In & around SEC football: Week 5 Previews and Predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Staff Correspondent

Alabama Week 4 Recap
Alabama was sharp from the opening kick in a 63-14 rout of Southern Mississippi last week. Jameson Williams returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and it was all Crimson Tide from there on out. Williams returned another kickoff for an 83-yard touchdown in the second half and caught one pass for an 81-yard score. Bryce Young threw for 313 yards, and while he did throw his first interception of the year, he also tossed five touchdown passes. Roydell Williams rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown on only 11 carries, while Jahleel Billingsley hauled in five passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Alabama needed a tune-up game following its near loss at Florida, and the Crimson Tide improved to 4-0 on the year. UA has a massive showdown this Saturday (Oct. 2) as the Ole Miss Rebels visit Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn Week 4 Recap
Bryan Harsin’s team barely avoided a catastrophic home loss to Georgia State. Auburn’s offense was stagnant for most of the game, and the Panthers led 24-12 in the third quarter. The turning point was Caylin Newton’s blocked punt, which resulted in an Auburn touchdown and cut the lead to 24-19. However, Georgia State held the lead until the final two minutes of the game, when backup quarterback TJ Finley led the Tigers on a 98-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Shedrick Jackson on 4th and 9 from the Georgia State 10-yard line with 45 seconds remaining in the game. Smoke Monday’s pick six made the final score 34-24, but that score did not reflect how poorly Auburn played. The Tigers improved to 3-1 on the year and travel to Baton Rouge this Saturday to take on LSU.
Week 5 SEC Rankings
1. Alabama (4-0, 1-0)
2. Georgia (4-0, 2-0)
3. Arkansas (4-0, 1-0)
4. Ole Miss (3-0)
5. Florida (3-1, 1-1)
6. Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1)
7. LSU (3-1, 1-0)
8. Auburn (3-1)
9. Kentucky (4-0, 2-0)
10. Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1)
11. Missouri (2-2, 0-1)
12. Tennessee (2-2, 0-1)
13. South Carolina (2-2, 0-2)
14. Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-1)
Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Last week: 7-1, season: 42-5
Saturday, Sept. 25
Game of the Week: Ole Miss at Alabama (-14.5). Lane Kiffin looks to become the first former assistant to defeat Nick Saban after nearly pulling off an upset a year ago in Oxford. The Rebels and Crimson Tide were tied 42-42 in the fourth quarter before Alabama pulled away for a 63-48 victory. Ole Miss has looked just as explosive through three games as the Rebels did in 2020, and they are improved on defense. However, they have not faced an offense as dynamic as Alabama’s since last season, and Bryce Young has been nearly flawless through four games as the starter for the Tide. Last year, these two teams combined for 1,370 yards and 111 points, and this year’s matchup should provide just as many fireworks. Prediction: Alabama 48, Ole Miss 41.
Arkansas at Georgia (-18.5). The story of the SEC thus far has been Arkansas’ emergence under second-year coach Sam Pittman. The Razorbacks have double-digit wins over both Texas A&M and Texas and now travel to Athens, where Pittman will take on former boss Kirby Smart. Pittman served as Georgia’s offensive line coach from 2016-2019 and he is returning with a top-10 team. A year ago, Georgia trailed the Hogs 7- 5 at halftime before pulling away for a 37-10 win. Georgia has the best defense in the country, so the Arkansas offense will have its work cut out for them on Saturday morning. Prediction: Georgia 23, Arkansas 6.
Tennessee at Missouri (-3). Missouri lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Boston College for its second loss of the season, while Tennessee could not capitalize on a positive first half in losing to Florida for the 16th time over the last 17 seasons. It’s not a surprise either team is 2-2, but both programs have to be slightly disappointing at the inconsistencies thus far. A win this weekend will be a major boost for either team as the midpoint of the season approaches. Prediction: Missouri 38, Tennessee 34.
Troy at South Carolina (-7). The Gamecocks’ defensive front kept them in the game against Kentucky, but the Gamecocks could not generate enough offense to produce a victory. South Carolina can compete with several teams in the league and might pull off an upset or two this year if the Gamecocks improve on offense. Prediction: South Carolina 30, Troy 22.
Florida at Kentucky (-8.5). Florida has won 33 of the last 34 games in this series, and this year’s battle will likely determine who finishes second in the East Division. The Gators nearly knocked off Alabama two weeks ago and handled their business against Tennessee, while Kentucky is 4-0 after three straight narrow wins. The Wildcats have not looked great in recent weeks, but Mark Stoops will have them ready when the Gators arrive in town. Prediction: Florida 33, Kentucky 24.
Mississippi State at Texas A&M (-7). Both the Bulldogs and Aggies are coming off of close losses to divisional foes, and both must regroup quickly so the season does not start to spiral out of control. Expectations in College Station were very high entering the year, but the injury to starting quarterback Haynes King has limited the A&M offense. This should be a defensive battle, and it’s shaping up to be the third straight game for each team that comes down to the wire. Prediction: Texas A&M 23, Mississippi State 16.
UConn at Vanderbilt (-14.5). Well, someone has to win this game. There probably won’t be many eyes on this battle between two of the worst FBS teams in the country, and it speaks volumes about UConn’s futility that Vanderbilt is a two-touchdown favorite over the Huskies. This might be the last opportunity for the Commodores to earn a win this season unless they drastically improve. Prediction: Vanderbilt 38, UConn 17.
Auburn at LSU (-3.5). Though both teams are 3-1, neither has looked particularly impressive during the first month of the season. Auburn was nearly upset by Georgia State and has issues along both lines of scrimmage. AU also have a quarterback controversy after Bo Nix was benched against the Panthers. Meanwhile, LSU was upset by UCLA in the season opener and nearly squandered a double-digit lead at Mississippi State last week. Auburn has not won in Baton Rouge since 1999, and after last week’s poor performance, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers breaking a long losing streak on the road. Prediction: LSU 27, Auburn 23.

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