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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Around the SEC Week 8

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The COVID-19 pandemic has officially nixed four SEC games scheduled for this weekend. On Monday, the SEC postponed Mississippi State vs. Auburn, on Tuesday the conference announced that Texas A&M vs. Tennessee and Alabama vs. LSU have also been postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests and Georgia vs. Missouri joined that list on Wednesday.
Arkansas (3-3) at No. 6 Florida (4-1)
Saturday, Nov. 14 – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Fla. 
7 p.m. on ESPN
Both these programs come into this matchup following wins. Florida surprisingly made quick work of then-No. 5 Georgia to take over first place in the SEC East and lock up a spot in the SEC Championship, barring any crazy upsets. It would be the Gators’ first time appearing in a conference championship game since 2016 when they lost to Alabama. Arkansas is feeling good after taking down the Tennessee Volunteers at home 24-13 to get back to a .500 record at 3-3. But when you look at Florida’s performance against Georgia, who sports one of the best statistical defenses in the nation, there’s almost no way the Razorbacks can handle Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and the rest of Florida’s juggernaut offense. Trask threw a cool 474 yards and four touchdowns against a Kirby Smart-led team, so he and the rest of the Gators probably aren’t too concerned about a team that gave up 42 points to A&M. Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman, who has brought a ton of life and leadership to a program that was lacking it, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, Nov. 3,  and will not be on the sidelines on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Barry Odom will serve as interim coach. That is undoubtedly a huge blow for Arkansas, whose fans have fawned over the first-year leader. 
Prediction: Florida 42, Arkansas 24
South Carolina (2-4) at Ole Miss (2-4)
Saturday, Nov. 14 – Vaught Hemingway Stadium – Oxford, Miss. 
7:30 p.m. on SEC Network
South Carolina has had some disappointing years despite seeing multiple solid recruiting classes come in since Will Muschamp became the head coach of the Gamecocks. They finished with a 4-8 record last year, and seem to be headed toward a losing season again. They are coming off their worst loss of the Muschamp era, a 48-3 blowout at the hands of A&M, which makes them outscored 100-27 in their last two games. Starting quarterback Collin Hill holds the second worst quarterback rating in the SEC, and has thrown a staggering 10 interceptions to just six touchdowns. South Carolina’s defense is also among the worst in the conference as it gives up the fourth most yards per game, allows 33 points per game and is one of three teams to have already given up 1,000 rushing yards to opponents. Ole Miss is not doing much better in terms of defense and record, but the Rebels have played a fairly tough schedule so far that included Florida, Alabama, Auburn and a road game at Arkansas. Sophomore quarterback Matt Corral has been one of the best signal callers in the conference as he holds the third best quarterback rating behind Mac Jones and Kyle Trask, has the second most passing touchdowns with 18 and has the second best completion percentage. Ole Miss’ offense is definitely too much for South Carolina to handle right now. 
Prediction: Ole Miss 35, South Carolina 20

Vanderbilt (0-5) at Kentucky (2-4)

Saturday, Nov. 14 – Kroger Field – Lexington, Ky. 

12 p.m. on SEC Network

Kentucky is coming off its bye week which came after suffering a 14-3 loss to Georgia, a game in which the Wildcats held Stetson Bennett to just 131 passing yards and two interceptions. However Georgia’s running game once again carried the Bulldogs to a win as Zamir White carried the ball 26 times for 136 yards and a score. Offense has been a monumental struggle for Kentucky this year as it is the only SEC team to not throw for 1,000 yards, as well as the Wildcats scoring the fourth least points per game and being the only conference team to not average above 300 yards of offense per game. Over their last four games, Kentucky has averaged an eye-popping 80.3 passing yards per game. Vanderbilt, while winless, is coming off what was nearly its first win of the season against Mississippi State. The Commodores’ offense was much better than in previous weeks as quarterback Ken Seals threw for 336 yards and a touchdown. However he also threw three interceptions which really stings in a game with a 24-17 final score. Keyon Brooks was prolific as he logged 115 yards and a touchdown on the ground while catching 11 balls for 97 receiving yards. Vanderbilt goes on to play Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri after this weekend, so this may be their last best chance to get into the win column this season. However the Wildcats are coming off a bye week, and that time to rest may prove to be the reason why Kentucky pulls ahead of the Commodores on their home turf. 

Prediction: Kentucky 24, Vanderbilt 13

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