- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here's a quick primer for Week 12/Cupcake Weekend in the SEC:
Arkansas (4-6, 2-4 SEC) at Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC), 12:21 a.m. ET, SEC Network: The Bulldogs have really fallen hard in the past three weeks. After starting 7-0, Mississippi State has been blown out in three straight games and has been bounced out of the top 25. But this is a chance to get back on track against a struggling Arkansas team that is a loss away from officially losing its bowl hopes. The Razorbacks have now lost two straight, but we'll see just how much fight this team has left in it on Saturday.
Western Carolina (1-9) at No. 4 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC), 12:21 am. ET, SEC Network: You have to wonder how the Crimson Tide will respond mentally against an inferior opponent like Western Carolina after that stunning 29-24 home loss to Texas A&M. Alabama now needs a lot of help to get back in the national championship picture. It also needs to clean things up in its secondary, which gave up a handful of big plays to the Aggies, and get back to running the ball. Western Carolina is a very overmatched team, but don't be surprised if the Tide come out a little flat this weekend.
Jacksonville State (6-4) at No. 6 Florida (9-1, 7-1 SEC), 1 p.m. ET, ESPN3: Something has to change offensively for the Gators before they travel to Tallahassee next week to take on Florida State. Florida needed a last-second punt block to escape Louisiana-Lafayette last week ... at home. Jacksonville State has a history of challenging FBS teams, and Florida can't come out as flat as it did against the Ragin' Cajuns. Also, it'll be interesting to see how healthy quarterback Jeff Driskel is after he sprained his ankle late against ULL.
Wofford (8-2) at No. 9 South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC), 1 p.m. ET, ESPN3: Even without running back Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks' offense was very balanced and very efficient in a blowout win over Arkansas. Now, the Gamecocks get a chance to fine-tune some things against Wofford. It's also another chance for the Gamecocks to get running backs Kenny Miles and Mike Davis that much more comfortable in the offense as they work to replace Lattimore.
Alabama A&M (7-3) at Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC), 2 p.m. ET, ESPN3: Nonconference games have been good to the Tigers this season. They might not have a win inside the SEC this year, but they're 2-1 against foes outside of the conference. With Alabama up next, this is Auburn's best shot at getting another win this season. It's also senior day and a lot of eyes will be on coach Gene Chizik, who really is fighting for his coaching life at the moment. At this point, the Tigers just want to get something positive going before the season ends.
Georgia Southern (8-2) at No. 5 Georgia (9-1, 7-1 SEC), 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3: The Bulldogs are headed to the SEC championship game for the second year in a row and are playing their best ball of the year right now. This now looks like a team that could actually win the entire SEC this year. Saturday provides an opportunity for the Dawgs to work out some kinks and get some of the youngsters on the field more. Georgia was very businesslike in its lopsided win over Auburn, so expect the Bulldogs to come out Saturday with the same approach.
Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4 SEC) at No. 7 LSU (8-2, 4-2 SEC), 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS: The Rebels had so much postseason momentum, but now find themselves on a two-game losing streak. LSU is playing its best offensive ball of the season right now. For the past two weeks quarterback Zach Mettenberger has looked like the talented passer we expected to see this entire season. The Rebels might be down and tired right now, but weird things happen in this rivalry. This is no gimme for the Tigers.
Sam Houston State (8-2) at No. 8 Texas A&M (8-2, 5-2 SEC), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3: The Aggies probably would have loved to have gotten a bye after their upset win of then-No. 1 Alabama, but they must keep playing. This team hasn't had time to rest this season, but it really hasn't mattered much for the new kids. Sam Houston State probably won't provide much of a threat to the Aggies, and with the way coach Kevin Sumlin has prepared his team all year, the offense should just keep on plugging away in exciting fashion.
Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) at Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3 SEC), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The Vols are officially in must-win territory. The defense has been horrendous all season, but has really stunk up the place in the past two weeks. Vandy has won four straight and will enter Saturday with all of the momentum. The Commodores are probably still a little steamed after Tennessee's not-so-humble postgame celebration after last year's game. Vandy is bowl eligible, but would love nothing more than to end the Vols' postseason chances this weekend.
Syracuse (5-5) at Missouri (5-5, 2-5 SEC), 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU: With their quadruple overtime win over Tennessee, the Tigers are a win away from making a bowl game after such a rough start in the SEC. Quarterback James Franklin still isn't 100 percent, but played his best game of the season when he led Mizzou on a huge comeback win. Syracuse surprised a lot of people with its thrashing of previously unbeaten Louisville, so the Tigers won't be overlooking the Orange. If the Tigers are going to go bowling, they have to win this one with hot Texas A&M looming.
Samford (7-3) at Kentucky (1-9, 0-7 SEC), 7:30 p.m. ET, CSS: After a bye week, the Wildcats get to play what should be an overmatched Samford team. Kentucky will be saying goodbye to coach Joker Phillips in a couple of weeks, but here's a chance to have something finally go right for the Cats again. I'm sure there was a lot of reflection over the past two weeks for the Wildcats, but work on both sides of the ball was needed as well. So was a lot of rest because this team is really banged up.
16hSam Khan Jr.
1dSam Khan Jr.