This week in SEC football began with Thursday night action as the Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 28-22. Quarterback Dak Prescott led the Bulldogs with 268 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses.
The match-up to watch this weekend is in Missouri. The fifth ranked Tigers face another tough test in the SEC East against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night. Missouri will look to do better than they have recently when achieving a top five national ranking. In 2008 they jumped to number three in the ranks after a 5-0 start before dropping consecutive games, and two years later they beat third ranked Oklahoma to start 7-0 before losing their next two contests. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks will look to rebound from a loss to Tennessee last week and get back into the hunt for the SEC title game.
Both teams will enter the contest with their back-up quarterbacks. James Franklin went down in the game against Georgia, but Maty Mauk filled in admirably against Florida last week. Connor Shaw left last week's game with a knee sprain and is unlikely to make a full recovery in time so Dylan Thompson will start for Carolina.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said Missouri is a good team.
“They got a lot of momentum and they're a very good team,” he said. “They play good defense, offense, special teams, and return kicks. They can do it all.”
Alabama hosts a Tennessee Volunteers team that will have the taste of upset in their mouth after beating South Carolina last week. The Crimson Tide will be tough to knock off though, particularly if they get their running game going like they have recently. Over their last four games they are averaging 271.5 yards rushing; running backs TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake are getting better each week and provide a good compliment for each other.
Volunteers coach Butch Jones recognizes the challenge of slowing Alabama down.
“[AJ McCarron] is as poised a quarterback as I've seen all year; managing their offense and can make all the throws. They have a very talented backfield and then great skill on the perimeter,” Jones added.
16th-ranked Texas A&M hosts a pesky Vanderbilt team that knocked off Georgia last week. The Aggies offense has been good – ranking fourth nationally in scoring with 46.9 points per game, and third in total offense with 588.7 yards per game. However, the defense has been porous, allowing a sixth worst 494.4 yards per game. They also might be without superstar Johnny Manziel; his replacement, Matt Joeckel, went 1 of 3 for 12 yards in his absence last week. Commodores coach James Franklin credited the Aggie offensive schemes for their success but added that Manziel “is the x-factor, as everybody knows.”
Elsewhere in the SEC:
The No. 13 LSU Tigers host the Furman Paladins of the Southern Conference. The 11th-ranked Auburn Tigers host the Florida Atlantic Owls who are 2-5 in Conference USA. Finally, the Ole Miss Rebels host the Idaho Vandals.
The Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs are licking their wounds and resting up to battle next week and Arkansas also has a bye.