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SEC Rundown: Wildcats Look to Keep Moving On Up when Kentucky travels to meet Ole Miss

Mother Nature might be the only opponent that can get the better of the SEC when it comes to college football.

The kickoff times for two games have been adjusted because of weather concerns with Hurricane Ian strengthening and about to wreak havoc in SEC territory. South Carolina’s home game with South Carolina State has been shifted from Saturday to Thursday while the Eastern Washington-Florida contest is now being played on Sunday.

Will Levis #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats against the Youngstown Penguins at Kroger Field on September 17, 2022
Andy Lyons - Getty Images - AFP

Alabama and Georgia are tied at -110 in the odds to win the Southeastern Conference title according to the sportsbook. Texas A&M (+2200) and Tennessee (+2200) are the other top contenders along with Ole Miss, Louisiana State and Kentucky all priced at +4000.

The Bulldogs are leading the way at +175 in the odds to win the national title per the college football playoff odds. Alabama isn’t far behind at +200. Tennessee is next at +6000.

With Kentucky moving up one spot to seventh and Tennessee climbing three positions to eighth, there are four SEC teams in the top eight in the latest Associated Press poll. Kentucky’s ranking is its highest in 45 years.

Georgia remains No. 1 with 55 of the 63 first-place votes with Alabama second. Ole Miss comes in 14th while Texas A&M and Arkansas are both in the top 20.

Game of the Week

Kentucky Wildcats vs Ole Miss Rebels

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, 12 noon ET (ABC)
  • Line: Ole Miss -6½

It will be interesting to see how much Chris Rodriguez factors into the offensive game plan for visiting Kentucky. Rodriguez was second in the SEC a season ago with 1,379 rushing yards but he was suspended for the first four games. Kentucky’s running game could use a boost as the Wildcats have scored an SEC-low three touchdowns on the ground and join Mississippi State as the only teams in the conference to average less than 100 yards per game. The 2.4 yards per carry is the lowest in the SEC as well.

Quarterback Will Levis is third in the SEC with a passer rating of 173.97. USC transfer Jaxson Dart hasn’t been asked to be much more than a game manager so far at quarterback for Ole Miss.

Ole Miss is allowing just 10 points and Kentucky 13 points per game. Between them, the Rebels and Wildcats have allowed eight offensive plays of 30 yards or longer so this could be a defensive slugfest.

This is just the third meeting between the teams in the last decade. The games in 2017 and 2020 were decided by a total of four points and this could be another one that comes down to the wire.

South Carolina State vs South Carolina

  • Date, time (TV): Thursday, 7 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

The game has been shifted for weather concerns. Does it matter what day this game is played?

South Carolina is 10th in the SEC in total offense and 11th in total defense so not much has been happening on either side of the ball. Quarterback Spencer Rattler has five interceptions and just two TD passes so far.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
  • Line: Alabama -17½

Alabama dropped its second road game of the 2021 season. Is there a chance that nationally ranked Arkansas can borrow some of the script from what Texas A&M accomplished in 2021?

Games against Louisiana-Monroe and Vanderbilt have been good for confidence boosting, but has it prepared the Crimson Tide for what could be a challenging conference test?

Arkansas leads the SEC with 20 sacks and the goal will be to disrupt reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young early and often. Alabama has allowed just four sacks. Drew Sanders and Jordan Domineck have combined for 10 sacks for the Razorbacks and 11 tackles for loss. Alabama’s Will Anderson knows something about getting into the offensive backfield as well with an SEC-leading 7.5 TFLs.

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson has a higher completion percentage and passer rating than Young and he will need to make some plays in this one.

History is not on the side of the Razorbacks as Alabama has won the last 15 games against Arkansas with just two of the last 11 meetings being decided seven points or less. Last year’s meeting was a near miss for the Razorbacks who lost 42-35 as 20½-point underdogs on the road.

Texas A&M Aggies vs Mississippi State Bulldogs

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
  • Line: Mississippi State -4

The contrast of offensive styles in this game is intriguing. Mississippi State leads the SEC with 194 passing attempts and that is an annual occurrence with head coach Mike Leach’s teams. Texas A&M has attempted the fewest number of passes in the SEC.

No team in the SEC is averaging fewer yards per game than Texas A&M. Some of that has to do with the tempo the Aggies play at. Mississippi State and Texas A&M have both played four games but the Bulldogs have run 73 more plays than the Aggies.

Something of note for those who bet online: the winner of the last eight games in this series also covered against the spread.

Louisiana State Tigers vs Auburn Tigers

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Line: Louisiana State -7

It is never a good sign when names are being circulated for a head coaching job that isn’t open yet. That is the case with 3-1 Auburn.

Auburn won the last time out with 214 yards of offense against Missouri. That is probably not going to get it done against LSU.

LSU had more than 600 yards last week against overmatched New Mexico. Auburn still has some work to do on defense, but don’t expect another 633 yards from LSU in this one.

Auburn has won the last two matchups with LSU and has covered against the college football picks in each of the last three games in the series. Each of the last four games when the Tigers met the Tigers finished under the total.

Georgia Bulldogs vs Missouri Tigers

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
  • Line: Georgia -28

Georgia has won 11 straight SEC regular-season games and it is sure looking like Saturday night the number will move to 12.

Missouri’s pass defense has been solid with just four touchdowns allowed and a completion percentage of under 60%. It could be a different story with Heisman Trophy candidate Stetson Bennett and dynamic tight end Brock Bowers coming to town.

Georgia’s defense isn’t as dominant as the 2021 unit, but the Bulldogs still rank second in the SEC in total defense and scoring defense.

Georgia has won the last eight matchups with Missouri. However, the Bulldogs have struggled to cover against the college football betting lines, going 3-5 against the spread in those contests.

Eastern Washington vs Florida Gators

  • Date, time (TV): Sunday, 12 noon ET (ESPN+)

This is a scheduled failure for the Gators. Certainly, there was another FBS team that could prepare the Gators better for the upcoming SEC tests than 1-2 Eastern Washington. The last time EWU faced a team from the Power-5 conference, Oregon hung 70 points on the Eagles.

Florida is 12th in the SEC in scoring. Highly touted quarterback Anthony Richardson has two TD passes and five interceptions so far this season.

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