By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 9 Recap
Arkansas took six years’ worth of frustration out on Auburn last week as the Razorbacks routed the Tigers, 41-27 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers cut the Razorback lead to 17-13 at halftime, but the Hogs dominated the second half as AU dropped to 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the SEC. The loss signaled the end of the Bryan Harsin era on The Plains, as Harsin was fired last Monday (Oct. 31). Harsin was 9-12 as Auburn’s coach, and after starting 6-2 a season ago, the Tigers are 3-10. Former Etowah High School and Auburn standout running back Carnell Williams, who was named interim coach, will lead his alma mater over the next four games, including this Saturday’s road game at Mi-ssissippi State.
Week 10 SEC rankings
1. Georgia (8-0, 5-0)
2. Tennessee (8-0, 4-0)
3. Alabama (7-1, 4-1)
4. LSU (6-2, 4-1)
5. Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1)
6. Kentucky (5-3, 2-3)
7. Mississippi State (5-3, 2-3)
8. Arkansas (5-3, 2-3)
9. Missouri (4-4, 2-4)
10. South Carolina (5-3, 2-3)
11. Florida (4-4, 1-4)
12. Texas A&M (3-5, 1-4)
13. Auburn (3-5, 1-3)
14. Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-4)
Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Week 9: 4-1; season: 53-11
Game of the Week: Tennessee at Georgia (-8). The game of the year in college football takes place this Saturday (Nov. 5) in Athens. Tennessee is ranked No. 1 in the first playoff rankings of the season will bring an unblemished record into Sanford Stadium against the defending national champions. Georgia is also undefeated, so the winner of this game will represent the SEC East Division in the SEC title game. The loser is not necessarily out of playoff contention, but it will need other undefeated teams across the country to lose. This game will be a major contrast of styles. The Volunteers will spread it out the Bulldogs and speed up the tempo, while Georgia will look to punish UT on the ground. Prediction: Georgia 38, Tennessee 27.
Auburn at Mississippi State (-12.5). Auburn’s first game without Bryan Harsin is against the team that started the demise of his tenure. Last year, Auburn led Mississippi State 28-3 before losing 43-34, and the program has not been the same since. Interim head coach Carnell Williams leads the Tigers into Starkville as two-touchdown underdogs, and his squad must win three games down the stretch to reach a bowl game. New athletic director John Cohen, who this past week left Mississippi State for Auburn, will immediately begin the process of finding the next AU football coach. Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Auburn 24.
Kentucky at Missouri (+1). Missouri’s season looked like it was spiraling out of control after an embarrassing loss to Auburn and a close loss to Georgia, but credit Eli Drinkwitz for leading his team to victories over South Carolina and Vanderbilt in recent weeks. The Tigers are catching an ailing and reeling Kentucky squad at the right time, and Drinkwitz has a chance to lead the Tigers to a bowl game. Prediction: Missouri 23, Kentucky 22.
Florida at Texas A&M (-3.5). Everything about this season has been a disaster for Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies. A top 10 team in the preseason, Texas A&M is now in jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. Fisher is owed too much money to be fired this year, but he must least right the ship against a rebuilding Florida team in order to quiet down the noise in College Station. Prediction: Texas A&M 23, Florida 20.
Liberty at Arkansas (-13.5). Hugh Freeze will be a candidate for the Auburn job, so this Saturday’s game at Arkansas should be considered an audition. No one expects the Flames to win outright against the Hogs, but a competitive showing with an inferior roster against an SEC West school would intrigue the decisionmakers at Auburn. Regardless of the outcome, Freeze will be a candidate for the AU position despite off-the-field concerns. This is a game to keep an eye on Saturday afternoon. Prediction: Arkansas 34, Liberty 23.
Alabama at LSU (+13.5). This is not quite an elimination game in the SEC West since Ole Miss has one loss, but it is a must-win game for LSU’s conference title hopes and Alabama’s national title hopes. If LSU loses, the Tigers will pretty much be mathematically eliminated in the West, while a second loss for Alabama would severely damage the Crimson Tide’s s playoff chances even if UA wins the SEC. Brian Kelly has done a tremendous job getting LSU to this point in Year 1, but it’s a tall task for the Tiger defense to slow down Bryce Young. Prediction: Alabama 31, LSU 17.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt (+7). Vanderbilt has not won a conference game in almost three years, but this Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina is the best chance to end that streak. The Commodores have improved in Year 2 of Clark Lea’s tenure, but the Nashville squad still has not translated in the SEC. Van-dy had an extra week to prepare for the Gamecocks, and Shane Beamer’s squad just suffered a home loss to Missouri. Prediction: South Carolina 23, Vanderbilt 20.