Saturday in the SEC Week 11: everything’s set for Atlanta

The Commodores play Missouri on Saturday, November 18, 2017. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Last Saturday, Auburn and Missouri shocked ranked opponents Texas A&M and Florida, respectively. The two most anticipated matchups were Georgia-Kentucky and Alabama-LSU. Georgia and Alabama rolled to victories and will meet in Atlanta for the SEC championship in December.

With the conference championship matchup set, the rest of the conference is playing for pride and better bowl bids, or in a few schools’ cases, any bowl bid.

Alabama hosts Mississippi State in the only ranked SEC matchup of Week 11. The Tide rolled over LSU last week, and should have little trouble against a Bulldogs squad that has improved over the last few games, but has consistency issues. Nick Fitzgerald threw six interceptions and no touchdowns in a span of four weeks, but in the past two weeks, he has flipped the script and thrown for six scores and no picks. Still, he struggled mightily against LSU, a team whose defense is second-best to Alabama in the conference.

Prediction: #1 Alabama 45, #18 Mississippi State 7

Auburn visits Georgia in this year’s edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The game features two underrated defenses, with Georgia allowing just over 16 points per game and Auburn allowing around 17 points to opponents. The difference in this game will be Georgia’s offensive line. The line has only allowed 13 sacks in nine games and has been excellent in opening up lanes for the running backs.

Prediction: #5 Georgia 27, Auburn 17

Mark Stoops will try to motivate his team to rebound from a disappointing loss to Georgia when Kentucky takes on Tennessee. Wildcats running back Benny Snell, Jr. has run the ball 199 times this year. With Kentucky out matching the Volunteers, he may be getting more carries than usual to run out the clock. Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli leads a defense tasked with stopping one of the best running backs in recent history.

Prediction: #12 Kentucky 24, Tennessee 23

Florida is on a two-game losing streak, and if Dan Mullen can’t get consistent quarterback play from one of his three guys, the Gators’ streak could stretch to three games against South Carolina. Kyle Trask replaced an ineffective Feleipe Franks and threw a touchdown pass versus Missouri. Freshman Emory Jones could also see some time under center. South Carolina will have to prepare for all three, which requires the defense to stay focused.

Prediction: #19 Florida 30, South Carolina 24

Kellen Mond will still be the starting quarterback for Texas A&M after a shaky couple of outings. He and the Aggies will face Ole Miss at Kyle Field. Ole Miss has been competitive in the SEC, even though the Rebels are ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions. Ole Miss’ high-powered offense averages 39 points per game, and Texas A&M will struggle to keep up with the Rebels.

Prediction: Ole Miss 42, Texas A&M 24

LSU travels to Arkansas for the Battle of the Boot, which is a trophy that resembles the two bordering states’ shapes. LSU was completely embarrassed at home by Alabama, and Coach O will make sure his team is hungry against a terrible Arkansas team. LSU’s defense should have a field day against the Razorbacks, whose quarterbacks are inaccurate and whose running backs can’t shoulder the load of moving an entire offense.

Prediction: #9 LSU 38, Arkansas 6

Vanderbilt heads to Columbia to face Missouri, who is riding high after upsetting Florida on the road. Vanderbilt needs running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn to run the ball for at least 100 yards to win this game. Vaughn can help the Commodores keep the ball out of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock’s hands. Lock, like Vanderbilt signal-caller Kyle Shurmur, is a four-year starter. Lock can win the game with his arm, if necessary.

Prediction: Missouri 38, Vanderbilt 21