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Week 9 in the SEC

10/24/2011

Here's a quick primer as we enter Week 9 in the SEC:

No. 10 Arkansas (6-1, 2-1) at Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3), 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network: It wasn’t nearly as easy for Arkansas as a lot of people thought it would be last week at Ole Miss. The Hogs had to rally from a 17-point deficit to win. Now, they go to Vanderbilt, which needs just two more wins to become bowl-eligible. The Commodores got the lift they were looking for offensively last week in their 44-21 win against Army, with Jordan Rodgers stepping in at quarterback and nearly rushing for 100 yards. Running back Zac Stacy flirted with 200 yards. If the Commodores keep improving offensively the rest of the way, they’re going to be a tough out for anybody.

Florida (4-3, 2-3) vs. No. 22 Georgia (5-2, 4-1), in Jacksonville, Fla., 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: It’s one of the fiercest rivalries in the SEC, although it’s been decidedly one-sided over the past two decades. Florida has owned this series and won 18 of the past 21 meetings, including 11 of the past 13. Georgia last won in 2007 and desperately needs to win Saturday to keep pace with South Carolina in the Eastern Division race. The Gators, who are trying to avoid an 0-for-October, aren’t completely out of the race, although they need some help. They also hope to get senior quarterback Jeff Brantley back for this game.

Ole Miss (2-5, 0-4) at No. 23 Auburn (5-3, 3-2), 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU: Don’t count out the Rebels just yet. They showed some life last week in one of their best performances of the season, a 29-24 loss to Arkansas. Quarterback Randall Mackey is coming off his best game and is starting to play with a lot more confidence. Ole Miss has now lost 10 straight SEC games, which is a first for the Rebels. They’ll try to end that drought against an Auburn team coming off its worst SEC beating in 15 years. The Tigers were hammered 45-10 last Saturday by No. 1 LSU. Clint Moseley will remain Auburn’s starting quarterback, but there’s still no word on whether will the Tigers will get top receiver Emory Blake back from an ankle injury. He made the trip last week, but didn’t play.

Mississippi State (3-4, 0-4) at Kentucky (3-4, 0-3), 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net: Sometime late Saturday night, one of these teams is no longer going to be winless in SEC play. The Wildcats stopped a four-game losing streak with a 38-14 win against Jacksonville State last week. The Bulldogs were off. It’s been a disappointing season to this point for Dan Mullen’s club, which opened with high expectations and was nationally ranked at one point. The goal now is just getting bowl-eligible, and this is a game the Bulldogs will almost certainly have to win if they’re going to be playing in the postseason. Mullen has re-opened the quarterback competition between Tyler Russell and Chris Relf. Russell was the Bulldogs’ quarterback two weeks ago in the 14-12 loss to South Carolina. Both teams have struggled on offense. Kentucky is ranked 118th nationally in total offense, and Mississippi State has scored just one touchdown in its past three SEC games.

No. 13 South Carolina (6-1, 4-1) at Tennessee (3-4, 0-4), 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Life without Marcus Lattimore begins in earnest for the Gamecocks, who had last week off and face three straight SEC games, starting with Saturday’s trip to Neyland Stadium. South Carolina controls its own destiny in the East race, but two of these next three games are on the road, including a trip to Arkansas the following week. The Vols are beaten up, both literally and figuratively. They’ve just come through the LSU-Alabama gauntlet, losing by a combined 75-13 margin. Quarterback Tyler Bray remains out with a broken thumb, and it looks like Tennessee might go with true freshman Justin Worley the rest of the way. He played some against Alabama, killing his redshirt season, and Matt Simms has struggled for the Vols.