The college football season gets another week older, and many eyes will be focused on the SEC. Here is a rundown of the key storylines to watch for in Week 10 as Kentucky takes on the Georgia Bulldogs to decide who will represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game.
1. Alabama and LSU Battle for the West Title
Make no mistake about it folks, this is the biggest SEC game of the season. This decade has given the college football world some incredible matchups between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers. Luckily for football fans, this Saturday should be another classic game.
So, who has the upper hand here? LSU will be playing at home underneath the lights in Death Valley. That’s an incredibly hard task for any opponent to handle. However, Alabama has the much better quarterback on their side.
For perspective, Tua Tagovailoa’s quarterback rating is twice as high as Joe Burrow’s (238.84 to 118.16). It’s mathematically accurate to say that Tagovailoa is twice the quarterback that Burrow is. Honestly, that’s not even a shot at Burrow who is a tough game manager. Tagovailoa is just that amazing right now.
No matter how good this LSU defense is, I guarantee that the Crimson Tide offense finds a way to put up at least three touchdowns. What will determine this game is if the LSU offense can get anything going through the air.
NCAA Rank: Alabama vs. LSU
Offense YPG: 2nd
3rd Down %: 1st
Defense YPG: 16th
Tackle For Loss: 18th
Offense YPG: 87th
3rd Down %: 87th
Defense YPG: 22nd
Tackle For Loss: 95th
— MyBookie CFB (@MyBookieCFB) October 30, 2018
Trying to run the ball against the Crimson Tide has mostly been a complete failure any team throughout this decade, and this year is no different. Alabama ranks 21st in the nation in rushing defense and I expect them to impose their will on the LSU offensive line.
If Burrow can have the performance of a lifetime, then I think LSU might win this game. However, I can’t get his terrible performance against Florida out of my head. While I’m not sure that Alabama can cover the 14.5 point spread here, I am guaranteeing the Crimson Tide will walk out of Death Valley tonight with a victory.
2. The Biggest Game of the Century for Kentucky
I think it may be a bit an overstatement to say that today’s game against Georgia is the biggest in program history even if there is a strong argument to suggest that it is. A more accurate statement is that this is by far the biggest game that the Kentucky Wildcats have played in the past 18 seasons and there isn’t a close second.
Basically no one outside the state of Kentucky thinks that the Wildcats have a chance here. Georgia was only mere seconds from winning a national title last year, and the Bulldogs still have the most talented overall roster in the SEC East.
However, I think the Wildcats matchup nicely with the Bulldogs, and it has everything to do with that incredibly talented UK defense. People around the country have a very hard time believing this, but the Wildcats are tenth overall in total defense in the nation.
Josh Allen is straight up the best defensive player in the nation, and yes that is including Houston’s Ed Oliver who is awesome in his own right. Allen will easily best player on the field Saturday so expect him to get acquainted with Jake Fromm often.
Josh Allen leads the SEC with 10 sacks.
He has as many sacks as the entire Georgia defense. ? pic.twitter.com/6CdtDzfvdX
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 2, 2018
One of my favorite plays of the college football season:
Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen running with TE Jace Sternberger and breaking up the pass
Allen has the top pass-rush grade in the nation and he's dropped into coverage 101 times this year pic.twitter.com/NKl7fldlS2
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) October 29, 2018
Plus, Kentucky will also have the home field advantage in what will surely be the craziest atmosphere that Kroger Field has even seen since renovations took place. It just seems like everything is in place for the Wildcats to pull this off.
I honestly cannot believe that I’m about to type this, but I’m picking the Wildcats to win this game outright. It just seems like their year in the East, and I don’t trust Fromm enough without Sony Michel or Nick Chubb behind him.
Alabama vs. Kentucky in the SEC Championship? Sure. Why not?
Kentucky had a 0.3% chance to win the SEC East entering the season via ESPN FPI.
Tomorrow they face Georgia. Winner goes to the SEC Championship. pic.twitter.com/P1RhcFPWGt
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 2, 2018
3. How Will Auburn Look Off a Bye Week?
After the two huge matchups mentioned above, there isn’t a lot of other big storylines in the SEC this week which is understandable considering that the SEC Championship game will most likely be determined on Saturday.
However, I’m taking a hard look at the Auburn Tigers in my third biggest storyline. This week they play No. 20 Texas A&M at home as the Tigers are coming off a bye week.
Remember, just three weeks ago Coach Gus Malzahn was squarely on the hot seat after Auburn surprisingly lost back-to-back games against Mississippi State and Tennessee (!). Luckily for him, Auburn caught an average Ole Miss squad right before the Tigers’ bye week.
— Greg Ostendorf (@greg_ostendorf) November 2, 2018
Today, after an entire two weeks of preparation, a very tough and physical Aggie squad comes to town. I think this game is crucial for Malzahn’s future at the school. This is a must win for Auburn considering that two of their last three games are against Georgia and Alabama.
If they drop this winnable game at home, there is a very strong chance that the Tigers finish the regular season at 6-6. Wowza. Is that bad enough to get Malzahn fired?
Honestly, I think it will be.
4. Missouri Enters the Danger Zone
What a disastrous season this has been so far for the Missouri Tigers. Some thought that Drew Lock would led this team near the top of the SEC East. However, as we welcome the start of November, the Tigers find their selves dead last in the division without a single SEC victory (0-4).
(This is a good time to remind ourselves just how Missouri lost their last game)
One last drive. @UKFootball came through in the clutch with the season on the line.
Terry Wilson and C.J. Conrad take us through their game-winning touchdown against Missouri. pic.twitter.com/x1QVR82L3Q
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 2, 2018
This week doesn’t look any better as they go into the swamp to take on the No. 11 Florida Gators. I have yet to be impressed by Lock or any Missouri player so far this season, so I expect the Gators to take this game easily.
So, with a potential loss coming this week the Tigers will have to win two out of their last three games to be bowl eligible. The good news is that these games are being played against Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Arkansas and they should be favored in all three.
However, those matchups against Vanderbilt and Tennessee will not be easy by any stretch as both of those teams will be trying to make a bowl game. Missouri and Lock must wake up now and try to steal a game in the swamp. Its officially time to hit the panic button.
5. Tennessee Tries to go Bowling
Yupp. That is an honest headline. After last season’s embarrassing 0-8 finish in the SEC, the Volunteers are in distance of reaching a bowl game this season thanks in large part to their huge win over Auburn.
They currently possess a weak 3-5 record, but there is a solid chance that Tennessee can win three out of their last four games. The Volunteers will start that quest this week against the Charlotte 49ers. This should be a very easy victory which means they will be just two games away from bowl eligibility.
If you are wondering how on earth this is even possible, the answer begins and ends with play of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Once considered by many to be bust, the highly touted prospect has had one of the most surprising season in the SEC thus far.
While some Tennessee fans are calling for the backup QB to play, SEC coaches are very impressed with Jarrett Guarantano. Believe Jeremy Pruitt has his QB to build around: https://t.co/AvSTm4KWV0 pic.twitter.com/MG067Y5xe6
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) November 1, 2018
Guarantano currently has the fourth (!) highest quarterback rating in the conference so far, he has completed 64% of his passes, and his TD-INT ratio sits at a respectable 8-2.
To get into a bowl game, the Volunteers will have to win two of their game against Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt. This will be a tough task, but if Guarantano keeps improving I think this will be very attainable by the end of the season.