Each week in the SEC offers trends and predictions from a variety of voices. Some are worth keeping. Others are destined for the dumpster.
Since we always look out for you at SEC Country, we’ve served up a few takes to help you cut through the noise. Here are things about each program you should feel comfortable about, as well as thoughts to avoid.
Bank on it: The Gators defense will feast on Arkansas’ faltering offense.
Beware of thinking this: This game will be Florida’s toughest remaining SEC road test.
Analysis: Once upon a time, the Gators’ trip to Fayetteville looked as scary as a sports bar showing only Lifetime and the Home Shopping Network during a fall Saturday afternoon. Not so much anymore. As much as Florida has risen with three consecutive victories, Arkansas has cratered with losses in two of its past three games, a stumble that included a 56-3 defeat to Auburn on Oct. 22. Florida’s defense is too good, and the Razorbacks’ offense is too suspect to pull the upset. The Gators’ trip to Baton Rouge on Nov. 19 will be much more of a gut check.
Bank on it: The Bulldogs will be a mere bump on Kentucky’s roll down Exhilaration Avenue.
Beware of thinking this: Nick Chubb will stop chasing his shadow soon.
Analysis: Whoa! Apparently, we’ve woken up in a world where gas is free, chocolate has no calories and Jared hands out free diamonds like they’re M&M’s on Oct. 31. Who would have guessed Kentucky would be in better shape than Georgia this late into the season? And who would have imagined the Wildcats are capable of handing the offensive-starved Bulldogs a third consecutive loss Saturday? Believe it. Chubb has disappointed this year, but his offensive line hasn’t helped. The Wildcats are flat-out better.
Bank on it: The typical Wildcats fan’s skin is red from all the pinching he or she has done.
Beware of thinking this: Kentucky has proven anything more than it can beat bad or mediocre SEC teams.
Analysis: No, that’s not a misprint. The Wildcats are in second place in the SEC East with a 4-2 record in conference play, a half game behind Florida. Kentucky has won three consecutive games and five of its last six. The Wildcats should take care of business against a sinking Georgia squad. Still, let’s hold off awarding Kentucky a gold star until it shows it can beat Tennessee on Nov. 12.
Bank on it: Unless Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin find another year of eligibility below their couch cushions, the Tigers won’t win another game this season.
Beware of thinking this: The honeymoon continues for Barry Odom.
Analysis: Missouri is miserable. Key injuries have rocked the roster, and the defense has collapsed faster than a 25-cent folding chair. The way the Tigers have played lately, it’s difficult to see them beating South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee or Arkansas to close the year. This isn’t what Odom had in mind for his first season.
Bank on it: The Gamecocks have stumbled upon a pot of gold with Jake Bentley.
Beware of thinking this: South Carolina hasn’t exceeded expectations this season.
Analysis: Bentley is a gamer for the Gamecocks. The true freshman has shown a steady hand in South Carolina’s victories the past two weeks. He has thrown for 368 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Not a bad way to begin a college career, right? With four victories and perhaps one or two more on the way, Will Muschamp’s first season in Columbia should be considered a success.
Bank on it: Butch Jones has stashed Knoxville’s full supply of Aspirin in his office.
Beware of thinking this: The Volunteers’ season is capable of being salvaged.
Analysis: Come on down, Jones! You’ve won the “honor” of experiencing the worst week in the SEC! Not only did Jones have to deal with the aftermath of a tire-fire loss to South Carolina last Saturday, he also had to explain Jalen Hurd’s transfer and Jonathan Kongbo’s bizarre tweet. Jones will need a week in Cabo to recover from this stretch alone. Vols players can coach themselves to a victory over Tennessee Tech on Saturday, right?
Bank on it: The Commodores’ positive vibes will go, “Poof!” against Auburn.
Beware of thinking this: Derek Mason won’t regret near misses against South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky.
Analysis: Vanderbilt, meet buzz saw. The fun was fantastic while it lasted, Commodores. Vanderbilt won two consecutive games to improve to 4-4 before its bye week. But life turns tough with white-hot Auburn staring them down Saturday. Mason has to look back at close losses against South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky with regret. Beyond Saturday, games against Missouri, Ole Miss and Tennessee to close might lead to only one win.
Bank on it: The Crimson Tide will play with Leonard Fournette’s kryptonite tucked in their cleats.
Beware of thinking this: Jalen Hurts won’t experience a few goosebumps at Tiger Stadium.
Analysis: Alabama’s defenders will slip on their best brick-wall attire before taking the field in Baton Rouge. After the Crimson Tide locked up Fournette for 31 yards on 19 carries last year, what makes anyone think the action Saturday will offer an alternate ending to this story? LSU’s best chance to win will come in trying to rattle Hurts, who will be tested in the SEC’s version of a snake pit. But Alabama should wear down the Tigers in time.
Bank on it: A bye week wasn’t enough to breathe life into the Razorbacks’ lost season.
Beware of thinking this: Austin Allen will escape Florida’s defense without throwing an interception.
Analysis: Rested up, Razorbacks? Likely not enough. Arkansas’ season resembles a balloon buzzing through a room after losing air. It doesn’t help that Florida, which boasts arguably the SEC’s most dominant defense, stands waiting with a baseball bat on the other side of the alley. Allen has thrown a combined five interceptions in his past three games. That total will increase this weekend.
Bank on it: Gus Malzahn should go on a public speaking tour to spill his secrets about reviving his career at Auburn.
Beware of thinking this: It’s too early to circle Nov. 26 on the calendar with a Kamryn Pettway-sized Sharpie.
Analysis: Malzahn the magician! What deal did he strike with a higher power? Did he discover the fountain of youth? He found Big Foot, didn’t he?! How about taming the Loch Ness Monster?! The Tigers’ revival has turned into one of the SEC’s biggest stories, and it’s amazing to think Auburn is in contention in the SEC West this late in the year. Can we skip past games against Vanderbilt, Georgia and Alabama A&M to the showdown against Alabama as soon as possible?
Bank on it: The Tigers will ride a wave of emotion early against Alabama, then fizzle out faster than a sparkler doused with water.
Beware of thinking this: Fournette will gain revenge for Alabama strapping his Heisman Trophy chances with dynamite last season.
Analysis: Yes, LSU should hang with Alabama for a bit. Yes, LSU will be pumped early. Yes, LSU has the athletes to make things interesting for a while. But superior skill and focus should win out in the end. Both those items are checked in Alabama’s column. Sorry, Fournette, the Crimson Tide are your white whale.
Bank on it: The Bulldogs will scramble to replace Texas A&M with Samford on the schedule for Saturday.
Beware of thinking this: Mississippi State’s offense is as good as it looked last week.
Analysis: Wow! The Bulldogs would be bound for the College Football Playoff if they played Samford each week. Sure, it was impressive that they totaled 56 points and a ridiculous 669 yards of offense last Saturday in a much-needed victory. But their Swiss cheese defense allowed 41 points and 627 yards. Newsflash: Texas A&M isn’t going to allow 56 points, but the Aggies might score that many themselves.
Bank on it: The Great Student Section Watch will be the most compelling action at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday.
Beware of thinking this: The Rebels aren’t the most disappointing SEC team this season.
Analysis: Throw Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze a bone. He wants students to stick around for all four quarters to watch his incredibly disappointing team, and he even allowed the youngsters to take in practice Tuesday. (We’re sure it was about as exciting as watching grass grow.) He should hope students come out at all for what should be a laugher against Georgia Southern.
Bank on it: The Aggies will think they’re playing New Mexico State for the second straight week.
Beware of thinking this: Texas A&M players aren’t thinking about their placement in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Analysis: Is there much of a difference between Mississippi State and New Mexico State these days? Texas A&M rocked New Mexico State by 42 points last Saturday, and the Aggies should barely break a sweat again when facing a Mississippi State team that’s as imposing as a girl scout peddling cookies. Keep dreaming about those postseason possibilities, Texas A&M.