There's not much in the way of intraconference action this week, and what few games there are seem destined to be blowouts. One potential exception is No. 24 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida.
Let's not go overboard: South Carolina will (and should) be a sizable underdog when they head to the Swamp to take on Steve Spurrier's former team. To call Florida an explosive team is to insult the English language: They ring up an average of 407.4 ypg, including 208.8 yards passing and almost 198.7 yards rushing. And they turn the yards into points, almost 42.8 of them a game.
South Carolina's offense is, to put it kindly, not Florida's. So the Gamecocks will have to depend on their defense, ranked best in the SEC, if they hope to pull off the upset or even keep things close. South Carolina is giving up just 256.5 ypg to opposing offenses and limiting them to just 15.6 ppg. Of course, losing safeties to injury and suspension going into a game against a team like Florida is less than ideal.
The problem for the Gamecocks is that Florida's defense is also pretty tough: Fourth in the SEC in total defense, at 286.2 ypg, and first in scoring defense at 11.9 ppg. South Carolina, which comes in ranked 86th in the nation in total offense, can hardly expect the game in Gainesville to be the offense's breakthrough moment.
Also, don't forget that South Carolina has never won in the Swamp and never won a game on CBS. Those things don't matter, in the end, but they also won't change Saturday.
Florida 28, South Carolina 20
THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW
No. 13 Georgia at Auburn, 12:30 p.m. ET
We all say dumb things sometimes, particularly when predicting. It's hard to see into the future, of course, so forgive your humble correspondent for misspeaking several weeks ago, as the dawn of the season was upon us.
Another high-stakes game for the spelling-challenged Dawgs comes Saturday when Georgia at Auburn takes center stage. This is, in C&F's opinion, an SEC Championship Game preview.
Yeah, that didn't turn out so well. Instead, we have a team with the league's top-ranked total offense (Georgia) against a team whose defense started strong but has fallen to seventh in the SEC (Auburn). And the Auburn offense provides no relief, gaining a pathetic 316.2 ypg.
The Tigers are, though, good at punting and kickoff returns. Which is just as well, because they're probably going to be doing quite a bit of both.
Georgia 38, Auburn 14
CROOMING THE ARMANI BEAR
Mississippi State at No. 2 Alabama, 7:45 p.m. ET
Nick Saban gets another chance to dodge the phenomenon known as CROOMing this year after last year's team fell victim to a Mississippi State team that had traded in all its lucky breaks for the next 20 years in order to have a bowl season.
This time, all Saban has to worry about is his players' focus. One week removed from clinching the SEC West, Alabama takes on a team whose three wins come against Southeastern Louisiana, Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State. The Bulldogs' offense -- if we want to apply the term loosely -- generates just 295.9 ypg.
But take heart, Mississippi State fans. Your team is pretty good on defense, except against the run. Which just happens to be Alabama's strong suit. Yeah, you're pretty well screwed.
Alabama 34, Mississippi State 3
HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN ... OR AT LEAST A BETTER BOWL SLOT
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 8 p.m. ET
The Commodores continue what now looks to be a quixotic quest for their first bowl bid since Napoleon fell at Waterloo. This week, they take the same awful offense and troubled defense to Lexington to try to defeat the Cats and claim victory.
Kentucky, meanwhile, could wrap up its third straight season with at least seven wins -- a minor miracle in its own right -- and strengthen its position for a bowl not played in Nashville. Their offense struggled until last week's game against Georgia, when the Cats almost won despite the worst performance so far by Kentucky's once-difficult defense.
The Dores finally do it, beating the Wildcats in a low-scoring defensive struggle and wrapping up that elusive sixth win.
Vanderbilt 16, Kentucky 14
Louisiana-Monroe at Mississippi, 2 p.m. ET The Rebels faithful would like nothing more than to be able to hold it over the heads of Alabama fans that Ole Miss was the team that more recently beat the mighty Warhawks. Wish granted -- ULM isn't even a mediocre Sun Belt team this year. Mississippi State 31, Louisiana-Monroe 0
Troy at LSU, 8 p.m. ET Troy, on the other hand, is a pretty good Sun Belt team, ranking at or near the top of the conference in almost every statistical category. But it's still the Sun Belt, it's still LSU, and Troy will still go home empty-handed. LSU 24, Troy 14