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SEC Game Previews – 10/4/13

mrsec game preview (2)Ready for Week Six of the college football season?  Or are you like us and still baffled by how quickly we’ve arrived at Week Six?

Ready or not, our weekly game previews are below, complete with opinions and stats on every contest involving an SEC squad.

Good luck to your favorite team this weekend…

 

Georgia State (0-4) at #1 Alabama (4-0)

TV:  12:21pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  UA -56

Current Line:  UA -55

One To Watch:  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  If the first-year-in-the-FBS Panthers spring an upset in this one, it’ll be a clear sign that the end is near.

This and That:

1.  For Alabama, the month of October kicks off with a pair of major goals: Stay healthy and improve.  You don’t want to go losing key starters to injury against cupcakes like GSU, but that’s usually just about the only thing these types of games are good for.  Bama also needs to find a consistency on both offense and defense that’s been lacking so far in 2013.  Of course, Georgia State is so outmanned that no one will know if UA has improved or not.  Kudos to Alabama for playing a neutral site, non-conference game with Virginia Tech earlier in the year, but scheduling Georgia State is ridiculous.

2.  Alabama is allowing 14.5 points per game.  Georgia State is allowing 36.5.  To date the Panthers have played Samford (21-31 loss), Chattanooga (14-42 loss), West Virginia (7-41 loss), and Jacksonville State (26-32 loss in overtime).  Nuff said.

3.  The biggest challenge facing the Crimson Tide this week comes from off the gridiron.  With the news that an assistant strength and conditioning coach loaned money to safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix comes a major distraction.  Clinton-Dix, a key starter, is suspended indefinitely.  The strength coach in question is on administrative leave.  With this coming on the heels of the Yahoo! Sports report that ex-Bama player DJ Fluker was given impermissible benefits during his playing career by a runner (another ex-Bama player) on behalf of an agent (who happens to be a Bama fan), Tide fans can feel free to fret a bit.

Prediction:  Alabama 50, Georgia State 3

 

#6 Georgia (3-1) at Tennessee (3-2)

TV:  3:30pm ET on CBS

Opening Line:  UGA -10.5

Current Line:  UGA -10.5

One To Watch:  Georgia RB Keith Marshall.  With Todd Gurley nursing a bum ankle, his backup figures to take center stage in Knoxville tomorrow.  Vol fans should remember him.  His career-best game came against Tennessee last season (10 rushes, 164 yards, two touchdowns).

This and That:

1.  The Volunteers have to hope that UGA — on the road after an emotional win over LSU — sleepwalks into tomorrow’s ballgame.  It’s happened before.  Mark Richt’s program got smacked around by a combined 47 points in Neyland Stadium in 2007 and 2009.  Having said that, with ex-Georgia coaches John Jancek and Willie Martinez now on UT’s staff, some Bulldog veterans will likely have a little added motivation tomorrow.  And Vol quarterback Justin Worley might’ve given UGA some bulletin board material when he said of the Dawg defense: “There are holes there, but you’ve got to find ‘em and execute when opportunities are presented.”  Here’s guessing Todd Grantham has shared only the first part of that quote with his defenders.

2.  The Bulldogs could be without starting safety Tray Matthews tomorrow.  The freshman “tweaked” a hamstring in practice this week and Georgia’s defense hasn’t exactly been a impenetrable wall with him.  Take a key cog away and there might be one or two more “holes” in the Dawgs’ spotty D.

3.  Georgia has scored 35 or more points in every game this season.  Three of those games were against top 10 teams.  In case you haven’t been keeping up, Tennessee is not a top 10 team.  The Volunteers lack of depth has been exposed and Butch Jones referenced that fact this week.  Against South Alabama last week, for example, UT had two cornerbacks play every… single… snap.  The guys in the new “Smokey” gray uniforms figure to be worn down by an offense that’s just a few hundred times better than South Alabama.

Prediction:  Georgia 51, Tennessee 24

 

#24 Ole Miss (3-1) at Auburn (3-1)

TV:  7:00pm ET on ESPNU

Opening Line:  UM -1

Current Line:  UM -3

One To Watch:  The coaching matchup.  One was coaching high school ball earlier this decade.  His no-huddle spread attack has brought hope to his team’s fanbase.  The other was coaching high school ball earlier this decade.  And his no-huddle spread attack has brought hope to his team’s fanbase.  Well, you get the picture.  There also happens to be a pretty good friendship between Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze to boot.

This and That:

1.  Want an interesting stat?  Here’s one: Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has thrown for 807 yards on the season while Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has thrown for 809.  Both starters have tossed four TD passes, too.  But there is a difference between the Rebels’ second-year starter and the Tigers’ juco transfer.  Wallace hasn’t been picked off in 2013; Marshall has thrown four INTs.  Auburn is minus-two in turnover margin on the season.  AU’s got the homefield advantage, but turning the ball over could negate that in a hurry.

2.  While the focus will be on the two similar offenses, the real difference in this one — if it isn’t turnovers — will likely be defense.  The Tigers and Rebels are within 20 yards of one another in terms of total offense per game.  But UM holds a sizable advantage in total defense allowing 358 yards per game to Auburn’s 439.5.  Both teams can move the football, but Ole Miss has been able to stop the other team on occasion, too.

3.  The Rebels need to get the focus back onto their gridiron work.  Last week, Bo Wallace flapped his gums in the run-up to the Alabama game (only to have it glued shut in a 25-zip loss).  Late this week, UM players were accused of hate speech while attending a play based on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual.  When the Rebs stick to football, they shine a good light on their school.  When they start boasting or making news off the field — sorta/kinda like an Ole Miss hoops player we all know — they make it tougher to root for them.

Prediction:  Ole Miss 31, Auburn 30

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