In & around SEC football – Week 8 previews

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 7 Review
Alabama scored double digits in every quarter, and the Crimson Tide cruised to a 47-28 road win over Texas A&M. The UA offense was yet again unstoppable, and the Tide was able to get the ground game going to supplement Tua Tagovailoa’s passing attack. Najee Harris rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries, while Brian Robinson rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown. Tagovailoa had a big day through the air in throwing for four touchdowns and 293 yards, though he was also intercepted for the first time this season. Alabama improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. UA welcomes Tennessee to Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday (Oct. 19).
SEC football standings
1. Alabama (6-0, 3-0)
2. LSU (6-0, 2-0)
3. Florida (6-1, 3-1)
4. Auburn (5-1, 2-1)
5. Georgia (5-1, 2-1)
6. Missouri (5-1, 2-0)
7. South Carolina (3-3, 2-2)
8. Texas A&M (3-3, 1-2)
9. Ole Miss (3-4, 2-1)
10. Kentucky (3-3, 1-3)
11. Tennessee (2-4, 1-2)
12. Mississippi State (3-3, 1-2)
13. Arkansas (2-4, 0-3)
14. Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-3)
Week 8 Previews and Predictions
Week 6: 4-3; season: 48-15
Game of the Week: Florida at South Carolina (+6). South Carolina’s shocking win at Georgia last week does not necessarily do anything for the Gamecocks’ SEC East chances. The Gamecocks are not running the table and might not even beat Florida this Sa-turday. Regardless, it was still a massive victory for Will Muschamp and it gives his team an opportunity to finish the season strong and build for the future. It will still be a challenge for South Carolina to make a bowl game, but Muschamp proved that this team will be competitive. Florida is in a tricky spot coming off an emotional loss at LSU, but with an open week ahead, the Gators should be able to rebound and earn a road win. Prediction: Florida 23, South Carolina 16.
Auburn at Arkansas (+19.5). Gus Malzahn is 5-1 against Arkansas since took over at Auburn in 2013, and his Tigers have outscored the Razorbacks 142-26 in the last three seasons. Malzahn’s only loss in the series came in 2015 in a similar spot in an 11 a.m. game, and the Hogs outlasted the Tigers 54-46 in four overtimes. But this Auburn team is much better defensively, and the Tigers had an extra week to prepare for the Razorbacks. Ordinarily, this would be a trap game since Arkansas is struggling and it’s in between two high-profile games against Flo-rida and LSU, but the open week should have the Tigers focused entering Fayetteville. Prediction: Auburn 38, Arkansas 13.
LSU at Mississippi State (+18.5). Losing to Tennessee in 2019 isn’t a good look for anyone but losing to the Volunteers and only scoring 10 points with two weeks to prepare looks even worse. Joe Moorhead probably is not on the hot seat, but his Bulldogs are off to a rocky start to the 2019 season. To make matters worse, the schedule only gets more difficult as MSU still has to play LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama. Even with a presumed loss Saturday to LSU, the Bulldogs can rally and make a bowl game. If things get ugly in Starkville on Saturday against the Tigers, however, it could quickly spiral out of control. Prediction: LSU 44, Mississippi State 24.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (+21). These two programs are trending in completely opposite directions. Since opening the year with a loss at Wyoming, Missouri has won five straight and is the only SEC East team without a conference loss. If the Tigers take care of business against the teams they should beat down the stretch – including Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas – they might only have to split against Georgia and Florida to win the SEC East. It’s a tall task, but Missouri should start with a convincing win over a Vanderbilt team that was just dominated by a bad UNLV squad. Prediction: Missouri 38, Vanderbilt 17.
Kentucky at Georgia (-25). Georgia’s home loss to South Carolina is the early candidate for the upset of the year. The Bulldogs were 24.5-point favorites and South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski was injured in the third quarter. Freshman Dakeron Joyner did just enough to put the Gamecocks over the top, and it helped that his counterpart, Jake Fromm, threw three interceptions. It was a bad loss for Georgia but does not necessarily sink the Bulldogs’ postseason chances. They have no margin for error, however, and they need to get back on track at home against Kentucky this weekend, because the schedule gets much tougher in November. Prediction: Georgia 48, Kentucky 10.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (+6.5). Texas A&M has played in three big games this season and has not been particularly close to winning any of them. The Aggies still must play LSU and Georgia, and it’s looking like seven wins might be the ceiling for this squad. That means that the Aggies have no margin for error and cannot afford a letdown when this weekend in Oxford. The Rebels have found more of a rhythm offensively with John Rhys Plumlee at quarterback and are capable of pulling off the upset at home. Prediction: Texas A&M 27, Ole Miss 23.
Tennessee at Alabama (-34.5). Alabama has not lost to Tennessee since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa in 2007, and it’s been a very lopsided “rivalry” over the last 12 years. Only two of those 12 games were decided by single digits, and the average margin of victory for Alabama is 25 points per game. This year doesn’t figure to be any different. While Jeremy Pruitt temporarily righted the ship with a win over Mississippi State, the Volunteers are considerably overmatched against the Crimson Tide. Alabama should have this win secured well before the fourth quarter begins. Prediction: Alabama 51, Tennessee 17.

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