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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Around the SEC: Week 5

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. 22 Florida at Kentucky
Saturday, Sept. 30 — Kroger Field — Lexington, Kentucky
11 a.m. on ESPN
Don’t count out these Gators just yet. After falling to No. 14 Utah 24-11 in the season opener, Florida has shown signs of life with a 49-7 win over McNeese State and a 29-16 upset of No. 11 Tennessee.
The Gators’ bounce-back efforts have started on defense, where the Gators have held opponents to 13.5 points per game to tie for third in the conference. Sophomore running back Trevor Etienne spurs the offense with 329 rushing yards, good for third in the SEC, and 6.7 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is off to its third 4-0 start in a row, although it’s had the benefit of taking on nonconference opponents in Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Akron, while opening SEC play against Vanderbilt.
The Gators will be the first true challenge to the Wildcats this season, who have integrated NC State quarterback transfer Devin Leary into their offense. He has nine touchdowns and 1,060 passing yards through four games, but five interceptions have limited the offense. Kentucky boasts a strong defense as well, limiting the opposition to 15.5 points per game. This game could come down to the wire, with Florida’s big-play ability serving as the X-factor.
Prediction: Florida 31, Kentucky 27
No. 1 Georgia at Auburn
Saturday, Sept. 30 — Jordan-Hare Stadium — Auburn, Alabama
2:30 p.m. on CBS
Auburn’s no-show on offense in last week’s 27-10 loss to Texas A&M doesn’t bode well for its matchup against the SEC’s No. 1 defense in Georgia. The run game has been Auburn’s bread and butter with 197.8 yards per game, but Georgia has toasted opponents on the ground, allowing just 87 yards per contest.
All told, the Bulldogs have held opponents to a mere 11.3 points. The Tigers will need to fight fire with fire and rely on a defense that has given up only 16 points per game.
With that being said, there’s no easy way to slow down the Bulldogs’ offense, averaging 337.5 yards per game through the air and 159 yards on the ground. When it comes to the run game, eight different players have scored, led by senior running back Daijun Edwards with three of Georgia’s 13 rushing touchdowns. Expect the Bulldogs to roll while keeping the Tigers at bay on the scoreboard.
Prediction: Georgia 38, Auburn 10
South Carolina at No. 21 Tennessee
Saturday, Sept. 30 — Neyland Stadium — Knoxville, Tennessee
6:30 p.m. on SEC Network
At 2-2, South Carolina hasn’t had the type of season its fans were expecting after last year’s 8-5 showing, and the road doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Rocky Top this weekend. As if that wasn’t difficult enough on its own, Tennessee will be playing with revenge on its mind after last season’s 63-38 shellacking at the hands of the Gamecocks. Tennessee brings a well-balanced offense into the matchup, with a similar reliance on both passing and rushing the football.
Don’t expect that same kind of balance from South Carolina, as the Gamecocks display a heavy reliance on their pass attack. Redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler has a reliable target in fifth-year wide receiver and SEC yards leader Xavier Legette but will feel pressure from senior defensive lineman Tyler Baron with four sacks. South Carolina will have its hands full against a Tennessee unit allowing 17.3 points per game while shoring up its own defense from its 26.5-point average. With a suspect defense South Carolina won’t be feeling the same after this game as it did last season.
Prediction: Tennessee 42, South Carolina 24
No. 12 Alabama at Mississippi State
Saturday, Sept. 30 — Davis Wade Stadium — Starkville, Mississippi
8 p.m. on ESPN
Saturday provides an opportunity for Alabama to stabilize its quarterback carousel and for redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe to stake his claim to the position. The Katy native will have plenty to work with against a Mississippi State defense allowing 27.3 points per game following back-to-back SEC losses.
Despite possessing one of the nation’s top linebacker duos in graduates Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson, the Bulldogs’ No. 120 pass defense needs work, allowing 280 yards per game.
While Alabama’s offense may be uncharacteristic this season, the defense has remained consistent to allow only 13.5 points per game. Junior linebacker Dallas Turner and senior linebacker Chris Braswell are a force in the pass rush with five and four sacks, respectively. Despite their shift away from the Air Raid offense, the Bulldogs don’t shy away from passing the ball with 280 yards through the air per game. Senior wide receiver Lideatrick Griffin ranks fifth in the SEC with 388 receiving yards to average nearly 20 yards per catch. While Mississippi State brings offensive firepower, it will be challenged by an effective Alabama defense.
Prediction: Alabama 38, Mississippi State 21

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