Covid-19 is finally making a direct impact on the 2020 season; Alabama head coach Nick Saban will miss the Crimson Tide’s game against Georgia after a positive test for the illness, while Florida-LSU and Vanderbilt-Missouri are both postponed.
Last Week’s Record: 5-2 (71.4%)
Season Record: 16-5 (76.2%)
KENTUCKY at TENNESSEE
The Volunteers tried to give Georgia a good game last week, and it worked for about a half of football. In the second half, however, Georgia stopped making mistakes and Tennessee went right back to what has come to be known as typical Tennessee football for most of the last two decades. The pressure doesn’t exactly stop this week. Kentucky found its defense in a 24-2 stomping of Mississippi State, and Tennessee struggles the most when its offense is under pressure to keep its own defense from having to shoulder too much of the load.
The real question now is whether Kentucky’s defense really is as good as it looked against the Bulldogs, or whether that game was simply the result of growing pains that were sure to be felt this year as Mike Leach tried to change the football culture in Starkville. There’s also the issue of whether Kentucky’s offense is good enough yet to be able to pressure Tennessee’s defense, and the smart money says it’s not.
AUBURN at SOUTH CAROLINA
This game could turn out to be much more interesting than Auburn wants it to be. Yet another blown call in a close game in Jordan-Hare Stadium gifted Auburn with a win it didn’t deserve over Arkansas last week, which has become somewhat of a running theme during the Gus Malzahn era. South Carolina is coming off a convincing win over Vanderbilt but the key to this game is whether the Gamecock defense has improved over the first two weeks, when it failed to stop either Tennessee or Florida from mostly having their way.
The win over Arkansas may have triggered more questions than answers for Auburn, which was not expected to let such an overmatched Razorback team get that close. Auburn’s 2020 defense is not dominant, and the offense is erratic due to an underperforming offensive line. If South Carolina continues to play offense the way it has so far, and can just find something small on defense to hang its hat on, the Gamecocks could pull the upset here.
South Carolina 25
MISSISSIPPI at ARKANSAS
Ole Miss probably won’t fall into the same post-Bama trap as other Crimson Tide victims do, although the Rebels did become visibly tired late in the game against Alabama. Neither team brings much to the table defensively, but Ole Miss’ offense is so much more advanced than Arkansas’, it’s hard to imagine the Razorbacks keeping up in the scoring race. We’ll see which of these two teams can bounce back from disappointing near-upsets the fastest.
Ole Miss 42
TEXAS A&M at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Texas A&M has started to get things rolling, and that’s bad news for a Mississippi State team that managed just 2 points against a mediocre Kentucky team last week. The Aggies aren’t the best in pass defense, and Mississippi State has proved that it can be dangerous through the air, but the Bulldogs throw too many interceptions and aren’t yet comfortable in their new digs as masters of the air attack. Don’t look for this one to be particularly close.
Texas A&M 48
Mississippi St. 17
IDLE: Florida, Missouri, LSU, Vanderbilt