Here’s your weekly rundown of all the SEC action on tap for Week Five of the regular season. (Man, time flies.) As always, you’ll find everything from TV listings to the betting lines to our own predictions.
Enjoy the games, be safe, and best of luck to your favorite school this weekend.
Missouri at Central Florida
12:00pm ET on FSN
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: UCF -3
Storylines: Mizzou QB James Franklin raised eyebrows this week when he said that shoulder pain is “killing” his confidence as a passer. If the Tigers struggle early — which is possible because UCF is better than many people think — a lot of Mizzou fans will be watching to see if Gary Pinkel makes a call to the bullpen and brings in Corbin Berkstresser to spell Franklin.
Keys for Missouri: Protection and confidence. First, a battered MU offensive line must find a way to protect Franklin (and open holes for a so-so Mizzou rushing attack). The line won’t be facing a defense on par with Georgia or South Carolina this week, so expect some improvement. Second, the Tigers can’t hang their heads after an 0-2 start in their new conference. Pinkel needs to have his bunch ready for a rowdy atmosphere — the Golden Knights don’t get many visits from SEC-caliber teams — or else MU’s season could really start to go downhill in a hurry.
Pick: Missouri 27, Central Florida 24
Arkansas at Texas A&M
12:21pm ET on SEC Network
Opening Line: A&M -11.5
Current Line: A&M -13.5
Storylines: Arkansas turns the ball over too much on offense and can’t force many takeaways on defense. Last week against Rutgers, there were signs of quit from a team that no longer has championships to play for. Toss in a fanbase that wants John L. Smith ousted ASAP and you’ve got a full-on mess. At A&M, the Aggies have been honing their skills against SMU and South Carolina State, but are they ready to record their first SEC victory? Also, Aggie fans will get to experience the “joys” of an SEC Network 11:21am CT kickoff. Whoop?
Keys for Arkansas: Hold on to the football on offense. Take the ball away from A&M on defense. Pretty simple, really. The Hogs need to have something good to happen for them and, to be honest, they’re overdue for some good fortune. Despite the fact that at least three starters are expected to miss tomorrow’s game, expect Arkansas to put up a little more fight this week. If they can force an early break.
Keys for Texas A&M: Effective runner/passer Johnny Manziel should have a field day against an Arkansas defense that’s been absolutely terrible. Still, it’s time for A&M to get over one monster hurdle — the second half. The Hogs might not be playing well, but they’re more talented than SMU or SC State. The Aggies will want to break the Razorbacks’ will early, but even if they do run up a quick lead, A&M can’t let up. It’s time for TAMU to snap a two-year run of come-from-ahead losses in big games.
Pick: Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 27
Tennessee at Georgia
3:30pm ET on CBS
Opening Line: UGA -15.5
Current Line: UT -14
Storylines: Tennessee (#1) and Georgia (#3) feature two of the best passing offenses in the SEC. Their defenses rank last and next-to-last when it comes to giving up plays of 30 yards or more. So this one could feature more fireworks than a roadside “Crazy Dave’s” stand. The Vols are looking for an elusive signature win as well as a bit of redemption after their last failed attempt versus Florida two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Dawgs are expected to work starters Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree back into their defense which could help cut down on opponents’ big plays.
Keys for Tennessee: The Vols don’t have enough of a running game or defense to win a game against a good foe if Tyler Bray has a bad day. Georgia is a very good foe. Therefore UT’s signal-caller has to remain calm in the pocket and not force passes into coverage. If the Bray from Tennessee’s first two games shows up, expect a shootout. If the Bray from UT’s last two games shows up, expect Georgia to pull away with ease.
Keys for Georgia: Balance. Tennessee will likely be playing more zone defense after moving several new faces into the secondary in recent weeks. The Volunteers haven’t had a great pass rush up front which means Aaron Murray should have plenty of time to throw. If Mike Bobo keeps the Vols guessing run or pass, sooner or later Todd Gurley could turn a five-yard gain into 50.
Pick: Georgia 38, Tennessee 24
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