In & around SEC football - Week 5 previews, predictions

September 27, 2018 chris
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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 4 Review
Tua Tagovailoa was nearly perfect as the Alabama offense racked up 524 yards in a 45-23 victory over Texas A&M. Mack Wilson intercepted a pass on the second play from scrimmage and Tagovailoa found DeVonta Smith for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the next play. It was all Alabama from there on out, though the Aggies did stay within striking distance for most of the first half.
Still, the Crimson Tide offense was nearly unstoppable through the air. Tagovailoa completed 22 of 30 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns. The only small concern was the running game. Damien Harris led the team with 52 yards on seven carries, but most of those yards came on one 35-yard run. The Tide rushed 28 times for 109 yards, which is just shy of four yards per carry.
Alabama hosts Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday (Sept. 29) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn Week 4 Review
While Auburn handled Arkansas, 34-3, last Saturday (Sept. 22) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, it wasn’t exactly an impressive showing for the Tigers. The Razorbacks outgained AU 290 to 225, and the Tigers only mustered 91 yards on the ground. Defensively, Auburn dominated Arkansas, and forced two turnovers that led to points. After Arkansas’ lone scoring drive, Noah Igbinoghene returned the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. Igbinoghene was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for his kick return.
Auburn hosts Southern Miss this weekend before traveling to Mississippi State on Oct. 6.
SEC football rankings
1. Alabama (4-0, 2-0)
2. Georgia (4-0, 2-0)
3. LSU (4-0, 1-0)
3. Auburn (3-1, 1-1)
4. Kentucky (4-0, 2-0)
5. Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1)
6. South Carolina (2-1, 1-1)
7. Florida (3-1, 1-1)
8. Missouri (3-1, 0-1)
9. Mississippi State (3-1, 0-1)
10. Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-1)
11. Ole Miss (3-1, 0-1)
12. Tennessee (2-2, 0-1)
13. Arkansas (1-3, 0-1)
Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Week 4 record: 7-1; season: 37-8
Game of the Week: South Carolina at Kentucky (-1.5). The Wildcats have won back-to-back conference games as double-digit underdogs over Florida and Mississippi State. Kentucky now welcomes in South Carolina for a pivotal matchup in the SEC East Division. The two big wins gave the Wildcats an advantage over most teams in the East. If they can beat South Carolina, the ‘Cats can remain on par with Georgia for the division title. The Gamecocks are behind the eight ball after losing to Georgia, but the win over Vanderbilt gave Will Muschamp’s team new life heading into Lexington. Kentucky has won four straight times against South Carolina. Prediction: South Carolina 27, Kentucky 24.
Tennessee at Georgia (-31.5). While these two programs were once among the best in the conference, they have been trending in different directions for the last decade. Jeremy Pruitt is aiming to turn the Tennessee program around in his first season, but it will be a long rebuilding process for the Volunteers. Meanwhile, Georgia is ready to contend for the national title again, and the Bulldogs should have no problem dismantling Tennessee in Athens. Prediction: Georgia 45, Tennessee 9.
Southern Mississippi at Auburn (-27.5). Auburn’s defense was dynamic last week, but the offense has plenty of work to do before the Tigers visit Mississippi State next weekend. AU won’t have much of a problem with Southern Miss, but the Tiger offense must improve – especially on the ground – before Auburn continue conference play. Prediction: Auburn 45, Southern Miss 12.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Alabama (-48.5). The Crimson Tide don’t necessarily need another tune-up game, but Nick Saban’s team will have an opportunity to fix any issues before conference play resumes. Alabama likely won’t be challenged by anyone until November – though Missouri could give them some problems in a few weeks – but Saban is never satisfied, and there are some special teams concerns. Prediction: Alabama 55, Louisiana-Lafayette 10.
Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (-32). The Co-mmodores have dropped two straight and need a win to get back on track before a three-game stretch against Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. A bowl game isn’t out of the question for Vandy, but the Nashville squad will need to win a couple of games as an underdog down the stretch. Prediction: Vanderbilt 48, Tennessee State 13.
Florida at Mississippi State (-7). Before the season, many believed Mississippi State had the talent to contend in the SEC West. The Bulldogs were dominated on the road at Kentucky, however, and they have challenging games the next two weeks against Florida and Auburn. The Bulldogs aren’t totally out of the SEC West race, but they might have to win out to have a chance. Dan Mullen is making his first trip to Starkville since leaving for Gainesville, and he just won his first SEC game at Florida against Tennessee. Prediction: Mississippi State 27, Florida 17.
Ole Miss at LSU (-12). LSU was nearly caught sleepwalking against Louisiana Tech, and the Tigers were only leading 24-21 in the second half. They eventually added two more scores and pulled away for a 38-21 victory, and they host rival Ole Miss in Baton Rouge this week. The Rebels have a potent offense but they have been especially porous on defense. If LSU can control the ball and the clock and keep the Ole Miss offense off the field, the Tigers should be able to avoid an upset before a grueling three-game stretch against Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State. Prediction: LSU 31, Ole Miss 20.
Arkansas at Texas A&M (-20.5). Texas A&M already has lost twice, but those two losses came against perhaps the best two teams in the country in Alabama and Clemson. There are reasons for optimism in College Station, but the Aggies aren’t quite ready to contend just yet. Arkansas is much further away from being relevant in the SEC, and Chad Morris has an uphill battle to climb with the Razorbacks. Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 20.