Here’s what’s happening in the SEC for week 6:
Separating contenders from pretenders: Separation Saturday – it’s a beautiful thing. #4 LSU, #5 Georgia, #6 South Carolina and #10 Florida all have something to prove this weekend. Yeah, Alabama is the best team in the SEC, but someone has to emerge to challenge them. This is the biggest weekend yet, with much on the line as four top ten teams go to work. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are all jockeying for position in the SEC East, while LSU is trying to prove doubters wrong and notch the first respectable victory of the year. After Saturday, we’ll know a lot more about these four teams and where they stand to get a clearer sense of a projected finish.
SEC East has a reputation to bear: We’ve talked about how the East is prying off the stranglehold the West has had on the SEC for the last few years. Bama is the premier team, with four others right in there behind them who all play each other Saturday. However, Florida-LSU will tell us whether the East has really just closed the gap or whether it is stronger from top to bottom. If Florida wins this football game, it tells us the East is better.
Biggest game in the SEC so far: The most anticipated SEC game this weekend happens to be Georgia-South Carolina. It’s Georgia’s first big hurdle – of two – with only Florida remaining on the schedule. South Carolina, however, has won two straight. This will be a sexy matchup featuring big-time running backs in Marcus Lattimore, Todd Gurey and Keith Marshall. Georgia will be without their leading receiver Michael Bennett for the rest of the season, and this game will come down to running the football. It’s simple.
Something to prove: LSU and Florida have the most to prove this weekend, and LSU may have the most to lose. LSU is dropping weekly in the AP Poll, and meanwhile, others think Florida hasn’t been impressive just yet. Reputation and program direction is on the line, not to mention recruiting battles. Two up and coming quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Zach Mettenberger will try to be efficient enough to win the football game against strong defenses. Expect both coaches to try and establish the running game first, in an effort to wear out the other defense late in the game.
Franklin Bowl: Goose eggs in the win column in conference is not the only thing these two teams having in common. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Missouri’s quarterback James Franklin will try to deliver their team’s first SEC victory through five weeks. Whichever team loses will have to battle Kentucky for last in the East. This is a big game for the Tigers and Commodores, as they need it for bowl eligibility purposes. Mizzou is still looking to get their first SEC win.
Don’t forget about us bowl: Otherwise known as the “We’re bad and we know it bowl”, this game features Arkansas and Auburn. Both teams are winless in conference, and both programs can attribute it to terrible defense, among other items. Auburn opened as the favorite, but Arkansas has more offensive firepower than the Tigers. If Gene Chizik and Auburn lose this football game to a snowballing bottom dweller, the Plains will get national attention next week again for the continued hot seat talks. The way things look right now, the loser sits along the bottom of the West.
A track meet in Oxford: Ole Miss’ high-energy offense welcomes Johnny Football and the fighting Aggies. This is otherwise known as the battle of the nice fan bases. TAMU’s fan base got rave reviews from traveling Florida fans, and Ole Miss fans won’t let this one slip away during pre-game activities in the Grove. This game features high-octane offenses and up-and-coming defenses…and the one and only Johnny Manziel. Will Ole Miss become the latest team to get Johnny-ed?
Takin’ care of business: The #20 ranked Mississippi State wants to send a message this weekend to the effect of “Don’t forget about us!” as they match up against Kentucky. We certainly will until MSU beats a worthy opponent. In a weird way, if MSU takes care of business and smacks around the Wildcats, some will compare last week’s South Carolina game and say the Bulldogs are better than South Carolina, and we will collectively agree because we have no idea how good Mississippi State really is. Kentucky has to have something good go their way this season, right?
Bye week snoozers: Alabama and Tennessee get a much-needed week off. Bama and Nick Saban are just tired of beating everyone into submission, and Tennessee needs to regroup after a tough loss to Georgia and a challenging road trip ahead to Starkville. We will miss the Tide and Vols this weekend.