There are only nine weeks left in college football’s regular season. Although no single SEC game is attracting the attention Georgia versus LSU did last week, most of today’s games are important for the teams that have a chance to play in Atlanta.
#1 Alabama vs. Georgia State – Tuscaloosa, Alabama; kickoff at 12:21 p.m.
Alabama is without suspended safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is out indefinitely after violating team rules. The Crimson Tide is also without assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris, who was placed on administrative leave by the school after Alabama learned he provided impermissible benefits to Clinton-Dix, which would be a violation of NCAA bylaws.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said that if players did the right thing, they wouldn’t get suspended. He also said he didn’t know how long Clinton-Dix’s suspension would last.
Clinton-Dix’s backup, Nick Perry, is out for the season due to a shoulder injury, and center Ryan Kelly is out with a knee injury. Despite the absences, the Tide are expected to roll over the winless Georgia State Panthers.
Tennessee vs. #6 Georgia – Knoxville, Tennessee; kickoff at 3:30 p.m.
Tennessee’s best hope is that the Volunteers will be wearing “smokey gray” alternate uniforms designed by Adidas; the 1914 Vols went undefeated wearing gray uniforms. Tennessee will need all the help the uniforms can provide, because Georgia has been on a great run since losing to Clemson at the end of August.
While the Bulldogs are 2-1 against teams in the top 10, the Volunteers have been unable to beat a ranked team all season. Tennessee has been unable to score more than two touchdowns in losses to Oregon and Florida, and that offense will be hard-pressed to match the output that Georgia’s been operating at, averaging 41 points per game.
Auburn vs. #24 Ole Miss – Auburn, Alabama; kickoff at 7:00 p.m.
This game looks to be the most competitive game of the week on paper. Both teams are 3-1, 1-1 in the SEC. Auburn suffered its first loss of the season two weeks ago to LSU. The Tigers have had two weeks to prepare for Ole Miss while the Rebels are trying to complete their tour of Alabama with a .500 record. The Rebels gained only 205 yards of offense in a loss to Alabama.
Ole Miss beat Auburn 41-20 last season in Oxford, but that Auburn team was abysmal by all accounts. Under new coach Gus Malzahn, the Tigers have won as many games already as last year’s team managed.
Both teams have averaged 28.5 points per game. The Rebels and Tigers are within 20 yards of each other for total offense per game (Auburn leads Ole Miss 439.5 to 418.8). Ole Miss outgains Auburn in the air by 12.5 yards per game, but the Tigers average 33.3 yards more per game running the ball.
#13 South Carolina vs. Kentucky – Columbia, South Carolina; kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is returning from a sprained shoulder suffered in the first drive against UCF last week. He was expected to be out for two or three weeks but is starting tonight. Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier is 19-1 against the Wildcats.
The Gamecocks are outpacing the Wildcats in every offensive category this year. South Carolina has more yards (both by passing and by rushing) and more points scored, but Kentucky has faced stronger competition. The Gamecocks have only faced one ranked team in Georgia, while the Wildcats have played two games against ranked squads (Florida and Louisville).
Other games include #10 LSU traveling to Starkville to face Mississippi State at 7:00 p.m. The Tigers are scoring at least 30 points each game, and the Bulldogs allow an average of 14.75 points.
Missouri heads to Nashville, Tennessee, where that Tigers team will play Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. Mizzou is 4-0, but this is the Tigers’ first SEC game of the season. Vanderbilt is 3-2, with both losses coming to SEC teams.