Last week’s record: 5-2 (71.4%)
Season record: 73-12 (85.9%)
Week 11 basically achieves blockbuster status for the SEC, as Ole Miss and Georgia face off in a battle of top-10 teams, while Alabama visits Kentucky and Tennessee tries to fend off Missouri. Even the week’s lesser games have plenty to hold viewers’ interests.
FLORIDA at LOUISIANA STATE
Florida somehow found a way to lose to Arkansas last week and allow the Razorbacks to look like an offensive powerhouse at the same time. Now the Gators host an LSU team that should run them out of the building, except LSU QB Jayden Daniels may be a scratch for this game due to the concussion he suffered in the Tigers’ game against Alabama last week. Garrett Nussmeier is capable as a passer, but the LSU offense doesn’t work nearly as well when Daniels’ game-altering running game is taken into account. Florida is one of those teams that seems to be able to perform either very well or very poorly on a week-to-week basis without much regard for whether the game is at home or away. If Daniels was quarterbacking LSU, there’s no way we’d pick the Gators in this one; without Daniels, things get dicey because LSU tends to lose its composure a bit when the defense starts giving up chunks of yardage, which it will almost certain do here.
ALABAMA at KENTUCKY
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MISSISSIPPI at GEORGIA
The Bulldogs have done an excellent job at batting back challenges from other quality teams, and may get TE Brock Bowers back to some degree this week. Ole Miss has enough offensive firepower, plus the mind of Lane Kiffin, to cause trouble for Georgia, but the Rebel defense has taken bending-but-not-breaking to the wire several times this year already, and it can’t do that against Georgia. For the Rebels to pull the upset, both offense and defense have to move together in concert and both have to play close to their best games of the season. That’s a lot to ask for on the road against a team like Georgia.
Ole Miss 27
TENNESSEE at MISSOURI
Missouri probably wasn’t as good as people thought prior to the Tigers’ matchup with Georgia, but Missouri is still one of the SEC’s most improved teams, if not the most improved over a year ago. The difference from a year ago has really been the defense; when it holds together, Missouri can be very tough. But both marquee teams on Missouri’s schedule, LSU and Georgia, figured out how to crack the code, and the offense just couldn’t keep pace in either contest. Tennessee’s offensive balance and physical running game should help keep the Missouri offense sidelined, and Mizzou doesn’t get enough of a home-field advantage from its crowd – usually – to make up the margin in a game like this.
VANDERBILT at SOUTH CAROLINA
This is the throwaway game of the week, a contest between two teams that have underachieved by immense margins given where the respective fan bases thought they’d be at this point, especially South Carolina. Vanderbilt won’t make a bowl and South Carolina will probably get knocked out of one the next couple of weeks. Basically USC gets the nod here because the game is in Columbia and the Gamecocks have the superior quarterback.
South Carolina 31
AUBURN at ARKANSAS
Neither team is playing for anything of substance, save for an invitation to a minor bowl game, but this game will be high on entertainment factor from the get-go. Two weeks ago, Arkansas couldn’t buy a win, and Auburn was excited to get some semblance of a passing game back. That was until last week, when Auburn went back to a mediocre passing attack against lowly Vanderbilt, and Arkansas beat Florida with a new offensive staff alignment following the dismissal of Dan Enos. Arkansas will need to win out to get bowl-eligible, while Auburn has to either beat the Hogs or Alabama in addition to New Mexico State. Basically, the loser here is done, and if that happens to be Arkansas, it might be the eventual end of Sam Pittman as a head coach, too. But if Arkansas can continue to generate some sparks of life, it has a big edge at quarterback and will have the home crowd at its back.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at TEXAS A&M
The wheels are now fully and predictably off the Bulldog wagon, as MSU’s last good outing was probably the overtime win over Arizona in Week 2. Even mid-year wins over Western Michigan (by less of a margin than predicted) and Arkansas (when the Razorbacks were fully in the middle of their own coaching crisis) haven’t really been enough to keep hopes up. Still, a win here and Mississippi State is a win over Southern Miss away from being bowl-eligible. That’s probably what it’s going to take to save Zach Arnett’s job. On the other hand, Jimbo Fisher’s seat is even hotter in College Station. The Aggies are 1-3 in their last four games, can’t run the ball, and have injury issues up and down the quarterback depth chart. Unfortunately for MSU, it doesn’t appear likely the Bulldogs can take advantage of it. Mississippi State gets easier to decipher offensively with each passing week, and Texas A&M has a good enough defense to keep even its own beleagured offense in the game.
Texas A&M 27
Mississippi St. 13
Follow Jess Nicholas on X at @TideFansJessN