SEC Football: What Week 6 Will Teach Us About the SEC

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 1, 2012

South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
South Carolina RB Marcus LattimoreJohn Sommers II/Getty Images

Now, the real fun begins.

With September in the books, we can put out-of-conference tune-ups behind us and get down to business. It all starts on Week 6, with some fantastic SEC matchups that will tell us a lot about several teams in the nation's best football conference.

With Arkansas visiting Auburn, LSU traveling to Florida and South Carolina hosting Georgia, we'll know which teams are contenders, pretenders and spiraling out of control when clock strikes midnight on Saturday night.

Here's what's at stake this weekend in Week 6:


Status as the Front-Runner in the SEC East

When toe meets leather on Saturday night in Columbia, S.C. between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks, the status of being the front-runner in the SEC East will be at stake no matter what happens at the Swamp between LSU and Florida earlier in the day.

The Bulldogs and Gamecocks have represented the division in the last two SEC Championship Games, and both find themselves in the top six in both polls.

One team will take a one-game lead over the loser and hold a tiebreaker, which will be very valuable as the season progresses.

Can Georgia's offense stay hot against a very good South Carolina defense? Will Jarvis Jones neutralize the dual-threat capabilities of Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw? Can South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore take over another game in this intra-division rivalry? 

We will know the answers to all of those after this weekend.


Is LSU a Paper Tiger?

The defending SEC champion LSU Tigers have looked sluggish in each of the last two weeks, a win on the road at Auburn and at home vs. Towson.

It's no coincidence that the Bayou Bengals have dropped a spot in the Associated Press (AP) poll after each of those wins.

Now comes the real test.

The Tigers hit the road this weekend to play the Florida Gators, who have emerged as a legit threat in the SEC East.

Florida's defense is stout, and if the Gators are smart, they'll focus on the run and force LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger—who has been average at best this season—to beat them.

Mettenberger's ability or inability to do so may determine whether LSU is still in the national title discussion this time next week.


Is Florida Back?

The LSU/Florida is big for both sides this weekend, as the Gators have rocketed to a 4-0 start have had two weeks to game-plan for Saturday's showdown with the Tigers.

Mike Gillislee looks like the answer at running back, and quarterback Jeff Driskel has shown the ability to be a legitimate dual-threat quarterback in the SEC during the first month of the season. Driskel has completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 698 yards, four touchdowns and one pick, while rushing for 148 yards and a score.

The Gators chime in at the No. 10 spot in the AP poll. A win on Saturday would vault them up into legitimate national championship contention—a spot they haven't been in since December 2009.


Will Arkansas or Auburn Stop Its Skid?

You can call it the "Desperation Bowl" if you want, but the bottom line is that when Arkansas and Auburn face off at Noon ET on the Plains, it will be the biggest game of the season for each team for all of the wrong reasons.

The two teams are a combined 2-7 on the season and the only unit for either side that has shown a little fight is Auburn's defense, which harassed LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger relentlessly two weeks ago.

Arkansas' defense is the worst in the SEC in virtually every category, which means that the light should go on for Tiger quarterback Kiehl Frazier. If it doesn't, Auburn's season may continue down the path it's currently on.

But a win for the Tigers could get things going in the right direction. With games against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt next on the schedule, don't dismiss the possibility of Auburn going on a little run and getting back into the picture for a decent bowl game.

Arkansas just needs something good to happen to it, because whatever could go wrong has gone wrong for the last month.