SEC

College Football Week 9: SEC Preview

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We’ve been a bit spoiled by top ten SEC matchups so far this season. In fact, there have been quality games across the board throughout the first half of the season. We’ve seen some nail biters, we’ve seen some upsets, and we’ve seen some shootouts.

A weekend like this should make you appreciate that even more.

With two of the SEC’s three highest ranked teams on byes and no games between top 25 squads, it’s a bit of a barren weekend in the conference. We are left with a few games between middle of the road teams that lack some of the intrigue of an Auburn-LSU game, but they are significant for other reasons.

There are going to be good games out there and I’m here to try to help you find the diamond in the rough.

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Matchup of the Week – Georgia vs. Florida – Saturday 3:30 PM, CBS

This was a can’t miss game nationally as recently as two years ago, but now it’s relegated to an SEC East contender/pretender affair between a team that started off terribly but has gotten hot (UGA) and a pre-season top 10 squad that has sputtered of late.

As tradition dictates, this one is being played in Jacksonville, Florida. Even though they’ve stripped it of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” title for PC reasons, it’s still all about the tailgating. Once they hit the field, the thing I will be watching most closely is the Florida offense. Did the bye week do them any good on the heel of their three game losing streak? We’ll see.

Georgia’s defense has actually been pretty good most of the year, allowing barely 300 yards of total offense. Last week against UK, they gave up 31 points and well over 400 yards, but they forced so many first half turnovers that it made no difference.

This should be quite the interesting matchup. I actually expect Florida to put it together and offense and for this to turn into a bit of a shootout.

Can’t Miss Game – Kentucky @ #23 Mississippi State – Saturday 7 PM, ESPNU

Games to Keep an Eye on

Tennessee @ #17 South Carolina – Saturday 12:21 PM, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

While many will be looking to the UF-UGA game for a contender in the SEC East, South Carolina has the fate of the division in its own hands, which Steve Spurrier has to enjoy. He should enjoy even more that Tennessee is in town for their next game.

Tennessee has made a habit of putting together a decent half of football in the first against good teams before getting absolutely crushed in the second. South Carolina, though, has made a habit of putting together a decent first half of the season the past three years before getting absolutely crushed in the second. Over the last three seasons, they are 4-11 in their final five games. Not so good.

This is the start of the home stretch for the Gamecocks, but I don’t expect them to falter here, especially with Marcus Lattimore saying he is close to full capacity and will play Saturday.

#3 Auburn @ Ole Miss – Saturday 6 PM, ESPN2

The new #1 team according to the BCS will head to play the Rebels on the road. They enjoyed two huge home wins the last two weeks. Have they grown a little to accustomed to the home cooking?

Auburn has three games on the schedule that they will be projected to win by double digits before playing Alabama in their finale, which could be the biggest game this regular season. Gene Chizik will be concerned about keeping his team focused in the mean time, because that becomes quite a bit less important if they are upset.

It’s hard to see an inferior team taking them down with Cam Newton taking the snaps.

Ole Miss looked a bit better on offense against Arkansas and Auburn isn’t exactly a stalwart on defense, so it’s a safe bet to say that Jeremiah Masoli and company to move the ball. The problem is that Newton will do a bit more.

Vanderbilt @ #19 Arkansas – Saturday 7 PM, ESPN3.com

Arkansas is planning on playing Ryan Mallett and WR Greg Childs against a Vandy team that might be overmatched if I was playing QB for Arkansas. The Razorbacks will look to build a lead and get some rest for their injured stars. They will also look to run the ball with Knile Davis with injuries in their passing game, especially since Vandy is giving up over 180 yards per game on the ground.