To get you ready for this Saturday’s action, ESPN reporters Sam Khan Jr. and Alex Scarborough give their picks and analysis of Week 5 in the SEC.
(Visit our college football PickCenter page for additional information on these games and many more.)
Scarborough: We're one third of the way through the regular season and I think we're doing OK, Sam. You're at 32-11 and I'm 35-8 overall. We both got the Georgia-Mississippi State game wrong last week -- I came away really impressed by Kirby Smart's defense -- and you were right that Texas A&M would handle Arkansas. That game was wild, though.
Anyway, looking forward to this week we've got a couple of interesting games. I think it's safe to say that Arkansas will take care of business against New Mexico State. The same goes for Kentucky over Eastern Michigan and LSU over Troy. (Don't sleep on the Trojans, though). But in terms of SEC matchups, how about we start with Alabama-Ole Miss?
No surprise here, but I think the Tide make quick work of the Rebs. The way both the defensive and offensive lines are playing right now, I see Alabama controlling the game, especially with Ole Miss' starting center questionable to play. But that 27.5-28 point betting line? Sheesh. I wouldn't touch that for anything. Not given Shea Patterson, A.J. Brown and that passing game. What do you think?
Khan: LSU-Troy is one I'm keeping an eye on too, especially given Derrius Guice's injury and how long it took for LSU to pull away from Syracuse last week. That said, I'll stick with the Tigers.
As for Bama-Ole Miss, I learned my lesson last week. I had Vandy covering and I was dead wrong. Every time I do that, Nick Saban & Co. teach me a lesson. So I'm taking the Tide to win and cover, even though I love Patterson.
Speaking of Vandy, what are the chances they bounce back against Florida? The Gators have won the past two weeks by the skin of their teeth. Will the 59-0 loss linger mentally for the 'Dores? Will Luke Del Rio starting at quarterback give the offense a jolt, since he's experienced? I'm going to go with the latter, and take the Gators.
Scarborough: Give me Vanderbilt. This feels like it could be a karma game for Florida. Because, let's face it, the Gators had no business beating Kentucky last week. It took a couple of absolute busts in coverage for that winning streak to continue. So I think their luck runs out. I think RB Ralph Webb continues doing Ralph Webb things, which means he runs well against Florida -- he has 311 career rushing yards against the Gators -- and QB Kyle Shurmur has a decent day through the air. Overall, though, I think we'll enter Sunday asking familiar questions: Why can't Florida score points on a consistent basis and how did Jim McElwain end up with Luke Del Rio as his best option at quarterback?
Next game: What do you think of South Carolina-Texas A&M?
Khan: The Aggies suddenly have reason for (cautious) optimism. They're running the football well and freshman QB Kellen Mond grew up a lot in the overtime win over Arkansas. South Carolina is a little beat up on its offensive line and is missing receiver Deebo Samuel. A&M has more firepower here, so I'll roll with the Aggies.
Scarborough: I'm going to hold my breath and pick the Aggies too. I bet we see A&M go after Jake Bentley and force a few key sacks and a turnover or two.
Khan: Auburn-Mississippi State. Alex, you saw the Bulldogs get handled by Georgia up close last week. What did you make of that and how does that factor in this week?
Scarborough: It was as thorough a defeat as I've seen in a while, Sam. Georgia's front seven owned State, and QB Nick Fitzgerald couldn't get anything going running or throwing the football. But the thing I think got exposed was how few weapons he has at receiver. Donald Gray is good, but he's better served as a complementary piece, and unfortunately for him there's no one there to play sidekick to.
With that said, I'm not sure how to feel about this game. I may be wrong, but I totally discount Auburn's win at Missouri from the standpoint of offensive development. Missouri can't stop anyone, so I'm not ready to say Auburn has solved anything or that QB Jarrett Stidham is what we all thought he could be before the start of the season.
I think in order to pick the winner of this game you have to decide who will rush for more yards, and something tells me Auburn will be that team so long as Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway are both healthy. Fitzgerald again is going to struggle running against a tough Auburn front seven, so while I don't think the Tigers cover the spread (favored by 9), I do think they win the game.
Khan: Like you, I'm not swayed much by Auburn's win last week, because Missouri is in bad shape. But Auburn did what it was supposed to do.
I think State's loss last week was a wake-up call for that group after everyone was singing their praises following the LSU win. I think this is going to be a close game but I think Fitzgerald & Co. get back on track and pull out a tough road win at Auburn.
Lastly, we have Georgia and Tennessee. This one isn't as hard for me as some of the others; Tennessee looks like a mess. Georgia, on the other hand, looks like the clear second-best team in the SEC behind Alabama. Give me the Dawgs by double digits.
Scarborough: Fake news, Sam! Your negativity toward the Vols is overwhelming!
See what I did, there? If you haven't seen video of Butch Jones' scolding of the media earlier this week, check it out and you'll understand.
But on a serious note, I'm with you, Sam. Not only should Georgia win by double digits, but if it doesn't it's a huge disappointment. Kirby Smart has the better quarterback, the better running game and the better defense. Going into Rocky Top will be tricky for true freshman QB Jake Fromm, but nothing from what I've seen from him so far leads me to believe he won't handle it well. I think Georgia rolls and then Jones will have even tougher questions to answer in Knoxville.