Just like Week 8, several members of the SEC are on bye again in Week 9, but we have two critical matchups between SEC East foes and a couple of games out West that could lead to coaching changes.
Will Georgia or Tennessee be caught looking ahead?
If you’re anything like me, you already have November 5th circled on your calendar, as #3 Tennessee is set to travel to Athens to face the #1 Georgia Bulldogs. This game will decide the SEC East and very well might keep the loser from the College Football Playoff, depending on how the rest of the landscape shapes out. It has all the makings of being a game for the ages, but will one of these squads get caught looking ahead and ruin all the fun?
The Gators have holes in every phase. Offensively, Anthony Richardson hasn’t come as advertised. He received some first-round love before the season, but despite his ability as a runner, he’s been abysmal as a passer, completing just 56.5% of his passes with more interceptions (7) than he has touchdowns (6). The strength of Florida’s offense is on the ground, as they average over 200 yards per contest. Unfortunately for them, they’ll be up against a stout Georgia run defense, which is limiting opponents to under 100 yards per game on the ground. Providing Georgia can slow down Florida’s rushing attack, it’ll likely be a long day for Florida’s offense.
I don’t see Georgia’s offense having too much of a problem with Florida’s defense, either. The last time out, Florida allowed LSU to run up 42 points on them in just three quarters, and we could see something similar this Saturday. The Gators haven’t stopped the run all season, ranking 111th in rush defense, and we know how much Georgia loves to run the ball. Combine that rushing attack with a few wrinkles, and the Bulldogs should be able to move the ball at will against Florida.
Despite this being a prototypical look-ahead spot for the Bulldogs, I don’t see Kirby Smart letting his team forget about the task at hand. And this week, it’s all about delivering an ass whooping to one of Georgia’s most hated rivals. Coming off a bye, Georgia has had extra time to prepare. They should roll this week in Jacksonville.
Tennessee, on the other hand, might be in for some trouble this week. These are uncharted waters for the program, and even though the game takes place at home, Kentucky is not the ideal opponent to face a week before Georgia. If the Vols look ahead at all, they could find themselves in trouble.
Will Levis is a gamer, and this is a Kentucky squad that has been in some battles of their own this season against ranked teams, coming away with two victories. I won’t go as far as to predict an upset, but this line is set at Kentucky +12.5, and I’ll have no problem taking the points and riding with the Wildcats this weekend.
Will Ole Miss get exposed again
Ole Miss traveled to Baton Rouge this past weekend, putting first place in the SEC West and their undefeated season on the line, and they were exposed badly by LSU in all facets. After jumping out to a 17-3 lead, LSU outscored Ole Miss 42-3 the rest of the way and shut them out in the second half. As an LSU alum, I would love to pound my chest and say this is all about the Tigers, but the reality is Ole Miss is a slightly above average team that had a #7 next to their name because they were undefeated. Until this past weekend, they hadn’t played anyone, so this is more about them being overrated than LSU being legitimate contenders.
Looking ahead to this weekend, The Rebels head to College Station to take on a Texas A&M team that’s on life support, which is what makes this game so intriguing to me. The rumbles for Jimbo Fisher’s job are getting louder every week, and we could reach a breaking point if The Aggies fall to 1-4 in SEC play this weekend, especially if they look lifeless doing it. With that being said, Texas A&M has the talent to win this game at home, so we will see if Fisher can get his troops ready for a game that could end up saving his job.