After a week of uninspiring football, we’re back with one of the more exciting weekends of the year – and we can thank the SEC for that.
The nation’s best football conference (or so it’s been in the past) has two marquee matchups this weekend (three if you count our upset special). With that said, it’s time to acknowledge that the SEC is going through a defensive decline and it's no longer the pinnacle of defensive prowess. Even the powers – Alabama and LSU – have been suspect and will get stiff tests this weekend against some of the more offensive programs in the conference.
But before we get to that, here’s what you might have missed from last week:
Some players tried to protest the NCAA:
BYU fans appear to be sore losers:
Punters be fighting, yo:
Bill Snyder is already getting emotional about Mack Brown:
These guys used a punt as a pass (or a rush in the official scoring):
And Oregon State got In-N-Out for its big win over San Diego State:
— Mike Riley (@Coach_Riley) September 22, 2013
Those are the highlights. Here’s what to watch for Week 5:
Game of the week:
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET
This is an important conference test for both teams as they're both angling for a shot at the national championship. Georgia already has a loss this season and another would surely end any chance of a national championship game appearance. LSU is undefeated, but this game is its first real test and it still has to play Ole Miss and Alabama. This game will be all about offense, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger finally looks comfortable in LSU’s scheme and the LSU offense is better than it’s been in years. However, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is the seasoned veteran and his experience and offensive cast (along with a sense of desperation) will help the Bulldogs to a win.
Game to watch:
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama, 6:30 p.m. ET
There has been some interesting trash talk by Ole Miss in the week leading up to this game. Quarterback Bo Wallace maintains his receiving corps is better than Texas A&M’s, which torched the Alabama secondary for 464 yards and five touchdowns. It’s no secret Alabama’s defense isn’t what it used to be and its offense has shown up in just one game (A&M) this season. But this contest is at Alabama and it is the defending national champion. Ole Miss is going to have to play its best to roll the Tide.
Also check out…
No. 23 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET
Welcome back Braxton Miller. The one-time Heisman Trophy candidate is back after missing several weeks with a knee injury, but how will the Buckeyes react after they’ve been cruising with backup Kenny Guiton? Both these teams can score, it’s going to be who plays the best defense that will make the difference. Miller, who’s heard whispers about Guiton replacing him, might be a little eager to show he’s Ohio State’s top QB, which could provide some opportunities for the Wisconsin defense to capitalize on some of his decisions. This one will be close and might be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend.
Don't waste your time with:
No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia, 12 p.m. ET
Not sure anyone expected West Virginia to be as bad as it’s been, but after last week’s 37-0 drubbing by Maryland, the Mountaineers are in a tailspin. And now they’re facing yet another potent offense with their third quarterback – Clint Trickett – trying to combat it. This will not end well. The only way this ends up being a game is if Oklahoma State, which is coming off a bye week, takes the Mountaineers lightly. That’s hard to imagine considering last year’s game was a hard-fought 55-34 OSU win.
Keep an eye on:
Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
If you don’t know who Blake Bortles is or if you’ve never seen him play, this weekend will be a great introduction. Bortles, the leader of Central Florida, faces South Carolina in what will probably be the biggest of his career. In three games this season, Bortles is completing 71.4 percent of his passes for 816 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. Those numbers incluse 288 yards and three touchdowns in a win against Penn State. If he can put up similar stats against the Gamecocks, Bortles might work his way into Heisman chatter.
Kentucky (+12) vs. Florida, 7 p.m. ET
Florida has had a rough week. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost with a broken leg and star defensive tackle/senior leader Dominique Easley will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. And now the Gators are facing a Kentucky team with a tough defense that could give the Gators a run for their money. Kentucky had a lot of success slowing down Louisville and Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater, and should have similar success against Florida. Look for this game to stay close if not an outright upset.