Offensively, they are led by senior quarterback Stetson Bennett, who is holding down the fort while junior quarterback JT Daniels, a USC transfer, returns from an injury. Last week, Georgia took down a respectable Auburn squad by a score of 34-10. Expect the Bulldogs’ dominance to continue in this matchup, as Georgia looks to extend its win streak over the Wildcats to 12 straight.

Prediction: Georgia 28, Kentucky 10

No. 20 Florida (4-2) @ LSU (3-3)

Saturday, Oct. 16 - Tiger Stadium - Baton Rouge, La.

LSU has been on a downward trajectory since winning the 2019 National Championship behind Heisman winner Joe Burrow, compiling an unimpressive 5-5 record in 2020. As evidenced by its current record of 3-3, not much has changed in the past year. As a result, Orgeron’s seat has never been hotter, and a loss against the Gators may mean the end of his tenure in Baton Rouge. The Tigers’ schedule doesn’t get any easier, with upcoming matchups against Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas. With this in mind, Saturday’s contest is a must-win game for LSU. Meanwhile, Florida has put together a respectable season, featuring just a two-point loss to then-No. 1 Alabama and a 20-13 loss to upstart Kentucky. The Gators’ offense is paced by redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones, who threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns against Vanderbilt last week. Jones also leads the team in rushing yards, while senior running back Dameon Pierce has compiled seven rushing touchdowns this season. Jones and Pierce anchor what has become the third-ranked rushing offense in college football. Come Saturday, this Florida offense will overpower the LSU defense, as both teams need a win to avoid what may be considered a disappointing season.

Prediction: Florida 35, LSU 10

Auburn (4-2) @ No. 17 Arkansas (4-2)

Saturday, Oct. 16 - Reynolds-Razorback Stadium - Fayetteville, Ark.

Having last achieved a winning record in 2016, head coach Sam Pittman has helped Arkansas become a competitor in the SEC with a 4-2 record and wins over Texas and Texas A&M. However, the Razorbacks have found themselves on a two-game skid after a stumble against Georgia and a 52-51 heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss. Arkansas has developed one of the strongest rushing attacks in the nation, led by redshirt senior running back Trelon Smith, with four touchdowns, and redshirt sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson, with five. Altogether, the Razorbacks average 245 rushing yards per game, good for ninth overall in the country. The Razorbacks look to get back on track against an Auburn team that also relies heavily on their rushing attack. The unit is led by sophomore running back Tank Bigsby, with five touchdowns, and freshman Jarquez Hunter, with 465 rushing yards. This duo must take pressure off junior quarterback Bo Nix, a third-year starter for the Tigers who has thrown for just one touchdown in his last four games. With both teams boasting potent offenses, this game will likely come down to whichever team’s defense comes up with the most stops.

Prediction: Arkansas 42, Auburn 28

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