Here’s the schedule of SEC games in Week 5 of the college football season, along with some basics on each game, my predictions and analysis.
Schedule of Saturday, Oct. 1 Games
Mississippi State (2-2, 0-2 SEC) at Georgia (2-2, 1-1 SEC)
12 p.m. ET • FS South / ESPN3.com
Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Series Record: UGA leads, 16-6 • Last Meeting: Sept. 25, 2010 at Starkville (MSU, 24-12)
Thoughts: MSU will likely play with desperation to avoid falling to 0-3 in SEC play. Georgia has righted the ship a little bit with two straight wins. Aaron Murray seems to be settling in well and is statistically having a nice season. True freshman WR Malcolm Mitchell gives UGA a dangerous speed threat. It all starts with terrific freshman RB Isaiah Crowell for Georgia. Mississippi State’s defense isn’t as good as their reputation suggests. I like Georgia.
Winner: Georgia 31 Mississippi State 24
Texas A&M (2-1) vs. Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 SEC)
12 p.m. ET • ESPN
Arlington, Texas • Cowboys Stadium (71,167)
Series Record: UA leads, 40-24-3 • Last Meeting: Oct. 9, 2010 at Arlington, Texas (UA, 24-17)
Thoughts: Many have jumped off the Razorbacks bandwagon after getting handled in Tuscaloosa. I’m not one of them. Alabama is arguably the best team in the country, so that’ll happen. Texas A&M blew a 20-3 lead in a home loss to Oklahoma State. Losing Tenarius Wright hurts the ‘Backs who are pretty banged-up. Texas A&M has had trouble defending the pass. That’s not good news against the Razorbacks passing game. Arkansas gets back on track. Arkansas wins at Cowboys Stadium.
Winner: Arkansas 28 Texas A&M 27
Kentucky (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
12:21 p.m. ET • SEC Network / ESPN3.com
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,542)
Series Record: LSU leads, 38-16-1 • Last Meeting: Oct. 13, 2007 at Lexington (UK, 43-37, 3 OT)
Thoughts: Kentucky has been atrocious in many facets including discipline and turnovers. LSU is much too good, especially defensively for UK to be in this game. Bad offense vs. Great defense. Turn the ball over a lot vs. One of the best at creating turnovers and turnover margin. Short of Jordan Jefferson playing then imploding and/or poisonous grass making someone’s head coach horribly sick, LSU will cruise.
Winner: LSU 38 Kentucky 7
Buffalo (1-3) at Tennessee (2-1, 0-1 SEC)
12:30 p.m. ET • CSS / ESPN3.com
Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium / Shields-Watkins Field (102,455)
Series Record: First Meeting
Thoughts: Tennessee is really one-dimensional. The Vols are one of the nation’s best passing teams and worst running teams. With injured WR Justin Hunter now out for the year, the Volunteers must get some quality work in, in this game, on the running game to try and be more balanced. Buffalo sophomore LB Khalil Mack will be interesting to watch. UT players and coaches have talked all week about him standing out on film. Buffalo has played BCS teams Pitt and UConn tough. We’ll see if this year’s open week for Tennessee helps as much as last year’s did when UT won the last four regular season games after the bye. Vols win.
Winner: Tennessee 34 Buffalo 13
Auburn (3-1, 1-0 SEC) at South Carolina (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
3:30 p.m. ET / CBS Sports
Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Series Record: AU leads, 8-1-1 • Last Meeting: Dec. 4, 2010 at Atlanta (AU, 56-17)
Thoughts: This is a rematch of last year’s SEC Championship Game. Neither team looks anything like it did a year ago. South Carolina should be similar or even better than last season but it has been less than stellar so far, despite some tricky early season games like Navy and East Carolina. The Gamecocks get WR Damiere Byrd back from suspension. Steve Spurrier’s bff Stephen Garcia has to get better. If Auburn jumps out early and forces SC to play catch-up and abort the running game, look out. In the end, Auburn won’t have an answer defensively for Marcus Lattimore. The Head Ball Coach wins in another close, high scoring game.
Winner: South Carolina 34 Auburn 30
Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
8 p.m. ET • CBS Sports
Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (88,548)
Series Record: UA leads, 22-14 • Last Meeting: Oct. 2, 2010 at Tuscaloosa (UA, 31-6)
Thoughts: Alabama and LSU are two teams that can cover Rainey and Demps in the passing game through scheme, great team speed and physicality. Florida’s inability to run the ball between the tackles consistently and shaky game closing ability are concerns against the Tide. John Brantley will need to have a Stephen Garcia “best game ever” type performance like last season for the Gators to win. Gotta see it to believe it. The Crimson Tide running game versus the Florida run defense will be fun to watch. Florida’s best chance in this game is to win special teams decidedly. The Tide is too good and won’t be intimidated by the environment. Alabama wins comfortably.
Winner: Alabama 34 Florida 16
Ole Miss (1-3, 0-2 SEC) at Fresno State (2-2)
9:15 p.m. ET • ESPN2 / ESPN3.com
Fresno, Calif. • Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
Series Record: UM leads, 1-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 25, 2010 at Oxford (UM, 55-38)
Thoughts: Fresno State isn’t spectacular or bad at anything. They are just solid. I expected a little bit more from the Bulldogs actually. I think Fresno State has the toughness and physicality to play well against Ole Miss at the line of scrimmage. The Rebels have been bad and disappointing in so many ways. The west coast trip is unchartered territory for the Rebs. Ole Miss has never played a game in the state of California. Home field and the likelihood of critical mistakes by Houston Nutt’s team will help Fresno State notch a win against an SEC team, albeit perhaps the worst one.
Winner: Fresno State 20 Ole Miss 17
OPEN: Vanderbilt (3-1, 1-1 SEC)
Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com.