Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE
Because Alabama-LSU is pushing no fewer than three SEC-vs.-SEC games into the noon time slot, we'll give you all you need to know in one post
Because of the traffic jam caused by Alabama-LSU being in prime time on CBS, and the contractual obligations that go along with that, there are three SEC-vs.-SEC games kicking off at noon ET today. Here they are.
Missouri Tigers vs. Florida Gators, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2
If Florida loses this game and Georgia wins tonight, the Gators are officially out of the hunt for the SEC East just a week after being seen as the favorite for the division. Of course, they're no longer the favorites for the division thanks to the loss in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, so you take whatever lumps come with that when you implode during the biggest game of the year.
Imploding is a familiar sensation for Missouri this year, which went from the favorite for being the best Big 12 transplant this year to needing a win over Kentucky to make sure they have an SEC victory in their first season in the league. So both of the teams are currently having a season that is sub-optimal -- though you can argue Florida's is less so, given that Phil Steele was about the only one who actually predicted that the Gators would win the SEC East.
But for all of Florida's offensive woes, they at least have a functioning run game, which is more than Missouri can argue. And the Gators also have one of the better defenses in the conference, which is one reason they've been able to win with a semi-functional offense. This is not going to be one of the prettiest games ever played, but it will keep Florida technically alive for one more week and formally knock South Carolina out of the hunt for the SEC East. Florida 21, Missouri 6
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Mississippi St. Bulldogs, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
The last time Texas A&M and Mississippi State met in a battle of ranked teams, it was ... never. For all the talk of commemorating the Snow Bowl this weekend, even that infamous slugfest came when both teams were unranked. The last time they played at all before that was a year after the AP poll became a regular thing. The three earlier games in that series were held in 1912, 1913 and 1915 -- if you're interested in such history, Mississippi State scored seven or fewer points in each of those games, and won two of them.
There's little danger of a touchdown being enough to win this game. Texas A&M boasts the most prolific offense in the SEC right now, ranking first or second in total offense, passing offense, rushing offense and scoring offense. (Passing efficiency is a measly fourth place.) State's offense is a largely mediocre outfit in comparison to the rest of the SEC, but it's arguably better than the A&M defense, which ranks tenth in the league when it comes to the number of yards allowed per game.
Of course, there's a high bar set when it comes to the last time these teams played -- there were 84 points scored in the overtime Snow Bowl, with 29 of them being scored in the fourth quarter alone. Don't expect anything quite like that this weekend. Texas A&M 34, Mississippi State 24
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Kentucky Wildcats, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Unlike Year2, I'm kind of surprised that Vanderbilt is only a one-touchdown favorite in this game. Which is in itself a bizarre statement to make. The Commodores have a lot to play for, while even a win here by Kentucky is unlikely to keep Joker Phillips from looking for an offensive coordinator position when December starts.
And then there's the whole spiel about Vanderbilt being an actual football team and Kentucky beginning to look like a Banana Republic rebellion. (Kentucky has at this point become far too large a disaster to be called a single tire fire.) They are in the top half of the SEC in precisely one major category tracked by the NCAA, net punting, and even at that they are only sixth and presumably only that high because practice makes perfect. Vanderbilt's defense is actually pretty decent except for rushing defense -- and running is one of the many, many things that Kentucky can't do.
So the fact that they're more likely to have more than a touchdown as the margin of victory is by no means a vote of confidence in the Vanderbilt offense. It's just that the Kentucky offense is almost literally unable to move the football at this point, and the Commodores should be able to score at least a few times. Vanderbilt 27, Kentucky 7