Week 11 in the SEC will mark the first Saturday of the 2016 campaign in which we get all 14 SEC squads playing against each other without nonconference games or bye weeks.
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 11 contest, using our unique rating scale of one-to-Verne. Verne being the best, naturally.
All games take place on Nov. 12; times are Eastern Standard
Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at Missouri (2-7, 0-5 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 desperate coaches
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., SEC Network
Derek Mason and Vanderbilt see their first bowl game together within sight. But the only way the Commodores reach the postseason for the first time in three years under the head coach is with a win over Missouri — and a victory over either Ole Miss or Tennessee, neither of which will be easy, but not impossible. Vanderbilt loves to run the ball behind Ralph Webb (100.1 YPG) and will look to trample the Tigers, owner of the SEC’s penultimate run defense (232.7 YPG). The Commodores could present the perfect opportunity for Mizzou to break its 11-game SEC losing streak, five of them occurring under new head coach Barry Odom. The result is a game featuring two coaches who could really stand to pick up a win.
Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 upsets in a row?
Kickoff: Noon, ESPN
Can Mississippi State catch lightning in a bottle and derail another team’s College Football Playoff hopes in consecutive games, as the Bulldogs did against Texas A&M last week? If Alabama held LSU’s Leonard Fournette (141.0 YPG) to a paltry 35 yards on the ground, what makes Mississippi State’s leading rusher, QB Nick Fitzgerald, think he’ll fare much better? For a little perspective, the Aggies allow 131.4 more rushing yards-per-game than the Crimson Tide’s meager, FBS-leading, 66.0 YPG. In short, don’t expect another 182 yards on the ground out of Fitzgerald and don’t exactly hold your breath for another upset victory, especially on the road in Tuscaloosa (Also, don’t expect another noon EST kickoff for the Tide again this year.).
South Carolina (5-4, 3-4 SEC) at Florida (6-2, 4-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 Muschamp death stares
Kickoff: Noon, CBS
Tune in to the game between Florida and South Carolina, if only to witness Will Muschamp make his return to The Swamp as a head coach, nearly two years exactly to the day after the Gators fired him after a loss to … wait for it … the Gamecocks. Muschamp can delay his successor, Jim McElwain, an opportunity to clinch his second straight SEC East crown, if for only a week, with a win. The Gamecocks are riding their first three-game win streak since that same 2014 campaign and will be highly motivated under upstart freshman quarterback Jake Bentley. This game has the potential to be close and highly entertaining and could prove more entertaining than the SEC’s other two noon (EST) kickoffs featuring Mississippi versus Alabama and Kentucky verses Tennessee.
Kentucky (5-4, 4-3 SEC) at Tennessee (6-3, 2-3 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 bowl-less years
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
Kentucky is still alive in the SEC East race but needs some help. And even if the Wildcats can’t overtake Florida for their first-ever division title since the conference split in 1992, you better believe that Mark Stoops’ squad will be gunning hard for that sixth win to make it bowl eligible under the fourth-year head coach. Standing in the way is a reeling Tennessee program that desperately needs to get back on track (a 55-0 win over Tennessee Tech last week doesn’t count very much in the moral victory department). The Volunteers discovered a new weapon in running back John Kelly (104 yards, TD) against the Golden Eagles and expect the return of Alvin Kamara to compliment him out of the backfield. Both teams have plenty to fight for, which could make for a tense, high-scoring contest on Rocky Top.
No. 9 Auburn (7-2, 5-1 SEC) at Georgia (5-4, 3-4 SEC)
Watchability rating: 4 cats and dawgs
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., CBS
The latest installment of the Deep South’s oldest series arrives with a chance for Georgia, which owns a one-game advantage (56-55-8) in the 119-year-old rivalry, to end Auburn’s SEC West championship hopes before the Tigers’ season-ending Iron Bowl against Alabama. The Bulldogs are 1-3 against ranked opponents this season but have dominated the Tigers of late with eight wins in their last 10 contests. The only two Georgia losses came during Auburn’s BCS Championship years in 2010 and 2013. Could a win over the Bulldogs forecast the future? Not likely but expect two very motivated teams to take the field between the hedges in Week 11 — which only benefits us, the viewer.
Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at No. 8 Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 4 backup quarterbacks
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Well, this isn’t quite the matchup we thought we’d get as little as a week ago. Ole Miss’ Week 11 contest in College Station against Texas A&M will have a different feel without the Rebels’ Chad Kelly, nor the Aggies’ Trevor Knight — two of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. While both schools have witnessed their College Football Playoff hopes go belly up in recent weeks, the tilt at Kyle Field still features two very good teams that will be fighting to salvage their seasons with a win.
No. 24 LSU (5-3, 3-2 SEC) at No. 25 Arkansas (6-3, 2-3 SEC)
Watchability rating: Verne
Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN
Arkansas gets a ho-hum rap this year, but when you step back and look at the season from afar, the Razorbacks’ three losses have come to the AP Top 25’s best team in Alabama; No. 8 Auburn, winners of six straight; and No. 10 Texas A&M, which debuted in the top four of the year’s first College Football Playoff selection committee rankings. The trouble is how the Hogs lost those contests: badly and by an average of 31 points, to be exact. Bret Bielema’s squad has struggled to stop the run, which makes the arrival of Fournette (141.0 YPG) and LSU on the Hill in Week 11 somewhat troubling for a rush defense that’s yielding 198.4 yards to opponents this year. That’s the good news for the Tigers. The bad news? Arkansas has won two in a row in the Battle for the Golden Boot. A third straight win could finally push the Razorbacks into some deserved recognition. While a loss could derail interim LSU head coach Ed Orgeron’s chances of coming back full time next year. Either way, myriad storylines make this the best SEC matchup to tune in this weekend.