Week 6 in the SEC brings us just six games. But each one comes with plenty of intrigue as we witness our first Saturday that pits only conference teams against one another.
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 6 contest, using our unique rating scale of one-to-Verne. Verne being the best, naturally.
Bye week: Missouri (Week 7 at Florida); Ole Miss (Week 7 at Arkansas)
All games take place on Oct. 8; times are Eastern Standard Time
Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2 SEC) at Kentucky (2-3, 1-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 desperate teams
Kickoff: 4 p.m., SEC Network
On the surface, a game between two programs with a 2-3 record and a combined 1-4 mark in the SEC isn’t all that intriguing. But Kentucky and Vanderbilt are scrapping for every win they can get this season to end each program’s recent bowl futility. The Wildcats and Vanderbilt are 42-42-4 all-time against one another and 5-5 in their last 10 games. Something has to give and the benefactors of a close game could be football fans.
Georgia (3-2, 1-2 SEC) at South Carolina (2-3, 1-3 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3, stay safe everyone
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
More important stakes could be on the line in South Carolina this weekend as Hurricane Matthew barrels its way up the coastline. As of Tuesday, the contest between the Gamecocks and Georgia Bulldogs was still on, but as the Palmetto State knows all too well, you never discount Mother Nature.
If Columbia is spared the hurricane’s wrath, Georgia will look to snap its two-game losing streak after having its hearts ripped out last week by Tennessee, courtesy of a 47-yard touchdown heave as time expired. South Carolina has owned the Bulldogs at home, last losing to Kirby Smart’s program at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2008. Georgia has now played tight SEC East games against Missouri and the Vols, and there’s nothing to say that this week’s tilt won’t come down to the wire as well against a motivated, and potentially emotional, Gamecocks squad.
Auburn (3-2, 1-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (2-2, 1-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 weeks later
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
The last time Auburn and Mississippi State met in Starkville, the Tigers outranked the Bulldogs in the AP Top 25 with a No. 2 to No. 3 ranking, respectively. When the dust settled, Dak Prescott and Mississippi State sat atop the polls for the first time in program history. Prescott has since moved on to the Dallas Cowboys and both programs have settled back into the middle of the SEC West. The Week 6 matchup will help jockey both teams for position in the highly competitive division and go a long way toward reaching the six-win postseason prerequisite. Mississippi State is stingy against the run (110.6 YPG) while Auburn leads the SEC in team rushing (269.8 YPG). The Bulldogs return home for the first time in almost a month after trips to Baton Rouge and Massachusetts, as well as a bye week. Expect the Mississippi State fans to be more than ready to rattle the dust off their cowbells.
No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at No. 16 Arkansas (4-1, 0-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: Verne
Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN
Alabama might be 5-0 and atop the AP Top 25 at No. 1, but the Crimson Tide haven’t had a marquee game since Week 3 against Ole Miss. That changes Saturday when Nick Saban’s program rolls into Fayetteville to face an upset-minded Arkansas team that’s firing on all cylinders of late, even despite the Razorbacks’ Week 4 loss to Texas A&M. Coach Bret Bielema and the Hogs played Alabama tight last year, taking a 7-3 lead into halftime and most of the third quarter before eventually bowing to the Tide by a 27-14 margin — courtesy of 17 fourth-quarter points. A win over Alabama would give Bielema the cornerstone victory of the coach’s three-plus years on The Hill.
No. 9 Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at No. 8 Texas A&M (5-0, 3-0 SEC)
Watchability rating: Verne
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., CBS
It’s almost a shame that either Tennessee or Texas A&M will drop its first game of the year. Both programs are as exciting to watch as their unblemished 5-0 records suggest. If the Volunteers really are the team of destiny that they’ve been dubbed early on in the season, they’ll have to prove it once again in what could be the most hostile environment they’ll play in all year. Pick your individual matchup in this one — DE Derek Barnett versus QB Trevor Knight or DE Myles Garrett (if healthy) against QB Josh, to name a few — then sit back and enjoy. This is the first regular-season meeting between the two programs, with the first two coming in the 2005 Cotton Bowl and the 1957 Gator Bowl — both Tennessee wins. But this year’s matchup might be the biggest between both schools with plenty of postseason implications on the line.