Arkansas @ No. 1 Alabama, Sat. 7 p.m., ESPN/WatchESPN
Coming off its 48-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, the Alabama Crimson Tide switches focus to an Arkansas team that suffered a 52-7 home loss to South Carolina last weekend. Alabama’s ground game destroyed a mediocre Kentucky defense last Saturday, accounting for five touchdowns from three different players. Sophomore tailbacks T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake led the Crimson Tide offense Saturday, running for a combined 230 yards and four touchdowns. After South Carolina running back Mike Davis carved up Arkansas’s defense for 128 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, Yeldon and Drake should be able to continue their stellar play and attack the Razorback defense. Arkansas sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen will need to improve on his 4-12, or 33.3 percent, completion rate that yielded 30 yards and one interception if the Razorbacks hope to survive in this contest. Although Arkansas showed signs in its game against Texas A&M, the Razorbacks have dropped two straight to Florida and South Carolina by 20-plus points. Alabama senior quarterback A.J. McCarron shouldn’t have too much trouble in this one, and fans should expect Alabama to roll past a struggling Razorback team.
No. 6 LSU @ Ole Miss, Sat. 7 p.m., ESPN2/WatchESPN
A promising Ole Miss season has taken a turn for the worst after dropping three straight conference games, and it doesn’t look to get much better for the Rebels as LSU makes its way into Oxford, Miss. The Tigers, led by senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger and sophomore tailback Jeremy Hill, took care of business last Saturday in their 17-6 win over the Florida Gators. Hill ran the ball 19 times for 121 yards (6.4 yards per carry) and created space for Mettenberger to find open wide receivers. Although Mettenberger did not play well in the win, expect him to put in some extra time in the film room this week and correct his mistakes. For Ole Miss, a disappointing 41-38 loss to the Aggies leaves many questions. The once-superb ground attack was not effective against Texas A&M, as the Aggies forced junior quarterback Bo Wallace to beat them with his arm. Wallace answered the bell, completing 22 of his 36 attempts for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Assuming LSU focuses on taking out Wallace’s legs and eliminating the read option the Rebels like to run, it should be a tough one for Wallace and the Rebels going up against a defense that allows an average of only 22 points per game.
No. 24 Auburn @ No. 7 Texas A&M, Sat. 3:30 p.m., CBS
The newly ranked Auburn Tigers have quietly performed well this year, defeating conference foe Mississippi State and Ole Miss, but now, all attention must be directed to the Texas A&M Aggies. To no surprise, the Aggies, led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, have shined this season. Texas A&M has won three straight, and much of the Aggies’ success owes to an offense that has averaged 47.8 points per game. The Tigers may not seem like a threat, but with a defense ranked 21st for points allowed (18.8 per game), Manziel could find some trouble on Saturday. Auburn has been at its best when junior running back Tre Mason has run effectively. Mason will look for gaps between the tackles against a physical Aggie defense that prides itself in stuffing the ground game. Texas A&M should be able to put up points on Auburn’s defense; the question is how many and if Auburn’s offense will be able to keep up with the aerial attack and running game Manziel orchestrates.
No. 22 Florida @ No. 14 Missouri, Sat. 12:21 p.m., GamePlan/ESPN3
Following an uplifting 41-26 victory over once-No. 7 Georgia, the Missouri Tigers suffered an impactful injury on Saturday, losing senior quarterback James Franklin for the foreseeable future. Now the Tigers will call on freshman Maty Mauk to come in and finish what could be a very successful season for Missouri. In his short stint at the helm, Mauk completed all three of his pass attempts for 23 yards and ran the ball three times for 12 yards. Florida’s coaching staff is most likely creating schemes to confuse the young quarterback and force him into errors. The Tigers will need senior wide-out L’Damian Washington to continue his stellar play and will also call on sophomore wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to step up and make big plays for the offense. The Tiger defense hasn’t allowed opposing teams to score much (they have allowed 23 points per game), and with a struggling Florida offense that only put up six points against LSU coming into Faurot Field, the Missouri defense knows it will need to step up and do its part to ease the transition for Mauk.
No. 15 Georgia @ Vanderbilt, Sat. noon, CBS
The Georgia Bulldogs will look to get back on track this weekend against a Vanderbilt team that has lost all three of its conference games this year. Despite a disappointing loss to Missouri, the Bulldogs are still very much alive in the race for the SEC East title. Senior quarterback Aaron Murray made critical, game-deciding mistakes down the stretch in the 41-26 loss to Missouri. Against Vanderbilt, Murray should not find the same troubles. With sophomore tailback Todd Gurley considered “doubtful,” Murray and his wide receiver core will look for big play opportunities against a struggling Commodore defense that allows an average of 26.5 points per game. Vanderbilt is in the process of becoming a recognizable team in the SEC, but even with much-needed improvement from its quarterback, linebacker and secondary positions, the Commodores just don’t have enough skill and talent to take down a Georgia team looking to bounce back.