In & around SEC football - Week 8 previews, predictions

October 18, 2018 chris
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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 7 Review
The Crimson Tide submitted one of its best defensive performances of the season in a 39-10 victory over Missouri last week. In the second quarter, Missouri cut the lead to 13-10 on a touchdown pass from Drew Lock to Jalen Knox. Alabama responded with 17 unanswered points before halftime, however, and added a safety and another touchdown in the second half.
Tua Tagovailoa threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns but exited the game after aggravating his sprained knee. Head coach Nick Saban said that Tagovailoa could have re-entered the game, but Jalen Hurts was impressive as Tagovailoa’s replacement. Alabama improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play. UA travels to Knoxville on Saturday (Oct. 20) to take on Tennessee.
Auburn Week 7 Review
A disappointing season continues to get worse for Gus Malzahn’s team. The Tigers lost at home to Tennessee as double-digit favorites while losing the turnover battle, 3-0. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham turned the ball over three times, and the Volunteers capitalized on those turnovers to pull off the upset. Auburn is now 4-3 overall and 1-3 in conference play. The defense is still the catalyst for the Tigers, but they struggled against a poor Tennessee offense. If Auburn can’t beat Ole Miss on the road this Saturday, the Tigers likely won’t reach a bowl game.
SEC football rankings
1. Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
2. Florida (6-1, 4-1)
3. LSU (6-1, 3-1)
4. Georgia (6-1, 4-1)
5. Texas A&M (5-2, 3-1)
6. Kentucky (5-1, 3-1)
7. Mississippi State (4-2, 1-2)
8. South Carolina (3-3, 2-3)
9. Missouri (3-3, 0-3)
10. Auburn (4-3, 1-3)
11. Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3)
12. Ole Miss (5-2, 1-2)
13. Tennessee (3-3, 1-2)
14. Arkansas (1-6, 0-4)
Week 8 Previews and Predictions
Week 7 record: 2-4; season: 51-15
Game of the Week: Mississippi State at LSU (-6.5). Ed Orgeron earned the biggest victory of his career as his Tigers dominated Georgia, 36-16, last week in Baton Rouge. LSU is now firmly in the playoff conversation as the Tigers welcome in Mississippi State on Saturday (Oct. 20). The Bulldogs are off a bye week after beating Auburn and are looking to turn their season around heading into the home stretch. LSU needs the win to have a shot to win the division, and it’s hard to imagine Mississippi State winning a night game in Baton Rouge. Prediction: LSU 27, Mississippi State 17.
Tulsa at Arkansas (-7). The Razorbacks were close to earning their first conference victory under Chad Morris, but Ole Miss stormed back for a 37-33 victory. To make matters worse, quarterback Ty Storey was injured during the game and is questionable this week. It’s a rebuilding year for the Hogs, but it would be beneficial for Morris if Arkansas could earn a few wins down the stretch. Prediction: Arkansas 31, Tulsa 23.
Auburn at Ole Miss (+3.5). This might be Auburn’s best chance to win a conference game before the season ends. If they lose this one, it’s very likely the Tigers will miss out on a bowl game. It’s hard to imagine that a preseason top-10 team with this much talent might miss the postseason, but it’s been a horrendous year for Gus Malzahn and the Tigers. Ole Miss has the worst defense in the league, so if Auburn can’t get its offense going this week, it’s probably a lost cause. Prediction: Auburn 34, Ole Miss 23.
Alabama at Tennessee (+29). Jeremy Pruitt earned his first conference victory in a road win over Auburn, ending the Volunteers’ conference losing streak dating back to the 2016 season. It’s highly unlikely that win No. 2 is coming this week as Pruitt faces former boss Nick Saban, but the win over Auburn was a turning point win for the Vols. Alabama should be able to score at will, but it will be worth monitoring quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s knee sprain and his mobility during the game. Prediction: Alabama 48, Tennessee 13.
Memphis at Missouri (-9.5). Despite a lopsided loss to Alabama last Saturday, Missouri actually played pretty well for most of the game. The Tiger defense especially held its own, and there’s still more than enough talent on the team to win seven or eight games and reach a bowl game. Mizzou’s offense needs to get back on track, but the Tigers will face a porous Memphis defense this weekend. Prediction: Missouri 44, Memphis 27.
Vanderbilt at Kentucky (-11.5). Kentucky has had two weeks to bounce back from their overtime loss at Texas A&M. The Wildcats remain capable of winning the SEC East Division but cannot afford a home loss against Vanderbilt. The Co-mmodores have been close to pulling off upsets on multiple occasions (most recently, they had a 21-3 lead at home to Florida before losing 37-27), but have not been able to finish the game. It wouldn’t be totally shocking if Vandy pulled off the upset on Saturday, but Kentucky certainly is the stronger team right now. Prediction: Kentucky 26, Vanderbilt 17.