SEC Week 8 picks: Alabama vs. Tennessee & 3 more
Week 8 of the college football season features just four SEC games, after an uptick in coronavirus cases with Florida and Vanderbilt resulted in a major reshuffling of the schedule.
Alabama is the only ranked team playing in the SEC this week and will face a Tennessee team that fell out of the AP Top 25 with a loss to unranked Kentucky on Saturday. LSU will attempt to snap out of its national-championship hangover, while Missouri comes off an extra week of rest, since its game against Vanderbilt got postponed.
Let's break down all four Week 8 matchups in the SEC, with a quick preview and pick for each game.
#2 Alabama vs. Tennessee
Sat, October 24 2020, 7:30 PM
Alabama Crimson Tide
As we were reminded in the Ole Miss-Alabama game and last week's beatdown of Georgia, Nick Saban doesn't lose to his former assistant coaches.
A 41-24 trouncing of Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs on Saturday brought Saban's record against former staffers to 22-0.
Now Saban and Alabama will face Jeremy Pruitt, who served as the Crimson Tide's defensive coordinator from 2016-2017.
In their two previous matchups, Saban beat Pruitt's Volunteers 58-21 and 35-13.
Saban Records vs former assistants:— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) October 17, 2020
4-0 vs. Jimbo Fisher
3-0 vs. Derek Dooley
3-0 vs. Jim McElwain
3-0 vs. Will Muschamp
2-0 vs. Jeremy Pruitt
2-0 vs. Kirby Smart
2-0 vs. Mark Dantonio
1-0 vs. Lane Kiffin
1-0 vs. Billy Napier
Even worse for Tennessee, Saban hasn't lost to the school since he accepted the job at Alabama in 2007. His record against the Vols is 13-0, and almost all of his victories have been lopsided.
Expect another uneven matchup Saturday, as Alabama's second-ranked offense in the country (48.5 points per game) goes up against a Tennessee defense that surrendered 193 yards on the ground against Georgia and another 187 against Kentucky.
Alabama running back Najee Harris racked up 152 yards and a touchdown on Georgia's usually stingy run defense last week, and Mac Jones continues to shine as the nation's most efficient quarterback.
Vols QB Jarrett Guarantano has committed six turnovers in Tennessee's last two games, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns against Kentucky.
Even with Alabama's defense playing less-than-dominant football, the Tide will steamroll its way to a decisive victory. But take Tennessee plus the points, as Alabama is 0-2 against the spread as a road favorite this season.
Auburn vs. Ole Miss
Sat, October 24 2020, 4:00 PM
Ole Miss’ scoring defense is the worst in college football (47 points per game), and it should get uglier Saturday.
Defensive end Tariqious Tisdale and cornerback Jakorey Hawkins already sat out last week’s Arkansas loss. On Wednesday, head coach Lane Kiffin announced a worsening situation on defense, because of COVID-19 cases, and was forced to move three former offensive players to the other side of the ball.
That should give Auburn’s shaky offense a break and allow Tank Bigsby (257 combined rushing yards the last two games) even more room to run up and down the field.
Kentucky vs. Missouri
Sat, October 24 2020, 8:00 PM
After they allowed 71 points across their first two games, the Wildcats held Mississippi State to just two points and Tennessee to seven in back-to-back victories.
Missouri last played Oct. 10, in an upset victory over LSU, when freshman QB Connor Bazelak completed 85.3% of his passes for 406 yards and four scores.
With the extra week to prepare, Missouri will keep it close, but UK’s defense will make the difference.
South Carolina vs. LSU
Sat, October 24 2020, 11:00 PM
South Carolina Gamecocks
LSU’s game against Florida was postponed last week because of COVID-19, which allowed the Tigers a bit more time to figure out their defensive issues.
On offense, a whole new problem has emerged, as quarterback Myles Brennan is questionable with a lower-body injury. Either TJ Finley or Max Johnson — both true freshmen — could get the start against a Gamecocks defense that intercepted Bo Nix three times in a win over Auburn.
South Carolina is 11th in the country in average time of possession and eighth in opponent third-down conversion percentage (27.7%).