In & around SEC football: Week 12 previews

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent 

Alabama Week 11 Recap
Alabama clinched the SEC West Division last week with a dominating 49-21 road victory over Kentucky. Quarterback Jalen Milroe threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns and added three touchdowns on the ground. The Crimson Tide outgained the Wildcats 444 to 253, and the game was never in doubt. Alabama improved to 9-1 overall and 7-0 in conference play. UA returns home this Saturday (Nov. 18) to take on UT-Chattanooga.
Auburn Week 11 Recap
The Tigers jumped out to a 21-3 first quarter lead and never looked back en route to a 48-10 victory over Arkansas last week. Quarterback Payton Thorne threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns, with Rival-do Fairweather hauling in two TD receptions. Jarquez Hunter added 109 yards on the ground. Auburn outgained the Hogs 517 to 255 as Hugh Freeze’s team improved to 6-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play. The Tigers return home this week to take on New Mexico State before welcoming in Alabama for the Iron Bowl.
Week 11 SEC rankings
1. Georgia (10-0, 7-0)
2. Alabama (9-1, 7-0)
3. Ole Miss (8-2, 5-2)
4. LSU (7-3, 4-2)
5. Missouri (8-2, 4-2)
6. Tennessee (7-3, 3-3)
7. Texas A&M (6-4, 4-3)
8. Auburn (6-4, 3-4)
9. Kentucky (6-4, 2-5)
10. Arkansas (3-7, 1-6)
11. Florida (5-5, 3-4)
12. South Carolina (4-6, 2-5)
13. Mississippi State (4-6, 1-6)
14. Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7)

Week 12 Previews and Predictions
Last week: 7-0; season: 72-15
Game of the Week: Georgia at Tennessee (+10). The Bulldogs clinched the SEC East with their win over Ole Miss to set up a showdown with Alabama in the SEC title game. In the preseason, it appeared as if the Volunteers would be Georgia’s top contender in the East. However, UT was crushed by Missouri a week ago. The Vols are staring at an 8-4 season unless they can pull off an upset over Georgia. Prediction: Georgia 38, Tennessee 24.
UT-Chattanooga at Alabama. Six weeks ago, this looked like the worst Nick Saban team in 15 years. Alabama struggled with South Florida, lost to Texas and nearly blew a double-digit lead to Arkansas. Since then, the Crimson Tide has improved drastically each week and are back in the SEC championsip game with a chance to make the playoffs yet again. Prediction: Alabama 51, Chattanooga 6.
UL Monroe at Ole Miss (-37). The Rebels were dom-inated on the road last week in Athens, but Ole Miss has an opportunity to finish the year with 10 wins for the se-cond time in the last three seasons. All that is standing in the Rebels’ way is UL-Monroe and a Mississippi State team that just fired its coach. Prediction: Ole Miss 48, UL Monroe 10.
Southern Mississippi at Mississippi State (-14). Speaking of the Bulldogs, Zach Arnett was fired after a 51-10 road loss last week at Texas A&M. Mississippi State is 4-6 on the year and have looked overmatched in almost every conference game. Arnett decided to move on from Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, and the results were abysmal. Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Southern Miss 16.
Abilene Christian at Texas A&M. Zach Arnett was not the only coach fired after the Texas A&M-Mississippi State game, as the Aggies made the decision to part ways with Jimbo Fisher even after that blowout win. The school will pay Fisher $75 million dollars not to coach them. This will be a highly publicized coaching hire. Expect the Aggies to offer an absurd amount of money to a sitting Power 5 coach. Prediction: Texas A&M 48, Abilene Christian 3.
New Mexico State at Auburn (-24). After an extremely difficult start to conference play, Auburn has rattled off three consecutive SEC victories, and the offense is clicking for the first time this season. The Tigers are now bowl eligible and have a good chance to guarantee a winning season against New Mexico State before next week’s Iron Bowl. Prediction: Auburn 38, New Mexico State 9.
Florida at Missouri (-11.5). Missouri is having a special season, and the blowout win over Tennessee solidified the Tigers as one of the best teams in both the SEC and the country. If the 12-team playoff started this season instead of next, Missouri would be a contender for a postseason berth. Florida needs one more win to reach bowl eligibility, and the Gators play two of the best teams in the country over the next two weeks. Billy Napier’s crew will need to pull an upset to make the postseason. Prediction: Missouri 37, Florida 34.
FIU at Arkansas (-29.5). Sam Pittman is still employed in Fayetteville even after a 48-10 home loss that ended the Hogs’ chances at bowl eligibility. It’s still unclear whether Pittman will survive the year and return in 2024, but Arkansas is still paying a hefty buyout to former coach Chad Morris. A loss to FIU would leave the Razorbacks with no choice. Prediction: Arkansas 41, FIU 13.
Kentucky at South Carolina (+1.5). South Carolina has struggled for most of the season, but Shane Beamer’s crew still has a chance to reach the postsea-son if the Gamecocks can win games against Kentucky and Clemson. The Wildcats have struggled down the stretch and are coming off a blowout home loss to Alabama. Bea-mer is usually good at motivating in these situations, so expect an inspired effort in front of the home crowd. Prediction: South Carolina 27, Kentucky 23.
Georgia State at LSU (-31). The Tigers are no longer in contention for a playoff bid, but quarterback Jaylen Daniels is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy. It’s rare for a player to win the Heisman without being on a championship contender, but it is possible. Quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel all won the Heisman in the last 15 years despite not playing for a championship, and Daniels could be next if he finishes the season with two electric performances. Prediction: LSU 55, Georgia State 24.

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