The Florida-Georgia game takes center stage this weekend, but there’s also other action in the SEC. There are three other league games, while Alabama, LSU and Arkansas host non-conference tilts.
**Auburn at Ole Miss**
--Most books are listing Ole Miss (4-4 straight up, 4-3 against the spread) as a six-point favorite. Look for the Tigers to be available on the money line for a plus-190 return (risk $100 to win $190).
--Houston Nutt’s team is 1-3 ATS as a favorite this season, 0-3 versus the number when favored against SEC squads. The Rebels won 23-21 last week at Arkansas, but they cost their backers as six-point ‘chalk’ by giving up a backdoor cover when the Razorbacks got a late touchdown.
--Jevan Snead threw for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns to pace the Rebels last week. Mike Wallace had five receptions for 120 yards and one touchdown, an 11-yard grab early in the fourth quarter.
--Snead, the third-year sophomore who played his freshman season at Texas, has been up and down all year. This is evident in his 12/11 touchdown-interception ratio, in addition to a meager 54.7 completion rate. Snead is fifth in the SEC in passing efficiency (128.8).
--Auburn (4-4 SU, 1-7 ATS) continues to be on the of the nation’s best go-against teams. Tommy Tuberville’s squad failed to cover the number for the seventh straight time last Thursday when it jumped out to a 17-3 lead at West Virginia, only to completely fall apart in a 34-17 loss as a 3 ½-point underdog.
--In the second half of its last six games, Auburn has been outscored 77-16. According to the Birmingham News, a media member suggested Tuesday that the Tigers quit when they fell behind last week in Morgantown, prompting Tuberville to say, “We haven’t quit yet and never have quit. Our guys have a lot of pride. One thing we’re going to do is we’re going to play hard and we’re going to play for four quarters.”
-- Since 1971, Auburn has won 22 of the 25 head-to-head meetings between these SEC West rivals. The Tigers have won seven in a row in Oxford. However, the Rebels have taken the cash in the last two encounters, including last season’s 17-3 loss on the Plains as 18-point road underdogs.
--Auburn junior DE Antonio Coleman leads the SEC in sacks (6) and tackles for loss (10 ½). Senior Robert Dunn leads the SEC in punt-return average (21.4).
--This is the Raycom game scheduled to kick at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
**Kentucky at Mississippi State**
--Kentucky (5-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) has now lost 22 in a row against Florida after taking a 63-5 shellacking Saturday at The Swamp. Since taking a similar beating from LSU by a 49-0 count in 2006, the Wildcats had won 18 of 26 games. But this past week was a return to the Bill Curry-Steve Spurrier days of the UF-UK rivalry. The Gators led 28-0 to go ahead of the 26-point number before the first quarter was over.
--Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks announced a change at the quarterback position Monday. True freshman Randall Cobb will take over for Mike Hartline.
--Kentucky has replaced North Carolina St. as the most injured team in the country. The Wildcats have already lost their best wide receiver (Dicky Lyons Jr.), best running back (Derrick Locke) and one of their best offensive linemen (OG Christian Johnson) to season-ending injuries. Locke was sixth in the SEC in all-purpose yardage, while Lyons led the SEC in receptions per game (5.5). Now the defense is riddled with injuries. LB Micah Johnson (ankle) is “doubtful” this week, while CB Trevard Lindley, DT Myron Pryor, safety Marcus McClinton and DT Ricky Lumpkin are “questionable.” Lindley and Pryor are most likely going to be first-team All-SEC selections.
--Mississippi State (3-5 SU, 3-4 ATS) is coming off a 31-22 win over Middle Tennessee as an 11-point home favorite. Anthony Dixon ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Bulldogs in the non-covering victory. His one-yard plunge to paydirt early in the fourth quarter got MSU ahead of the number with a 31-16 lead, but MTSU produced the backdoor cover by scoring a TD with 2:44 remaining.
--Most spots are listing the Bulldogs as three-point home favorites. They are 3-1 SU at home, 2-1 ATS. Meanwhile, UK is 2-1 ATS as a road underdog this season.
--UK is in a major revenge spot here after Mississippi State went into Lexington last year and captured a 31-14 win as a 14-point road underdog.
**Tennessee at South Carolina**
--Most books are listing South Carolina (5-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) as a six-point favorite.
--Steve Spurrier’s team is coming off an open date that was preceded by a 24-17 home loss to LSU as a 2 ½-point underdog. The Gamecocks had a 17-10 lead at intermission, but they were completely shut down offensively in the second half. In his first career start, Stephen Garcia led USC to 212 yards of total offense in the first half, only to be limited to 42 yards in the final two quarters.
--Spurrier wouldn’t commit to a starter until after practice Tuesday when he announced that Garcia would get the nod. The redshirt freshman from Tampa has exhibited an excellent arm and an ability to scramble. He had 215 passing yards against LSU and also scrambled for 64 yards, but 49 of those rushing yards were wiped away on six sacks. And that’s the thing with Garcia – his decision-making and general know-how isn’t quite where it needs to be. In other words, don’t be surprised if Spurrier turns to Chris Smelley if Garcia struggles.
--Tennessee (3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS) is coming off its third defeat by a double-digit margin, a 29-9 home loss to Alabama as a 5 ½-point underdog. With the loss, the Volunteers are seemingly out of ways to salvage this season and Phillip Fulmer’s job.
--UT is winless in three road games, but it has a 2-1 spread record. The Vols took the cash in both previous contests as road ‘dogs, losing 14-12 at Auburn as 6 ½-point ‘dogs and 26-14 at Georgia as 13-point puppies.
--Fulmer owns a 150-50 career record, but the Vols are just 27-19 since 2005. Addressing the speculation of his job status on Tuesday, Fulmer said, “I’m not a dog that barks and then runs into the house. I’m going to do my job on a daily basis or bark from inside the house. I’m going to do my job and do it the right way.”
--South Carolina is last in the SEC in sacks allowed, as its QBs have been taken down 30 times.
--South Carolina hasn’t beaten Tennessee in Columbia since 1992. The Vols have won seven in a row at Williams-Brice Stadium, including a 31-24 triumph in 2006.
--South Carolina TE Jared Cook, who leads the team with 31 receptions for 460 yards, is “questionable” after suffering a foot injury in practice last week. Also, OT Jamon Meredith, probably the team’s best o-lineman, is “questionable” with an ankle injury.
--The ‘under’ has cashed in five straight games for UT. The ‘under’ is 4-2 overall for the ‘Cocks, 3-0 in their home games.
--ESPN2 will have the telecast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--This Saturday will mark the first time Florida and Georgia have met with both teams in the top 10 since 1999.
--Vandy has lost three in a row after starting the season 5-0, including this past Saturday’s 10-7 home loss to Duke. The Commodores need at least one more win to garner their first bowl bid since 1982. They are off this week before a four-game stretch that looks like this: vs. Florida, at Kentucky, vs. Tennessee and at Wake Forest. Remember, this is a squad that had a season win total of just three.
--Arkansas has covered the spread in three consecutive games and if not for a long TD run by UF’s Jeff Demps with 1:04 left, the Razorbacks would be sporting a four-game ATS streak. They host unbeaten Tulsa from out of Conference USA Saturday as seven-point home underdogs. The Golden Hurricane played Sunday night, beating UCF 49-19, so they are on a short week of preparation. Meanwhile, the Hogs are dealing with a slew of injuries.
--Arkansas junior RB Michael Smith leads the SEC in rushing, averaging 131.4 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. He also paces the league in all-purpose yardage with 177.9 yards per game.
--Alabama will take on Arkansas St. this week as a favorite in the 22-23 point range. The Tide is in control of the SEC West with a two-game lead thanks to LSU’s 52-38 loss to Georgia. Nick Saban’s bunch is in a classic look-ahead spot with next Saturday’s trip to Baton Rouge looming.
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