Enjoy another great slate of SEC and ACC games this Saturday.
SOUTH CAROLINA AT LSU: It is almost unthinkable that LSU has an opportunity to lose two straight games. It could happen if coach Les Miles does not unleash his offense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has to find his playmakers such as Odell Beckham, Jr. and Russell Shepard. One problem that limits the Tiger attack is the offensive line being depleted with injuries. Senior tackle Alex Hurst is dealing with personal issues and may not play. Also, right guard Josh Williford is questionable after suffering a head injury last week in the loss to Florida.
South Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the nation with 10 straight wins. They might be the most balanced team next to Alabama. Their defensive front seven will likely dictate the tempo of the game. Quarterback Connor Shaw has been extremely efficient. Tailback Marcus Lattimore has rushed for 314 yards and five touchdowns in three SEC games. If the Gamecocks win this game and, beat the Gators next week, then a magical season could be coming up.
ALABAMA AT MISSOURI: The Tide travels to Columbia after a week off. This is the first of consecutive road games. Alabama travels to Knoxville next week. This is a matchup of the Tide offensive line versus the Tiger defensive line, led by lineman Sheldon Richardson. Tide cornerback Deion Belue has returned from a shoulder injury. Missouri lost its starting center Mitch Morse and quarterback James Franklin in the loss to Vandy last week. Only once this season has Missouri had a quarterback pass for 200 or more yards and a running back rush for 100 yards or more in the same game.
AUBURN AT OLE MISS: The Tigers may have hit the bottom last week during the loss to Arkansas. It did not help Auburn to have receiver Sammie Coates say this week that the upperclassmen were not showing leadership.
Ole Miss allowed Texas A&M to overcome a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter to steal a win. Coach Hugh Freeze made an ill-advised fourth-and-inches call from around his 40-yard line that was stopped for a loss. Still, the Rebel defense created six Aggie turnovers. Wide receiver Korvic Neat’s return from a groin injury gives Ole Miss a boost. The Rebels haven’t won an SEC game in 16 tries.
KENTUCKY AT ARKANSAS: The Hogs have some newfound confidence after the win at Auburn. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will have a field day against the Wildcats. It is not inconceivable that the Hogs could make it to a bowl game. They showed some improvement on defense by limiting Auburn to only a touchdown.
Kentucky is really hurting due to injuries. The Wildcats have played 24 freshmen, including 14 true freshmen this season. Fortunately, the old adage is true. Wildcat basketball season begins this weekend.
TENNESSEE AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs are unbeaten and ranked No. 19. Fewer people know about them due to playing a weak schedule. Receiver Chad Bumphis has been setting career records. The Bulldogs are also second only to Alabama in turnover margin. This is a matchup between SEC’s top passing offense taking and one of the top secondary’s units with cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, who have combined for seven interceptions and haven’t allowed any touchdowns.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley underwent hip surgery this week and may have to coach from the press box. A win here is needed with South Carolina and Alabama left to play in October.
LOUISIANA TECH VS. TEXAS A&M IN SHREVEPORT: The SEC has two games this week between two Top 25 teams. Amazingly, this is one of them. This game was supposed to open the season on Thursday night, but was postponed due to a hurricane. The Bulldogs are having a grand year behind quarterback Colby Cameron. However, the Bulldogs rank No. 123 nationally in total defense, giving up 531 yards a game. They are also giving up 35.8 points per game. The media has almost run out of adjectives to describe quarterback Johnny Manziel. If he is not the freshman of the year in the league then the award should be retired.
FLORIDA AT VANDERBILT: The Gators could sleep walk through the first quarter after the big win over LSU, but they will pull away in the second half without much problem. Vandy did beat Missouri last week. Quarterback Aaron Rogers and running back Zac Stacy played well. Vanderbilt has its first home sellout in four years The Gators need to play well and pull the starters early with South Carolina and Georgia on the horizon.
BOSTON COLLEGE AT FLORIDA STATE: If not for Parent’s Weekend there would be only around 50,000 fans at this game. Florida State fans are extremely disappointed and frustrated with a team that has national title type talent, but lacks the mental toughness to go with it. This is a chance for a rebound. BC is 1-4 and falling fast and university officials might end up making a coaching change at the end of the year.
NORTH CAROLINA AT MIAMI: The Canes are awful on the road against non-conference foes, but very good in the league. The key here for the Canes is to stop Tar Heel running back Giovani Bernard, who is averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Bernard rushed for 262 yards last week against the Hokies. Miami’s rushing defense is No. 116 in the country, allowing 250 yards per game
The Canes have allowed just one sack in the past four games. During that span, the Canes have averaged 492.8 yards of total offense. In its past two games, North Carolina has scored 73 first-half points en route to blowout wins.
DUKE AT VIRGINIA TECH: Who would have ever thought that Duke (5-1 and off to its best start since 1994) would have a better record than Virginia Tech (3-3)? Coach David Cutcliffe said he might get his starting quarterback Sean Renfree back from injury. Tech has been a train wreck on defense despite nine starters returning.
Brent Beaird writes for collegesportsnotebook.com and Gator Bait magazine. He can be heard on 1010XL sports radio in Jacksonville, Florida. Brent can be contacted at email@example.com