GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 5 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC, No. 5 College Football Playoff) at No. 16 Auburn (8-3, 4-3, No. 15 CFP): Alabama has reached the playoff every year since the format began in 2014. Alabama must win this game and get some help to reach the playoffs this year. Alabama is only a four-point favorite as it adjusts to life without injured quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. This game could come down to whether Alabama’s offensive line can keep Auburn’s outstanding defensive linemen from bothering quarterback Mac Jones too much.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
LSU passing game vs. Texas A&M pass defense: The top-ranked Tigers (11-0, 7-0, No. 2 CFP) are unbeaten thanks in part to a high-powered passing attack featuring Heisman Trophy favorite Joe Burrow at quarterback. LSU averages 386.8 yards passing per game to rank second to Washington State among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams. LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase has 63 catches for 1,260 yards and has an FBS-leading 126 yards receiving per game. Texas A&M leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the FBS in passing efficiency defense.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Florida’s Dan Mullen will become the first coach in season history to earn at least 10 wins in each of his first two seasons if the eighth-ranked Gators (No. 11 CFP) beat Florida State this week. ... No. 4 Georgia is one of three FBS teams not to allow any opponent to exceed the 21-point mark this season. The others are No. 2 Ohio State (No. 1 CFP) and No. 3 Clemson (No. 3 CFP). ... Kentucky has held its last six opponents to 305 or fewer total yards. The last time Kentucky put together that kind of streak was in 1977. ... LSU has gone scoreless in only three of its 44 quarters this season. ... Tennessee’s 24-20 victory at Missouri last week marked the first time the Volunteers have had three 100-yard receivers in the same game. Tennessee’s top receivers that night were Josh Palmer (6 catches, 124 yards), Jauan Jennings (5-115) and Marquez Callaway (6-110).
Louisville (7-4) has been one of the nation’s most improved teams this season and will have revenge on its mind Saturday as it faces Kentucky (6-5) after losing 56-10 to the Wildcats last season. Louisville is a three-point underdog but could win this game outright. Recent history suggests Kentucky’s home-field advantage won’t mean much. Louisville has beaten Kentucky in each of its last four trips to Lexington.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano struggled early in the season and lost his starting spot, but he’s made a remarkable recovery over the last month while helping the Volunteers win four straight games. Guarantano made his first start since Sept. 21 last week and threw for 415 yards against Missouri. The only other Tennessee quarterbacks to throw for over 400 yards in a game are Peyton Manning and Tyler Bray.
Follow Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee