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SEC Football Week 8 Preview

SEC Football Week 8 Preview

SEC Football had all 14 teams scheduled to play this weekend as we hit the back nine of the college football season. It was the first time in a month all teams were scheduled to play but once again COVID-19 has gotten in the way.

Unfortunately multiple games have already been postponed. Auburn and Mississippi State, LSU and Alabama, and Texas A&M and Tennessee have all faced postponements for the weekend. The Mississippi State, LSU and Texas A&M locker rooms have all faced COVID-19 outbreaks.

Standings

SEC Football Week 8 Preview
SEC Standings

Last week’s games have set up the SEC Championship game. At present time it is Alabama and Florida who will play for the title in Atlanta. It would be the first time Georgia has not represented the East in three years. Florida still has three games to play but would have to lose two of them along with Georgia winning out for the Bulldogs to steal the spot.

Alabama continues their undefeated season this week against LSU. They also would need two losses on the schedule for Texas A&M to represent the West. That will be unlikely as they Tide should be able to cruise through a schedule that has LSU, Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas remaining.

Rankings

  • No.1 Alabama (6-0) +1
  • No.5 Texas A&M (5-1) +2
  • No.6 Florida (4-1) +2
  • No.12 Georgia (4-2) -7
  • No.24 Auburn (4-2)

The rankings received a big shake up after two top five teams lost last week. Notre Dame’s monumental overtime upset of Clemson moved Alabama into the number one spot for the first time this season. It now marks the 13th consecutive season Nick Saban has had Alabama ranked number one.

No.5 Georgia’s loss to Florida propelled Texas A&M and Florida up two spots. The Aggies and Gators are now on the fringe of the playoffs and are hoping for a top four slip from somebody. Georgia’s loss dropped them all the way to 12, the largest drop of anyone in the AP poll this week.

Week 7 Recap

With just four games on the schedule the weekend provided a lot more excitement than the previous week’s slate of games. The lone blowout came from Texas A&M against South Carolina. The Aggies won 48-3 in a game the Gamecocks did not score in until a little under six minutes to go in the game.

Vanderbilt gave Mississippi State all they could handle in a game that got close towards the end. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-0 start that Vanderbilt chipped away at but came up just short 24-17. Mississippi State’s offensive woes continued as they got just 204 yards to Vanderbilt’s 478. The difference was the defense as they forced five Vanderbilt turnovers to win the turnover battle 5-0.

SEC Football Week 8 Preview
Guarantano took a hit from Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool and left with a head injury. (Photo by knoxnews.com).

Florida was able to steamroll the beat up Georgia defense on their way to a 44-28 win. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead but just couldn’t get much of anything going offensively as Florida outscored them 24-7 in the second quarter. An injury to starting quarterback Stetson Bennett made matters worse for Georgia who’s passing attack was the worst it’s been all season.

Arkansas used a huge third quarter to knock of a spiraling Tennessee team that has now lost four in a row. Arkansas used a balanced offense that scored on all four of their third quarter possessions. The defense caused headaches for the Vols who had just 292 yards and turnovers. A fourth quarter injury to quarterback Jarrett Guarantano sapped any hope of a late comeback.

Week 8 Predictions

12pm SECN: Vanderbilt (0-5) @ Kentucky (2-4), Kentucky -17

Vanderbilt showed some promise last week against Mississippi State. They were able to hold the Bulldogs to just 24 points and nearly had a chance to tie it at the end. MSU’s offense is one of the worst in the conference however, and was undermanned due to COVID-19 and injuries.

Kentucky had a much needed bye week after dropping two in a row. The offense struggled to put points on the board in those two games which were kept close thanks to a very good defense. Terry Wilson’s injury against Missouri allowed backup Joey Gatewood to get some experience against Georgia. Neither player has had much success throwing the ball this season and it is unclear who Mark Stoops intends on starting Saturday.

Bottom line in this game is going to be defense. Kentucky’s defense is just too good for Vanderbilt to put many points up. They’re also well rested coming off the bye week. Vanderbilt had five turnovers in the loss against Mississippi State.

Prediction: Kentucky covers

12pm ESPN: No.12 Georgia (4-2) @ Missouri (2-3), Georgia -13.5

This game could be complicated as Georgia is also having question marks at quarterback. Kirby Smart has left it up in the air on who would get the start against Missouri. Stetson Bennett‘s job is in jeopardy however as his string of bad games has dropped the Bulldogs to 13th in passing efficiency in the conference.

Missouri is coming off their bye week. Their most recent game was the 41-17 blowout at the hands of Florida. While the rebuild is going well for Eliah Drinkwitz, it’s still a little early for the Tigers to be realistic contenders against the conference’s top teams. Still, freshman Connor Bazelak has looked excellent for Missouri and has just one interception in four starts – against Tennessee week two.

Prediction: Georgia covers

7pm ESPN: Arkansas (3-3) @ No.6 Florida (4-1), Florida -17.5

Sam Pittman and Arkansas once again sent ripples through the SEC with another convincing win as the underdog. They stifled Tennessee’s offense all night and were able to put together some second half drives that shut the door on the Vols. The Razorbacks are in search of their fourth SEC win, which would equal their combined total from 2016-2019.

Florida took care of business against Georgia last week and emerge as the favorites for the SEC East champs. It was another clinic by Kyle Trask and the Florida offense. The senior went for 474 yards and four touchdowns, bringing his season total to 22 through the air.

SEC Football Week 8 Preview
Kyle Trask leads the SEC in passing touchdowns with 22. (Photo by floridagators.com).

Florida’s offense has been the story of the season in Gainesville. Any doubt about Kyle Trask’s abilities has been washed away as the Gators have the second highest passing yards per game behind only Alabama. They have failed to score 40 or more in just two games this season.

Arkansas’s defensive coordinator Barry Odom has had excellent game plans for each team they’ve played this year. It has been a big reason they’ve been close in most every game. It’s a chance for revenge against his old team for Feleipe Franks who faces a vulnerable defense. It stands a good chance Florida will win but take Arkansas to cover as they have yet to beat the spread this season.

Prediction: Florida wins, Arkansas covers

7:30pm SECN: South Carolina (2-4) @ Ole Miss (2-4), Ole Miss -11

South Carolina got a beating last week against Texas A&M. They failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season and were held to just 150 yards. Three quarterbacks saw action under center as starter Colin Hill threw for just 66 yards on an 8-for-21 night.

Ole Miss is coming off their bye week last week. They got back on the right foot against Vanderbilt the week before after two frustrating losses the games prior. The Rebels seem to have their COVID troubles handled and are hoping for more improvement from the defensive side where they’ve looked better in recent games.

Carolina coach Will Muschamp said the quarterback position is up for grabs Saturday night. 2019 starter Ryan Hilinski saw time Saturday night at the position and will more than likely see some time this weekend. The passing game should find better results against a Rebel defense that allows over 300 yards. Also expect Kevin Harris to have a better game on the ground where the Rebels have given up an SEC worst 231 per game.

Ole Miss’s offense should find continued success against South Carolina, particularly on the ground where the Gamecocks allow the third most yards per game. The real key will be on the defensive side. They’ve brought some players over from the offensive side to help out which has paid early dividends so far.

Prediction: Ole Miss wins, South Carolina covers

 

 

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