Each week in the SEC offers trends and predictions from a variety of voices. Some are worth keeping, and 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 words “duck” and “truck” won’t be placed in the same sentence by a Gators player again this season.
Beware of thinking this: Florida is good enough to dream about a national title after losing at Tennessee.
Analysis: Think Gators cornerback Quincy Wilson regrets his fowl language? Talk is terrific, but only if you can back it up. Florida did an A-plus job of gabbing before the Tennessee game, but the Gators’ second-half collapse was a massive duck-and-cover job. The postgame talk from Florida about a national championship was a bad look. The Gators shouldn’t have trouble with Vanderbilt on Saturday, but they must worry about winning week to week at this point.
Bank on it: The Bulldogs will continue to be exposed against Tennessee.
Beware of thinking this: Georgia was as strong as its 3-0 start suggested.
Analysis: The Bulldogs’ 3-0 start always felt like fool’s gold. There were close calls against Nicholls and Missouri before Georgia was torched against Ole Miss last Saturday. Kirby Smart’s bunch is closer to the group that was overwhelmed in Oxford, Miss., than the team that scratched out victories in the season’s opening weeks. The Volunteers should have their way between the hedges.
Bank on it: Someone will need a pooper scooper to scrape Kentucky from the turf after Alabama is finished with the Wildcats.
Beware of thinking this: Any momentum the Wildcats gained from beating South Carolina will continue.
Analysis: This will turn ugly. Alabama will receive its final tune-up before a big matchup against Arkansas on Oct. 8. Kentucky doesn’t have the talent to stay competitive against the Crimson Tide. The Wildcats did well to edge South Carolina last Saturday, but any thoughts of hanging with the SEC’s biggest dog are a waste of time.
Bank on it: The Tigers can stroll into Baton Rouge and beat LSU, but they’ll need Drew Lock to be flawless.
Beware of thinking this: If Leonard Fournette plays, then Missouri will slow him down.
Analysis: A month ago, the thought of Missouri winning at Tiger Stadium seemed crazy. Not so much anymore. LSU is coming off a wild-and-emotional week after Les Miles’ firing, so who knows where players’ hearts and heads will be come Saturday? Missouri has a shot if Lock becomes electric in the pocket. But Fournette will get his yards against a vulnerable run defense if he plays, despite concerns about his left ankle.
Bank on it: The Gamecocks will become the next program to receive tread marks from Texas A&M.
Beware of thinking this: South Carolina can do anything other than operate on the perimeter to win.
Analysis: That speed bump coming the Aggies’ way? That’s the Gamecocks, who should put up little fight against the SEC’s best team not named Alabama. South Carolina’s bowl hopes took a hit with a loss to Kentucky last Saturday. For the Gamecocks to keep this close, they must use a perimeter passing game to neutralize Texas A&M’s strong defensive line.
Bank on it: Volunteers fans can book tickets to Atlanta after Tennessee’s win Saturday.
Beware of thinking this: Tennessee is the second-best team in the SEC.
Analysis: Enjoy the party, Vols fans. Tennessee will all but clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a win over Georgia. Still, pump the brakes on thinking the Vols are any better than the SEC’s third- or fourth-best team. The real power in the conference is found in the SEC West, where Alabama, Texas A&M and perhaps Arkansas can claim to being better than Tennessee.
Bank on it: The Commodores will face an angry Florida team.
Beware of thinking this: Vanderbilt can climb from a 21-point hole against the Gators the same way Tennessee did.
Analysis: The worst thing that could have happened to Vanderbilt was Florida losing in Knoxville. The Commodores would have had a slim chance against an unbeaten Gators team, but facing a one-loss Florida squad that was embarrassed in the second half against Tennessee means Vanderbilt should face an angry, focused opponent. Don’t expect the Commodores to erase a three-touchdown deficit like the Vols.
Bank on it: We’ve neared the end of the boring part of Alabama’s schedule.
Beware of thinking this: The Crimson Tide will look as good as they must to beat Arkansas on Oct. 8.
Analysis: The “preseason” portion of Alabama’s schedule ends this week. The Crimson Tide can crush Kentucky while blindfolded, but things turn serious against the Razorbacks soon. Don’t expect Alabama to click on all cylinders against the not-so-wild kitties, but the Crimson Tide will do enough to enjoy a comfortable victory.
Bank on it: Alcorn State will be a nice balm after the Razorbacks were burned against Texas A&M.
Beware of thinking this: Arkansas can afford to be down after the loss to the Aggies for too long.
Analysis: The Hogs will receive a breather after a bruising affair with Texas A&M last Saturday. Alcorn State will be a pushover, but Arkansas must use this game as a chance to become rejuvenated before a colossal matchup against Alabama. There’s no time for wallowing in the wicked world atop the SEC West.
Bank on it: Gus Malzahn is thanking his lucky stars that there’s instant replay in college football.
Beware of thinking this: The Tigers can continue to survive on field goals.
Analysis: It’s fascinating to consider an alternate universe where LSU’s last-second touchdown against Auburn stood last Saturday. Miles would still have a job, and Malzahn’s seat would be hotter than a cracked egg on sand in the Sahara Desert. But Malzahn should enjoy a second consecutive victory Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. His offense must start producing touchdowns after totaling six field goals against LSU.
Bank on it: Saturday will be emotional in Baton Rouge.
Beware of thinking this: The Tigers are good enough to beat Missouri by rolling out their helmets and going through the motions.
Analysis: There’s no harder team to read in the SEC this week. Miles’ absence will hang in the air Saturday at Tiger Stadium, and it remains to be seen how LSU players will respond to the whirlwind week. Missouri is average at best, but LSU can’t afford to appear distracted. LSU must be on its game to avoid another loss.
Bank on it: The Bulldogs will use the bye week to figure out how they almost experienced total disaster against Massachusetts.
Beware of thinking this: We’re close to figuring out Mississippi State’s personality this season.
Analysis: How in the heck did Mississippi State allow 35 points to UMass last Saturday? You would have thought Tom Brady was leading the Minutemen’s offense at Gillette Stadium with the way the unit racked up 411 yards against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State survived, which is the most important thing. But we still don’t have the slightest idea what this team is about.
Bank on it: The Rebels won’t keep Memphis under 28 points.
Beware of thinking this: Ole Miss can’t keep up in a shootout.
Analysis: Beware, Rebels. A potential offensive buzz saw awaits. The Tigers’ offense has punished opponents this season, tagging Southeast Missouri State, Kansas and Bowling Green with a combined 155 points. Then again, those are junk opponents, and Ole Miss’ defense should be a much more formidable obstacle. Still, expect Memphis to keep the offensive machine humming. But Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly should do enough to put Ole Miss on top by the end.
Bank on it: The Aggies are the real deal.
Beware of thinking this: Texas A&M isn’t already thinking about a possible special October.
Analysis: You’re awesome, Aggies. After beating Arkansas last Saturday, Texas A&M should be considered the chief challenger to Alabama’s SEC throne. The Aggies should thump South Carolina, but they can be excused for looking ahead to dates against Tennessee on Oct. 8 and Alabama on Oct. 22. The hunt for an SEC West title is on.