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The Battalion

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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Around the SEC: Week 9

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.

Despite four SEC teams being off this week, there’s no shortage of quality matchups to keep an eye on within the conference.

No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee

Saturday, Oct. 29 — Neyland Stadium — Knoxville, Tenn.

6 p.m. on ESPN

Volunteers’ coach Josh Heupel has the Tennessee train rolling in Knoxville, Tenn., and it doesn’t look like there are any signs of stopping. The Volunteers are off to a 7-0 start, highlighted by a thrilling 52-49 win over Alabama on Oct. 15, led by redshirt senior quarterback and Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker. The Virginia Tech transfer has racked up 18 touchdowns and 2,093 passing yards this season, good for second-most in the SEC. His top receiver, junior Jalin Hyatt, leads the country in receiving touchdowns with 12, and his 769 receiving yards lead the conference, too. Tennessee’s powerful passing game should create an interesting matchup against the Wildcats, who boast the No. 14 pass defense in the nation, allowing just 178.3 yards per game. In fact, Kentucky’s defense as a whole ranks No. 14 in the country, allowing 5.04 yards per play and 295.4 yards per game. The Wildcats have allowed 24 points or fewer in 11 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the FBS. The defense will likely have to pick up the slack for the offense, which ranks third-to-last in the SEC despite being led by an NFL-caliber quarterback in senior Will Levis. While the Volunteers’ offense may be held at bay, Kentucky likely won’t be able to keep up on the scoreboard in a game that will serve as the appetizer to Tennessee’s date with No. 1 Georgia the following week.

Prediction: Tennessee 38, Kentucky 14

Florida at No. 1 Georgia

Saturday, Oct. 29 — TIAA Bank Field — Jacksonville, Fla.

2:30 p.m. on CBS

The Gators and Bulldogs will duke it out in the 99th edition of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” played at the home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Georgia enters as one of six remaining undefeated teams in college football, and while this year’s squad hasn’t been as dominant as last season’s Bulldogs were, it is still arguably the top team in the land. While 2021 Georgia was anchored by its defense, the 2022 squad has been led by its offense, scoring 41.71 points per game, good for third in the conference. Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett’s 2,033 yards are the third-most in the SEC, while sophomore Brock Bowers is one of the best tight ends in the game. Florida, on the other hand, is still looking to turn the corner as a program under first-year head coach Billy Napier. The Gators sit at 4-3 on the season but appear to be headed for a 6-6 or 7-5 year. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson is at the helm of an offense that ranks ninth in the conference with an average of 31.43 points per game, teaming up with sophomore running back Montrell Johnson Jr. as leaders of the scoring attack.

Prediction: Georgia 35, Florida 17 

Missouri at No. 25 South Carolina

Saturday, Oct. 29 — Williams-Brice Stadium — Columbia, S.C.

3 p.m. on SEC Network

The state fair may have ended, but they’re still partying in Columbia – South Carolina, that is. Aside from determining geographical dominance, “The Battle of Columbia” will be a chance for the Gamecocks to grow their win streak to five games and cement a spot in the Top 25. Vibes are good among the South Carolina faithful after second-year head coach Shane Beamer and Co. led the team to wins over then-No. 13 Kentucky and Texas A&M, its first-ever win over the Aggies, in the past two weeks. Missouri, however, needs every win it can get as it battles for bowl contention. Sitting at 3-4, the Tigers have upcoming conference matchups with Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. Close games have been a theme of its season, though, as Mizzou’s past four games have been decided by an average of 4.25 points.

Prediction: South Carolina 42, Missouri 17

Arkansas at Auburn

Saturday, Oct. 29 — Jordan-Hare Stadium — Auburn, Ala.

11 a.m. on SEC Network

Both Arkansas and Auburn enter Saturday’s game coming off a bye week, and the break likely couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers. Riding a three-game losing streak, head coach Bryan Harsin’s seat seemingly gets hotter and hotter with each passing week. At 3-4, his team must turn a corner now if they want to compete for a bowl berth. A win won’t be easy, though, as the Razorbacks, despite their deceptive 4-3 record, have plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Sophomore running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders leads the SEC in rushing yards with 870, while adding seven touchdowns on the ground and one through the air. Defensively, junior linebacker Drew Sanders completes the “Sanders” tandem with a conference-leading seven sacks, while redshirt senior defensive lineman Jordan Domineck adds to one of the top pass rushes in the country with five sacks of his own. Junior defensive back Dwight McGlothern leads Arkansas’ secondary with three interceptions, second-most in the SEC.

Prediction: Arkansas 38, Auburn 14

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