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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Around the SEC: Week 3

An+SEC+microphone+in+the+hand+of+a+sideline+reporter+during+the+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+Football+vs.+Sam+Houston+game+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+3%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

An SEC microphone in the hand of a sideline reporter during the Texas A&M Football vs. Sam Houston game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

No. 14 LSU @ Mississippi State
Saturday, Sept. 16 — Davis Wade Stadium — Starkville, Mississippi 11 a.m. on ESPN
Mississippi State is looking to prove it’s not going anywhere, starting off the season with an undefeated record against Southeastern Louisiana and Arizona. The nail-biter last weekend against Arizona had many Bulldog fans excited about their five forced turnovers, but nervous about how the offense would fare against Brian Kelly’s Tigers. State’s offense seemed lackluster at times against Arizona in its 31-24 overtime victory, especially in the variety of offense.
The Bulldogs threw the ball 17 times compared to Arizona’s 46. Senior quarterback Will Rogers threw for 3,974 yards last season and had a pass completion rate of 68%. This raises the question why the Bulldogs were so one-dimensional in their last matchup, and how badly it might hurt them come next week if they don’t change something.
LSU on the other hand, has had a turbulent start to its season. After losing its opener to a highly anticipated match against Florida State, 45-24, the Tigers struggled to compete with what looked like a playoff team in Tallahassee. However, senior quarterback Jayden Daniels and the rest of the Tigers offense looked like they were back in business for their first home game against Grambling State. Daniels threw five touchdown passes for 269 yards to overwhelm the Black and Yellow Tigers, a whopping 72-10.
Despite the other Maroon and White’s running game and their turnover-friendly defense, the Tigers have the edge with a better leader at quarterback, and a more experienced head coach.
Prediction: LSU 33, Mississippi 28
South Carolina @ No. 1 Georgia
Saturday, Sept. 16 — Sanford Stadium — Athens, Georgia 3:30 p.m. on CBS
The reigning back-to-back national champions have shown fans there’s no signs of slowing down, winning their first two games by over 40 points. The Georgia Bulldogs are looking to prove that without quarterback Stetson Bennett, they can still run a highly effective offense under new starting junior Carson Beck and coach Kirby Smart. So far, Beck has thrown for 577 yards in games against Ball State and UT Martin, completing 73% of his attempts, and the Smart led defense has also amassed four interceptions.
The Gamecocks are coming off a rivalry loss to UNC in Week 1, where it gave up nine sacks to a defense rated among the worst last season. However, South Carolina managed to rally behind returning senior quarterback Spencer Rattler in Week 2 against Furman, 47-21. Rattler looked like his old self and ended up with three passing touchdowns for 345 yards, with an 88% completion rate.
If the Gamecocks want to make a statement against the champs in its first SEC opener, it’s going to need a lot of support from a struggling defensive line, who only had 20 sacks the previous year. While this matchup could end up being an air-raid battle to the end, I don’t see the champs losing this early in conference play.
Prediction: Georgia 38, South Carolina 21
No. 11 Tennessee @ Florida
Saturday, Sept. 16 — Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — Gainesville, Florida 6 p.m. on ESPN
The Volunteers are taking a different approach to their new offense, primarily in the running game. With a new starting quarterback at the helm, senior Joe Milton takes the reins from NFL draftee Hendon Hooker, and the offensive play scheme has changed drastically as a result.
This team is in run-heavy mode now, with two capable backs, junior Jaylen Wright and senior Jabari Small, taking the brunt of the workload. Until Milton proves to be consistent and reliable, coach Josh Huepel is likely to stick to the run game and bank on his defense, which has already amassed 11 sacks through Week 2.
The Gators are coming into Week 3 with a 1-1 start to the season, with a loss to Utah in its opener, 24-11. While the offense looked stagnant, only rushing for 13 yards on 21 carries, the passing game promised more from Wisconsin transfer redshirt senior Graham Mertz, who tallied 333 yards and completed 70% of his throws. However, the Florida offense struggled to find the endzone in its first Power-5 matchup, only scoring a lone touchdown. If Florida wants to put up a fight against the Volunteers, it’s going to need a plan to force Milton into unwanted situations in order to capitalize on its opponents’ mistakes.
Prediction: Tennessee 21, Florida 18
BYU @ Arkansas
Saturday, Sept. 16 — Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium — Fayetteville, Arkansas 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Both teams go into Week 3 undefeated for the final SEC matchup of Saturday night. The Razorbacks are unproven going into this week, as they’re yet to play a Power-5 opponent. To top it off, star junior running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders is out with an ongoing knee injury for the second week in a row, after the injury took place in Week 1. Coach Sam Pittman is looking for his next man up in the running game, and backup junior running back AJ Green is fitting into the role so far with 19 carries for 104 yards.
BYU on the other hand, is starting its first season in the Big 12 conference, joining alongside Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. The Cougars are undefeated so far against Sam Houston State, and Southern Utah, beating the later 41-16. BYU senior quarterback Kedon Slovis totaled five touchdowns, four in the air and one with his legs, and finished with 348 passing yards against the Thunderbirds. However, the Razorback defense has held opponents to less than 200 yards in the passing game, and acquired five interceptions through its first two matchups. If BYU wants to stay in this game, it’s going to need another big day from Slovis.
Prediction: Arkansas 30, BYU 14

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