In & around SEC football: Week 4 Previews and Predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 3 Recap
The Crimson Tide cruised to a 63-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe last week to remain perfect at 3-0 on the season entering conference play. Bryce Young threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns, though he did have two interceptions. Jahmyr Gibbs led Alabama in receiving with four catches for 65 yards and a score, while Traeshon Holden had 60 yards receiving and a touchdown. Alabama hosts Vanderbilt this Saturday (Sept. 24) in the Tide’s SEC opener.
Auburn Week 3 Recap
Last Saturday’s showdown between Auburn and Penn State went from bad to worse for the Tigers in the span of two quarters. Both teams were relatively even in the first half, but the Nittany Lions went 2-for-2 in the red zone with touchdowns while Auburn kicked a pair of field goals. Penn State led 14-6 at the half, and that lead quickly blossomed to the eventual 41-12 final score. T.J. Finley threw for 152 yards and an interception, while Robby Ashford threw for 144 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Penn State did not outgain Auburn (2-1) by much, but the Nittany Lions forced four turnovers while the Tigers forced none. Auburn was not competitive in the second half, and Bryan Harsin’s job security now hangs by a thread. A loss to Missouri this Saturday might very well be the final nail in the coffin for Harsin.
Week 4 SEC Rankings
1. Georgia (3-0, 1-0)
2. Alabama (3-0)
3. Arkansas (3-0, 1-0)
4. Kentucky (3-0, 1-0)
5, Tennessee (3-0)
6. Ole Miss (3-0)
7. Florida (2-1, 0-1)
8. Texas A&M (2-1)
9. LSU (2-1, 1-0)
10. Mississippi State (2-1, 0-1)
11. Auburn (2-1)
12. South Carolina (1-2, 0-2)
13. Missouri (2-1)
14. Vanderbilt (3-1)
Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Week 3: 11-1; season: 20-4
Game of the Week: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (-2). The Aggies bounced back from a home loss to Appalachian State with a 17-9 victory over Miami last week. It was a much-needed win for Jimbo Fisher, but the Aggies must now turn around and take on a very physical Arkansas team in Dallas. Missouri State put a scare in the Razorbacks last week, a wake-up call that might be exactly what the Hogs needed as they face Texas A&M, Alabama, Mississippi State and BYU over the next four weeks. The Aggies won nine straight meetings against Arkansas, starting when both joined the SEC in 2012, but the Hogs pulled off a 20-10 upset a season ago. Prediction: Arkansas 31, Texas A&M 24.
Missouri at Auburn (-7). It wasn’t just that Auburn lost to Penn State last week; it was how the Tigers lost. Losing 41-12 at home in a nationally televised game did nothing to quiet the rumors about Bryan Harsin’s job security, and another home loss to Missouri might result in Harsin’s termination next week. Missouri is the worst team Auburn will face in conference play this season, and if the Tigers indeed lose, a 3-9 season is quite possible. Auburn should have success in the running game against a porous Missouri defense, and Robby Ashford will likely get the start at quarterback after an injury to T.J. Finley. Prediction: Auburn 24, Missouri 17.
Kent State at Georgia (-45). No team in the country has looked as sharp as Georgia this season, and the Bulldogs have earned the No. 1 spot in the polls. Georgia should be 7-0 entering the Florida game at the end of October, but the schedule toughens during the last month. Until then, expect the Bulldogs to be on cruise control. Prediction: Georgia 52, Kent State 10.
Bowling Green at Mississippi State (-30). The Bulldogs faltered in the second half last week in Baton Rouge and suffered their first loss of the season. MSU has an opportunity to improve and pick up an easy win this Saturday before facing one of the toughest stretches of any team in the country. Prediction: Mississippi State 51, Bowling Green 16.
Florida at Tennessee (-10.5). It’s been over a decade since Tennessee foot-ball has looked as good as they have this year, and Josh Heupel deserves credit for quickly changing the perception of the program. Conference play will be challenging for the Volunteers, but UT should find a way to outscore the Gators at home in what could turn into a shootout in Knoxville. Prediction: Tennessee 48, Florida 34.
Tulsa at Ole Miss (-21.5). Lane Kiffin bought in more transfers than any other program in the SEC, and the Rebels are at 3-0. The offense is good, but perhaps the biggest surprise is how dominant the Mississippi defense has been. The sche-dule will be more difficult the rest of the way, but Kiffin has turned the Rebels into a consistent winner. Prediction: Ole Miss 41, Tulsa 12.
Northern Illinois at Kentucky (-26.5). Fans are used to seeing Kentucky in the top 10 in basketball, but Mark Stoops has transformed the Wildcats into one of the best football programs in the country. The schedule does toughen up in October, but Kentucky should be undefeated going into next week’s showdown at Ole Miss. Prediction: Kentucky 38, Northern Illinois 7.
Vanderbilt at Alabama (-40.5). Alabama gets to ease its way into SEC play as Vanderbilt visits Tuscaloosa, but Tide have a trio of difficult games in a row after this weekend. The Commodores are improved and already won three games, but they’re no match for Alabama. Prediction: Alabama 52, Vanderbilt 13.
New Mexico at LSU (-31.5). Brian Kelly earned his first SEC win last week as the Tigers defeated LSU, and they cleaned up several mistakes from the season-opening loss to Florida State. LSU is not quite ready as of yet to contend in the SEC West, but it won’t take Brian Kelly long to build a contender. Prediction: LSU 45, New Mexico 9.
Charlotte at South Carolina (-22.5). Georgia has a habit of making teams look silly, and the Gamecocks have struggled in back-to-back weeks against elite competition. South Carolina has a chance to get back on track over the next two weeks before jumping back into conference play. Prediction: South Carolina 48, Charlotte 14.

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