By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 5 Recap
Alabama’s best performance of the season helped secure a 16th straight victory over Mississippi State as the Crimson Tide emerged from Starkville last week with a 40-17 victory. Jalen Milroe rushed for 69 yards and two touchdowns while completing 10 of 12 passes for 164 yards, and the Tide forced three Bulldog turnovers, including a pick-six from Chris Braswell in the first half. Alabama improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play. The win sets up a showdown in College Station this Saturday (Oct. 7) between the Tide and Texas A&M.
Auburn Week 5 Recap
The Tigers fell just short of delivering a program-defining victory over two-time defending national champion Georgia last week, but the Bulldogs escaped Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 27-20 victory. AU quarterback Payton Thorne was intercepted with under two minutes to play as the Tigers were marching to tie the game. Thorne threw for 82 yards and added 92 more on the ground, but Auburn was doomed once again by inefficiency in the passing game. Defensively, Auburn forced two Georgia turnovers, but Brock Bowers dominated the second half for the Bulldogs as he hauled in eight passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. Hugh Freeze’s team fell to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in SEC play. The Tigers have an open week before traveling to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Week 5 SEC rankings
1. Georgia (5-0, 2-0)
2. Alabama (4-1, 2-0)
3. Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0)
4. Kentucky (5-0, 2-0)
5. Ole Miss (4-1, 1-1)
6. Missouri (5-0, 1-0)
7. Tennessee (4-1, 1-1)
8. LSU (3-2, 1-1)
9. Auburn (3-2, 0-2)
10. South Carolina (2-3, 1-2)
11. Florida (3-2, 1-1)
12. Arkansas (2-3, 0-2)
13. Mississippi State (2-3, 0-3)
14. Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-2)
Week 6 Previews and Predictions
Last week: 6-1; season: 42-8
Game of the Week: Alabama at Texas A&M (+2). The SEC West Division remains up for grabs, and Saturday’s showdown in College Station should go a long way in determining who plays for a conference title in Atlanta in December. The Aggies and the Crimson Tide are the only two West Division teams still undefeated in conference play, and while both teams have challenging games remaining, this is a pivotal matchup. Alabama has taken strides in the right direction with wins over the Mississippi schools over the past two weeks, but the Tide moves up in weight class against Texas A&M. Despite a loss to Miami and losing starting quarterback Conner Weigman, the Aggies remain dangerous. Backup QB Max Johnson is more than capable of lea-ding Jimbo Fisher to his second win over his former boss. Prediction: Alabama 23, Texas A&M 20.
LSU at Missouri (+6). No one expected LSU to be on the brink of playoff elimination before the calendar hit October, but the Tigers’ road loss to Ole Miss has them in a position where they must win out to have a chance. The schedule still includes Alabama, Texas A&M and a suddenly threatening Missouri team. Mizzou is undefeated with a very impressive win over Kansas State, and a win over LSU would be the biggest of Eli Drinkwitz’s career. Prediction: LSU 34, Missouri 27.
Western Michigan at Mississippi State (-20.5). It’s been a brutal start to conference play for Zach Arnett and the Bulldogs, and this Saturday provides the last easy win for over a month. Mississippi State can compete with most teams remaining on its schedule but reaching a bowl game will be challenging unless the Bulldogs can figure things out offensively sooner than later. Prediction: Mississippi State 37, Western Michigan 13.
Vanderbilt at Florida (-18.5). Both teams had dis-appointing performances a week ago in conference losses, but Vanderbilt’s loss to Missouri was at least expected. Florida, on the other hand, looked unprepared as the Gators were embarrassed by Kentucky. Florida upset Tennessee a few weeks ago, but the loss to UK was a big step backwards. Starting with Saturday’s game, Billy Napier needs to get the Gators back on track if they’re going to make the postseason. Prediction: Florida 31, Van-derbilt 17.
Kentucky at Georgia (-14.5). Georgia survived its first road test of the sea-son in Auburn, and this week the Bulldogs return home for a massive East Division matchup against undefeated Kentucky. The Wildcats ran through Florida behind a monster performance from running back Ray Davis. UK has given Georgia a competitive game in previous seasons but have been unable to pull off an upset. The Georgia/Kentucky matchups have been low-scoring affairs in recent years, and this one is shaping up to be another defensive battle. Prediction: Georgia 23, Kentucky 13.
Arkansas at Ole Miss (-11.5). Lane Kiffin’s squad followed up a disappointing performance in Tuscaloosa with a fantastic victory over LSU last week in Oxford. The Rebels are right back in the mix in the SEC West but cannot afford a slip up against a struggling Arkansas team. The Razorbacks possess dangerous weapons on offense, so this could turn into another shootout. Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Arkansas 31.