In & around SEC football - Week 5 previews and predictions

October 23, 2020 chris
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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspodent

Alabama Week 4 Recap
A dominant second half propelled Alabama to a 41-24 victory over Georgia in a battle between a pair of top 3 teams last Saturday (Oct. 17) in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide trailed 24-17 late in the first half before Will Reichard connected on a 52-yard field goal heading into the locker room, and Alabama won the second half 21-0. Mac Jones shook off an interception on the opening drive of the game, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns. DeVonta Smith caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, while Jaylen Waddle recorded 161 yards and a score on six catches. Najee Harris rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries as the Tide improved to 4-0 on the season. UA travels to Knoxville this Saturday (Oct. 24) to take on Tennessee.
Auburn Week 4 Recap
The sophomore slump is real for Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. He threw three interceptions and completed just over 50 percent of his passes in a 30-22 road loss at South Carolina last week. Nix’s struggles were not the only reason why Auburn lost, but those turnovers led directly to South Carolina points. The Tigers outgained the Gamecocks 481-297 and had an early 9-0 lead, but miscues allowed South Carolina back into the game. Tank Bigsby was the bright spot yet again for the Tiger offense, as he carried 16 times for 111 yards and a touchdown. Auburn dropped to 2-2 on the year, and has another road game this weekend against Ole Miss in Oxford.
SEC rankings
1. Alabama (4-0)
2. Georgia (3-1)
3. Florida (2-1)
4. Texas A&M (3-1)
5. Kentucky (2-2)
6. Arkansas (2-2)
7. Tennessee (2-2)
8. South Carolina (2-2)
9. Auburn (2-2)
10. Ole Miss (1-3)
11. Missouri (1-2)
12. Mississippi State (1-3)
13. LSU (1-2)
14. Vanderbilt (0-3)
Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Week 4: 2-3; season: 17-9
Saturday, Oct. 24
Game of the Week: Alabama at Tennessee (+21). The last time Tennessee beat Alabama, most players on each roster were in elementary school. Alabama has 13 straight wins over the Volunteers, and unless Tennessee plays its best overall game in years, it will likely be 14 straight victories after Saturday. Alabama is clicking on all cylinders offensively, and it’s difficult to imagine any team in the SEC stopping them consistently if Georgia’s elite defense allowed 41 points to the Tide offense. Jarrett Guarantano has struggled at quarterback for the Volunteers, and while the Alabama defense has been susceptible against efficient passing attacks, it’s doubtful Guarantano can pick apart the secondary the same way Matt Corral did for Ole Miss two weeks ago. Jeremy Pruitt had a good season in Knoxville last year, but his team is in jeopardy of falling under .500 halfway through the season. Prediction: Alabama 48, Tennessee 20.
Auburn at Ole Miss (+3). After four games, the hot seat conversation has already started again for Gus Malzahn. Last Saturday’s loss at South Carolina was a big step back for the program, and the schedule doesn’t get much easier. The Tigers still have Alabama and Texas A&M at the end of the year, and there are no guaranteed wins in this all-SEC season. If Bo Nix doesn’t improve quickly, Auburn might find itself with a losing record for the first time since 2012. Firing a coach during a pandemic probably isn’t the best move, but there’s a chance this Auburn season could spiral out of control with another loss on Saturday. Prediction: Auburn 34, Ole Miss 30.
Kentucky at Missouri (+5.5). Mark Stoops keeps finding ways to win games in Lexington. Prior to his arrival, Kentucky had beaten Tennessee once since 1984 and had not won in Knoxville since the 1984 season. Stoops just earned his second win over the Volunteers in four years, and the Wildcats won in a blowout. This week’s road game at Missouri presents a difficult challenge for the Wildcats since Missouri had extra time to prepare, and it’s tough to go on the road after an emotional victory. But Stoops has proven to be one of the best coaches in the SEC, and UK should find a way to grind out another tough road win on Saturday. Prediction: Kentucky 26, Missouri 23.
South Carolina at LSU (-6). Saturday’s win over Auburn was extremely important for Will Muschamp and the future of his tenure at South Carolina. Now, the Gamecocks have an opportunity to knock off Auburn and LSU in back-to-back weeks. While both of those teams are in the midst of down years, they would still be huge wins for Muschamp. Traditionally, the Gamecocks have not fared well in the game following a big win, and LSU had an extra week to prepare after last weekend’s matchup at Florida was postponed. The Tigers should submit their best performance of the year on Saturday. Prediction: LSU 38, South Carolina 27.