By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 3 Review
After a slow start – at least by Alabama standards – the Crimson Tide last week turned a 14-10 lead into a 47-23 victory over South Carolina to start SEC play. The Gamecocks kept pace with the Crimson Tide offense for most of the first half, but Will Muschamp’s team had no answer for Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama receiving corps. Tagovailoa threw for 444 yards and five touchdowns, while DeVonta Smith caught eight passes for 136 yards and two scores as the Alabama offense posted double digits in all four quarters. UA improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC and hosts Southern Mississippi this Saturday (Sept. 21) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn Week 3 Review
Auburn finally found its footing offensively in a 55-16 walloping of Kent State last weekend. The Tigers had been struggling to run the ball efficiently but exploded on the ground for 467 yards. Three different Tigers – JaTarvious Whitlow, Joey Gatewood and Shaun Shivers – rushed for over 100 yards, while Bo Nix threw for 161 yards and a touchdown. Auburn is 3-0 on the year and travel to Co-llege Station for a pivotal SEC West Division showdown against Texas A&M this Saturday.
SEC football standings
1. Georgia (3-0, 1-0)
2. Alabama (3-0, 1-0)
3. LSU (3-0)
4. Texas A&M (2-1)
5. Auburn (3-0)
6. Florida (3-0, 1-0)
7. Missouri (2-1)
8. Mississippi State (2-1)
9. Kentucky (2-1, 0-1)
10. South Carolina (1-2, 0-1)
11. Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1)
12. Ole Miss (2-1, 1-0)
13. Arkansas (2-1, 0-1)
14. Tennessee (1-2)
Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Week 3: 10-1; season: 29-7
Game of the Week: Notre Dame at Georgia (-14). Both programs appeared in the College Football Playoffs the past two seasons and are two of the top programs in all of college football. The schools have only met twice before, and the Bulldogs won both games, including a 20-19 triumph in South Bend in 2017 and a 17-10 victory to clinch the national title in the 1981 Sugar Bowl. Both teams hope for playoff contention this season, and the Bulldogs certainly look the part thus fair, albeit against inferior opponents. This will be Georgia’s first major test of the year. If the Bulldogs pass, there aren’t many teams capable of competing with them until the postseason. Prediction: Georgia 38, Notre Dame 17.
LSU at Vanderbilt (-23.5). LSU’s new-look offense has been dynamic this far, and the Tigers enter conference play as one of the few potential threats to Alabama in the SEC. Meanwhile, the Commodores opened the year with one of the toughest schedules in the country The Tigers are the second top-5 team Vanderbilt has played in three games. The Commodores opened the season a with a home loss to Georgia and dropped a road game at Purdue the next week. Nashville isn’t exactly a challenging place to play, and the Tigers have already proven they’re capable of winning road games after their victory at Texas. Prediction: LSU 41, Vanderbilt 13.
Southern Miss at Alabama (-39). Despite an unblemished record and a playoff-caliber team once again, not everything is perfect right now for the Crimson Tide. The running game is lacking, though to be fair, Alabama hasn’t needed a running game and might not considering how explosive the passing attack is, and the defensive front seven is young and inexperienced. The good news is that Alabama likely won’t be challenged for several weeks, so the Tide has time to improve before facing a team capable of competing with them. Prediction: Alabama 59, Southern Miss 13.
Tennessee at Florida (-14.5). The Gators narrowly escaped Lexington with a win last week but lost starting quarterback Fele-ipe Franks for the season. Backup Kyle Trask played well in Franks’ absence, and the Gators will need him to steadily improve if they wish to contend in the East Division. Jeremy Pru-itt avoided early termination with a win over Chattanooga but he remains on the hot seat after opening the season with losses to Georgia State and BYU. This is a winnable game for the Volunteers, and they’re catching Florida at the right time. Prediction: Florida 23, Tennessee 16.
Cal at Ole Miss (-2.5). If Ole Miss wants to end its postseason drought, this is a must-win game. Cal is undefeated and recently knocked off Washington on the road. The Golden Bears also beat Ole Miss a season ago. The Rebels have won two straight, however, and certainly are capable of winning this game, as Cal is traveling across the country to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Prediction: Ole Miss 20, Cal 18.
Auburn at Texas A&M (-4). This early-season showdown is massively important for both teams. A loss for Texas A&M would essentially remove the Aggies from the playoff discussion since it would be their second loss this month. Auburn has a great win on its resume against Oregon, and another victory in the state of Texas would be a statement win for the Tigers. If Auburn loses, it wouldn’t doom the Tigers for the season, but the schedule only gets tougher from here on out, so it’s imperative they win this one to stay alive in the SEC West. Prediction: Texas A&M 23, Auburn 20.
Kentucky at Mississippi State (-6.5). Without starting quarterback Tommy Stevens, the Bulldogs struggled offensively in a home loss to Kansas State. A non-conference loss doesn’t ruin the season for Mississippi State, but it’s clear they need Stevens to be effective. Kentucky also was without its starter at quarterback, and backup Sawyer Smith had good moments during the Florida game. But turnovers plagued the Wildcats, who must quickly correct that before heading to Starkville this Saturday. Prediction: Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 23.
South Carolina at Missouri (-9.5). Since blowing a 14-0 lead and losing at Wyoming in Week 1, Missouri is trending in the right direction. Kelly Bryant has been impressive at quarterback and the offense has been clicking overall. The Tigers are catching a hobbled South Carolina team, but the Gamecocks played well in a loss to Alabama. Prediction: Missouri 41, South Carolina 33.
San Jose State at Arkansas (-21). The Razorbacks already have matched last season’s win total of two and have a chance to surpass that mark this weekend. Texas A&M transfer Nick Starkel looked comfortable running Chad Morris’ offense, with the Hogs exploding for 55 points in a win over Colorado State. Arkansas needs this win, as a matchup with Texas A&M awaits next week. Prediction: Arkansas 48, San Jose State 20.