In & around SEC football

November 16, 2017 chris
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Auburn Week 10 Review
Auburn submitted its best performance of both the season and the Gus Malzahn era in a convincing and do-minating 40-17 win over No. 1 Georgia last Saturday, Nov. 11, at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and outgained the Bulldogs by a 488-230 margin. The Bulldogs entered the game as one of the best rushing offenses in college football and the Auburn defense held them to only 46 yards rushing. Kerryon Johnson carried the ball 32 times for 167 yards and caught two passes for 66 yards and a score. Jarrett Stidham threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns, including a 42-yard strike to Darius Slayton. Auburn improved to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play. The Tigers host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday (Nov. 18) before hosting Alabama in the regular season finale to determine the SEC West champion.
Alabama Week 10 Review
The Crimson Tide trailed in the fourth quarter for the first time all season last Saturday against Mississippi State, but Jalen Hurts led a late rally to propel Alabama to a 31-24 road win. Hurts threw for 242 yards and a touchdown, and his 26-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith with 25 seconds remaining clinched the game for the Tide. Hurts also ran the ball 19 times for 40 yards and a touchdown, while Damien Harris carried the ball eight times for 93 yards and a score. Calvin Ridley caught five passes for 171 yards as Alabama improved to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in league play. The win marked the 10th straight season that Nick Saban has led Alabama to at least 10 wins. Alabama returns home to take on Mercer this Saturday before traveling to Auburn for the Iron Bowl.
SEC Rankings
1. Alabama (10-0, 7-0)
2. Auburn (8-2, 6-1)
3. Georgia (9-1, 6-1)
4. Miss. State (7-3, 3-3)
5. LSU (7-3, 4-2)
6. Texas A&M (6-4, 3-3)
7. South Car. (7-3, 5-3)
8. Kentucky (7-3, 4-3)
9. Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4)
10. Vanderbilt (4-6, 0-6)
11. Missouri (5-5, 2-4)
12. Arkansas (4-6, 1-5)
13. Florida (3-6, 3-5)
14. Tennessee (4-6, 0-6)
Week 11 Previews and Predictions
Week 10 record: 6-2
Season record: 74-19
Saturday, Nov. 18
Game of the Week:
Kentucky at Georgia (-21.5). Despite its loss to Auburn, Georgia is still in good shape and controls its own fate moving forward. The Bulldogs already have clinched the SEC East and will play either Auburn or Alabama in the SEC title game. If Kirby Smart’s team rebounds and beats Kentucky and Georgia Tech and wins the conference, Georgia will make the playoffs. But if the Bulldogs lose again, they’re out. Auburn exploited some of Georgia’s weaknesses – including the offense’s difficulty to create big plays in the passing game – but this is still one of the best teams in college football and should head into Atlanta with a chance to make the playoffs. Kentucky dominated Vanderbilt last week to improve to 7-3, but the Wildcats might have a hard to stopping Georgia on Saturday. Prediction: Georgia 38, Kentucky 16.
UAB at Florida (-10.5). After the loss at South Carolina, Florida officially won’t be heading to a bowl game. The Gators fell to 3-6 with only two games remaining and have been bad in all three phases of the game. Meanwhile, UAB is 7-3 and head coach Bill Clark should be in consideration for national Coach of the Year honors for the job he’s done with the Blazers. UAB hadn’t fielded a team since 2014 before this season, and Clark has the Blazers headed to a bowl game. The Blazers certainly are capable of pulling off the upset in The Swamp on Saturday. Prediction: UAB 23, Florida 20.
Mississippi State at Arkansas (-11.5). Arkansas was dominated once again by LSU, and Bret Bielema’s time in Fayetteville might be coming to an end unless he can turn things around and win the next two games. The Razorbacks are catching Mississippi State at a good time, as the Bulldogs nearly upset Alabama last week, but the Hogs have been awful on both sides of the ball this season. If Bielema can pull off the upset, it might save his job. Prediction: Mississippi State 41, Arkansas 20.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (-8.5). Missouri’s midseason turnaround has been a combination of favorable scheduling and improved play on both sides of the ball, and Barry Odom has likely done enough to earn a third season coaching his al-ma mater. The Tigers have won four straight – including wins over Idaho, UConn, Florida and Tennessee – and will be favored in their final two games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. A 7-5 season is very realistic, but the Tigers can’t afford to lose a to Vandy team in a must-win situation in terms of reaching a bowl game. The Commodores might make it anyway if they finish 5-7, but they’ll need to beat either Missouri or Tennessee to close out the season. Prediction: Missouri 34, Vanderbilt 27.
Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn (-36.5). Auburn’s win over Georgia put the Tigers in a position to contend for an SEC title and a playoff berth, and they’re starting to peak on both sides of the ball. Kerryon Johnson has emerged as a possible Heisman candidate and the AU defense was dominant against Georgia. The Tigers should have no trouble handling Louisiana-Monroe, and Gus Malzahn’s main concern this week will be keeping his team healthy before the Iron Bowl. Prediction: Auburn 48, Louisiana-Monroe 10.
LSU at Tennessee (-15.5). Butch Jones was finally fired by Tennessee after last Saturday’s blowout loss to Missouri, and the Volunteers have now lost seven consecutive conference games. Former Michigan coach Brady Hoke will fill in as interim head coach, and the Vols need to win out to reach a bowl game. While it appeared as if Ed Orgeron would be on the hot seat after losing to Troy, he has righted the ship at LSU and has the Tigers at 7-3. A 10-win season is still in play, and that would be a great step in the right direction for Orgeron and the LSU program. Prediction: LSU 31, Tennessee 6.
Wofford at South Carolina (-19). The Gamecocks won’t win the SEC East but Will Muschamp has done a tremendous job this season in Columbia. They’ve improved offensively despite losing star receiver Deebo Samuel earlier this year, and should enter their rivalry game against Clemson as an 8-3 team looking to spoil the Tigers’ season. Prediction: South Carolina 38, Wofford 17.
Mercer at Alabama (-47). Mercer actually played Auburn tough earlier this season in a 24-10 loss, but they won’t pose much of a threat to Alabama on Sa-turday. Nick Saban won’t admit it, but this biggest concern for him right now is the amount of injuries piling up for his team on both sides of the ball. His defense is without four key contributors at linebacker, and an ankle injury to offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher could keep him sidelined for 2-4 weeks. The Tide will be ranked No. 1 heading into the Iron Bowl, but injuries have Alabama in a more vulnerable position than it was a month ago. Prediction: Alabama 51, Mercer 6.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (-3). Texas A&M became bowl eligible with tis win over New Mexico, but even winning out and finishing 8-4 might not save Kevin Sumlin’s job. Losing at Ole Miss would certainly hurt his case, but wins over the Rebels and LSU might be enough to save his job. So many teams in the SEC will be looking for new coaches – including Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida – so it’s possible the Aggies might wait another year before parting ways with Sumlin. The Rebels are playing only for pride since they are ineligible to reach a bowl game but haven’t quit on the season or on interim coach Matt Luke, and Ole Miss has one of the best offenses in the SEC. Prediction: Texas A&M 37, Ole Miss 34.