In & around SEC football: Week 4 previews and predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent 

Alabama Week 3 Recap
No win in the Nick Saban era has ever felt like a loss more than Alabama’s 17-3 victory over South Florida last week in Tampa. The Crimson Tide and the Bulls were tied 3-3 at halftime despite Alabama being listed as 32-point favorites. Alabama did not put the game away until an 11-play, 80-yard drive was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run from Ty Simpson with 33 seconds remaining in the game. Tyler Buchner started at quarterback in place of Jalen Milroe, completing 5 of 14 passes for 34 yards, all in the first half. Simpson entered in the second half and finished the game 5 for 9 for 73 yards, while Milroe did not appear. Roydell Williams led the Tide (2-1) on the ground 129 yards and a touchdown. Alabama returns home for its first SEC matchup of the season as Ole Miss visits Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Auburn Week 3 Recap
Payton Thorne took control of the Auburn quarterback position as the Tigers cruised past Samford, 45-13, last Saturday. Thorne threw for 282 yards and a touchdown and ran for 123 yards and two more scores as the Auburn offense started to click. Thorne did throw two interceptions in the first half, but Hugh Freeze was pleased with his performance as the Tigers improved to 3-0 on the year. Auburn prepare for conference play this week with a visit to Texas A&M.
Week 4 SEC rankings
1. Georgia (3-0, 1-0)
2. LSU (2-1, 1-0)
3. Ole Miss (3-0)
4. Alabama (2-1)
5. Kentucky (3-0)
6. Texas A&M (2-1)
7. Florida (2-1, 1-0)
8. Auburn (3-0)
9. Missouri (3-0)
10. Tennessee (2-1, 0-1)
11. South Carolina (1-2, 0-1)
12. Arkansas (2-1)
13. Mississippi State (2-1, 0-1)
14. Vanderbilt (2-2)

Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Last week: 7-4; season: 28-7
Game of the Week: Ole Miss at Alabama (-7). After the program’s worst performance in over 15 years, Alabama returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday with a great chance to get back on track against Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels. Kiffin has yet to beat Nick Saban, and this might be his best chance as Alabama enters this matchup struggling to find its identity. Jalen Milroe is expected to be back under center for the Crimson Tide, but the key to success for Alabama is up front. If the Alabama offensive line lives up to expectations and dominates the Ole Miss defensive front, the Crimson Tide will handle the visitors and bounce back. Prediction: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 17.
Auburn at Texas A&M (-7.5). Texas A&M’s loss to Miami two weeks ago might have thrown most of the country off the scent about the Aggies. Jimbo Fisher has his most talented team on both sides of the ball, and despite the loss to the Hurricanes, A&M can be a real contender in the SEC West. This four-week stretch of games will tell us what the Aggies are about, and they should take care of an Auburn team that is still finding its identity under Hugh Freeze. Prediction: Texas A&M 30, Auburn 16.
Kentucky at Vanderbilt (+14). The Wildcats have not exactly flourished in their first three games against inferior opponents, but they are 3-0 with an excellent opportunity to go 4-0 as they hit the road for the first time this season at Nashville. Vanderbilt squandered a potential road win at UNLV last week to drop to 2-2, and this game could be the start of a brutal stretch for the Commodores. Prediction: Kentucky 37, Vanderbilt 17.
UTSA at Tennessee (-20.5). Tennessee’s performance on the road at Florida was perhaps the most surprising result of last Saturday’s conference slate outside of Alabama’s struggles. The Volunteers were outclassed in every phase of the game in Gainesville, and UT quarterback Joe Milton struggled in his first road start with the Volunteers. Josh Heupel’s team should return to the win column on Saturday, but so far this season, Tennessee does not look like a threat to Georgia in the East. Prediction: Tennessee 45, UTSA 13.
Arkansas at LSU (-17.5). The most impressive performance in the SEC last week belonged to LSU. The Tigers dismantled Mississippi State 41-14 in Starkville, and the final score was not indicative of how badly LSU embarrassed the Bulldogs. Brian Kelly’s team looked like the group pundits expected to contend for a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Arkansas lost a winnable home game to BYU despite outgaining the Cougars. It was a disappointing effort from the Hogs, who dropped to 2-1. Prediction: LSU 38, Arkansas 23.
Charlotte at Florida (-28). Florida head coach Billy Napier secured the biggest win of his tenure last week when his Gators knocked off Tennessee. It was a much better performance than what Flori-da showed in a road loss at Utah to start the year. Reaching six wins will still be difficult with their schedule, but the Gators might be turning a corner under Napier. Prediction: Florida 38, Charlotte 7.
UAB at Georgia (-42). The two-time defending champions trailed South Carolina 14-3 at halftime in Georgia’s SEC opener last week, but Kirby Smart’s halftime speech was apparently very convincing as the Bulldogs rallied for a 24-14 victory. Georgia’s defense was stifling in the second half in harassing Gamecock quarterback Spencer Rattler into two interceptions. The Bulldogs have another easy win this Saturday before resuming conference play. Prediction: Georgia 48, UAB 3.
Memphis at Missouri (-7). Much like Billy Napier at Florida, Eli Drinkwitz secured the signature win of his Missouri tenure last week when his Tigers upset Kansas State. Missouri won with a 61-yard field goal as time expired to improve to 3–0. The Tigers welcome a dangerous Memphis team to Columbia in a potential upset spot after a massive victory. Prediction: Missouri 26, Memphis 24.
Mississippi State at South Carolina (-6). Neither the Bulldogs nor the Gamecocks started SEC play in the manner they wished, but South Carolina was at least competitive in its loss to top-ranked Georgia. Mississippi State looked awful in Zach Arnett’s SEC debut. Both of these teams need a victory on Saturday. Prediction: South Carolina 27, Mississippi State 20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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