Saturday in the SEC: LSU is Alabama’s biggest threat

The Vanderbilt Football team plays at Notre Dame on Saturday, September 15, 2018. The Commodores lost 17-22. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Week Two in the SEC came with a little bit of drama at the top.

LSU asserted itself as Alabama’s major competition in the SEC West with a 22-21 win over Auburn on the road. Kicker Cole Tracy made a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give LSU the victory. Meanwhile, Alabama completed dominated Ole Miss 62-7.

Week 4 features six conference matchups, but the only matchup of ranked squads is the Texas A&M-Alabama game.

Texas A&M and Alabama both routed their opponents last week, and their offenses have plenty of momentum heading into this matchup. The Tide host the Aggies at 2:30 PM CST in the CBS game of the week. Texas A&M leads the conference in yards per game and averages over 596 yards per game even including the game against Clemson, who has one of the best defenses in college football. However, the Crimson Tide’s defensive backs have grabbed five interceptions on the year, and Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond will have to be extremely accurate to avoid getting picked off.

Prediction: #1 Alabama 45, Texas A&M 24

Missouri hosts Georgia, and the Tigers appear to be the only team that can truly challenge Georgia for the East title. Missouri’s Drew Lock has more passing attempts than anyone else in the SEC, and the fourth-year starter needs to play at his best for the Tigers to have a shot at the upset. Meanwhile, Georgia has a balanced offense, scoring eight touchdowns both on the ground and through the air.

Prediction: #2 Georgia 38, Missouri 20

South Carolina visits Vanderbilt, and both teams need a win badly. Vanderbilt played much better than expected against Notre Dame, but fans surely want a win and not just a moral victory. South Carolina got blown out by Georgia in Week 2 41-17 and needs to get back on track in conference play. Vanderbilt linebacker Kenny Hebert is tied for the league lead with three sacks. If Vanderbilt’s defense plays as well as they did in the second half against Notre Dame, Kyle Shurmur and the chemistry with his receivers could make this game another blowout.

Prediction: Vanderbilt 31, South Carolina 17

Kentucky plays Mississippi State in Lexington. Dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is averaging 133 rushing yards per game for the Bulldogs. On the opposite sideline, junior college transfer quarterback Terry Wilson is averaging 74 yards per game on the ground. The difference in this game will be confidence, which Kentucky has much more of after their victory at Florida in Week 2.

Prediction: Kentucky 28, #14 Mississippi State 24

Florida visits Tennessee, and both teams need this win to appease uneasy fanbases. Florida fans thought Dan Mullen would instantly bring the Gators back to the glory days of the Tim Tebow era and were disappointed when Feleipe Franks turned out to be nothing like Tebow in Mullen’s offense. Tennessee also has a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt who has beaten two Group of Five teams handily after being destroyed by West Virginia in Week 1.

Prediction: Florida 21, Tennessee 13

Auburn looks to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to LSU against Arkansas, undoubtedly the worst team in the SEC West. Arkansas has lost two games in a row to lower-level competition in Colorado State and North Texas. Auburn’s offense is even better than both of those teams, so it should be a long day for Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, who may be wondering why he left SMU for Fayetteville.

Prediction: #9 Auburn 49, Arkansas 10

Ole Miss hosts Kent State in a non conference matchup. Rebels running back Scottie Phillips is averaging over eight yards per rush, but was held to just 44 yards on 12 attempts against Alabama’s tough defensive front. He should have a field day in this game against a defense allowing 213 rushing yards per game.

Prediction: Ole Miss 41, Kent State 7

LSU hosts Louisiana Tech on Saturday night. The Tigers have beaten two top-10 teams this year, and Louisiana Tech does not figure to be a contender to pull an upset. The Bulldogs are averaging 42 points per game against South Alabama and Southern. LSU is a different beast, and the Tigers’ defense should cause havoc early and often.

Prediction: #6 LSU 41, Louisiana Tech 0