SEC First Glance: Tennessee Heads To The Bayou, Jimbo & Saban, While Georgia Looks For Tiger Blood

We enter the sixth weekend of SEC football with a better sense of how some teams are going to fare this season, but questions still remain for others. The marquee games between Tennessee-LSU and Alabama-Texas A&M will take centerstage, but there are a number of other games to keep an eye on, including Georgia looking for tiger blood.

Week 5 saw some major happenings. The first loss of the season for Kentucky came at the hands of Ole Miss, while Texas A&M looks to have trouble on its hands right now in College Station. Bring on the SEC this week.

Tennessee (-3.5) @ LSU

The Vols are rolling right now offensively, coming off the win over Florida and the week off. Tennessee is currently sitting at 8th in the country, with a lot of excitement around the program. But can they build off the fast start? This trip to Baton Rouge is intriguing for many different reasons, but I want to see how the Vols offensive line handles the Tigers front seven.

Hendon Hooker
Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. Photo by Trey Wallace.

This could end up being another game without WR Cedric Tillman for Hendon Hooker, so continuing to get production out of Bru McCoy, Jalin Hyatt and Ramel Keyton is massive for Heupel. What LSU was able to do at Auburn this past weekend was wild, considering they only passed for 5 yards in the second half. I am really enjoying the composure of QB Jayden Daniels, as he took command late against Auburn.

This one is tough. If Tennessee comes out and finds sustained success on offense, it will be hard for LSU to keep up. But, if the Tigers can pressure Hendon Hooker into mistakes and capitalize with their run game, it will keep this game close.

Arkansas @ Mississippi State (-5)

Not only did Mississippi State put on a phenomenal performance on defense against Texas A&M, the offense seems to be clicking as well behind Will Rogers. The Bulldogs embarrassed the Aggies this past weekend and you have to like the way this team is playing. As quirky as he is sometimes, Mike Leach has beaten Jimbo Fisher in consecutive years, while doing it not only with his ‘Air Raid’ offense but having his defense force turnovers.

Caleb Ducking catching a touchdown pass from Will Rogers in Miss. St. win over Texas A&M in a key SEC matchup. (Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For Arkansas, it comes down to putting it all together for four quarters. KJ Jefferson proved during the comeback attempt against Alabama that he can be the leader Sam Pittman needs, but the defense cannot get them in a hole. Having both Jefferson and Rock Sanders in the backfield has caused problems for teams this season, but doing it consistently is what worries me.

Coming out of the weekend, these two teams are on different spectrums of the SEC Western division. The Hogs have dropped two straight games, while the Bulldogs rebounded with a dominant win over Jimbo. This feels like it will be one of the best games of the day, with a KJ Jefferson vs. Will Rogers battle about to take place.

Auburn @ Georgia (-28)

Georgia finally had to fight off a team for four quarters against Missouri. Not only did the Bulldogs look sluggish in the first half, but Mizzou was dominating on both sides of the ball. So, this is shaping up to be bad news for Auburn, with Georgia looking to exercise a few demons against the Tigers. Georgia QB Stetson Bennett has to be better with his downfield looks, but that will get cleaned up this week against a struggling Auburn team.

Losing to LSU is one thing, but the way Bryan Harsin’s team did it is just not acceptable anymore on the Plains. Even when QB Robby Ashford passed for over 350 yards, the Tigers still didn’t score a point after leading 17-0. They are walking into an unfortunate beatdown this weekend, and the only way to get out of there with a win is if Georgia decides to forfeit. This season has been a harsh reality for Auburn fans, so they might as well turn away in the second half Saturday.

Ole Miss (-19.5) @ Vanderbilt

It’s amazing to see what Lane Kiffin has done with some of these transfer portal players, especially at the running back position. Coming off the huge win against Kentucky, I don’t expect Ole Miss to take its foot off the pedal in Nashville. There will be a huge turnout of fans clad in baby blue and red, so expect this to feel like a home game for the Rebels. I like what AJ Swann does at QB for Vandy, but it won’t be enough this weekend. I’d watch this spread though, as the week rolls on.

South Carolina @ Kentucky (-10.5)

The Wildcats are coming off the gut-wrenching loss to Ole Miss, but still control their destiny in the SEC East. Yes, Will Levis had two unfortunate fumbles, but this won’t effect his demeanor on the field, especially with South Carolina headed to town. Kentucky running back Chris Rodriquez will have another week in the backfield, which will only help him continue to re-adjust into the starting role.

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Spencer Rattler #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

As for South Carolina, beating up SC State was good for confidence, but we simply need to see if Spencer Rattler can continue growing. I know it sounds simple, but to do that, he’ll need help from his receivers and backs. A lot has been made of the Gamecocks opening month of the season, but this team can play with a team like Kentucky. I understand the naysayers are out in regard to Shane Beamer, but this was always going to take time, even with the portal players.

Keep an eye on this one, though I don’t expect the line to move much.

Texas A&M @ Alabama (-24)

All the hype coming into the season was about the wild off-season between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher. From the trash talk to the awkward questions that spurned from Saban’s comments about the Aggies recruiting, everyone was looking forward to the buildup. Well now that Texas A&M has clearly shown that they aren’t a good football team, outside the running back position, this game has lost any luster it had before the season.

The only major storyline this week should be centered around the health of QB Bryce Young, who left the Arkansas game with a sprained shoulder.

It’s not just the losses for Jimbo Fisher, it’s the way they are losing. He fooled everyone into thinking they’d turned the season around after beating Arkansas, but it was more that the Razorbacks gave that one away. The offensive scheme is horrible, the QB’s haven’t shown up and the receivers are struggling to get open. Oh, and the defense was shredded by Mississippi State this past weekend.

This game has zero juice, besides the talk about NIL and recruiting, which some will try to harp on this week, knowing the game itself will be atrocious. Nothing Texas A&M has done to this point gives me any hope that this will be a good game.

Missouri @ Florida (-10)

Credit to Missouri for the fight they gave Georgia. After pouring their heart out against the Dawgs, the only question is how they bounce back for this game against Florida. The Gators looked nice on Sunday against Eastern Washington, but consider the opponent. If the Tigers can bring that type of defensive effort again, maybe this one turns into a decent game in Gainesville. This feels like a Florida win, but these two teams have traded wins over the past few seasons. The spread feels right for this one.

Enjoy the week and continue to follow OutKick for the latest news around the SEC and College Football.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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