The Dye-Gest: SEC West Showdown Week

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about this week's important SEC games including three key matchups in the West.

Nick Marshall (above) is a senior quarterback for the Auburn Tigers.

The development of college football teams and football seasons are kind of like churning butter. It takes time and work to get a result, but the cream will finally come to the top. With the matchups on this week’s schedule there will be a lot of churning going on across the SEC.

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There have been some good Southeastern Conference games played so far this year, but the league is going to have its best weekend of matchups with LSU coming to Auburn, Texas A&M playing at Mississippi State and Alabama traveling to Ole Miss in SEC West games. In the SEC East we have the Florida at Tennessee and South Carolina at Kentucky matchups to watch.

From what I have seen there is still a lot to learn about who the top teams are in the SEC. About the only thing that looks certain is that most of them are in the West.

Texas A&M can score a lot of points, but there are questions about how good the Aggies are on defense. Arkansas can run the football, but also has questions about its defense. Ole Miss is undefeated, but there are questions about how the Rebels will do offensively against a strong defense. LSU, as always, is talented, but Coach Les Miles is counting on a lot of young players this year.

Florida State is still ranked No. 1 in the polls, but I think there might be at least four teams in the SEC that are better than the Seminoles. Alabama and Mississippi State are playing better than Florida State and I think both Auburn and Texas A&M would beat FSU, too.

By the end of the season we will know for sure how good the SEC teams are, but I can’t say the same is true for FSU with the schedule the Seminoles play in the ACC. In December there are probably going to be several good teams in the SEC with two or three losses because of the level of competition in the league.

In the SEC East there are questions about Georgia’s defense and the same is true with South Carolina, which has looked to be middle of the road on both sides of the ball so far. Florida didn’t play as well as I expected against Alabama. The Gators may be better than that, and they will have to better than they were in Tuscaloosa to win at Tennessee if the Vols’ quarterback is healthy. That will be a big game in the SEC East race.

I am looking forward to seeing how Auburn plays against LSU, a team which has a fast, SEC-caliber football roster. LSU has a young team and has struggled some at times, but has very good players on both sides of the line of scrimmage with a lot of strong running backs.

It is going to be interesting to see how Brandon Harris, LSU’s true freshman quarterback, performs in his first road game this Saturday. He looked good last week vs. New Mexico State, but that is like playing against the scout team. Something that should help him is that LSU has the type of running game to take some of the pressure off the quarterback.

This should be a good Saturday for fans of Southeastern Conference football. By late that night we should know a lot more about everybody in the league, especially the contenders in the SEC West.

Here is a look at this week’s SEC games:

Texas A&M at Mississippi State--This will likely be a very entertaining game. I think the Bulldogs are better and have homefield advantage so I am picking the them to win, but the Aggies are sure going to test Mississippi State’s pass defense.

Florida at Tennessee--I am going with the Vols at home in a game that could go either way, especially if Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley isn’t ready to go this week due to his injury.

Alabama at Ole Miss--Alabama is the more physical, more talented team so it doesn’t matter that the Rebels have homefield advantage. I think Ole Miss is going to struggle trying to run the ball.

Vanderbilt at Georgia--The Bulldogs have had some issues on defense, but this should be an easy win for Georgia.

South Carolina at Kentucky--This should be a competitive game. I am impressed with how hard the Wildcats are playing. They have put a major emphasis on recruiting speed and the quarterback is good. This looks like an improved Kentucky team that plays very hard on defense so I am going to pick the Wildcats to upset South Carolina in a close one.

LSU at Auburn--I believe Auburn matches up well with LSU this season with the defense doing a solid job stopping the run. I also think Auburn’s offense will play better than it has so far this season led by quarterback Nick Marshall, who has performed well in big game situations. That should help the home team stay undefeated this week.

Season record: 45-10.


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