Last week’s record: 8-2 (80.0%)
Season record: 86-16 (84.3%)
We go from Cupcake Saturday – which Auburn somehow failed to survive – to Rivalry Week, as Alabama and Georgia are already locked into the SEC Championship Game, which severely lessens the drama all around. Alabama-Auburn will always be the highlight game of this week, but as an Alabama fan, Kentucky-Louisville and especially Florida-Florida State are worth watching for playoff implications.
FLORIDA STATE at FLORIDA
Back in the day, the fact this game was in Gainesville would mean a lot. This year, maybe not so much. Florida State comes into this game hobbled at quarterback, but so do the Gators, and that’s not what Alabama fans wanted to hear. Alabama needs Florida to win here, as the Crimson Tide probably needs losses from two out of three specific teams: Florida State, Washington and Texas. The Seminoles have been shaky at times this year, but Florida has been wildly unpredictable and overall, just not that good. The Seminoles are the weakest of the three teams named above, but it might not matter in this particular tussle with the Gators.
Florida State 28
ALABAMA at AUBURN
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GEORGIA at GEORGIA TECH
Brent Key is slowly making the Yellow Jackets better, but it’s not going to come quickly enough to matter in this game. At least this time out, Georgia Tech has a good chance of making the game competitive for a couple of quarters and not ending up on the wrong side of a blowout. But Georgia looks championship-worthy yet again and the Bulldogs haven’t been particularly bothered in the years in which this game is played away from Athens. It would take multiple, systemic breakdowns for the Bulldogs to lose this one.
Georgia Tech 20
KENTUCKY at LOUISVILLE
We’re not really sure how much Kentucky still has left in the tank. After getting walloped by Alabama, the Wildcats managed to find a way to lose to South Carolina last week, too. Louisville is ranked 10th but that might say more about the top-heaviness of college football this year and how it peels off quickly after about the eighth-ranked team. Knowing how Mark Stoops’ teams typically perform, the loss to South Carolina last week was probably out of the same vein as Auburn’s loss to New Mexico State – a supreme case of looking ahead. Now the Wildcats have to overcome the shock of the loss to the Gamecocks as well as gearing up for an improving Cardinal program.
MISSOURI at ARKANSAS
Somehow, Sam Pittman managed to survive the ax, and will return as Razorback head coach in 2024. Arkansas might have second thoughts after this one, though. Missouri still has a puncher’s chance of reaching the College Football Playoff, but it would take more what-ifs and hypotheticals than we could lay out in this short article. Lose to Arkansas, and that all goes away, along with a lot of the goodwill Eliah Drinkwitz has built up for his role in improving the Missouri program this year. Which Arkansas program will show up – the one that beat Florida in overtime in Gainesville, or the one that rolled over like an old hunting dog the following week at home against Auburn? It might not matter either way.
CLEMSON at SOUTH CAROLINA
Clemson may have gotten back on track with three straight wins, but South Carolina comes into this game on a three-week winning streak of its own. Clemson’s wins are of a good bit higher quality, however, as only the upset of Kentucky last week is anything that South Carolina can write home about. Clemson, meanwhile, snuffed out Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and North Carolina, a good run for Dabo Swinney after it appeared Clemson might miss the postseason altogether at the season’s halfway mark. Now comes the tough part for Swinney: winning in Columbia. This game has been unkind to the Tigers several times over the years and Swinney needs to finish off the regular season with a win to keep the temperature down around his program. South Carolina needs this win for postseason eligibility, so there’s a lot on the line.
South Carolina 24
VANDERBILT at TENNESSEE
This should be one of the most lopsided games on the board, but Tennessee has made it tough on itself a few times in this series by showing up unprepared. That’s what it’s going to take for Vanderbilt to win here, but it could happen just off the fact that Tennessee comes in after back-to-back losses in which the Vols scored a cumulative 17 points. Fortunately for Tennessee, Vanderbilt is much more like the victim of the Vols’ most recent victory, Connecticut, than it does SEC foes Missouri or Georgia.
TEXAS A&M at LOUISIANA STATE
Texas A&M managed to find a way to make Abilene Christian look competitive for a half of football last week, so no one has high hopes that the Aggies will suddenly figure out how beat LSU in Tiger Stadium. The Aggies are just looking for an end to their cursed season, while LSU is trying to mount a Heisman campaign for QB Jayden Daniels and build momentum for recruiting in the offseason. If A&M gets down a couple of scores early, this one can and probably will get ugly. Brian Kelly knows his team needs to do something to jump back in the spotlight that Alabama now owns, and Texas A&M is quickly running out of fight.
Texas A&M 20
MISSISSIPPI at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Both teams floundered a bit last week with inferior opponents, but all systems are go now for one of the South’s most underrated – not to mention nastiest – rivalry games. If there’s anything that can get Mississippi State to play above its heads for a couple of hours, it’s the Egg Bowl, and the Bulldogs have the home-field advantage, which seems to mean more in this series than most. That may be enough to keep things reasonably close, but Ole Miss has the far better team, and the Rebel program isn’t in an emotional shambles the way MSU is. The best thing that can happen to the Bulldogs at this point is an offseason reset.
Ole Miss 31
Mississippi St. 20
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