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 around the conference as Kentucky faces off with Mississippi State in a huge conference showdown.
1. Saban vs. Jimbo
In this weekend’s only ranked SEC conference matchup the No. 22 Aggies of Texas A&M will travel to Tuscaloosa to play the dominating No. 1 Crimson Tide.
All the headlines so far have been focused on this being the first time Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban will face each other as head coaches in the SEC. It’s important because in just a few years, Jimbo will have the Aggies as a major force in college football.
Only time will tell if Fisher can overtake Saban as the best coach in the country, but unfortunately for Texas A&M that day is for sure not going to be today.
Look, Alabama with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback is a literal cheat code. If he plays a full, healthy game against the Aggies than this will not even be close. His quarterback rating is off the charts so far. He is easily the Heisman Trophy leader heading into week 4. I mean…..JUST LOOK AT THIS STAT:
Tua Tagovailoa is now 13-for-13 passing on 3rd down for 298 yards and 6 touchdowns. pic.twitter.com/imaY87i7lc
— Ryan C. Fowler (@RyanCFowler) September 16, 2018
Texas A&M does have a good offense, so they may score a few times, but don’t worry at all about Alabama covering that 27-point spread. They will do that with ease. Roll Tide at least for another week.
2. Kentucky’s Bid for a Program-Changing Win
Buckle your seat belts and hold on to your loved one’s folks, because I think that this will be the best SEC game of the day.
First off, let’s talk about the No. 14 Mississippi State Bulldogs. I really think they are as good as advertised. Their run game is absurdly good, and their defense may be even better. Besides Alabama and Georgia, this is the most balanced team in the SEC.
If quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is accurate, this may get out of hand quickly. However, that doesn’t happen too often.
This is the definition of a trap game for MSU. I think are more talented than the Wildcats but that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed a victory. Remember, this is their first true SEC road game and those can always be tricky.
But it’s not just that. After the Wildcats finally found a way to defeat Florida after 30-plus years, this team has an ever-so-slight feeling of destiny to it. Terry Wilson is really starting to find his footing at QB, the defense has been lights out through three weeks, and Benny Snell has Heisman Trophy hype.
“@benny_snell for Heisman.”
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 21, 2018
The spread for this game literally does not matter because I have no idea how this will shake out. If things go *just* right for UK, then I really think that they can pull off this upset.
Let’s not underestimate this game. Beating Florida was a season-changing victory for the Wildcats. But a win over Mississippi State would be a program-changing one. It would mean that Kentucky should be on its way to a potential 9 or 10-win year before bowl season which would change so many perceptions around this team.
This is the kind of game that changes programs. I’m staying away from picking this game, but I have quite the weird feeling about this one.
3. Another SEC East Road Test for Georgia
In their first SEC road contest against South Carolina, Georgia absolutely destroyed the Gamecocks just as I predicted they would. Now they travel to Missouri where they will demolish the Tigers.
Yupp. I’m already calling this one dead on arrival. Like with the UK-MSU game, I don’t care at all what the spread is here. The Bulldogs are going to cover it and make Drew Lock and company look bad.
I think the Tigers have decent offense talent, but I don’t see them slowing down Georgia’s incredibly efficient offense when Jake Fromm is playing the way he is now.
Tua Tagovailoa in 2018: 36-for-50, 72.0%, 12.9 YPA, 8 TD, 0 INT
Jake Fromm in 2018: 37-for-46, 80.4%, 10.4 YPA, 6 TD, 1 INT
Neither has attempted a pass in the fourth quarter of their first three games.
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) September 18, 2018
Not only does Missouri not have the firepower on defense, but I just don’t trust Lock in this game at all. He has been getting a lot of NFL hype over the last year and that’s great for him. I just don’t see it. To be frank, I think he is inaccurate and I do not trust him.
Give me Fromm all day, every day over Lock. The Bulldogs are still the only true “great” team in the East now, and they are going to let the entire country know that today.
4. Upset Alert in Nashville
Since I’m feeling a bit lucky right now (this should go well) I’m picking Vanderbilt over South Carolina in Nashville. Look, I promise I’m not crazy here. Hear me out.
I think the Gamecocks are straight-up the better team, but they just don’t look the part right now. Their game last week got cancelled so the last thing on their minds is that embarrassing beatdown from Georgia.
This is going to matter tomorrow when it’s a close game at halftime. Before the season started, I predicted this would be Derek Mason’s last year at Vanderbilt and I’m proud to say that I think I will be wrong about this.
After seeing the effort they gave against a very good Notre Dame squad last week I think its obvious Mason has his motivated on another level right now. Plus, they had a preposterous amount of bad luck against the Fighting Irish which completely changed the game for them.
— Allan Sareini (@alsareini) September 15, 2018
Also, the Commodores have a hard-nosed defense and a talented senior quarterback in Shurmur that plays his guts out. This may be somewhat bold, but I think Mason gets his biggest win of his career today against an overrated South Carolina squad.
5. Florida plays Tennessee….Cool? I guess?
Remember when this game used to be really fun and meaningful? Yea, those were the good ole days of the SEC East. We all know Florida hasn’t been the same since Tebow left and Tennessee hasn’t been truly relevant since the Fulmer days.
Despite both teams being at 2-1, neither program has gotten off to the start they wanted. Tennessee was straight up embarrassed by West Virginia and we all know what happened to Florida (haha).
But seriously despite this being an unwatchable game quality-wise it will be incredibly important for both teams. Florida still has the talent to win 8 or 9 games (seriously) so they can’t afford to lose this one. The Volunteers need to take advantage of Florida while the Gators aren’t that great yet because Tennessee just doesn’t have a lot of talent.
And that’s the best I can do in hyping this game up. Both offenses are still terrible so there won’t be a lot of points either way. It’s going to be ugly, unattractive, and just hard to watch. You know it’s bad when you are comparing your own bad quarterback to another team’s bad quarterback:
Dan Mullen compares Jarrett Guarantano to Feleipe Franks during SEC Teleconference: He’s probably similar to Feleipe. Talented young player, good arm, deceiving good with his legs. He’s growing in the system and he’s learning and he has a bright future.
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) September 19, 2018
This matchup being in Knoxville does make things interesting, but Florida should win this one. Surely they won’t lose to Kentucky and Florida in the first four weeks of the season…..right???