Well, SEC fans, the story this week was to be two top-three teams facing off this weekend. Then, Todd Gurley got indefinitely suspended, and all hell broke loose. This decision even led to some saying that Gurley should just take it to the house this year and “save the hits for the League”. We’ll skip the talk of Katy Perry’s completely superfluous Gameday appearance and move on to the actual talk of the action on the field.
We have two FCS opponents making trips to SEC outposts this weekend — which, to this correspondent, is inexcusable at this point in the season — so we’ll spend those game breakdowns telling you a little about those teams. Ole Miss and Mississippi State get to prove themselves all over again, after spending last weekend doing just that. LSU needs to figure out what in the world has happened to them over the last two games and quickly fix it. But before we tackle any of those questions, it’s trivia time!
SEC Trivia, Week 7 (answer at the end of the article): Friend of the site and Bleacher Report Lead SEC Writer Barrett Sallee points out that Auburn’s opponents have converted just 2-of-24 third downs (8.33 percent) in SEC games. Which three SEC teams have better third-down conversion percentages for the season on defense?
We’ll mix the Keyword Search and Info Guide features this week, so away we go!
Keyword Search (all times Eastern and all rankings AP)
#13 Georgia (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at #23 Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC)
Noon | CBS
- Addressing the obvious: Without Gurley, Georgia’s cupboard is hardly bare. Freshman tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have been rather successful in spelling Gurley (224 and 223 yards, respectively), with the pair combining for five scores in 54 carries. However, Chubb will be counted on to carry the load, as Michel is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Keep an eye on Quayvon Hicks, though. The fullback-turned-tight end-turned-running back displays a combination of quickness and brute force that has been tough for SEC defenses to handle.
- Looking to avoid .500: Missouri has defeated four of the seven ranked teams to visit Faurot Field in this decade. Georgia made one trip to Mizzou as a ranked team (2012) and throttled the Tigers, leaving with a 41-20 decision.
- Gone ’til November: Have you been on a business trip lately? Did you think your trip took forever? Try being in Georgia’s shoes. Their schedule shows that the Bulldogs will play their next four games on the road, before closing out the year with games against Auburn and Charleston Southern at home. Of course, it bears mention that the annual installment of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate with Georgia Tech will end the Bulldogs’ year between the hedges.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: This game is going to be fun. Mizzou comes in riding high, but UGA plays well on the road. Close.
ULM (3-2, 2-1 Sun Belt) at Kentucky (4-1, 2-1 SEC)
Noon | SEC Network
- 20 years ago…: You’ve all seen the trite “price of gas” and “number one movie” stats from the last time one team beat another. They litter broadcasts on every major network. Here’s another one. ULM’s lone series win against Kentucky (21-14) came on November 5, 1994. The number one song that day was Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love to You. I’m not sure whether that makes me feel old, uncomfortable, or both. Moving on…
- Somewhat less than 20 years ago…: Kentucky’s sports information department points out that it has been seven years since Kentucky won two of their first three SEC games. It’s been five years since UK won back-to-back SEC contests.
- Hail Ceaser: ULM receiver Rashon Ceaser finds himself in the top 40 of FBS receivers for receptions, hauling in 30 passes for 251 yards on the season. 22 of those receptions — and 203 of the yards — have come in the last two games.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: ULM is always competitive against top opponents, but — dare I say it? — Kentucky appears to be a juggernaut right now.
#2 Auburn (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at #3 Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
3:30pm | CBS
- (Not quite) 30 for 30: We talked some in the ACC piece about Notre Dame’s success in keeping opponents off the scoreboard in the second half, but Auburn is equally prolific at doing so. Tiger opponents have managed just 24 second-half points in the final 30 minutes of Auburn’s first five games.
- Started from the bottom: Mississippi State was unranked to start the season, despite riding a then-three-game winning streak. Fast-forward a bit, and after last week’s crazy happenings, the Bulldogs are ranked higher than they’ve ever been. They have never passed the seventh spot in the polls, which they saw 33 years ago.
- Millenium of mastery: Auburn has won 61 of the 87 series meetings between the teams, with much of that success coming since 2000. Auburn has won 11 of 14 in the “new millenium”, including five of the last six. However, much of Mississippi State’s recent success has come due to forcing turnovers. The MSU sports information department mentions that the Bulldogs have forced 26 turnovers in their last ten games.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Mississippi State still has its skeptics. A win here would quiet those skeptics, but Auburn is one hell of a challenge.
Chattanooga (3-2, 2-0 SoCon) at Tennessee (2-3, 0-2 SEC)
4:00pm | SEC Network
Info guide: The Mocs come into this game as the 12th or 13th-ranked club (depending on the poll) in the FCS. Their two losses came by four at Central Michigan and by a field goal against then-ninth-ranked Jacksonville State in overtime. Russ Huesman’s club has won three consecutive games since those two losses, with large victories over conference opponents Samford and VMI. It’s been 45 years since the Mocs made the hour-and-45-minute trek up Interstate 75, and they bring an interesting club to Knoxville.
QB Jacob Huesman (66-of-104, 681 yards, 9 TD, 4 INT, Walter Payton Award watch list)
RB Keon Williams (75 carries, 314 yards, 4 TD – out for game (hand surgery))
KR/PR Tommy Hudson (two punt returns for TD)
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Chattanooga narrowly missed an FCS playoff bid last season, and gets a shot at “big brother” this week. They’ll be competitive.
#7 Alabama (4-1, 1-1 SEC) at Arkansas (3-2, 0-2 SEC) Series: ALA leads, 14-8
6:00pm | ESPN
- Recent dominance: Alabama has won seven consecutive games against Arkansas, while winning 14 of the 22 games the teams have played. The Tide have defeated the Razorbacks by back-to-back 52-0 margins, once at Arkansas and once at home.
- Pressing the passer: Alabama’s pass rush has slowed a bit this season, as the Tide have recorded just nine sacks (tie-11th in the SEC). That does not appear to be likely to change this week, as the Razorbacks have allowed just one sack this season. Only New Mexico State (zero) has an equal or better mark of protecting the quarterback.
- Clash of styles: Arkansas averages almost five times more rushing yards per game (just over 316) as Alabama allows (just over 64). The Tide have allowed greater than 100 rushing yards just once this season (Florida, who gained 107). Meanwhile, the Razorbacks enjoy a nearly 30-yards-per-game advantage in per-game rushing average among SEC teams. Arkansas has rushed for 212 yards or greater in every game this year except for one (the 153-yard season-opener against Auburn).
Print that, tweet that, whatever: There has been laughable talk all week about the “end of Alabama’s dynasty”. An angry Tide team gets another crack on Saturday.
LSU (4-2, 0-2 SEC) at Florida (3-1, 2-1 SEC)
7:30pm | SEC Network
- No Treon: The status of newly-minted Florida quarterback Treon Harris has been resolved, as of press time. Harris was accused of sexual assault earlier in the week, though several outlets now report that the accuser has withdrawn her claim. Harris’ suspension was lifted, but Gator coach Will Muschamp confirms that Harris will not play on Saturday.
- Avoiding streaks: LSU has not lost consecutive games since succumbing to Ole Miss and Arkansas in back-to-back contests six years ago. The Tigers have won the remaining 24 contests following losses under Les Miles.
- Limiting mistakes: Both teams are ranked in the top 25 among FBS teams in turnover margin. Florida ranks fifth, notching a plus-two turnover margin. LSU ranks 22nd, with a plus-0.83 margin. Florida’s sports information department notes that the Gators have forced at least three turnovers in every game this year.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: The dynamic nature of Florida’s offense may vanish with Driskel instead of Harris. Can LSU rebound in the Swamp?
Charleston Southern (5-0, 0-0 Big South) at Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-4 SEC)
7:30pm | FSN
Info guide: Charleston Southern, known by some — derisively or not — as “Chuck South”, gained notoriety last season by starting the year 7-0. A trip to Colorado followed to allow the Buffaloes to make up a game, and the Bucs lost 43-10 to snap that string. Though CSU finished with ten wins, they also finished with consecutive losses that cost them the Big South title and a playoff spot.
Fast-forward to this year, and Jamey Chadwell’s club is again undefeated at 5-0, following a thrilling 47-41 overtime victory at soon-to-be Conference USA member Charlotte. This game and a season-ending game against Georgia between the hedges bookend the Bucs’ Big South schedule, with just two of those games (Presbyterian and Gardner-Webb) at the friendly confines of Buccaneer Field.
RB Christian Reyes (77 carries, 350 yards, 4 TD, including game-winner at Charlotte)
QB Austin Brown (UAB transfer; 56-for-87, 859 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT)
Bucs’ third-down conversions (35-of-67)
Coach Jamey Chadwell (15-3 at Charleston Southern, mentioned for several FBS and FCS openings)
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Recent struggles aside, Vandy should have enough to take down the Buccaneers. If they don’t…panic on the streets of Nashville.
#3 Ole Miss (5-0, 2-0 SEC) at #14 Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC) Series: A&M leads, 6-0
9:00pm | ESPN
- Never ever ever?: The Rebels are looking for their first victory against the Aggies. A&M has blanked Ole Miss in the series, winning all six contests. The last three losses for the Rebels have all been by a field goal.
- This turned out okay last time: According to Ole Miss’ sports information department, the last time Ole Miss started 5-0 was 52 years ago. This was a notable season for the Rebs, as they split the national championship that year.
- Yell practice: A&M last defeated a top-three team in Kyle Field twelve years ago. That win, over then-top-ranked Oklahoma, was a 30-26 decision for the Ags. The loss, which dropped the Sooners to 8-1 at the time, drew the ire of coach Bob Stoops. “I never talked about it when we had a BCS future. I don’t know that we have one now and don’t really care,” said Stoops after that game. Reggie McNeal completed 8-of-13 passes in that game — four for scores — in relief of starting quarterback Dustin Long.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: If Kenny Hill and the Aggies are going to rebound after a tough loss, Kyle Field may be the environment in which to do so.
Trivia answer: I asked earlier: Friend of the site and Bleacher Report Lead SEC Writer Barrett Sallee points out that Auburn’s opponents have converted just 2-of-24 third downs (8.33 percent) in SEC games. Which three SEC teams have better third-down conversion percentages for the season on defense?
Mississippi State (fifth, 26.51 percent), Alabama (tenth, 28.13 percent) and Georgia (11th, 28.95 percent) have allowed fewer third-down conversions than Auburn (13th, 29.33 percent).