Tennessee takes top-billing for a second consecutive week, this time versus yet another division rival in Georgia. The SEC East could become a lot clearer or a heckuva lot murkier depending on who walks out of Sanford Stadium with a victory in Week 5.
The slate also features our first look at LSU without Les Miles, as well as Arkansas’ first trip to Little Rock since the Toledo disaster.
We know it’s difficult to squeeze eight college football games into your weekend and budgeting your time to get the maximum value for your viewing pleasure can be difficult. That’s where we step in to act as your personal television guide. Think of us as your Tivo for watching Tebow.
Here’s a look at each Week 5 contest, using our unique rating scale of one-to-Verne. Verne being the best, naturally.
Bye week: Mississippi State (Week 6 vs. Auburn)
All games take place on Sept. 24; times are Eastern Standard Time
Alcorn State (1-2, 1-2 SWAC) at Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 SEC) *
Watchability rating: 1 little rock
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
Arkansas heads 180 miles southeast to Little Rock in Week 5 to play host to Alcorn State, to get their first-ever look at the Braves. This is the lone SEC game this week to feature an FCS squad. Alcorn State is the incumbent Southwestern Athletic Conference champs but have started 1-2 in the SWAC after the first three games. The contest between the Razorbacks and Braves is the only game the latter will play outside of their conference this year. We don’t expect it to be very close, nor a repeat of, say, Arkansas’ loss to Toledo from a year ago — which also happened in Little Rock.
Louisiana-Monroe (1-2, 0-1 Sun Belt) at Auburn (2-2, 1-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 TDs (maybe?)
Kickoff: 3:30 SEC Network
One step forward and another back in Auburn as tragedy fell upon Toomer’s Corner once again, this time after an emotional, roller coaster of a game against LSU — one that will forever go down in program history as the victory that got the legendary Les Miles fired. Expect less drama this week when the Tigers play host to another team from the Pelican State. Louisiana-Monroe should be the cure for an Auburn offense that’s found the end zone just twice in the last eight quarters (and not at all last week, despite the win). The Warhawks have their own offensive issues, being outscored 82-38 in the last two games.
No. 23 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 wins since 1982
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
Can Vanderbilt give Florida a scare once again after nearly thwarting the Gators SEC East-clinching party in 2015? The Week 10 contest wasn’t a very watchable one, in which Florida needed a late Austin Hardin field goal from 43 yards out to eke out a 9-7 win. This will likely be another low-scoring affair, pitting the SEC’s leading rusher in the Commodores’ Ralph Webb against the conference’s second-best run defense (76.5 YPG).
Kentucky (2-2, 1-1 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 big injuries
Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN
Get a good look at your team now, Kentucky fans. It’s likely the last time the Wildcats will get a primetime Saturday game on ESPN. Mark Stoops’ squad is young and dynamic but give up about as many yards (463.0 YPG) as No. 1 Alabama gains per game (483.5). The Crimson Tide are dealing with several injuries, including the ailing RB Damien Harris, WR ArDarius Stewart and LB Robert Foster. Kentucky might be able to take advantage, to some extent, but don’t hold your breath for the Wildcats’ first upset of a No. 1 team since beating top-ranked LSU in 2007. As far as watchability, a high-scoring game would come replete with plenty of entertainment value.
No. 9 Texas A&M (4-0, 2-0) at South Carolina (2-2, 1-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 times a charm
Kickoff: 4 p.m., SEC Network
Don’t expect too much scoring in the red zone when South Carolina plays host to No. 9 Texas A&M in Week 5. The Gamecocks and Aggies each rank No. 10 in the nation when it comes to red zone defense, yielding a stifling .661 percent to opposing offenses. Ole Miss, by comparison, sits at an SEC-worst .941 percentage (No. 109 nationally), stopping opponents just once inside the 20-yard line in 17 tries. If South Carolina can limit the Aggies’ big plays, then perhaps the Gamecocks can get their first-ever win over their permanent SEC West foe. If not, big plays — especially the likes produced by quarterback Trevor Knight and wide receivers Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds — are always fun to watch. Plus, we’re still waiting for South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp to infamously blow his stack this year.
Missouri (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at LSU (2-2, 1-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 months to hire a new coach
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
If you told us as the beginning of last year that this season’s contest between LSU and Missouri would feature neither Les Miles nor Gary Pinkel, we’d have looked at you as if you asked us to climb into the cage with Mike the Tiger. The Ed Orgeron era has finally arrived in LSU, after many years of speculation under the looming possibility that the Tigers’ brass would eventually pull the trigger and fire Miles. Even without Miles or Pinkel — who was replaced by Barry Odom at the end of the 2015 campaign — the contest between these two Tigers comes with plenty of intrigue. This is an old-fashion battle between the SEC’s top offense and one of its best defenses. Mizzou enters with a 569.5 YPG average and is coming off a 79-point showing against Delaware State. LSU, on the other hand, is limiting opponents to 341.3 YPG, third best in the conference. Someone has to budge in Baton Rouge, which should make for some great watching.
Memphis (3-0) at No. 16 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 4 big leads
Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN2
Expect Ole Miss to go up early in this one. Whether the Rebels can hold on and maintain the lead, however, has been the biggest question all year. Hugh Freeze’s squad has been up by at least 21 points in each of its first four games but has managed to hold on to win just half of them. Memphis brings an electric offense and an even stauncher defense into Oxford, meaning it won’t be so easy for Ole Miss to go up big on the Tigers. Expect a tight game that will be well-worth clearing some time in your schedule to watch.
No. 11 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 23 Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: Verne
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Tennessee can prove many preseason doubters wrong while simultaneously putting themselves in the SEC East driver’s seat with a win over Georgia in Week 5. The Bulldogs aren’t exactly brimming with confidence after getting the walls to the dawg house blown off in Week 4 by Ole Miss. The Volunteers, conversely, are riding the emotion that comes with ending their much-maligned 11-game losing streak to Florida. That said, you can’t discount anything when the two programs take the field between the hedges, especially if Georgia running back Nick Chubb can get healthy enough to avenge the season-ending injury suffered on his first carry against the Vols last year. Either way, the watchability of this game is off the charts with myriad postseason implications on the line.