In & around SEC football: Week 9 Previews and Predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 8 Recap
A back-and-forth affair for three quarters quickly turned into a blowout as Alabama’s offense took over in the second half of its 52-24 victory over Tennessee. The Crimson Tide led 31-24 early in the fourth quarter after a 70-yard strike from UT quarterback Hendon Hooker to Jalin Hyatt. Alabama responded with three consecutive touch-down drives. Bryce Young threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 42 yards and two scores. Brian Robinson added 107 yards and three scores on the ground, while John Metchie caught 11 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns as Alabama improved to 7-1 on the year and 4-1 in the SEC. Nick Saban’s team has an open week before LSU visits on Saturday, Nov. 6.
Week 9 SEC Rankings
1. Georgia (7-0, 5-0)
2. Alabama (7-1, 4-1)
3. Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2)
4, Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1)
5. Auburn (5-2, 2-1)
6. Kentucky (6-1, 4-1)
7. Arkansas (5-3, 1-3)
8. LSU (4-4, 2-3)
9. Florida (4-3, 2-3)
10. Tennessee (4-4, 2-3)
11. Mississippi State (4-3, 2-2)
12. Missouri (3-4, 0-3)
13. South Carolina (4-4, 1-4)
14. Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-4)
Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Last week: 5-0; season: 63-11
Saturday, Oct. 30
Game of the Week:Ole Miss at Auburn (-2.5). Both of these teams have a chance to win the SEC West if they catch a few breaks along the way, so this is a de facto elimination game, for the Rebels in particular. Auburn can drop one more conference game if they beat Alabama, which will be a very daunting task, but this is a must-win game for Ole Miss if they want to keep up with the Crimson Tide in the division. Lane Kiffin will need someone to upset Alabama since they lost the head-to-head matchup earlier in October. The Rebels are firing on all cylinders offensively, and Matt Corral is among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Auburn had last week off to prep for the Ole Miss offense, but this still figures to be a high-scoring affair. Auburn’s running game has a chance to be the difference maker on Saturday in Jordan-Hare. Prediction: Auburn 38, Ole Miss 34.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (-16). No team in the SEC needs a conference win more than Missouri. The Tigers had high expectations entering the season but have been arguably the biggest disappointment in the league thus far. Vander-bilt has struggled, which was expected, and the Commodores don’t have many opportunities for wins left on the schedule after Saturday. Prediction: Missouri 31, Vanderbilt 17.
Georgia vs. Florida (+14). Georgia’s the only unbeaten team left in the SEC and the favorites to win its first national title since 1980. The Bulldogs will be favored by double digits in every game for the rest of the regular season, and they’re almost a lock for the playoffs unless someone upsets them in the regular season. Despite three losses already, Florida has the best chance to pull off an upset over the Bulldogs. Dan Mu-llen has had two weeks to prepare for this elite Georgia defense, and he’s capable of devising a productive game plan similar to the one against Alabama where the Gators nearly pulled off the upset. The only difference is that Georgia’s defense is much better than Alabama’s, so quarterback Anthony Richardson must have the best game of his career to give Florida a chance. Prediction: Georgia 27, Florida 17.
Kentucky at Mississippi State (+1.5). Kentucky’s had an extra week to prepare for Mike Leach’s air raid offense, and the Wildcats put their 6-1 record on the line this Saturday in Starkville. This is a tricky spot for the Wildcats, as they have not seen an offense quite like the Bulldogs’ passing attack so far. Mississippi State thus far has been the Jekyll and Hyde team of the SEC. The Bulldogs have quality wins over Texas A&M and North Carolina State but also put forth very poor performances against Memphis, Louisiana Tech and LSU. Kentucky has been consistently better all season, but this game could get weird. Prediction: Mississippi State 23, Kentucky 20.

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