In & around SEC football - Week 9 previews and predictions

November 19, 2020 chris
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By Cole Frederick/Staff Correspondent

SEC rankings
1. Alabama (6-0)
2. Florida (5-1)
3. Texas A&M (5-1)
4. Georgia (4-2)
5. Auburn (4-2)
6. Arkansas (3-4)
7. Missouri (2-3)
8. Kentucky (3-4)
9. Tennessee (2-4)
10. Ole Miss (3-4)
11. LSU (2-3)
12. South Carolina (2-5)
13. Mississippi State (2-4)
14. Vanderbilt (0-6)
Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Week 8: 3-0; season: 32-11
Saturday, Nov. 21
Game of the Week: Tennessee at Auburn (-10). Auburn has had issues with COVID-19 over the last two weeks, and the Tigers’ matchup against Mississippi State was postponed as a result of issues on both campuses. Gus Malzahn’s team had finally started playing up to its potential and played its best game of the year against LSU, and now AU looks to build on that success against a struggling Tennessee squad. Jeremy Pruitt has had success against Malzahn in the past, including a 30-24 upset at Jordan-Hare Stadium two years ago. The Iron Bowl is on deck, but the Tigers cannot afford to overlook the Volunteers. Prediction: Auburn 27, Tennessee 23.
Florida at Vanderbilt (-31.5). Kyle Trask and the Florida offense have been unstoppable this season, dropping 63 points on Arkansas without star tight end Kyle Pitts in the lineup. The Gators have the potential to play with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game but need to win out in order for that game to have playoff implications for both teams. Florida won’t need its best game to dispatch Vanderbilt, as the Commodores are staring at a potential 0-10 season. Prediction: Florida 45, Vanderbilt 13.
LSU at Arkansas (-1). The Razorbacks have been the most improved team in the SEC this year but were outmatched on the road at Florida. Five wins is probably the ceiling for this Arkansas team, but Sam Pittman has done enough to secure the conference coach of the year. That honor was bestowed upon Ed Orgeron a season ago during LSU’s national championship season, but the Tigers have been in reverse for all of 2020. LSU is 2-3 halfway through the season and have not yet played the three best teams in the league in Alabama, Florida or Texas A&M. The Tigers have had two weeks off due to COVID-19 after suffering a 48-11 loss to Auburn, and this Saturday is a chance to turn their season around heading down the stretch. Prediction: LSU 34, Arkansas 31.
Kentucky at Alabama (-31). Alabama has one final test standing in its way before the likely SEC title game matchup against Florida: next weekend’s Iron Bowl. Auburn will be a heavy underdog against the Crimson Tide but possess the talent to at least stay competitive. Kentucky is not in the same situation as the Tigers. The Wildcats have struggled offensively all season, so the UA defense should dominate on Saturday. Prediction: Alabama 41, Kentucky 6.
Mississippi State at Georgia (-25). Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs had an extra week to regroup after a poor performance in a loss to Florida, and now the odds are stacked against his team winning the SEC East. Georgia needs to win out and have Florida lose twice, which at this point is not likely to happen. It’s been a disappointing year for Georgia, particularly for the offense. Unless they’ve completely quit on the season, the Bulldogs should not have any trouble with Mississippi State this weekend. Prediction: Georgia 23, Mississippi State 3.
Missouri at South Carolina (+6). Following a 59-42 loss at Ole Miss, South Carolina decided to fire head coach Will Muschamp. The loss dropped the Gamecocks to 2-5 on the year and Muschamp to 28-30 during his tenure in Columbia. The program is 6-13 since the beginning of the 2019 season. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo takes over as the interim coach, and he must regroup his team for this weekend’s matchup against Missouri. The Tigers have exceeded expectations thus far in Eliah Drinkwitz’s first season, and they’ve had an extra week to prepare for the Gamecocks. Prediction: Missouri 38, South Carolina 27.