The landscape of the Southeastern Conference will continue to take shape as three crucial conference matchups take place over the weekend.
The matchup attracting the most attention this Saturday will be played between two undefeated teams in The Swamp as the Alabama Crimson Tide meet the Florida Gators in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
That’s a matchup between two teams ranked in the Top 15, and the Gators will find out how good they are when they take on one of the best teams in the country.
Two other critical matchups over the weekend are Mississippi State playing at Georgia and Auburn playing at South Carolina. These two games will have a large effect on the rest of the season.
In the battle of the Bulldogs, one team will lose its third game of the year and become nearly irrelevant in the race to become SEC Champion, while the other team will have a surge of new life.
Week 5 will separate the top dogs or dawgs from the rest of the pack as each game continues to gain more importance.
Poor Kentucky, this season just hasn’t gone the way that head coach Joker Phillips and company planned.
The Wildcats opened up the season with two unimpressive victories over Western Kentucky and Central Michigan, lost a close one against Louisville and got man-handled by a Florida Gator team that looks the part.
Things will go from bad to worse for the Wildcats when they tackle the unpleasant task of playing the No. 1 team in the country. LSU has by far had the hardest schedule thus far and is still unbeaten after defeating Oregon, Mississippi State and West Virginia away from Death Valley.
Don’t expect this to be like 2007 when Kentucky upset LSU when LSU was ranked No. 1 in country.
Quarterback Jarrett Lee and the LSU offense will continue to impress, while the Wildcats continue their struggles on offense. Tigers win this one convincingly.
Tennessee is still reeling off of a disappointing 33-23 loss against the Florida Gators that saw quarterback Tyler Bray throw two interceptions and starting wide receiver Justin Hunter, who entered the game leading the SEC in receiving, go down with a knee injury.
The Volunteers have had two weeks to think about the loss, and now they will take it out on a weak Buffalo team.
Bray will throw multiple touchdowns, and the Vols will improve their rushing game with Tauren Poole that has been absent this season. No upsets on the horizon in Tennessee.
There’s no putting it nicely; watching Ole Miss play football is almost unbearable.
This team makes mistake after mistake until they find themselves in a hole they can’t get out of. I have Ole Miss friends that can’t bear to watch any Ole Miss game sober, because they can’t handle the fact that their team is 1-3 with no signs of turning the season around.
Normally, it would be easy to pick an SEC team going against a two-loss Fresno State team, but I think the Bulldogs will make a game out of this one.
Though the game will be hard-fought, Ole Miss will get its second victory of the season. Thank the good Lord; I’m beginning to worry about my Ole Miss friends’ bladders.
Ole Miss 27
Fresno State 23
Both ranked teams are following losses, both teams are in need of a victory and both teams are still in the hunt for winning a national championship, but they have to win Saturday.
Texas A&M is coming off of an upsetting defeat to Oklahoma State after the Cowboys rallied back from a 17-point deficit in the second half, while Arkansas found out first-hand how good that Alabama team really is.
This should be a fantastic game between two high-powered offenses that are never reluctant to sling it.
The Aggies rank 19th in the nation when it comes to passing yards, and the Hogs are slightly better statistically as they rank 18th in the nation.
Arkansas possesses the best wide receivers in the nation with Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright stretching the field, and the Aggies possess great wide receivers themselves in Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller.
The Aggies will continue their struggles against the SEC, as the Hogs will pull off a victory in a shootout.
Texas A&M 33
It’s time to separate the men from the boys.
Besides the Alabama/Florida game, this is the game I’m most looking forward to. Mississippi State needs a win to stay relevant in the SEC West, and Georgia needs a win to salvage head coach Mark Richt’s job and get back in the hunt in the SEC East after dropping a loss to South Carolina in Week 2.
Both teams know how important this game is, and both teams will come out looking to assert their dominance early.
Mississippi State’s running back Vick Ballard will have an impressive day, but it won’t be enough as Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell and quarterback Aaron Murray will make big plays against a very strong Mississippi State defense. Dawgs defeat the Dogs.
Mississippi State 17
South Carolina is still undefeated on the season, but they just haven’t looked as good as advertised. In fact, I wonder what its record would be if it didn’t have running back Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore has played outstanding so far this season as he has 611 yards rushing with eight touchdowns, but quarterback Stephen Garcia has been dreadful.
Garcia only has three touchdowns on the year so far with seven interceptions. As for Auburn, they’ve been somewhat of a surprise team.
They upset Mississippi State at home, and its only loss of the year came against a very good Clemson team. The Tigers are still undefeated in SEC play, and here’s their opportunity to add another impressive win to their resume.
It’s a perfect time to get the Gamecocks on the schedule with Garcia struggling the way he has, but it won’t matter.
Auburn is giving up 31 points per game, and going against the best running back in college football won’t help those stats.
South Carolina 38
In a game that features Nick Saban and Will Muschamp as opposing head coaches, you can expect one common theme over the course of the game: Defense.
Alabama has the best defense in the nation with the best secondary college football has to offer with Robert Lester, Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick.
But Charlie Weis seems to have the Florida Gators rejuvenated with running back Chris Rainey playing outstanding. The duo of Rainey and Jeff Demps has never been more dangerous.
Rainey is averaging 6.5 yards per carry while Demps is averaging 9.4. Not only has the offense been rejuvenated, but also Muschamp has the defense playing, well, Florida Gator football.
This is the marquee matchup of the weekend. Can the Gators stay on this role and Muschamp get the biggest win of his young coaching career against his former mentor?
Saban might have taught Muschamp all he knows, but he didn’t teach him all Saban knows.