SEC Preview and Predictions: Week 9

SEC Logo. Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

By Jess Nicholas
.com Editor-In-Chief
Oct. 25, 2018

Last week’s record: 6-0 (100.0%)
Season record: 59-13 (81.9%)

After a solid performance in Week 8, the Predictions Dept. looks at the slimmest slate of games of the year, the five-game Week 9. is off this week, as is LSU, in preparation for their showdown next Saturday in Baton Rouge. This week’s premier game is clearly Florida-Georgia, but the -Kentucky game could have big implications for the SEC East race.

FLORIDA vs. GEORGIA (at Jacksonville, Fla.)
suddenly finds itself the centerpiece of some actual drama, as rumors of unhappy players and program infighting have arisen this past week. Whether that’s enough to tip the scales Florida’s way is another matter, as the are an incomplete team still searching for an offensive identity. Georgia’s last appearance was a shocking loss two weeks ago to LSU, which is probably as responsible for anything for the flood of rumors and backroom whispers about the Georgia program. That hasn’t stopped Florida from becoming this week’s glamour pick to pull an upset. While the Gators are certainly outperforming expectations, this is a Gator team that struggles against the run and Georgia runs the ball very well. Despite Jake Fromm’s struggles against LSU, Georgia also still ranks 7th in passing efficiency. It’s not impossible to see Florida pulling the upset here, but it’s still pretty darned unlikely.
Florida 17

If Florida does manage to upset Georgia, suddenly the door would be open for Kentucky to take the lead in the SEC East. Kentucky would still need to beat head-to-head (or hope for the Bulldogs to lose a third time, as well as Florida to lose a second time), but that’s a feat not as unlikely as it might have looked two weeks ago. Kentucky controls the tiebreaker with the Gators. In their way is a team that has yet to win a conference game, but is 4-0 in out-of-conference work including a win over the same Purdue program that creamed Ohio State. With the game being played in Columbia, if Florida over Georgia isn’t the upset bettors’ pick for this week, Missouri over Kentucky certainly is. We still like the Wildcats in this one for its defense, but Kentucky must take care to stay in front, as it is not built to be a comeback team.
Kentucky 27

Go back two weeks and suddenly the Volunteers would have been emerging favorites to win this game. Now, however, all the goodwill built up by the win over Auburn has dissipated thanks to Tua Tagovailoa and the machine, plus the Volunteers are now facing the loss of their starting quarterback to go along with the permanent loss of one of their more dynamic rush ends. On top of that, the Alabama loss was devastating, both in what it meant, and in its scope. South Carolina, meanwhile, has some pressure on its back. The Gamecocks need three wins to get -eligible and their schedule is pretty cut and dry: there’s Tennessee, Ole Miss and Chattanooga on the potential W side, Clemson and Florida on the L side. Meaning, if USC doesn’t take care of business here, it’s probably game over.
South Carolina 23
Tennessee 17

This is a matchup of two teams that have developed into tough outs, but neither is winning games at the moment. looks completely different from the bumbling bunch that got blown out by North Texas, while gave Florida and Kentucky tough games but couldn’t put it together in either one. Around about the time North Texas embarrassed Arkansas, we caught ourselves saying the Tulsa game would be Arkansas’ last win; now, we’re not so sure. A performance similar to what Arkansas showed in close losses to Texas and Ole Miss will probably be good enough to win this game.

Mississippi is currently the SEC team hardest to figure out. The offense is being run completely through QB Nick Fitzgerald – both figuratively and literally. Eventually, that’s either going to work, or it’s going to get Fitzgerald killed. The problem is the Bulldogs have scored in single digits 3 of their last 4 games, and the only offensive performances has had this year that qualified above “decent” came against Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana. Texas has some balance to its attack and has also gotten more adept at defending the middle run, which is Fitzgerald’s bread and butter. While the SEC West-specific focus regarding disappointing teams has largely been aimed at Auburn, it might actually be Mississippi State that has put up the worst results relative to predicted performance.
Texas 24
Mississippi St. 10

IDLE: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss

Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN

Comment now using your Facebook login!


Powered by Facebook Comments