By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 5 Review
Despite limited offensive production, Auburn defeated Southern Mississippi, 24-13, in non-conference ac-tion at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday (Sept. 29). The Tiger offense was just as sloppy as the weather, as AU outgained the Golden Ea-gles only 341 to 260. Jarrett Stidham completed 19-of-33 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but the Tigers were held to under 100 yards rushing for the second straight week.
Auburn is 4-1 after the first month of play but the competition stiffens this week as the Tigers travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. If the Tigers lose, they almost already will be eliminated in the SEC West race. The loss to LSU already put Auburn behind the eight ball, so the Tigers can’t afford another divisional loss this early in the season.
Alabama Week 5 Review
Alabama already is one month into the season and the starters have yet to play a game into the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide demolished Louisiana-Lafayette, 56-14, building a 28-0 lead after only one quarter. Alabama led 49-0 at the half, and the game was never in doubt.
Tua Tagovailoa completed all eight of his pass attempts for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Jalen Hurts threw for 118 yards and a score, and third-string quarterback Mac Jones tossed a 94-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle. It was Waddle’s most productive outing in an Alabama uniform as he hauled in three passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a punt 63 yards for a score.
The Tide improved to 5-0 overall with the win. Alabama hits the road this week to take on Arkansas in a SEC West matchup.
SEC Football Rankings
1. Alabama (5-0, 2-0)
2. Georgia (5-0, 3-0)
3. Kentucky (5-0, 3-0)
4. LSU (5-0, 2-0)
5. Auburn (4-1, 1-1)
6. Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1)
7, Florida (4-1, 2-1)
8. South Car. (2-2, 1-2)
9. Missouri (3-1, 0-1)
10. Miss. State (3-2, 0-2)
11. Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-1)
12. Ole Miss (3-2, 0-2)
13. Tennessee (2-3, 0-2)
14. Arkansas (1-4, 0-2)
Week 6 Previews and Predictions
Week 5 record: 6-2; season: 43-10
Game of the Week: LSU at Florida (+2.5). Dan Mullen earned the first signature win of his tenure at Florida as his Gators triumphed over Mississippi State in Starkville. Mullen knocked off his former team 13-6, and it was an important victory for the Florida program. The Gators now welcome in an undefeated LSU team, so Mullen has an opportunity to earn another marquee victory. The Tigers were impressive in September, but Ed Orgeron’s squad has a very challenging three-game stretch in the next few weeks. LSU travels to Florida before hosting Georgia and Mississippi State, a stretch that will define the Tigers’ season. A win over Florida is imperative if LSU is going to contend for the SEC West crown. Prediction: Florida 20, LSU 16.
Missouri at South Carolina (-2). Before the season, the Gamecocks had aspirations of contending in the SEC East Division. South Carolina has started 0-2 in conference play, however, and the Gamecocks likely are out of the division race only one month into the season. Both teams can still have successful seasons but each need a win, as other challenging games loom over the next few weeks. Prediction: South Carolina 34, Missouri 31.
Alabama at Arkansas (+34.5). The Crimson Tide have not yet been tested outside of perhaps the first half of the Texas A&M game. UA likely won’t be challenged this week, either. Arkansas was more competitive in a loss to Texas A&M, but the Hogs have a long way to go before they can compete with the best teams in the SEC. Prediction: Alabama 48, Arkansas 6.
UL-Monroe at Ole Miss (-22.5). The Rebels have not been very competitive in SEC play but are 3-0 in non-conference games. Ole Miss was outscored 107-23 in its two SEC games, and the offense has been just as concerning as the defense. Matt Luke and his coaching staff have several issues to correct before they travel to Arkansas next week. Prediction: Ole Miss 55, UL Monroe 24.
Kentucky at Texas A&M (-5.5). Kentucky has been one of the most impressive teams in all of college football through the first month of the season. The Wildcats are 3-0 in the SEC after defeating Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina. The matchup between Kentucky and Georgia in November might decide the SEC East, though Florida is still capable of winning the division. Texas A&M looked sluggish in a win over Arkansas but it was still an important step for Jimbo Fisher’s team. A loss to the Razorbacks would have been a bad look for the program as Fisher attempts to turn them into a national power. The Aggies now get another opportunity to take down a highly ranked opponent, while Kentucky has the opportunity to add to its already stellar resume. Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Kentucky 20.
Auburn at Mississippi State (+3.5). Not many would have been too surprised at Auburn being 4-1 after September considering the difficulty of the Tigers’ schedule. However, Mississippi State being 3-2 is not something many analysts projected. The Bulldogs were supposed to contend for the SEC West Division. Instead, MSU suffered back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Florida, and the offense looks completely inept. Auburn’s offense hasn’t been much better, so this has all the makings of another defensive slugfest. The Tigers have been better defensively, and AU will need the defense to set up the offense with scoring opportunities if it is going to leave Starkville with a road victory. Prediction: Auburn 20, Mississippi State 16.
Vanderbilt at Georgia (-26.5). It certainly wasn’t always pretty, but both Georgia and Vanderbilt won a week ago. The Bulldogs took care of business against Tennessee, but didn’t put forth a very sharp performance. Vanderbilt needed a late fourth quarter scoring drive to defeat Tennessee State but at least managed to come out with a win. If Georgia is caught looking ahead to next week’s showdown at LSU, the Bulldogs could be in for a tough game against the Commodores. Prediction: Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 13.