Six games dot the SEC slate once again in Week 7, but still provide plenty of intrigue with two classic rivalries. The week also brings two out-of-conference foes that won’t be typical pushovers.
We know it’s difficult to squeeze half a 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 7 contest, using our unique rating scale of one-to-Verne. Verne being the best, naturally.
Bye week: Auburn (Week 8 vs. Arkansas); Kentucky (Week 8 vs. Mississippi State); South Carolina (Week 8 vs. Massachusetts); and Texas A&M (Week 8 at Alabama)
All games Saturday (unless noted) and are Eastern standard time
Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3 SEC) at Georgia (4-2, 2-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 2 struggling offenses
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
This game has all the makings of a low-scoring, defensive struggle. Vanderbilt owns the SEC’s worst offense (299.0 YPG). Georgia is coming off a 5 of 17 for 29 yards-performance by freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. The Bulldogs earn 100 more yards per game than the Commodores (399.8 YPG) and should keep Vandy winless, provided they can prevent Ralph Webb from finding the end zone — as was the case the last two weeks for the star running back. Tune in to this one to see if Eason and the Bulldogs rebound or succumb to a decent Vanderbilt defense.
Mississippi State (2-3, 1-2 SEC) at BYU (3-3)
Watchability rating: 2 time zones away
Kickoff: 10:15 p.m. Friday, ESPN
Mississippi State has a creative schedule this year. Three weeks after traveling to the Northeast for the first time since 1986 to face Massachusetts, the Bulldogs will cross the Mississippi River for the first time since 2002 when they load their wagons and head west to Provo, Utah, to face Brigham Young. The last time Mississippi State lined up against the Cougars was in 2001 in a game that was rescheduled for December because of the tragic events of Sept. 11. This year’s contest should be played under much cheerier circumstances, but could be just as closely contested as the 2001 matchup in which No. 10 BYU eked by, 41-38, courtesy of a late field goal. Be prepared to make a pot of coffee and stay up late, however, if you want to see if the Bulldogs can pull to .500 on the year. Kickoff is slated for 10:15 p.m. (EST) and will almost certainly extend into Saturday.
Southern Mississippi (4-2, 2-1) at LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 tiger roars
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
It’s been an emotional week — if not year — for LSU, who will play host to Southern Mississippi in Week 7, days after the passing of beloved mascot Mike the Tiger. But eulogizing Mike VI with a win over the Golden Eagles isn’t a guarantee. Southern Mississippi boasts the nation’s No. 7 offense (532.2 YPG) and No. 16 overall defense (315.8 YPG). LSU received a week off after Hurricane Matthew postponed indefinitely its tilt with Florida. The extra time doesn’t appear to have benefited injured running back Leonard Fournette, who sat out practice again on Monday. LSU will need to lean on backups Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, who each posted 100-yard efforts in Week 5 against Missouri — especially considering that Southern Mississippi is tough against the pass. Just ask Kentucky, whom the Golden Eagles shut out in the second half of its season opener to erase a 35-point Wildcats lead and earn the stunning win. Tune in as a similar fate could severely impact interim head coach Ed Orgeron’s chances of landing the Tigers’ role full-time.
Missouri (2-3, 0-2 SEC) at No. 18 Florida (4-1, 2-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: 3 bye weeks?
Kickoff: 4 p.m., SEC Network
Florida returns to action after an unexpected bye week brought on by the cancellation of the Gators’ Week 6 game with LSU because of Hurricane Matthew’s destructive wrath. The Gators will reopen their doors to a Missouri team coming off a scheduled bye and still licking its wounds from its Week 5 blowout by none other than the same LSU squad that Florida dodged last week. Mizzou would love nothing more than to play spoiler to whatever chances the Gators have in winning the SEC East and have the weaponry to do so — that is, if they play like they did against Georgia (28-27 loss) rather than they did to LSU (42-7 loss). The biggest intrigue in this contest is the conference’s No. 1 defense in Florida (229.8 YPG) squaring up against Tigers, owners of the No. 2 offense (508.6 YPG).
No. 12 Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 SEC) at No. 22 Arkansas (4-2, 0-2 SEC)
Watchability rating: 4 postseason implications
Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN
You get the feeling that if Ole Miss truly wants to take the next step, defeating Alabama isn’t the biggest hurdle. Beating Arkansas might be more pertinent toward empowering the Rebels’ psyche. The Razorbacks have won the last two over Ole Miss, including a demoralizing overtime loss in 2015 that served up a crippling third defeat to Hugh Freeze’s squad. The Rebels have played arguably the toughest schedule in the nation and climbing The Hill in Fayetteville is no easy chore in itself. Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks always come prepared to compete, despite what their 0-2 record in the SEC might suggest. In fact, both teams are much better than their records indicate, which should make for a highly entertaining game that could have tremendous ramifications on both their postseasons.
No. 1 Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at No. 9 Tennessee (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
Watchability rating: Verne
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Love it or loathe it, No. 9 Tennessee earns the “Verne” for the fourth straight week, shining a light on just how tough a stretch of games the Volunteers have played over the course of the last month. After disposing of No. 19 Florida and No. 25 Georgia before getting eked out by No. 8 Texas A&M, Butch Jones’ squad will line up across from No. 1 Alabama in Week 7. A win over the Crimson Tide will surely send the metaphorical guy shoveling coal into the engine of the Vols’ hype train into cardiac arrest. Alabama has looked unbeatable this year — even if the Tide’s early -season slate has been riddled with the likes of Western Kentucky, Kent State and Kentucky, as well as an uninspiring Southern California squad. There’s a very real chance this could be a preview to the SEC Championship game and it’s well worth the watch.