10 things to watch in the SEC this weekend
Berths in the conference championship game and College Football Playoff will be decided in the next two weeks as the regular season winds down.
Here are 10 things involving the SEC to watch this weekend:
SEC game of the week, LSU against Ole Miss: No. 17 LSU (7-2) faces No. 25 Ole Miss (7-3) in the best matchup in the SEC this weekend, a game that may influence — if Alabama loses to Auburn — who wins the West Division. LSU has lost its last two games. Ole Miss hasn’t played since losing to Arkansas two weeks ago in overtime. Both teams need to finish strong for improved bowl position.
Heisman watch: Heading into LSU’s Nov. 7 game against Alabama, Tigers’ running back Leonard Fournette was ahead of the pack for the Heisman Trophy. But Fournette was held to 31 carries for 19 carries by Alabama and might have been surpassed by Alabama RB Derrick Henry, who turned in a 210-yard, three-touchdown performance on the same night.
Arkansas offense: Scoring at least 30 points in the last four weeks, Arkansas has been in high gear on offense in the last month. Razorbacks TE Hunter Henry and WR Dominique Reed have been Brandon Allen’s favorite targets. Arkansas’ passing game will be important for the Hogs to increase their winning streak against Mississippi State.
Auburn’s quarterback woes: As the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee admitted this week that the team’s 2016 quarterback might not yet be on campus, meaning the ongoing uncertainty at the position will continue. Junior Jeremy Johnson was touted as a potential star, but struggled and was replaced by Sean White. Neither player has produced satisfactory results.
Kentucky’s losing streak: After beginning the season 4-1, the Wildcats have lost their last five games. Mark Stoops’ team needs a victory over Charlotte (2-8) to remain in contention for a bowl game before ending the season against in-state rival Louisville the last week of the season. Kentucky has in recent years struggled in November games. The Wildcats (4-6) haven’t beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team in the month since 2011.
Michigan State at Ohio State: Important to the Playoff picture, the Spartans play at Columbus in a game that should decide the Big Ten East champion. If Michigan State wins, the Big Ten loses one of its two unbeaten teams, and the other, Iowa, is expected to be the underdog in the championship game. The SEC’s Playoff would benefit from a Michigan State victory.
Baylor vs. Oklahoma State: No. 10 Baylor (8-1) can pretty much ruin No. 4 Oklahoma State’s (10-0) national championship hopes by beating the Cowboys this weekend. A Baylor victory would knock the Big XII’s last unbeaten team into the one-loss column and perhaps cost the Big XII a playoff spot for the second straight season. A one-loss Alabama or Florida might be a more attractive playoff team.
Ole Miss’ hopes for best-in-West: The Rebels can still win the SEC West with a win this weekend against LSU and then by beating Mississippi State the week after, but would need help with an Alabama loss as well. Alabama plays FCS Charleston Southern on Saturday, but faces Auburn next weekend in the Iron Bowl.
SEC defensive player of the year: The top defensive players in the conference — Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, Alabama LB Reggie Ragland, Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Missouri LB Kentrell Brothers and Florida DL Jon Bullard — have each staked a claim to the award. The last two weekends of the season are the last opportunities for each to impress voters.
LSU needs to win out to save Miles: In the last two weeks, the Tigers have fell from the top of the conference into free fall. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, another loss or two could cost the 11-year Baton Rouge boss his head coaching spot.