The SEC is arguably home to three of the best games in the country this weekend with contests between ranked teams that should go a long way toward determining the SEC West race.
Get ready to plop down on the couch around 3:30 p.m. and forget about getting up until around midnight.
We know it’s difficult to squeeze a half-dozen 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 8 contest, using our unique rating scale of one-to-Verne. Verne being the best, naturally:
Bye week: Florida (Week 9 vs. Georgia), Georgia (Week 9 vs. Florida) and Tennessee (Week 9 at South Carolina)
All games take place on Oct. 22; times are Eastern
Tennessee State (5-1, 2-1 Ohio Valley Conference) at Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-3 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 in a row?
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
Vanderbilt will ride a wave of emotion into its Week 8 matchup with Tennessee State after upsetting Georgia a week earlier. Tune in to watch the incumbent Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week Zach Cunningham wreak havoc on the Tigers. The Commodores linebacker posted a career-high 19 tackles, including the clincher against the Bulldogs. This has the makings of another landmark game for Vanderbilt, which can win consecutive games for the first time since 2013.
Massachusetts (1-6, IND) at South Carolina (2-4, 1-4 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 or less touchdowns
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
Can South Carolina score at least 30 points for the first time this season? So far, the most Gamecocks have posted is 20 (versus East Carolina). Will a Gamecocks’ opponent hit the 30-point mark? Only Georgia (28 points) has come close. Tune in to see if the only team in the FBS to not score or give up 30 points in a game can accomplish the feat. This is the third SEC matchup for Massachusetts this year, having previously lost to Florida and Mississippi State — the latter reached the 30-point plateau (47-35).
Middle Tennessee State (4-2, 2-1 C-USA) at Missouri (2-4, 0-3 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 sophomore QBs
Kickoff: 4 p.m., SEC Network
Missouri has won its last two out-of-conference games against Eastern Michigan and Delaware State by a combined score of 140-21. But the Tigers’ Week 8 opponent, Middle Tennessee State, shouldn’t exactly be a pushover. The Blue Raiders have lost to the likes of Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky, but boast the nation’s sixth-ranked offense, which is churning out 541.2 YPG under sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill, son of Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill. The younger Stockstill threw for 399 and 434 yards against the Commodores and Hilltoppers, respectively. Missouri’s 10 interceptions ties it with Florida for tops in the SEC, but the Tigers have given up their share of yards via the air, yielding an average of 232.7 YPG. If Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock can regain his confidence, which saw him lead the SEC in passing the first six weeks of the season, then you can expect to tune into a high-scoring aerial assault when the Tigers and Blue Raiders square off.
Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2 SEC) at Kentucky (3-3, 2-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 wins for a bowl
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
At first glance, the matchup between permanent SEC foes Kentucky and Mississippi State doesn’t pack all that much of a punch. But the Wildcats and Bulldogs will both be facing must-win situations in Week 8 in their quest to reach the requisite six wins for postseason eligibility. That should make for a feisty battle between the two young programs that have seen their share of ups and downs so far in 2016.
No. 23 Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) at No. 25 LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 4 a chance to stay in the polls
Kickoff: 9 p.m., ESPN
Can Ed Orgeron keep the magic going for LSU? The interim head coach gets another test in Week 8 when LSU plays host to No. 23 Ole Miss under the lights of Tiger Stadium. The 2016 season hasn’t played out as projected in the preseason — what with the losses of Les Miles, Leonard Fournette and Mike the Tiger — but a win over the Rebels will help alleviate the sting of those losses. Lest we forget that this is an LSU squad that is a split-second short of being 5-1 (3-0 SEC), with its lone loss coming to No. 10 Wisconsin. Ole Miss needs this win badly or it runs the very real risk of no longer being the only AP Top 25 team in the country with a .500 record. Desperation should make for great watching.
No. 17 Arkansas (5-2, 1-2 SEC) at No. 21 Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 4 more overtimes
Kickoff: 6 p.m., ESPN
If Arkansas and Auburn give an encore performance of last year’s four-overtime thriller, then we’re all in for a treat. Auburn returned to the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since Week 2 of the 2015 season, while Arkansas is still glowing after knocking off No. 12 Ole Miss last week. A win for either team likely vaults the victor into a more favorable standing. Settle in for another close contest.
No. 6 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
Watchability rating: Verne
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., CBS
The SEC West could very well be settled in Week 8 when Alabama plays host to Texas A&M in a meeting of the conference’s remaining undefeated teams. This isn’t just the best game in the SEC, but arguably the entire nation this weekend. In fact, the only other games pitting ranked teams against one another in Week 8 are also both all-SEC contests. The Aggies likely represent the best chance to upend the Crimson Tide, who are coming off a 49-10 steamrolling of upstart (then) No. 9 Tennessee. The programs own the top two offenses in the SEC. Tune in to see if the Texas A&M defense, No. 12 in the conference, can suppress the Tide enough to pull off the upset.