Week five of the 2013 college football season signifies a move into the meat of the SEC schedule. LSU’s visit to Georgia headlines this Saturday’s lineup, while Alabama-Ole Miss looks to be quite the match-up in its own right. No matter what happens, the results are sure to be highly impactful on this season’s SEC race.
Following is a quick look at some of this weekend’s key contests.
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia
LSU may be the visiting team in Saturday’s showdown with Georgia, but Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger will probably feel right at home. Mettenberger, a one-time Georgia Bulldog, grew up 10 minutes from Georgia’s campus in Athens. He’ll be matched up against former teammate Aaron Murray, in a contest that the two friends have looked forward to since Mettenberger’s transfer to LSU two years ago.
But that isn’t the only unique aspect of this story. Mettenberger’s mother, Tammy, is employed by the Georgia football department as an administrative assistant. Tammy has been given the week off from work, however, by Bulldog coach Mark Richt.
On the defensive side of the ball, LSU will be pushed to the limit to slow down Georgia running back Todd Gurley. The same can be said for the Bulldog defense as they attempt to corral Tigers ball carrier Jeremy Hill. Hill is coming off a 183-yard, three-touchdown performance against Auburn, and LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prefers to get his 235-pound bruiser involved as early as possible.
Saturday’s contest won’t lack for points, and these two quarterbacks will provide fans and SEC viewers with quite the aerial show. But the youth of the LSU defense, along with Georgia’s home-field advantage, should help propel the Bulldogs to a key conference victory.
Prediction: Georgia 41, LSU 38
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
The top-ranked Crimson Tide will be facing their toughest competition to date, as the red-hot Rebels invade Bryant-Denny Stadium. Second-year coach Hugh Freeze has the Ole Miss running game churning out yards like a well-oiled machine, while Bo Wallace brings leadership and playmaking ability to the quarterback position.
Alabama’s offense hasn’t been hitting on all cylinders this season, as offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is still trying to help quarterback AJ McCarron find a more consistent rhythm. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a challenging opponent to remedy a struggling offense, and the Tide will get exactly that this weekend.
On Saturday, expect the Alabama offense to more closely resemble the unit that carved up Texas A&M for 49 points, rather than the group that managed only 17 points through three quarters against Colorado State. Ole Miss will put points on the board, as well, but it won’t be enough.
Prediction: Alabama 34, Ole Miss 20
No. 19 Florida at Kentucky
Florida lost quarterback Jeff Driskel for the season in last Saturday’s win over Tennessee, but all is not lost in Gainesville. Driskel had already lost favor with much of the Gators’ fan base, and backup quarterback Tyler Murphy appeared to provide the Florida offense with just the spark it needed.
Defensively, the Gators are rock solid at all three levels, and they seem to improve with each game. Unfortunately, Florida lost star defensive lineman Dominique Easley to a torn ACL this week. A projected first round pick is always hard to replace, but Muschamp has depth at the position.
As for Kentucky, the Wildcats played Louisville closer than expected two weeks ago, but they simply don’t have the offensive firepower to challenge Florida on Saturday. The streak, which is at 26 years and counting, will continue.
Prediction: Florida 27, Kentucky 9
No. 10 Texas A&M at Arkansas
This series has produced some great games in recent years, and represents a renewed rivalry from the old Southwest Conference. Just don’t expect the Razorbacks to stay competitive for very long. Arkansas is fresh off a heartbreaking loss at Rutgers, where they blew a 24-7 second half lead. When coach Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks struggle to run the football, as they did last Saturday, they won’t win many ball games.
Texas A&M has no such problems on offense, as Johnny Manziel appears to have shaken off his critics, and jumped right into the driver’s seat for this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Despite the fact that they’re on the road, the Aggies should have no problems rolling up the points this Saturday.
Prediction: Texas A&M 48, Arkansas 17
Elsewhere around the SEC this weekend, South Carolina will travel to face Central Florida, while Tennessee hosts South Alabama. Meanwhile, Missouri hosts Arkansas State and UAB visits Vanderbilt. These contests are likely to result in easy victories for the SEC squads, but don’t be surprised if someone gets pushed to the limit.