Week 3 win probability for every SEC team based on ESPN's FPI
There are plenty of non-conference games expected to be all but decided by halftime, but SEC conference games also increase this week, and two of them could offer a glimpse into how each division will be won.
Remember, these are simply probabilities, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. After all, Arkansas had just a 30.6 percent chance last week.
On to Week 3:
Ohio at Tennessee (97.7 percent)
The Vols have already had one wakeup call this season, and despite the Bobcats’ capable offense, they shouldn’t hang around long in this one. The noon kickoff could be troublesome, and the Bobcats have scored 37 and 54 points in their previous games. The Vols will not only get two 100-yard rushers, those two and the other starters will be resting by halftime.
Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech (55.6 percent)
Stopping the opponent’s running game will be top of mind for both teams. Tech has had a bend-but-don’t-break defense this season, and that’ll get tested by Ralph Webb, who leads the SEC in rushing as he stays ahead of pace to become Vanderbilt’s single-season and career rushing leader.
The Commodores could have the most decisive opponent turnaround from Middle Tennessee State’s pass-happy attack to Tech’s triple option. Count on defensive guru Derek Mason to come up with a dependable scheme. While Webb will test the Tech D, Vanderbilt will try to contain an opponent for two halves for the first time this season.
Alabama (67.6 percent) at Ole Miss
Ole Miss is trying to become the first SEC team to beat Nick Saban three consecutive times. Chad Kelly is trying to become the first SEC quarterback to beat Saban twice. The grudge story will be the most talked about item related to this contest. The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, are looking at the first true road game for quarterback Jalen Hurts, which could lead to some uneasy feelings as he settles into the job.
East Carolina at South Carolina (71.6 percent)
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said the Gamecocks will continue to play two quarterbacks and continue to change the game-plan based on who’s under center. Whether it’s Perry Orth or Brandon McIlwain, they’ll need to establish targets like Deebo Samuel, who has battles inconsistency because of injuries. This one should temporarily calm the waters for Will Muschamp.
New Mexico State at Kentucky (88.1 percent)
The schedule was a welcome sight this week as a comfortable win could start a healing process for the fan base that is growing increasingly impatient for a winning, bowl-eligible team. Aside from Austin Peay, this could be the Wildcats’ final realistic winning chance the rest of the season.
Mississippi State at LSU (86.4 percent)
While LSU will break from tradition and wear gold jerseys and alternate helmets, the FPI says the Tigers won’t have much trouble despite Nick Fitzgerald seemingly settling into his own last week.
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 12, 2016
It’s a matchup of teams familiar with an unsettled quarterback situation, but each hopes they’ve figured it out. Fitzgerald set a school rushing record last week, and Purdue transfer Danny Etling had a quality second quarter but uneven second half. He’ll start Saturday, but questions about the Tigers’ passing attack remain.
Texas A&M at Auburn (54.5 percent)
The underdog — and visitor — has been successful in this series, and the Aggies have yet to lose in Jordan-Hare since they joined the SEC. There’s also been controversial calls on both sides, from a horse-collar tackle, to an overturned targeting call. It’s an especially important game for each coach looking for a quality win. A&M is one of the best teams in the league on the road since 2012.
North Texas at Florida (98.8 percent)
On paper, this is a classic trap to see if the Gators can avoid a letdown following a lopsided win over Kentucky and Tennessee looming next week. The reality is the Gators are so superior it shouldn’t matter. This kind of scenario is familiar for the Gators, who had a big win over New Mexico State last year, but then struggled to pull away from East Carolina the following week.
Texas State at Arkansas (95.4 percent)
This is a chance for the Razorbacks to pad their numbers against a suspect defense. Arkansas typically plays well against Sun Belt teams, and this is another matchup to see if the Razorbacks can take care of business following the emotional win over TCU. There’s always a possibility the Razorbacks are looking ahead to next week’s matchup against Texas A&M, but the talent gap Saturday is so large it shouldn’t matter.
Georgia (51.8 percent) at Missouri
Will the Nicholls game be remembered as the beginning of a trend, or an aberration? This Missouri game should reveal plenty for the direction of the program under Kirby Smart. The offensive line and quarterback situations have each left plenty of questions about what kind of impact they’ll have on this team. The Tigers are leaning on a Josh Heupel-led attack that they hope has the same kind of success as Oklahoma did in the 2014 Sugar Bowl against Smart’s Alabama defense.