Last Week’s Record: 6-1 (85.7%)
Season Record: 55-16 (77.5%)
Heading into Week 9, there’s one blockbuster and a handful of blockhead games. Auburn faces LSU in the hands-down premier match of the week, while the next-most interesting game is … Alabama-Arkansas? And that, only because of the drama surrounding the Crimson Tide’s quarterback depth chart.
MISSOURI at KENTUCKY
Here’s what boredom looks like. If the weather for this game isn’t absolutely perfect, it will be attended with the same relative density as a meeting for people volunteering to hit their thumbs with hammers over and over. Missouri somehow lost to Vanderbilt last week, meaning that its NCAA postseason appeal would mean a great deal less now, if successful. Kentucky, on the other hand, is dealing with the kind of injuries at the quarterback position that tend to make teams fold up.
The Wildcats didn’t score against Georgia, and unless Sawyer Smith is healthy again (not to mention greatly improved over what he looked like when he was), the Wildcats are probably not even as good as the Vanderbilt team that knocked off Missouri last week. It’s unclear how Missouri will respond to the Vandy loss. Vanderbilt’s struggles have rendered the Commodores the kind of Vandy team that people laughed at throughout the 90s and 00s. Missouri losing that game was unacceptable.
SOUTH CAROLINA at TENNESSEE
The Gamecocks look like the better team at this point, and Tennessee is coming off a loss to Alabama, which tends to have ill effects that extend a week or two after the actual loss. But South Carolina is just one of those nobody-knows kind of teams. Injuries at quarterback, running back, defensive line, receiver and offensive line have led to a walking wounded report lengthy enough to make Hemingway proud.
Tennessee will probably itself be using a second- or third-string quarterback in this game after Brian Maurer was knocked out of the Alabama game with his second concussion in as many weeks. Let’s put it this way – it should knock Maurer out of this game, because there’s no point in risking his long-term health for what is now truly a meaningless season in Knoxville. But Jeremy Pruitt’s job is hanging in the balance, and a loss here all but ends Tennessee’s hopes to make the postseason.
South Carolina 28
AUBURN at LOUISIANA STATE
Auburn is still hanging around the top ten, which itself is an indictment of the rest of college football. Despite putting up 51 against Arkansas last week, Auburn’s offense is lacking dimensions against better teams. What will be interesting, though, will be watching whether the Tigers’ fine defensive front can mount a challenge against LSU’s offensive line, as failing to do so will not bode well for Alabama’s chances in two weeks. LSU has defensive question marks of its own, and Bayou Bengal fans need to see improvement on that side of the ball or else even a Tua-less Alabama team would have a chance. Expect a good game, for about a half, and then Auburn’s inability to keep up the scoring pace will probably doom its prospects.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at TEXAS A&M
The consecutive-loss count now stands at three, and Mississippi State hasn’t been particularly competitive against the two good teams it has faced (Auburn, LSU). Worse, there’s a loss to Tennessee in there that just can’t be explained. Joe Moorhead’s name suddenly surfaced as a candidate for other, northeastern jobs this week, which leads us to give you readers a little tip: When a coach is simultaneously on the hot seat and being mentioned as a hot candidate somewhere else, his agent probably had something to do with the word getting out. In other words, get ready for another coaching search, Bulldog fans. Meanwhile, here comes Texas A&M and the potential to deliver offensive output on a level Mississippi State can’t match.
Texas A&M 30
Mississippi St. 16
IDLE: Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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