Saturday in the SEC Week Seven: Is Florida Back?

Coin toss as the Florida Gators defeated Vanderbilt 13-6 October 1, 2016 at Vanderbilt Stadium. Photo by Ziyi Liu

The SEC had three major upsets in Week Six, and five of the top 14 teams fell nationally.

Florida defeated LSU 27-19, and Gator fans should be thrilled with their resurgence in head coach Dan Mullen’s debut season. LSU’s offensive line allowed five sacks, and quarterback Joe Burrow never quite developed a rhythm against Florida’s aggressive secondary.

Texas A&M was a home favorite against 13th-ranked Kentucky, but the victory still felt like an upset because Texas A&M has been shunned from the rankings for weeks after losing to both Clemson and Alabama. Trayveon Williams ran for a 10-yard touchdown in overtime to seal a 20-14 victory for the Aggies.

Mississippi State shocked Auburn in the most unexpected upset of the week. Nick Fitzgerald ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns, while setting the SEC record for career rushing yards by a quarterback. On the opposite sideline, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham could only manage a 50% completion rate on the night.

Week Seven only features one matchup of ranked teams, but South Carolina has the potential to upset a ranked Texas A&M team if quarterback Jake Bentley returns from injury.

LSU hosts Georgia on Saturday afternoon. While the Tigers won’t have the benefit of a nighttime atmosphere in Death Valley, they should still experience a significant home-field advantage. Georgia opens as 8.5 point favorites on the road. LSU’s defense has notched seven interceptions, and their lockdown corners could cause trouble for Georgia’s explosive wide receivers.

Prediction: #13 LSU 31, #2 Georgia 23

Texas A&M travels to South Carolina for their annual divisional crossover game. Quarterback Jake Bentley missed South Carolina’s win over Missouri with a knee injury, but his replacement, Michael Scarnecchia, threw for three touchdowns in Week Six. Texas A&M’s defense is one of the stingiest in the country, allowing opponents to convert just 24.6% of third downs. That’s not exactly the type of defense South Carolina wants to trot out an inexperienced Scarnecchia against.

Prediction: #22 Texas A&M 38, South Carolina 24

Vanderbilt hosts a Florida team coming off its biggest win in years. Vanderbilt has been disappointing since playing a close game against Notre Dame in Week Three. Wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb is the star of the Commodores’ offense, but he needs quarterback Kyle Shurmur to be at the top of his game. Florida’s defense is only allowing 140 passing yards per game, good for second in the nation.

Prediction: #14 Florida 35, Vanderbilt 13

Auburn looks to rebound from a loss to Mississippi State when it plays Tennessee at home. Tennessee has one of the worst red zone defenses in the country. The Volunteers have allowed opponents to score in every red zone trip this year. Auburn’s offense has struggled in the red zone in both of its losses. Against Washington, the Tigers only scored 20 points in five red zone trips. Last week at Mississippi State, Auburn only managed two field goals in three trips.

Prediction: #21 Auburn 42, Tennessee 21

Missouri faces Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alabama’s defense gave up 31 points to Arkansas, a bottom-dweller in the SEC West. Missouri’s offense, led by senior quarterback Drew Lock, is more explosive than Arkansas’ offense, but the Crimson Tide will adjust to fix their flaws from last week. Alabama’s offense continues to be unstoppable, quite literally. The Tide are converting almost 60% of their third down attempts.

Prediction: #1 Alabama 55, Missouri 17

Ole Miss faces Arkansas in a battle for last place in the SEC West. Both teams have already gotten crushed by Alabama this season, so it can’t get much worse going forward. Ole Miss is averaging 347.5 yards per game through the air, and wide receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf have combined for nine receiving touchdowns. Arkansas is built on the run game, with Rakeem Boyd averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 24

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