Perception vs. Reality in the SEC: Week 7
It’s time to look at key questions across the SEC involving Saturday’s Week 7 slate of games:
Perception: TAMU’s season starts to level off after Miss. St. loss
Projected to finish near the bottom of the SEC West this season, Texas A&M’s 5-0 start pushed the Aggies all the way to No. 6 in the national rankings before last week’s humbling loss in Starkville. Pass protection faltered, wide receivers succumbed to road pressure and the secondary had no answers for Dak Prescott through the air. It was the first time this season Texas A&M looked average, albeit against elite competition.
Reality: Aggies remain a contender, could prove it vs. Ole Miss
In the SEC, you’re only as good as your last game and the Texas A&M-Ole Miss showdown Saturday night at Kyle Field proves this point. The Rebels must come down from an emotionally-draining win over Alabama to stay unbeaten against a much different offense, one predicated on tempo and execution on the boundary in pass-heavy sets. The stiffest road challenge of the season thus far for Ole Miss, the Aggies could move back into the top 10 with an impressive win against one of three remaining SEC unbeatens.
Perception: Miss. St.’s red-hot, carries momentum against Auburn
From unranked to tied with Ole Miss at No. 3 in the country, Mississippi State’s journey to the College Football Playoff conversation has be an intriguing one this season. Secondary issues against UAB raised questions about this team’s defense, but all of those have been answered the last two games during wins over ranked competition from the West. The hottest team in the SEC hosts Auburn on Saturday with the winner taking the divisional edge toward Atlanta.
Reality: Matchup with defending SEC champs is Bulldogs’ toughest
Mississippi State’s not going to sneak up on Auburn this season on the heels of consecutive program-shifting wins in the West. The Bulldogs have proved their worth and last week, Auburn appeared to be the SEC frontrunner after blistering LSU by 34 points. The winner of this one gets top billing next week as the No. 1 team in the country and national champion favorite. This won’t be easy in Starkville for either team.
Perception: Two weeks to prepare, Arkansas ready to upset Alabama
Anxious to clear the remnants of last year’s 52-point pasting in Tuscaloosa, the Razorbacks are set on dominating at the line of scrimmage in college football’s ‘There Will Be Blood’ matchup on Saturday. If you’re a fan of ground-and-pound with two elite backfields, tune in.
Reality: The Crimson Tide’s out to prove a point as a West contender
The only thing worse than playing Alabama is playing Alabama after a loss. The Crimson Tide’s only lost back-to-back twice since 2008, interestingly enough both coming in regular season finales + bowl game. You’d have to go back to 2007 to find consecutive SEC losses for Alabama and the Razorbacks haven’t won a league contest since Oct. 13, 2012. A 10-point underdog, Arkansas must find a way to win the turnover battle and hope Brandon Allen can make a few plays through the air in game that would be over in less than two hours if not for commercial breaks.