The Nos. 3 and 4 teams in the initial College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings get together in Oxford this weekend. The winner will stay in the thick of the SEC West race; the loser is probably out of the Playoff race. Elsewhere, Florida and Georgia meet in Jacksonville in a game that could go a long way in determining Will Muschamp’s future with the Gators; Tennessee heads to South Carolina desperate for its first SEC win of the season; top-ranked Mississippi State hosts Arkansas; and Kentucky visits Missouri.
Week 10 Previews and Predictions
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SEC Week 10 Game Power Rankings
1. Auburn (+2) at Ole Miss (7 ET, ESPN)
When these two schools last met in Oxford, Ole Miss was riding a 16-game SEC losing streak and Auburn was in the midst of an 0–8 SEC season. Now, two short years later, they are among the elite in college football and in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Ole Miss’ dreams of an undefeated season ended Saturday night in Baton Rouge thanks in part to some shaky late-game management. Still, Ole Miss might be in the best position of the four contenders in the SEC West thanks to a schedule that is a bit more forgiving. Yes, the Rebs still have to play Auburn and Mississippi State, but both games are at home. Auburn, on the other hand, still has games at Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers are good enough to beat all three teams, but it’s not likely they can make it through this gauntlet without a loss.
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2. Florida (+13) vs. Georgia (3:30 ET, CBS)
Georgia is in great position in the SEC East and could make a big move on the national scene in the next month. The Bulldogs basically have to win two games to reach the College Football Playoff — beat Auburn at home on Nov. 15 and upset the SEC West champ in the league title game. First things first: Florida awaits in Jacksonville in desperate need of a win. Treon Harris will be the second true freshman quarterback to start against Georgia this season, joining Vanderbilt’s Wade Freebeck. Harris has played well in limited duty, completing 66.7 percent of his passes and averaging a gaudy 14.6 yards per attempt. He will have to deal with a quality Georgia defensive front that includes one of the league’s top pass-rushers in Leonard Floyd.
3. Tennessee (+7) at South Carolina (7:30 SEC Network)
South Carolina has not won a conference game since beating Vanderbilt on Sept. 20 in Nashville. The Gamecocks can snap their three-game SEC skid against another team from the Volunteer State that is winless in league play. Tennessee played admirably — after falling behind 27–0 — against Alabama last week, but it was yet another loss for a program that has not entered November with more than one SEC win since 2009. The Volunteers need to win three of their final four games to become bowl-eligible in Butch Jones’ second season on the job. We are not quite sure who will be at quarterback for the Vols; Justin Worley’s health (shoulder) is in doubt, but even if he’s ready to go, Tennessee could opt to go with sophomore Joshua Dobbs, who played well in relief against Alabama. Dobbs offers more mobility, something that comes in handy while operating behind a suspect offensive line.
4. Arkansas (+10.5) at Mississippi State (7:15 ESPN2)
Mississippi State remains unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the country, but the Bulldogs are living on the edge. Last weekend, they gave up 505 yards to a Kentucky team that had 217 yards against LSU, 352 against ULM and 384 against Vanderbilt. Despite MSU’s overall struggles on defense, the Dogs have been solid against the run (against all teams not named Auburn) — and that’s a good sign with Arkansas on the horizon. The Hogs are much-improved in the passing game, but this team is at its best when talented tailbacks Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins are the focal points of the game plan. Arkansas does not want to get into a shootout in Starkville.
5. Kentucky (+6.5) at Missouri (4 ET, SEC Network)
Missouri is somehow 3–1 in the SEC even though its offense is averaging only 232.8 yards per game and 4.0 yards per play against league competition. The Tigers have been outstanding on defense and special teams, and they have the good fortune of playing in the SEC East (despite being located west of the Mississippi River). Kentucky played well last week in a 45–31 loss at home to No. 1 Mississippi State. Patrick Towles was outstanding at quarterback, throwing for 390 yards (without an INT) and adding 76 yards on the ground. He is developing into an All-SEC-caliber quarterback who will continue to thrive under Neal Brown.
6. ULM (+32.5) at Texas A&M (12 ET, SEC Network)
ULM enjoyed a nice run for a few years when Kolton Browning was at quarterback, but the Warhawks have slipped back to the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt. They have been good on defense (first in the Sun Belt) and bad on offense (last on the Sun Belt). Texas A&M is eager to get back into the win column after going 0–3 in the month of October. Kenny Hill, the star of Week 1 in college football, is now fighting for his starting job with true freshman Kyle Allen. Whoever plays quarterback this week should put up big numbers; the bigger test will be in two weeks at Auburn.
7. Old Dominion (+7) at Vanderbilt (7 ET, ESPNU)
After playing relatively well in last week’s 24–14 loss at Missouri, Johnny McCrary will get the start at quarterback once again for Vanderbilt. Patton Robinette, who was medically cleared late last week after dealing with a concussion, also is expected to play. Both quarterbacks will have to play well because Vanderbilt will have to score some points to win this game. Old Dominion is averaging 33.1 points per game and scored 34 vs. NC State (in a loss), 45 vs. Rice (in a win) and 51 vs. Western Kentucky (in a loss). The Commodores’ offense should be able to do its part, but don’t forget this team only scored 21 points three weeks ago against Charleston Southern.
SEC Week 10 Predictions
ULM at Texas A&M
Florida vs. Georgia
Kentucky at Mizzou
ODU at Vanderbilt
Auburn at Ole Miss
Arkansas at Miss. St.
Tenn. at S. Carolina