Week 5 Preview: Time to Figure a Few Things Out

Open Thread begins at 11 a.m. ET Saturday.

TO TELL THE TRUTH
No. 7 LSU at No. 17 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 23 Auburn at Tennessee, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Could there be four more intriguing or mysterious teams in two games? LSU, which has a 4-0 record, a Top-5 ranking in some polls and a coach with a notably warming seat. Georgia, which seems to create a new set of questions every time it takes the field (or fumbles the ball, according to Georgia fans). Auburn, coming off a 4-0 run against maybe two legitimate opponents that has put the Tigers within 28 points of outscoring their entire offensive output from last year. And Tennessee, which didn't do as poorly as expected against Florida but also didn't do as well as any SEC team should expect to do against Ohio.

I really don't know how LSU has won four games, even with an opening schedule that includes Washington, Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State. Their defense is mediocre and their offense is awful. What's that? They lead the SEC in turnover margin, you say. Hmm. I'm sure that doesn't worry Georgia fans. After all, the Dawgs are -- last in turnovers? Oh.

Georgia's offense is somewhat better, but their defense is arguably as bad if not worse than the Bayou Bengals'. I don't know if this is quite as easy a game as some might expect; after all, a Georgia win almost requires them to hold onto the ball with greater consistency than they have so far. Given the fact that they've hardly held onto the ball at all, though, that isn't as tall an order as it might seem.

For Auburn, I have a suspicion that the offense is for real, if for no other reason than I would have no confidence in last year's Tiger offense to score 54 points against anyone, even lousy Ball State. But there's a difference between the offense being for real in the sense that it will actually score this year and it being for real in the sense that it will score enough to win several conference games.

Meanwhile, defense is the only part of Tennessee that in any way resembles a good football team. The running game is competent. The passing game is ... well, they can complete a forward pass. Sometimes. Eventually, that catches up with you.

Georgia 30, LSU 23
Auburn 34, Tennessee 13

WHERE THINGS TOOK A TURN LAST TIME
No. 1 Alabama at Kentucky, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network / ESPN360

The Tide's string of sometimes unconvincing victories last year began with a 17-14 home win against Kentucky. Sure, this wasn't your father's Kentucky, but this was your father's Alabama. There was no reason for the Wildcats to be that close to a team that some were already pegging as the best in the nation.

This, though, could very well be your father's Kentucky. The Wildcats shellacked Miami (OH), narrowly defeated Louisville and then played a game in which their only notable "accomplishment" was giving Tim Tebow a concussion. Aside from kickoff returns and sacks allowed, the Wildcats are not better than sixth in the league in any of the major stats tracked by the NCAA. Period. I mean, protecting the passer and setting up good field position are nice and all, but you have to be able to do something else.

Sure, it's possible that Alabama will overlook this game a bit. But I don't think that's going to help UK at all. Not enough to even keep it close. The Tide could sleepwalk through this game and still keep the scoreboard operator in Lexington very busy.

Alabama 40, Kentucky 3

PICK ME UP?
No. 25 Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Vanderbilt is bad. That much, we know. They've scored 12 points in their two SEC games (at LSU, vs. Mississippi State). Combined. They have an okay defense, sure. But their offense is abysmal, particularly when it comes to the scoring part, which tends to be how football games are decided.

Ole Miss is good. That much, we think we know. We can't be sure, though; after all, they lost 16-10 in Columbia last week and still haven't defeated an opponent good enough to give them any credibility. And they come into this game bitterly disappointed with most people writing them out of the SEC West race after a single league game.

Nashville can be a perilous enough place for an SEC team who's riding high, and only slightly less dangerous for one that just got its hopes for a unique season shattered in front of a nationwide offense. It'll be closer than you might think, but that's about it.

Ole Miss 29, Vanderbilt 12

THAT OFFENSE WON'T WORK AT THIS LEVEL
Georgia Tech at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m. ET, CSS

The over-under on completed passes in this game has to be, what, seven? After all, the Yellow Jackets' offense requires almost nothing from the passing game other than an occassional change of pace, and the Mississippi State offense is of necessity a run-heavy version of the spread. Not that that's a bad thing when Anthony Dixon is your running back.

Georgia Tech is as hard to predict as any ACC team. They had a first-game cupcake, edged Clemson, got waxed at Miami and shut down North Carolina. Because that's how the Athletically Challenged Conference rolls.

At the same time, we have a sense that Mississippi State is a better team than last year's edition of the Western Division Bulldogs, we're just not sure how much better. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they're good enough for the upset.

Mississippi State 24, Georgia Tech 13

WE SHOULD DO THIS MORE OFTEN. WE USED TO
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Texas A&M is 3-0? They're No. 1 in the nation in total offense? This explains it: They've played New Mexico, Utah State and UAB. Without looking it up, tell me which of those teams are in the FCS and which are in the FBS. (Trick question -- they're all in the FBS, but you could be forgiven for getting it wrong.)

Arkansas had 89 points in their first two games before running into the Alabama defense, which limited the Hogs to a single TD. They also have no defense. You might think I mean that metaphorically, but I'm honestly beginning to believe that Arkansas doesn't actually send a defense out on the field when the other team has the ball.

In all honesty, the only reason I find this game even mildly interesting is that it's an old SWC rivalry being played in Jerry Jones' Football Emporium. There will be a lot of points scored. But neither of these teams is very good.

Texas A&M 55, Arkansas 50

ALSO PLAYING | Because if you play an FCS team, you don't deserve more than a sentence

S.C. State at South Carolina, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic This should be an easy game for South Carolina, which is precisely why it will be closer than you might expect; the Gamecocks always underperform early in these matchups before pouring it on at the end. South Carolina 34, S.C. State 10

BYE: No. 2 Florida

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