Hard to believe that we’ve already made it half way through the 2017 football season. As the cream rises to the top, we take a look at Saturday’s slate, which features six conference matchups and one non-conference encounter.

Here’s a look at one key matchup for each game:

BYU (1-5) at Mississippi State (3-2, 1-2)


Nick Fitzgerald vs. BYU secondary: If the Bulldogs’ quarterback can produce any kind of offense at all, it will probably be enough. That’s because BYU has done very little offensively itself, ranking 128th nationally at 11.7 points per game. Fitzgerald has accounted for 1,126 total yards and 13 touchdowns. As a team, BYU has totaled 1,521 yards and eight touchdowns.

Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina (4-2, 2-2) at Tennessee (3-2, 0-2)


Jarrett Guarantano (above) vs. Gamecocks pass defense: Wow, Butch Jones wasn’t kidding when he said during the Vols’ bye week that every position was up for grabs. Guarantano gets the start at quarterback. The redshirt freshman will get his opportunity to kick start a Vols passing game that ranks 10th in the SEC. He’ll do it against a South Carolina pass defense that is yielding nearly 250 yards per game. Only three teams give up more in the SEC. But the Gamecocks have picked off six passes so far this season. Only Alabama (9) has more among SEC teams.

Auburn (5-1, 3-0) at LSU (4-2, 1-1)

3:30 p.m.

Auburn run defense vs. LSU O-line: LSU has had problems all season along its offensive line. Injuries and transfers have depleted what was once a cornerstone of LSU football. That continues to be the case. Center Will Clapp battles a knee injury but is expected to play on Saturday, but a pair of tackles are questionable with injuries. Auburn has been tough against the run, ranking fourth in the SEC. Stopping LSU’s jet sweep will be a priority.

Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3) at Ole Miss (2-3, 0-2)

3:30 p.m. 

Shea Patterson vs. Vanderbilt stingy defense: It’s strength vs. strength when the Rebels’ quarterback takes to the air against the Commodores. Patterson leads the SEC with 1,792 yards passing and is tied for the conference lead with 13 touchdowns. He is fourth in the country averaging 358.4 passing yards per game. Granted he is tied for the conference lead with six interceptions, and that’s where the Vanderbilt pass defense comes in. Second only to Tennessee in the SEC, the Commodores are giving up just 140.3 passing yards per game and have picked off as many passes as touchdowns allowed (5).

Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) at Florida (3-2, 3-1)

7 p.m.

Florida WRs vs. Texas A&M DBs: This would appear to be the perfect opportunity for Florida QB Feleipe Franks to have a coming out party. The Aggies are 12th in the SEC against the pass and their secondary has been dealing with injuries to a couple of standout DBs. But who is going to take advantage of this on the Florida side? Gators leading receiver Tyrie Cleveland, the second-leading receiver in the SEC at 81.5 yards per game, has been nursing an ankle injury. With Antonio Calloway suspended, that leaves sophomore Josh Hammond as the Gators’ next best receiver, and he ranks 40th among SEC receivers.

Arkansas (2-3, 0-2) at Alabama (6-0, 3-0)

7:15 p.m. 

Alabama run game vs. Arkansas defensive front: The slim chance the 30-point underdog Razorbacks have is to stop Alabama’s vaunted run game, which leads the SEC and ranks seventh nationally with more than 300 yards per game. How can the Hogs contend with that? Good question, considering Arkansas is just average at best against the run, despite holding New Mexico State to 11 rushing yards. Alabama isn’t New Mexico State.

Missouri (1-4, 0-3) at Georgia (6-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m.

Drew Lock vs. Georgia pass rush: The Missouri quarterback hopes to keep the 30-point underdog Tigers in the game. Second in the conference in passing at 294 yards per game, Lock must overcome a stellar Georgia pass defense that ranks fourth in the SEC and has 10 sacks.