In & around SEC football: Week 8 Previews and Predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent 

Alabama Week 7 Recap
Alabama and Tennessee combined for over 100 points and 1,100 yards of offense, and the Volunteers emerged with a 52-49 win last weekend in Knoxville. It was the first time Alabama lost to Tennessee since 2006. Bryce Young threw for 455 yards and two touchdowns and Jahmyr Gibbs rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns, but that was not enough to overcome Hendon Hooker’s five passing touchdowns. UT receiver Jalin Hyatt caught six passes for 207 yards and five scores. Alabama dropped to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. The Tide return home this Saturday (Oct. 22) for a West Division showdown against Mississippi State.
Auburn Week 7 Recap
Auburn’s best offensive performance of the season ended in a two-touchdown loss on the road at Ole Miss. The Rebels outlasted the Tigers 48-34 and outgained the visitors 578-441, including 448 rushing yards. Auburn was productive on the ground as well in rushing for 301 yards, including 179 yards and two touchdowns from Tank Bigsby, but turnovers once again doomed Bryan Harsin’s team. The Tigers lost the turnover battle 3-1 and they could not make enough stops in the second half to mount a comeback. Auburn dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play. The Tigers have an open week before welcoming Arkansas to Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 29.
Week 8 SEC Rankings
1. Georgia (7-0, 4-0)
2. Tennessee (6-0, 3-0)
3. Alabama (6-1, 3-1)
4. Ole Miss (7-0, 3-0)
5. Kentucky (5-2, 2-2)
6. LSU (5-2, 3-1)
7. Mississippi State (5-2, 2-2)
8. Texas A&M (3-3, 1-2)
9. Arkansas (4-3, 0-3)
10. Florida (4-3, 1-3)
11. South Carolina (4-2, 1-2)
12. Auburn (3-4, 1-2)
13. Vanderbilt (3-4, 0-3)
14. Missouri (2-4, 0-4)
Week 8 Previews and Predictions
Week 7: 4-2; season: 45-9
Game of the Week: Ole Miss at LSU (-2). The undefeated Rebels tra-vel to Baton Rouge for their first major road test of the season against a surging LSU squad. Brian Kelly’s team last week defeated Florida on the road in a shootout, and the Tigers are 5-2 on the season. Ole Miss, which is an underdog for the first time this year, will be challenged on both sides of the ball with LSU’s playmakers. Prediction: LSU 27, Ole Miss 24.
UT-Martin at Tennessee. Normally after a program-defining win, most teams respond by experiencing a letdown game the following week. Luckily, the Volunteers welcome in an overmatched UT-Martin team to help them get back on track before back-to-back games against Kentucky and Georgia. Tennessee is now a playoff contender but cannot afford a letdown performance against divisional foes. Prediction: Tennessee 51, UT Martin 13.
Vanderbilt at Missouri (-14). Both the Tigers and Commodores are in search of their first conference win of the season, and the schedule does not provide many opportunities for another one after this week. Missouri has shown signs of life since they let a win escape at Auburn, but Eli Drinkwitz needs a victory to help avoid job security concerns heading into November. Vanderbilt has not won a conference game since 2019 but should have an opportunity to steal a win in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Prediction: Missouri 41, Vanderbilt 33.
Mississippi State at Alabama (-21). Alabama losing a regular season game is not uncommon. In fact, Nick Saban has led Alabama to six national titles but only two perfect seasons, with one of those seasons being the COVID-shortened 2020 season. So, it sould not shock anyone to see a one-loss SEC champion Alabama team in the playoffs come January. However, this Alabama team has some very noticeable flaws that Bryce Young mostly covers by himself. The Tide defense did not have an answer for the Tennessee offense, and Mississippi State will attack UA with the passing game much like Tennessee did, though likely with shorter passes and less vertical routes. Alabama was penalized 17 times in Knoxville, and they’ve struggled on the road in every true road game dating back to last year’s Iron Bowl escape. Saban’s team will be heavy favorites the rest of the regular season but must clean things up on both sides of the ball if they’re going to win another championship. Prediction: Alabama 38, Mississippi State 22.
Texas A&M at South Carolina (+3). After an eventful offseason, Jimbo Fisher’s program has failed to deliver halfway through the season. The Aggies brought in an elite recruiting class but currently are 3-3 and near the bottom of the SEC standings. If Texas A&M loses this week, the Aggies might struggle to qualify for a bowl game this season. Prediction: Texas A&M 23, South Carolina 20.

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