The thick of the SEC season has officially arrived along with Week 7 and its intriguing slate of contests.
Outside of the extreme outlier that was Alabama versus Texas A&M earlier in the year, SEC action-to-date has been somewhat quiet.
Alabama is in action against an SEC opponent this weekend in Kentucky, but that is not one of Saturday's marquee matchups in the conference given the heavy odds in the Crimson Tide's favor.
Here are the three best SEC contests of the weekend with analysis and a prediction to boot. Enjoy.
No. 14 South Carolina at Arkansas
When the No. 14 Gamecocks and the Razorbacks do battle on Saturday, it will come down to which team can physically impose its will on the other via the ground game.
South Carolina averages 215 yards on the ground per game, good for the No. 26-ranked attack in that regard. Arkansas is in the same boat as it averages 216 yards on the ground, good for the No. 24 slot.
Even better, the Gamecocks allow just 128 yards rushing per game while the Razorbacks surrender 125.
South Carolina, led by Mike Davis and his 614 yards rushing and eight scores, is great, but so is the combo of Arkansas' Alex Collins (651 yards, three TDs) and Jonathan Williams (503 yards, four TDs).
While those attacks are stellar, the deciding factor here is Gamecocks' quarterback Connor Shaw, who has perfectly utilized his complementary ground game for 927 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions.
Expect more of the same here for Shaw as he picks apart a Razorbacks' secondary more concerned with stuffing the run.
Prediction: Gamecocks 33, Razorbacks 24
No. 25 Missouri at No. 7 Georgia
In a matchup sure to turn into a shootout rather quickly, No. 7 Georgia looks to survive another scare after hardly moving past Tennessee a week ago.
The Bulldogs and quarterback Aaron Murray are dealing with a swath of injuries. Star running back Todd Gurley is doubtful; backup Keith Marshall and receiver Justin Scott-Wesley are out for the season per ESPN's David Ching; and receiver Malcolm Mitchell is out for the year. Fellow wideout Michael Bennett will also be out.
While that seems to swing heavy in the undefeated Tigers' favor—led by quarterback James Franklin and his 1,685 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions—Missouri has a horrific defense Murray will be able to exploit as Bulldogs' beat writer Radi Nabulsi illustrates:
Murray is playing the best ball of his career with over 1,500 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions, so expect him to have little issue picking apart the Missouri secondary at home—injuries or not.
Prediction: Bulldogs 44, Tigers 34
No. 17 Florida at No. 10 LSU
Both the Gators and Tigers have lost one game this season, but Florida's loss to a non-SEC opponent in Miami (FL) has left Tyler Murphy and Co. searching for answers as they attempt to claw their way back up the ranks.
LSU and stellar quarterback Zach Mettenberger—who already has 1,738 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions to his name—are just fine in their national championship pursuit with the only blemish this year coming in the form of a three-point loss to Georgia.
Florida allows just 217 yards and 12.2 points per game but has yet to face an offense like Mettenberger's. LSU has put up over 35 points and 400 yards in all six games this year, including the loss to the Bulldogs.
The Gators have only mustered 30 or more points twice this year, and while the defense is stout, Murphy will be the liability on the road that holds the Gators back.
Prediction: Tigers 30, Gators 23
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