This is the weekend we find out Alabama’s opponent in the Dec. 19 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
No. 5 Georgia (4-1) or No. 8 Florida (3-1).
Call it an SEC East elimination game.
Georgia is a 3 1/2-point favorite. The Bulldogs have beaten the Gators three years in a row and will showcase the league’s top defense.
We know All-SEC safety Richard LeCounte is out after crashing his dirt bike last weekend. That’s a big loss against a team like Florida that loves to throw the football around.
We know 6-foot-6, 340-pound nose tackle Jordan Davis, the anchor of the best run defense in the league, has an elbow injury that could limit his play. He needs to play to help the Dawgs make Florida one dimensional, which is never good when you’re trying to win your first division title since 2016, the last time the Gators defeated their rival.
We know Kirby Smart needs his defense to play its best against a very explosive Florida attack that is seventh in the nation in passing at 342.8 yards per game and 10th in scoring at 42 points a game.
The Gators are loaded with weapons and quarterback Kyle Trask is having a Mac Jones season with 18 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.
He has a tight end, Kyle Pitts, who may be the best at his position in the country.
He has wide receiver Kadarius Toney who does a little of everything. He’s electric, much like Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle.
Coach Dan Mullen, who’s trying to shake all the bad press he’s gotten for getting into the middle of a brawl last week against Missouri, is a fabulous play caller. With a serviceable running back in Dameon Pierce, Georgia should know Mullen is going to get Toney involved in the run game. Without a respectable run game, Trask and Co. will have a hard time ending the Dawgs' Cocktail Party winning streak.
This week’s picks:
Florida vs. Georgia
Florida’s offense isn’t Alabama’s but it is explosive and we’re learning dynamic offenses can wear down terrific defense such as Georgia’s.
Florida’s problem is defense, which has been average, if not lousy at times. It’s the Gators' one big weakness. They rank 67th in the nation in total defense (433.3 yards), 91st in pass defense (300.3 yards) and 41st in run defense (133 yards).
Georgia has a few playmakers with wideouts Kearis Jackson and George Pickens and running back James Cook. It’s just too bad most of the team’s playmakers are on defense.
No matter how much we like the story of quarterback Stetson Bennett, he may not be the guy to lead Georgia to a championship, whether it is an SEC title or get his team by Alabama in the league title game Dec. 19. Sooner or later, that is going to come back to bite the Dawgs.
Florida 28, Georgia 24
South Alabama vs. Coastal Carolina
Beating Southern Mississippi on the road in the opener was a big deal for South Alabama coach Steve Campbell. It wasn’t a signature win, but it was significant after three wins in 2018, his first season, and two wins last season. Saturday offers a chance for a signature win against No. 15 Coastal Carolina (6-0), one of college football’s feel-good stories.
The 3-3 Jaguars have made steady progress this season and been competitive in their losses. Two by seven points or less, including a three-point loss to Tulane 27-24. The loss last week at Georgia Southern was close as well, with South falling 24-17.
Quarterback Desmond Trotter, running back Carlos Davis and receiver Jalen Tolbert give South adequate weapons and the defense has played well with the exception of UAB’s 42-10 victory in September. The challenge is Coastal’s offense led by dynamic freshman quarterback Grayson McCall. The 18-point favored Chanticleers score 40 points a game, pass for 243.7 yards a game and run for198 a game.
Coastal Carolina 36, South Alabama 27
Texas A&M 35, South Carolina 24
Arkansas 28, Tennessee 24
Mississippi State 30, Vanderbilt 27
15-point underdog Liberty 40, Virginia Tech 36
5 1/2-point underdog No. 4 Notre Dame 27, No. 1 Clemson 24
4-point underdog Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24
3 1/2-point underdog No. 21 Boise State 31, No. 9 BYU 28 (Friday)
Troy 27, Georgia Southern 21
Miami 30, NC State 24 (Friday)
Michigan 31, Indiana 24
USC 28, Arizona State 21
Texas 35, West Virginia 28
Cincinnati 27, Houston 21
Oklahoma State 35, Kansas State 30
Iowa State 26, Baylor 23
Penn State 30, Maryland 27
SMU 31, Temple 21
Iowa 23, Michigan State 20
Last week: 11-9
Charles Hollis has covered college football sine 1983. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org