22 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network
For the second straight week the SEC will play less than a full schedule as Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M will take Saturday off and start getting ready for a November to remember.
There are four SEC games which provide more than enough questions as we enter Week 9-that’s right, Week 9-of the college football season. Here are five of the burning variety:
1. Does quarterback J.T. Daniels return for Georgia against Florida?
Georgia was off last week and during the break Bulldog coach Kirby Smart mentioned that Daniels, the starter in Game 1, was close to being ready to play. Daniels has been dealing with a back muscle issue since the second game of the season. And in his absence Stetson Bennett IV has played very, very well.
Smart said he plans to play both quarterbacks down the stretch. So it will be interesting to see if Daniels gets snaps in Jacksonville.
2. Speaking of QBs, what is Florida’s Dan Mullen going to do?
Gator fans are not happy to be 4-3 and basically out of the race for the SEC East championship as they head to Jacksonville to meet Georgia. They aso are not happy that Anthony Richardson has not been proclaimed the starter at quarterback. Mullen said he would continue to play both of his quarterbacks, Emory Jones and Richardson, who is considered to be the more athletic of the two. We’ll see how that goes.
If the Gators fall behind early, it is this writer’s opinion that Mullen will have to turn it over to Richardson. Fans are also not happy that Florida scored 42 points against LSU last week and lost. 49-42. With a loss Florida would drop to 2-4 in the SEC. But a win over the No. 1 team in the nation would heal a lot of wounds for the Gators.
Big upsets do happen. In 1985 Florida was ranked No. 1 and was a heavy favorite against Georgia. The Bulldogs dominated, winning 24-3.
3. How big is the game between Ole Miss and Auburn?
Can you say potentially season defining for the winner?
Let’s start with Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1). The Rebels are on a three-game winning streak since their only loss to Alabama on Oct. 2. If Ole Miss can win out and finish 11-1 it could be looking at spot in the Sugar Bowl. If Ole Miss runs the table and Alabama loses again in the regular season, then the Rebels would play in the SEC championship game for the first time ever.
Auburn (5-2, 2-1) has five SEC games left with Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Alabama. It’s a tall order but the fact is that if Auburn wins them all the Tigers will be the SEC West champs and go to Atlanta. Beating Ole Miss at home would be a big step in the right direction.
4. Who earns its first SEC win in Missouri vs. Vanderbilt?
This one is pretty simple. Both teams have struggled mightily on defense this season. Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-4) ranks 13th in the SEC, allowing 457.9 total yards per game. Mizzou (3-4, 0-3) is 14th at 489.3 ypg. Vanderbilt is 13th in scoring defense, allowing 35.4 points per game. Missouri gives up 37.1 ppg.
And here is the stat that jumps off the page: Missouri is giving up 287.57 yards RUSHING per game. Only one FBS team in the country, Arkansas State, gives up more yardage on the ground.
Can the Vanderbilt offense, which has been shut out twice and is dead last in the SEC in scoring (13.3 ppg) muster up enough to take advantage of Missouri’s weakness? Stay tuned.
5. Can Kentucky avoid stumbling against Mississippi State?
Kentucky (6-1) had last week off to recover from its first loss of the season against No. 1 Georgia. While it looks like Georgia will win the SEC East and go to the conference championship game, Kentucky still has a chance to post one of the best seasons in its football history. Only three times has Kentucky won 10 games in a season.
But there is much work to do.
Mississippi State (4-3) has become a dangerous team in the second year under Mike Leach. The Bulldogs played LSU to the wire before losing 28-25. The following week they beat Texas A&M 26-22 in College Station. Quarterback Will Rogers leads the SEC in passing with 364 yards a game and only seven interceptions in 397 passing attempts. That’s 123 more passing attempts than any other quarterback in the SEC.
Worth noting: Last season against Mississippi State Kentucky had six interceptions in a 24-2 win.
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