It might be a down week in college football, but there are several quality SEC matchups on the schedule this weekend.
Saturday features the biggest college football game of all time and four games between Power Five opponents. The SEC hopes to improve from a brutal opening weekend, when the conference went 6-6 against non-conference teams. The slate is much more manageable, as the SEC is featured in nine of the 10 games.
Here are the top five SEC games you should be watching this weekend:
Arkansas at No. 15 TCU
7 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas (ESPN)
The Razorbacks looked less than impressive in the opener against Louisiana Tech, but have an opportunity against a top-ranked TCU squad on its home field.
It took until the fourth quarter for the Horned Frogs to pull away from South Dakota State last weekend, so TCU could be vulnerable. The secondary was especially bad, giving up 333 yards and 11.1 yards per attempt to Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion.
For that reason, Arkansas QB Austin Allen has to have a strong game. The Razorback secondary also has its work cut out against former Aggie QB Kenny Hill, who compiled 484 total yards and five touchdowns in his TCU debut. There will be points.
No. 17 Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech
8 p.m. Saturday in Bristol, Tenn. (ABC)
The Tennessee bandwagon is a little lighter this week after a weak performance against Appalachian State in the opener. However, the Volunteers have another opportunity in front of a national audience on Saturday.
Tennessee and Virginia Tech will travel to Bristol Motor Speedway to play in the Battle at Bristol, expected to be the biggest football game ever. Over 150,000 fans are expected to fill BMS, which would demolish the existing attendance record of 115,109 set by Michigan.
New Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente is one of the hottest commodities in college football and a Bud Foster-led defense is always a tough matchup. However, the Volunteers should be able to get things back on track.
Florida vs. Kentucky
3:30 p.m. Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. (CBS)
Florida has a 29-game winning streak over the Wildcats – and they know it. The mark is the longest active streak over any opponent and tied with two others for fifth longest streak of its kind ever.
Kentucky managed to keep the game within 14-9 last season, despite facing the Gators when Will Grier was still in the lineup. Through the first half last week, UK’s Drew Barker was the most impressive quarterback of the weekend. However, Kentucky choked away what feels like its hundredth close game of the Mark Stoops era.
Florida was less than impressive in a 24-7 win over lowly UMass, but QB Luke Del Rio showed he can be a solid option in Jim McElwain’s offense. Can the Gators keep the streak alive in The Swamp?
Mississippi State vs. South Carolina
7 p.m. Saturday in Starkville, Miss. (ESPN2)
The other conference game this weekend pits a team in desperate need of a win against one playing with nothing to lose.
Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State team is coming off a brutal loss to South Alabama at home after kicker Westin Graves clanga’d a field goal off the uprights. South Carolina upset Vanderbilt in Will Muschamp’s first game with the team and has renewed hopes of making a bowl game.
South Carolina is still playing with a depleted roster, so Mississippi State should be able to beat the Gamecocks with pure talent. Then again, the Bulldogs should have also been able to beat South Alabama – anything is on the table.
Auburn vs. Arkansas State
7:30 p.m. Saturday in Auburn, Ala. (SEC Network)
Playing a Sun Belt team seems like a good way to recover after a brutal game against No. 2 Clemson. However, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn knows Arkansas State isn’t an ideal team to rebound against.
Malzahn coached the Red Wolves for a season in 2012 before accepting the Auburn job. Arkansas State has won the Sun Belt four of the past five years over – who else – Appalachian State and South Alabama.
Auburn will have to get its offense on track quickly or risk falling early to the defending Sun Belt champs. The Red Wolves are coming off a tough loss to Toledo, so they will be motivated in their lone game against a Power Five team on Saturday.