In & around SEC football: Week 4 Previews and Predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 3 Recap
A blistering first quarter helped Alabama avoid a major upset as the Crimson Tide snuck past Florida, 31-29, in The Swamp last Saturday. UA jumped out to a quick 21-3 lead behind three first-quarter touchdowns from Bryce Young, but the Gators dominated over the next three quarters and were a missed two-point conversion away from potentially forcing overtime. Florida missed an extra point in the second quarter while trimming the lead to 21-9, which forced the Gators to go for a two-point conversion after late touchdown run by Dameon Pierce narrowed the deficit to 31-29. Alabama was outgained 440-331 overall and allowed 245 yards rushing. Young threw for 240 yards. Alabama returns home this Saturday (Sept. 25) to take on Southern Mississippi.
Auburn Week 3 Recap
The Tigers had a chance to pull off an upset over Penn State on the road, but an incomplete pass on a fourth and down and 2 with three minutes remaining in the game allowed Penn State to escape with a 28-20 victory. Bo Nix could not connect with Kobe Hudson on the fourth and goal fade. It was a missed opportunity for Bryan Harsin’s squad, but there were positives in the performance. Tank Bigs-by rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and Jarquez Hunter added 63 yards on the ground. Nix threw for 185 yards but did not turn the ball over and looked much more comfortable than he had in previous road performances. Auburn returns home this week to host Georgia State before conference play begins.
Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Last week: 12-0
Season: 35-4
Saturday, Sept. 25
Game of the Week: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (+5.5). Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season thus far in the SEC has been Arkansas. The Razorbacks dominating win over Texas earned the Hogs a spot in the top 25, and now take on Texas A&M in a massive SEC West showdown this Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Arkansas leads the all-time series 41-33, but Texas A&M has won every meeting since joining the SEC in 2012. That’s nine straight victories for the Aggies, and they’re favored to make it 10 despite entering this matchup with backup quarterback Zach Calzada as the starter. If the Razorbacks are going to end the streak, this is their best opportunity to do so, and a win might catapult the Hogs into the top 10. Prediction: Arkansas 26, Texas A&M 23.
Georgia at Vanderbilt (+35). Georgia’s defense continues to dominate, and the Bulldogs have only allowed 23 points in three games this season. The Commodores won’t provide much of a challenge on Saturday, but Georgia’s schedule intensifies after this week as the ‘Dogs face three straight teams that are either ranked or undefeated. Prediction: Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 3.
LSU at Mississippi State (+2.5). Neither team expected to enter this matchup with a non-conference loss, but both teams dropped away games to teams they should have beaten. LSU lost to UCLA in Week 1, while Mississippi State dropped a game last weekend at Memphis, though officials admitted they made a critical error on the game- winning touchdown by Memphis. The Bulldogs shocked LSU to open the 2020 season in Baton Rouge, and now the Tigers visit Starkville with revenge on their minds as conference play begins. Prediction: LSU 38, Mississippi State 27.
Missouri at Boston College (+1.5). Eliah Drinkwitz takes his Tigers on the road for a tricky game against a very solid Boston College team. The Eagles have backup quarterback Dennis Grossel starting in place of injured starter Phil Jurkovec, but Grossell played well a week ago in a 28-3 win over Temple. Missouri is the more talented team but playing on the road is never an easy task, and Boston College is one of the best teams in the ACC. Prediction: Missouri 27, Boston College 24.
Georgia State at Auburn (-27). Auburn returns home after the first loss of the Bryan Harsin era has one final non-conference game before a pivotal three-game stretch in the SEC. The Tigers travel to LSU next week and take on Georgia and Arkansas in the following weeks. In the loss to Penn State, Auburn’s main issues were rushing the passer and explosive plays in the passing game. Harsin will look for solutions to those problems against an overmatched Georgia State team this Saturday as the Tigers aim to get back on track. Prediction: Auburn 52, Georgia State 10.
Tennessee at Florida (-19.5). Despite the loss to Alabama, Florida was very impressive after the first quarter. Dan Mullen is not interested in moral victories, but it’s likely that the performance against the Crimson Tide gave his team the confidence needed to make another run in the SEC East. Tennessee is off to a 2-1 start in Josh Heupel’s debut season, and the Volunteers are catching Florida at the right time after last week’s emotional battle in Gainesville. Prediction: Florida 33, Tennessee 27.
Kentucky at South Carolina (+5). Kentucky has won six of its last seven games against South Carolina, including last year’s 41-18 blowout. The Wildcats did not look sharp in a narrow win over Chattanooga a week ago, but this might be Mark Stoops’ best team overall. South Carolina is rebuilding under first-year coach Shane Beamer, and a home win over Kentucky would be a massive statement victory for his program. Prediction: Kentucky 34, South Carolina 20.
Southern Mississippi at Alabama (-45). Alabama’s defense struggled against Florida on the road and has a week to correct those issues before the best offense in the country visits Tuscaloosa next weekend. Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss squad scored 48 points on the Tide a year ago, and this Rebels offense looks just as prolific. UA will cruise this week over Southern Mississippi before next week’s massive showdown. Prediction: Alabama 52, Southern Mississippi 3.

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