Back SEC Primer: Week 9

Back To SEC

SEC Primer: Week 9

By Matt Smith
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page

Matt Smith previews Week 9 in the SEC

October concludes with a quintet of SEC games. Idle weeks begin to wrap up with Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt all taking the weekend off. Ole Miss is the only SEC team with an off week in November.

Three games have small point spreads, and the other two are rivalry games featuring SEC title contenders, so there’s some optimism for a Saturday of excitement down south after a largely dull Week 8.

Are Florida and Georgia’s days numbered in Jacksonville? That storyline permeates over what should be another non-competitive Cocktail Party. Is Tennessee ripe for the picking against Kentucky? The Wildcats won by 30 the last time the teams met in Neyland Stadium. Arkansas and Auburn kick off the day in a game that will see one team snap a three-game SEC losing streak.

As Brian Kelly said last Saturday evening, October is for pretenders, and November for is contenders. Let’s preview the final week before contenders fully emerge.


This is a Big Week for:


Coach: Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri

The Tigers can’t seem to avoid close games, with all four of their SEC games having been decided by seven points or less. Drinkwitz desperately needs to get to five wins to make the Black Friday game with Arkansas matter, and Saturday’s trip to South Carolina is the best opportunity to get a second SEC win prior to that game with Kentucky and Tennessee ahead.


Player: Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M

The Ole Miss defense has been gashed on the ground the past two weeks by Auburn and LSU. With a struggling passing game, expect Texas A&M to lean heavily on Achane, who has been underappreciated this season due to the Aggies struggles.


Unit: Arkansas Defensive Line

Auburn can’t throw the football. The running game has some pop, however. Arkansas has a favorable matchup here, as the Tigers can’t expose their porous secondary, but the front seven has to hold up against Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter.


Trivia Time

1. Who coached Arkansas the last time it won at Auburn?

2. Who is the last first-year head coach to win a Florida-Georgia game?

3. How many passing yards did No. 1 overall NFL draft picks Tim Couch and Peyton Manning combine for in their only college meeting in 1997?


Game Predictions


Arkansas (4-3, 1-3) at Auburn (3-4, 1-3), Noon ET (SEC Network)

Announcers: Dave Neal and Deuce McAllister

Last Meeting: 2021 – Auburn 38, Arkansas 23

Current Streak: Auburn – 6

Current Streak in Auburn: Auburn – 4

Line: Arkansas -3.5

Over/Under: 62.5

Two fresh teams without a conference win since September will kick off the SEC Saturday on The Plains. Auburn has had a week filled with transfer portal additions, meaning Bryan Harsin’s hold over this team could be slipping as reality becomes inevitable for the 3-4 Tigers. The Razorbacks were teetering after their three straight losses, but Sam Pittman had his team ready to go at BYU two weeks ago. Auburn can still play some defense, but the off-field issues on top of the anemic offense seems like too much to overcome. Arkansas can’t have turnover problems, but if it avoids giving the Tigers short fields, this should be the end of a six-year losing streak in the series.

Prediction: Arkansas 34, Auburn 24


Florida (4-3, 1-3) vs. (1) Georgia (7-0, 4-0) (Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)

Announcers: Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson

Last Meeting: 2021 – Georgia 34, Florida 7

Current Streak: Georgia – 1

Line: Georgia -22.5

Over/Under: 56.5

This series hasn’t been overly competitive in the last 15 years, with just five of those 15 games decided by seven points or less, the same number that have been decided by 24 points or more. Georgia is still battling injuries, with star defensive tackle Jalen Carter and big-play receiver A.D. Mitchell looking like they will be out another week. The Bulldogs will be hoping to expose a bad Florida run defense, as the Gators have allowed 150-plus on the ground in six of seven games. Anthony Richardson was tremendous in Florida’s loss to Tennessee, but the sophomore quarterback struggled against Missouri and LSU. I think it takes a star receiver to give this Georgia defense problems (hi, Tennessee), and the Gators are lacking one. This line feels about right, but I’ll call for a third straight covering of a big number for Georgia.

Prediction: Georgia 38, Florida 14


Missouri (3-4, 1-3) at (25) South Carolina (5-2, 2-2), 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Announcers: Taylor Zarzour and Matt Stinchcomb

Last Meeting: 2021 – Missouri 31, South Carolina 28

Current Streak: Missouri – 3

Current Streak in Columbia: Missouri – 1

Line: South Carolina -3.5

Over/Under: 46.5

The Battle of Columbia means more for the Tigers, who don’t have much of a postseason path without a fourth straight win in this series. South Carolina is sitting pretty at 5-2, needing just one more win to get to a bowl with Missouri, Vanderbilt and Florida in the next three weeks. My concern for Missouri here is an emerging South Carolina front seven against a shaky Tigers offensive line. While the Gamecocks have caught some breaks with Kentucky not having Will Levis and Texas A&M more interested in lighting up than lighting opponents up, Shane Beamer’s team doesn’t waste opportunities. This is a gut play, but the ol’ market correction game seems like it could come into play here. Missouri pulls off the upset on the strength of kicker Harrison Mevis in a bit of a letdown spot for the Gamecocks.

Prediction: Missouri 23, South Carolina 20


(19) Kentucky (5-2, 2-2) at (3) Tennessee (7-0, 3-0), 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Hebrstreit

Last Meeting: 2021 – Tennessee 45, Kentucky 42

Current Streak: Tennessee – 1

Current Streak in Knoxville: Kentucky – 1

Line: Tennessee -12.5

Over/Under: 62.5

With No. 1 Georgia looming, the Volunteers welcome Kentucky to Knoxville. The last time Tennessee faced a challenging opponent the week before a showdown, it went to Baton Rouge and destroyed LSU by 27 points. The Wildcats clearly want to slow this game down and keep Tennessee’s offense off the field. Knowing Will Levis’ propensity to turn the football over, I expect an aggressive game plan from the Vols defense. Maybe that leads to some big plays for Kentucky, but that gets the Tennessee offense back on a field, and a takeaway or two is bound to happen against Levis. I doubted the Vols in Baton Rouge, and I’m not going to do it here. This is a mature team that won’t be thinking much about the trip to Athens until 10:30 on Saturday night.

Prediction: Tennessee 38, Kentucky 20


(15) Ole Miss (7-1, 3-1) at Texas A&M (3-4, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic

Last Meeting: 2021 – Ole Miss 29, Texas A&M 19

Current Streak: Ole Miss – 1

Current Streak in College Station: Texas A&M – 1

Line: Ole Miss -1.5

Over/Under: 55.5

We’ll learn a lot about these two teams on Saturday night. Ole Miss was exposed last week at LSU, as defensive injuries are starting to pile up for a team that has had concerns with depth. A loss in College Station could very well mean the Rebels go from 7-0 to 7-4 with Alabama and a trip to Arkansas ahead before the Egg Bowl. The Aggies might be close to mailing it in with injuries and suspensions impacting the team, but they responded well at Alabama when they were written off all week. I don’t have a great feel for this game, but I can’t pick Texas A&M to beat anyone with a pulse right now. Ole Miss gets to 8-1, and will likely be playing for first place in the SEC West against the Crimson Tide in two weeks.

Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Texas A&M 27


Best Bets

Last Week: 3-2

Season: 26-14

West Virginia +7.5 vs. TCU

Eastern Michigan +6.5 vs. Toledo

Cincinnati +1.5 at UCF

USC -15.5 at Arizona

North Carolina -3.5 vs. Pittsburgh


The Best Game I’ve Ever Watched On October 29:


Oct. 29, 2016: (3) Clemson 37, (12) Florida State 34

A night for Halloween parties was hijacked by Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook, as the future NFL stars put on a show in Tallahassee in a game the defending national runner-up Tigers needed to take control of the ACC Atlantic Division.

The 5-2 Seminoles’ ACC title chances were on life support after losses to Louisville and North Carolina, but they still had as much elite talent as any team in the country in 2016. Doak Campbell Stadium isn’t always full, but when there’s a big night game in Tallahassee, it’s as good as any environment in college football.

Clemson silenced the Seminoles crowd with a pair of early long touchdown drives to jump in front, 14-0. Cook got Florida State on the board in the second quarter with a short touchdown run, and then the game really got interesting when Deondre Francois executed a two-minute drill with a six-play touchdown drive in just 81 seconds to cut the Tigers lead to 17-14 at halftime.

The third quarter belonged to Cook, as the Seminoles star took the first play of two different drives for long touchdown runs of 43 and 70 yards to give Florida State a 28-20 lead with 15 minutes to play.

Watson wasn’t finished, however. Clemson answered with a 75-yard drive capped by Wayne Gallman’s second touchdown run of the day. A failed conversion attempt preserved Florida State’s lead at 28-26.

A pair of penalties doomed the next Seminoles drive, giving Clemson a short field. The Tigers took advantage, with Greg Heupel converting a 46-yard go-ahead field goal with five minutes to play.

Cook had one more bullet left to fire, and after a 38-yard run by Freddie Stevenson to put the Seminoles in scoring range, Cook burst into the end zone from eight yards out to put FSU back in front, 34-29 with three minutes left.

Three minutes was more than enough time for Watson, who needed just five plays to guide Clemson 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown, hitting Jordan Leggett for completions of 25 yards, 11 yards, and the final one for 34 yards and a score.

Florida State had one last chance trailing 37-34, but after moving the ball into field-goal range, the Seminoles went backwards with two false starts and two sacks, the last coming from Ben Boulware to seal the victory and preserve Clemson’s unblemished record.

Florida State would not lose again, closing the season with five straight wins, including a victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Clemson played with fire once again two weeks later and got burnt, falling at home to unranked Pittsburgh, 43-42, the Tigers’ last home loss to date. They made their way back to the College Football Playoff, however, where they finished what they couldn’t a year earlier with a thrilling 35-31 win over Alabama to capture the national title.


Trivia Answers

1. John L. Smith (2012)

2. Jim McElwain (Florida, 2015)

3. 999

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.