In & around SEC football: Week 9 Previews and Predictions

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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent 

Alabama Week 8 Recap
Alabama responded to its loss at Tennessee with a resounding 30-6 victory over Mississippi State on homecoming in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide dominated defensively in the win, holding the explosive Bulldog offense to only 293 yards. Mississippi State’s touchdown came as time expired. Bryce Young accounted for 249 of Alabama’s 290 yards, including two touchdowns through the air as Alabama improved to 7-1 on the year and 4-1 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide has an open week before traveling to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Week 9 SEC Rankings
1. Georgia (7-0, 4-0)
2. Tennessee (7-0, 3-0)
3. Alabama (7-1, 4-1)
4. LSU (6-2, 4-1)
5. Ole Miss (7-1, 3-1)
6. Kentucky (5-2, 2-2)
7. Mississippi State (5-3, 2-3)
8. Arkansas (4-3, 0-3)
9. South Carolina (5-2, 2-2)
10. Florida (4-3, 1-3)
11. Texas A&M (3-4, 1-3)
12. Auburn (3-4, 1-2)
13. Missouri (3-4, 1-4)
14. Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-4)
Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Week 8: 4-1; season: 49-10
Game of the Week: Kentucky at Tennessee (-12.5). Tennessee’s upset win over Alabama put the Volunteers back on the map. UT now has back-to-back SEC East games to give itself an opportunity to win the division. Before next week’s showdown at undefeated Georgia, Tennessee must go through a Kentucky team that has been the second best in the division over the last few seasons under Mark Stoops. If Wildcat quarterback Will Levis is healthy, Kentucky will have an opportunity to pull off an upset on the road in Knoxville. Prediction: Tennessee 34, Kentucky 27.
Arkansas at Auburn (+3.5). Bryan Harsin officially survived Auburn’s open week and has a chance to turn things around down the stretch. First up after the bye is a matchup with Arkansas. The Tigers have dominated this series in recent years. Auburn has won six straight games against the Hogs, but this is the best chance for Arkansas to end that skid. While the Razorbacks are only 4-3, they’ve played a difficult schedule and turned things around in a win over BYU. Auburn still has a chance to reach a bowl game, but this is a must-win game for the Tigers. Prediction: Arkansas 34, Auburn 30.
Florida vs. Georgia (-22.5). After a blistering start to the season, the defending national champions have looked pedestrian in recent weeks. Georgia is still the team to beat in the SEC East, and perhaps the open week was beneficial in recalibrating the offense. Florida started the year with a massive win over Utah but have stumbled to a 4-3 record in Billy Napier’s debut season. A win over Georgia would be a program-defining win for Napier, but even a competitive showing would be a positive sign moving forward. Prediction: Georgia 38, Florida 17.
Missouri at South Carolina (-4). Not many people projected the Gamecocks to be on the verge of bowl eligibility in October, but Shane Beamer has his team sitting at 5-2, and the Tigers will be favored in each of the next two games. Missouri earned its first conference win of the season last week against Vanderbilt, but the Tigers did not play particularly well. This is likely a must-win game for Missouri if it wants to reach a bowl game. Prediction: South Carolina 26, Missouri 23.
Ole Miss at Texas A&M (+2). The biggest disappointment in the conference through two months of the season is undoubtedly Texas A&M. Projected to be a top-10 team after landing the best recruiting class in school history, The Aggies currently are 3-4 overall, and now even bowl appearance is not guaranteed. Texas A&M’s schedule is not exactly daunting down the stretch, but the program is in disarray, and there are now questions surrounding Jimbo Fisher’s coaching ability. His buyout is extravagant, so it is highly unlikely he’ll be fired without cause, but a loss in front of the home crowd to Ole Miss won’t do Fisher any favors. Ole Miss dropped its first game of the year last week at LSU, and the Rebels are catching Texas A&M at a great time to get back on track. Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Texas A&M 23.

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