College football Week 7 is upon us, and TheSportsNotebook takes a look at the SEC football TV slate for Saturday…
Missouri-Georgia (Noon, ESPN): Missouri is undefeated and passed a preliminary SEC test last week with a blowout win over Vanderbilt. The real exams begin this week, as the visit to Athens starts a three-week run that continues with Florida and South Carolina.
It looks like Georgia running back Todd Gurley is again to miss with his ankle injury and backup Keith Marshall has also been lost for the year. I remain confident in the Bulldogs’ ability to keep running backs churning in and out of the lineup with little negative effect though.
If Mizzou has any chance to win, they can’t get into a scoring race with Aaron Murray and this Georgia offense. The Over/Under on this game is 63.5 and Mizzou needs an under. The Dawgs have beaten South Carolina in game where the total landed on 71 and LSU in a game where it landed on 85.
Florida-LSU (3:30 PM ET, CBS): Earlier this week, TheSportsNotebook did some SEC bowl projections and noted that one of the most interesting races in the entire country is this league’s battle for the second spot in a BCS bowl game after the conference champion. Both teams have designs on that latter prize, but the winner here keeps themselves in strong position for an at-large cushion.
The storyline in this game is LSU’s high-flying passing game, but problematic defense, against Florida’s stout D, but inept offense. It makes you realize how much these programs have flipped personalities over the last two years. In most cases, when presented with this scenario, I take the defensive team, but I’m not going to here.
Florida’s on its backup quarterback, and Tyler Murphy has been no better than Jeff Driskell. The program really hasn’t had a good offense since Tim Tebow graduated after the 2009 season. LSU’s defensive issues are confined to this year, so I’m more optimistic of a quicker resolution, and they’re also playing at home. I wouldn’t lay the (-6.5) that Las Vegas is asking, but I’ll take the Tigers to win.
Alabama-Kentucky (7 PM ET, ESPN2): There’s no intrigue whatsoever in who’s going to win this game, as the Tide are a (-28) favorite in Lexington. What will be interesting is how Alabama’s performance compares to other notable Kentucky opponents in South Carolina and Florida, each of whom struggled to put away the Wildcats.
Texas A&M (-5.5, 75.5)-Ole Miss (8:30 PM ET, ESPN): Ole Miss was shut out by Alabama two weeks ago and scored 22 points in a loss to Auburn last week. Yet the Over/Under on this game is 75.5, which tells you both what the oddsmakers think of Johnny Manziel and what they think of the Aggie defense. They pretty much believe Johnny Football can ring up points with anyone and that A&M can stop no one. In this regard, Texas A&M is the mirror image of Virginia Tech.
We’ve seen that Ole Miss has good talent and a bright future. What we’ve also seen is that they’re having a tough time adjusting to higher expectations, as evidenced by the post-Alabama letdown. This game is a big opportunity in front of national audience for Bo Wallace and the Rebs offense to put up some points and for the team overall to keep itself in the discussion for a good bowl bid in the SEC West–not BCS at-large or anything, but something like the Cotton is still on the table if Ole Miss wins. And I think they’re going to.
Other games include West Carolina-Auburn (2 PM ET) and Bowling Green-Mississippi State (7:30 PM ET), neither of which is a TV game. Although if Mississippi State gets caught sleeping on Bowling Green, an outright upset could go down in Starkville.