Mizzou closing in on SEC East title?
It’s the week before rivalry week in the SEC. Translation: There aren’t a ton of compelling games. That said, Missouri vs. Tennessee is an intriguing matchup between two teams playing very well of late. Elsewhere, Arkansas looks to extend its SEC winning streak to two games against Ole Miss; Mississippi State hopes to get back on track against winless (in the SEC) Vanderbilt; and then … not much to get excited about.
Week 13 Previews and Predictions:
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SEC Week 13 Game Power Rankings
1. Missouri at Tennessee (7:30 ET, ESPN)
There’s plenty at stake for both teams. Missouri remains on top of the SEC East with a 5–1 league record and must beat Tennessee in Knoxville and Arkansas at home to make a second straight trip to Atlanta. Tennessee is one win away from becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. The Vols’ resurgence has coincided with quarterback Joshua Dobbs’ insertion into the lineup. In two-plus games, Dobbs has thrown for 790 yards and seven touchdowns and added 289 yards and four scores on the ground. His ability to make plays with his feet has negated one of Tennessee’s primary weaknesses; the Vols allowed 32 sacks in their first eight games but only one in Dobbs’ two starts. That takes on added significance with Missouri coming to town. Led by defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden, the Tigers rank second in the SEC with 32 sacks. The Vols have a ton of momentum, but Missouri just keeps on finding ways to win.
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2. Ole Miss (-3.5) at Arkansas (3:30 ET, CBS)
Arkansas finally broke through with its first SEC win since October 2012, shutting out LSU 17–0 before a delirious crowd in Fayetteville that was starved for a victory. Can the Hogs make it two in a row? It’s possible. After opening the season with seven straight wins, highlighted by a rare victory over Alabama, Ole Miss has lost its last two league games — both in excruciating fashion. The most troubling part for the Rebels, other than the losses, has been the decline of the rushing defense. After allowing no more than 168 yards on the ground in their first four SEC games, they gave up 264 to LSU and 248 to Auburn. Injuries have no doubt contributed, but there are very few healthy teams at this point of the year. Arkansas has been better than expected throwing the ball this season, but this is still a team that prefers to run the ball. Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the SEC in rushing, and both will end the season with over 1,000 yards — barring injury. Slowing down this duo will be key for Ole Miss.
3. Vanderbilt (+29.5) at Mississippi State (7:30 SEC Network)
When these two teams last met in Starkville — in October 2008 — Vanderbilt was 5–0 and ranked No. 13 in the nation while Mississippi State was 1–4 and playing out the string in the final season of the Sylvester Croom era. Vanderbilt lost that game 17–14, the first of a four-game losing streak that finally ended with a win at Kentucky that made the Commodores bowl-eligible for the first time since 1982. Both programs have had their ups and downs in the last six years. Clearly Mississippi State is on the uptick — the Bulldogs are No. xx in the most recent CFB Playoff rankings — while Vanderbilt is struggling through a difficult season under first-year coach Derek Mason. Hence, the nearly 30-point spread. The main issue for Mississippi State will be focus; this game is sandwiched between last week’s emotional loss at Alabama and next week’s trip to Oxford for the Egg Bowl.
4. South Alabama at South Carolina (12 ET Fox SportsSouth)
South Alabama is 6–4 overall and 5–3 in the Sun Belt but lost badly in its only previous game against an SEC opponent. In Week 2, the Jags dropped a 35–3 decision at home to Mississippi State — long before we knew Mississippi State was going to be one of the top teams in the country. USA has been solid on defense — it ranks third in the Sun Belt in yards allowed — but should be no match for South Carolina. The Gamecocks have some new life after rallying to beat Florida in overtime last week. Steve Spurrier’s team needs one more win to become bowl-eligible. They will get it this weekend.
5. Eastern Kentucky at Florida (12 ET, SEC Network+)
Playing for the first time since the school announced Will Muschamp will not be back next season, the Gators will be out to snap a one-game losing streak to FCS opponents. Eastern Kentucky arrives in Gainesville with a 9–2 overall record with losses to Tennessee Tech (by eight) and Jacksonville State (by 14). The Colonels beat the only FBS team they have played, topping Miami (Ohio) 17–10 in Week 2. If the Gators are focused — which might be an issue after an emotional week for the players — they should win this game with ease.
6. Charleston Southern at Georgia (12 ET, SEC Network)
After closing out its SEC season with an impressive 34–7 win over Auburn, Georgia hosts Charleston Southern in a tune-up for next week’s visit from surging Georgia Tech. Charleston Southern runs the triple-option but is also averaging 186.7 passing yards per game. In their one game against an FBS opponent, the Buccaneers had 190 yards passing and 199 yards rushing in a 21–20 loss at Vanderbilt. CSU has done a poor job stopping the run, allowing an average of 252.2 rushing yards per game. Georgia could win this game easily without attempting a pass.
7. Western Carolina at Alabama (4 ET, SEC Network)
This is the sixth straight season Alabama has played an FCS opponent the week prior to the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide has won the previous five, including the last two by identical scores of 49–0. Western Carolina won six of its first eight games but has since lost two of three, including a 51–0 defeat at home to Chattanooga. The Catamounts lost in Week 1 to South Florida, 36–31. This journey into the FBS ranks will not be as close.
8. Samford at Auburn (7 ET, ESPNU)
Auburn has lost two straight games for the first time in the Gus Malzahn era. In Saturday’s loss at Georgia, the Tigers managed only 292 total yards and seven points — by far their least productive offensive performance of the season. With hopes of an SEC West title dashed, Auburn must now focus on the Iron Bowl in two weeks. Samford is 7–3 overall and has won four straight game. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 48–14 loss at TCU.
Week 13 SEC Predictions
|David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|E. Kentucky at Florida||UF 35-7||UF 37-10||UF 34-13||UF 34-10|
|S. Alabama at S. Carolina||USC 42-10||USC 44-10||USC 41-17||USC 44-13|
|Charleston So. at Georgia||UGa 49-14||UGa 51-10||UGa 48-7||UGa 47-14|
|Ole Miss at Arkansas||UA 31-28||UM 27-17||UM 27-20||UM 27-20|
|W. Carolina at Alabama||UA 49-17||UA 41-0||UA 51-3||UA 48-0|
|Samford at Auburn||AU 48-14||AU 38-3||AU 51-10||AU 47-10|
|Mizzou at Tennessee||UT 21-17||MU, 31-27||MU 27-24||MU 27-23|
|Vanderbilt at Miss. State||MSU 35-10||MSU 37-13||MSU 38-13||MSU 30-17|