SEC Week 3 Predictions

Predictions for every SEC game in Week 3.

After a strong performance in Week 1, the SEC took its share of hits in Week 2. Auburn needed overtime to defeat Jacksonville State, Arkansas lost to Toledo and Tennessee blew a 17-0 lead to Oklahoma in a 31-24 two-overtime loss. The focus in Week 3 shifts to conference play, as the top four matchups in the SEC this week feature games between league rivals. Ole Miss-Alabama is the top game for Week 3, but there’s no shortage of intrigue between Auburn-LSU, Florida-Kentucky and Georgia-South Carolina.

 

Athlon Sports offers its SEC Week 3 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

 

SEC Week 3 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

 

1. Ole Miss at Alabama

Kickoff: 9:15 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

In what likely will be the first competitive game of the year for the Rebels, look for Alabama to put the pressure on quarterback Chad Kelly — particularly if he’s missing the protection of left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a third consecutive game.

Alabama 42–24

 

Braden Gall:

Both teams are loaded on defense. Both teams have some question marks under center. Both teams have playmakers on offense. But one team is at home and is likely taking the revenge angle personally after what happened between these two last season. Roll Tide.

Alabama, 34-24

 

Steven Lassan:

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has been sharp through the first two games of the season, but this will be his toughest test so far. The Crimson Tide’s defense is allowing only 4.05 yards per play, and there are encouraging signs for the secondary, as this group has yet to allow a pass of 30 yards or more. Of course, those numbers will be tested against Kelly and receiver Laquon Treadwell. Stating the obvious here, but Ole Miss needs to stop running back Derrick Henry and force the Crimson Tide to win this one through the air. It’s a lot to ask the Rebels to go into Tuscaloosa and win.

Alabama 27-20

 

Mitch Light:

Chad Kelly, the Rebels’ new quarterback, and been incredibly efficient, completing 72.5 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and one interception while leading the nation with 13.9 yards per attempt. The opponent this week will offer far more resistance and the environment will be far more hostile, but Ole Miss is one of the few teams in the nation that features the top-end talent to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Ole Miss 31–27

 

College Football Podcast: Week 3 Preview with Dari Nowkhah



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 
2. Auburn at LSU

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

 

David Fox:

Auburn’s defense hasn’t played to its full potential, in part because of absences of Carl Lawson and Tray Matthews. More concerning are the five interceptions so far form Jeremy Johnson. LSU’s offense looked all too familiar — the Tigers accounted for only 71 passing yards on nine completions. On the bright side, Leonard Fournette was terrific, rushing for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. He’ll be too tough for Auburn to slow down.

LSU 17–13

 

Braden Gall:

LSU is playing better football, is at home and is playing with revenge on their mind after a horrible showing on The Plains last fall. If Brandon Harris can offer some sort of balance, the cajun Tigers will top the BBQ Tigers.

 

Steven Lassan:

Plenty of intrigue here. Auburn has not played like a top-10 team this season and barely survived last week’s matchup against Jacksonville State. However, coach Gus Malzahn’s team was a little shorthanded, as end Carl Lawson and safety Tray Matthews did not play. The Tigers should be in better shape on defense for the trip to Death Valley - assuming Lawson and Matthews are able to go - but the offense still has its share of concerns, especially with quarterback Jeremy Johnson. LSU also has question marks about its passing game, but running back Leonard Fournette can carry this team to a win. This is a tough one to call.

LSU 24-20

 

Mitch Light:

We aren’t quite ready to jump off the Jeremy Johnson bandwagon, but maybe it’s time to admit that we shouldn’t have had the Tigers’ first-year starting quarterback No. 8 on our preseason Heisman list. 

LSU 21-16

 

3. Florida at Kentucky

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

UK’s run game has been outstanding so far at 6.0 yards per carry, but expect quarterback Patrick Towles to test a Florida secondary that could be without All-America cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

Kentucky 24–17

 

Braden Gall:

The whole world is picking the Cats to end their 29-year losing streak against Florida. So this is dangerous but Kentucky is improving as a team and is at home. Commonwealth will be rocking and Patrick Towles gives this team stability under center.

Kentucky, 31-30

 

Steven Lassan:

Kentucky has lost 28 consecutive matchups to Florida, but the Wildcats have a good shot at ending that streak in 2015. The Gators weren’t sharp in a win over East Carolina and needed a late interception to secure the victory. This one is a tossup, but I’ll take Florida’s defense to keep Kentucky running back Boom Williams in check, while the Gators’ offense takes advantage of a Wildcats’ defense giving up 6.01 yards per play.

Florida 27-24

 

Mitch Light:

Kentucky took a big step last weekend, snapping a 22-game road losing streak with its win at South Carolina. Can the Wildcats make it 2–0 in the SEC? The guess here is no. Florida’s defense — even if Vernon Hargreaves III doesn’t play — will be the difference.

Florida 21-17 

 

4. South Carolina at Georgia

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

Georgia is far from ready to contend for the SEC championship, particularly at quarterback where Greyson Lambert started 0-for-7 against Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs still have Nick Chubb. That should be the difference maker — provided this isn’t the kind of out-of-nowhere loss Georgia has suffered in recent years.

Georgia 31–14

 

Braden Gall:

Georgia is a much better team and South Carolina is dealing with some serious injuries, including starting quarterback Connor Mitch. But this game is always weird, low-scoring and close.

Georgia, 27-17

 

Steven Lassan:

The South Carolina-Georgia series has seen some strange matchups in recent years. But everything on Saturday night suggests an easy win for the Bulldogs. Sure, Georgia has its share of concerns at quarterback, but the defense and rushing attack will be too much for a South Carolina team starting a former walk-on (Perry Orth) at quarterback and ranks 13th in the SEC in rush defense.

Georgia 31-13

 

Mitch Light:

Greyson Lambert is 2–0 as a starter but has yet to quiet the concerns that Georgia will be good enough at the quarterback position to win an SEC championship. South Carolina isn’t thinking about winning a league title; the Gamecocks, fresh off of a loss at home to Kentucky, is simply trying to avoid an 0–2 start in the league.  

Georgia 28-10

 

5. Texas Tech at Arkansas

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

 

David Fox:

Against Tech last year, Arkansas rushed for 438 yards and seven TDs while Brandon Allen attempted only 12 passes. For some reason, Arkansas has flipped the script and put more on Allen and the passing game in 2015. Will Bielema get back to basics against Texas Tech?

Arkansas 31–21

 

Braden Gall:

Tech is improved from last year but the defense still has major question marks. Arkansas is reeling after a bad home loss to Toledo but outgained the Rockets by almost 200 yards. Look for the physical play of the Hogs to prevail at home.

Arkansas, 38-31

 

Steven Lassan:

Arkansas’ ground attack pounded Texas Tech for 438 yards last season, but the Razorbacks have just 285 rushing yards through the first two games of 2015. And as if last week’s loss to Toledo wasn’t bad enough, top receiver Keon Hatcher is out indefinitely due to a foot injury. Arkansas needs to have a steady diet of Alex Collins on Saturday to keep Texas Tech’s high-powered attack on the sidelines. This one will be closer than it was last season.

Arkansas 38-27

 

Mitch Light:

Arkansas passed the ball on 53 of its 84 snaps in last week’s loss to Toledo. Expect the Hogs to get back to what they do best — run the ball — with Texas Tech coming to town. 

Arkansas 37-24

 

6. UConn at Missouri

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: ESPN

 

David Fox:

If Missouri is going to stun the SEC again, Maty Mauk needs to be more consistent. In his last 12 games, Mauk has completed 49.6 percent of his passes and averaged 166.6 yards passing. Meanwhile, Mizzou’s run game is lost without Russell Hansbrough, who will miss this game with an ankle sprain.

Missouri 28–14

 

Braden Gall:

Maty Mauk and the SEC speed along both lines of scrimmage gives Mizzou the easy win.

Missouri 40-17

 

Steven Lassan:

UConn is making progress under coach Bob Diaco, and the Huskies are catching Missouri at a good time. The Tigers won’t have running back Russell Hansbrough available due to injury, and the offense averaged only 4.1 yards per play in last week’s win against Arkansas State. However, even though the Huskies are improved and Missouri is a little shorthanded, coach Gary Pinkel’s team finds a way to pull away in the second half for a comfortable victory.

Missouri 31-10

 

Mitch Light:

The good news: Connecticut is 2–0. The bad news: Those two wins have come against Villanova and Army West Point, both at home, by a total of 10 points. Missouri has struggled offensively en route to its 2–0 start, but the Tigers have been very strong on the defensive side of the ball. 

Missouri 28-10

 

7. Nevada at Texas A&M

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

The Aggies’ offense is rolling, which is not great news for a Nevada team that just gave up 570 yards and 7.4 yards per play to Arizona at home last week.

Texas A&M 49–17

 

Braden Gall:

Texas A&M is just tuning up for a nasty SEC schedule.

Texas A&M, 50-20

 

Steven Lassan:

A bad week for Nevada coach Brian Polian is only going to get worse on Saturday. Polian – who was on Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin’s first staff in College Station – was fined $10,000 by the school after two unsportsmanlike penalties in last week’s loss to Arizona. The Wolf Pack has some firepower on offense, but it’s asking a lot for this team to win at Kyle Field. Expect Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray to have their share of highlights in this one.

Texas A&M 48-13

 

Mitch Light:

Few teams have been as impressive through two weeks than the Aggies. Nevada, a solid team from a solid league, will provide a decent test, but A&M should win this game by at least two touchdowns. 

Texas A&M 41–23

 

8. Northwestern State at Mississippi State

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

This might be a good week for Mississippi State to figure out who can lead in the run game.

Mississippi State 42–14 

 

Braden Gall:

#HailState.

Mississippi State 45-10

 

Steven Lassan:

Mississippi State’s second-half rally fell short against LSU last Saturday. The Bulldogs shouldn’t need a comeback to win this one, as coach Dan Mullen’s team should cruise to an easy victory. But here’s the real challenge for Mississippi State: Back-to-back road dates await, starting with a trip to Auburn next Saturday, followed by a date at Texas A&M on Oct. 3.

Mississippi State 48-10

 

Mitch Light:

His supporting cast isn’t nearly as strong, but Dak Prescott is off to a strong start to his senior season. He will put up some big numbers against the Demons from Northwestern State. 

Mississippi State 41-13

 

9. Western Carolina at Tennessee

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

 

David Fox:

The Vols shouldn’t have much trouble, but they need to bounce back from a double dose of bad news: the collapse against Oklahoma and losing star defender Curt Maggitt to a hip injury.

Tennessee 49–14

 

Braden Gall:

Tennessee needs to get lots of young bodies onto the field on both sides of the ball to be ready for Florida, Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama — the next four following this one.

Tennessee 45-10

 

Steven Lassan:

Tennessee should be eager to erase the disappointment of last week’s collapse to Oklahoma. Western Carolina is the perfect opponent to work out the kinks before a road trip to Florida.

Tennessee 48-7

 

Mitch Light:

Tennessee is still recovering from last week’s emotional loss to Oklahoma. Good thing the Catamounts — who lost to The Citadel last week — are next on the docket.

Tennessee 47-6

 

10. Austin Peay at Vanderbilt

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

 

David Fox:

To his credit, Derek Mason is sticking with quarterback Johnny McCrary, who has thrown five interceptions. Austin Peay will help the sophomore build confidence.

Vanderbilt 35–10

 

Braden Gall:

Derek Mason is treating this as an SEC game... as he should. Because he needs every win he can get.

Vanderbilt, 34-7

 

Steven Lassan:

Vanderbilt has improved in coach Derek Mason’s second season, but wins will be tough to come by this year. This Saturday won’t be problem, as Austin Peay is the easiest opponent on the schedule for the Commodores in 2015.

Vanderbilt 45-3

 

Mitch Light:

Vanderbilt leads the SEC with 165 offensive plays through two games. The Commodores, however, are only averaging 4.76 yards per play — and that ranks last in the league. 

Vanderbilt 38-0

More Stories: