SEC Football: Week 6 Preview and Predictions Against the Spread
It is hard to believe we are already six weeks into the 2011 SEC football season.
It seems like yesterday that opening kickoff was just a few days away.
But here we are. Ready for the sixth week of what has, so far, been a tremendous season of Southeastern Conference football.
There are several big-time conference matchups this week, as only one team plays a team outside of the conference (Mississippi State vs. UAB).
As I do each week, I will preview each SEC game and make a prediction against the spread.
I will also be held accountable for my picks by posting updated results each and every week (I include my Week 5 picks below):
Record Straight-Up Week 5: 5-2
Record Straight-Up Season: 38-7
Record Against the Spread Week 5: 4-3
Record Against the Spread Season: 26-16
Click through the slideshow to see my thoughts and picks on each week six SEC match-up...
Mississippi State vs. UAB
Oct 8th 12:00 PM ET (Fox Sports Net) at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL
It hasn't been a great start to the season for the Bulldogs. However, this game could help get things back on track for them, as Mississippi State leads the all-time series over UAB 3-1 and is the favorite on Saturday over the winless Blazers.
The Key for Mississippi State
Run the football. The Bulldogs average a strong 185 yards per game in 2011, with the Blazers averaging 228 rush yards allowed per contest this season. They should pound the Blazers with bruising running back Vick Ballard throughout the game.
The Key for UAB
Win the turnover battle. The Blazers have already scooped up 10 turnovers on defense in just four games and could stay close if they can somehow get Mississippi State to cough up the ball enough.
Predicted MVP: Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard
Predicted Score: Mississippi State 33 UAB 14 (line: Mississippi State -17.5)
Kentucky vs. South Carolina
Oct 8th 12:21 PM ET (SEC Network)
South Carolina is coming off of a disappointing loss to Auburn at home and needs to rebound and get a win over struggling Kentucky.
The Key for South Carolina
Run the football. Kentucky has been horrendous in run defense, allowing 198 rushing yards per game this season. With Marcus Lattimore, one of the very best backs in the country, the Gamecocks should run it often this weekend.
The Key for Kentucky
Defend the pass. The Wildcats, and star safety Winston Guy, have been strong against the pass all year, allowing just over 160 passing yards per game. The Kentucky secondary must play solid pass defense to allow the defensive front seven to focus on the run.
Predicted MVP: South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
Predicted Score: South Carolina 34 Kentucky 10 (line: South Carolina -21)
Florida vs. LSU
Oct 8th 3:30 PM ET (CBS)
The LSU Tigers are on a mission to win a national title and must get by SEC foes like Florida and Alabama to meet that goal. Can the Gators overcome a loss to Alabama last week and the loss of their starting quarterback and upset the Tigers?
The Key for LSU
Stop the run. The Tigers have only allowed 60 rush yards per game this season. They need to keep that up to keep dynamic Florida backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey at bay.
The Key for Florida
Run the ball. Florida is second in the SEC in rush yards per game, running for over 200 yards per contest. They must run the ball well on Saturday to take pressure off young QB Jeff Driskel.
Predicted MVP: LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu
Predicted Score: LSU 31 Florida 17 (line: LSU -12)
Vanderbilt vs. Alabama
Oct 8th 7:00 PM ET (ESPNU)
After a huge win for Bama at Florida last week, will they let their guard down against a capable underdog this week?
The Key for Alabama
Run the football. The Tide should hand the ball to Trent Richardson early and often. The junior already has 622 rush yards and10 rushing touchdowns in just five games.
The Key for Vanderbilt
Stop the run. The Vanderbilt defense has been solid all season and has allowed just 90 rush yards per game this season. It will be important for them to bottle up Richardson if they want to stay close in this game.
Predicted MVP: Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw
Predicted Score: Alabama 34 Vanderbilt 6 (line: Alabama -29)
Auburn vs. Arkansas
Oct 8th 7:00 PM ET (ESPN)
Auburn has found ways to win this season and are undefeated in SEC play. Can they find a way to win again on the road against a favored and dangerous Arkansas?
The Key for Arkansas
Throw the football. Arkansas leads the conference in passing yards per game with over 350 pass yards per game. On the other side, Auburn is last in the SEC in pass defense, allowing over 230 yards pass yards per game.
The Key for Auburn
Outrun the Razorbacks. Auburn is fourth in the SEC, averaging 187 rush yards per contest. Meanwhile, Arkansas has struggled to run the ball, rushing for just 120 yards per game.
Predicted MVP: Arkansas WR Jarius Wright
Predicted Score: Arkansas 38 Auburn 30 (line: Arkansas -10)
Georgia vs. Tennessee
Oct 8th 8:00 PM ET (Fox Sports Net)
How good is Tennessee? Can they end Georgia's hope of battling for the SEC East title? Or can Georgia continue to surge after a slow start to the season?
The Key for Georgia
Defend the pass. Georgia is second in the SEC, allowing just 151 pass yards per game. That solid pass defense must continue versus a prolific Tennessee passing attack.
The Key for Tennessee
Pass the football. Against a solid Georgia defense, Tennessee must be effective in their pass offense. The Vols are averaging an impressive 336 pass yards per game so far in 2011.
Predicted MVP: Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell
Predicted Score: Georgia 28 Tennessee 27 (line: Georgia -2)