This week we get to witness a rare moment in college football. Though it may be rare, it is usually well worth the wait in between occurrences. SEC football fans will be glued to their TVs this weekend with good reason. What’s that good reason? Two games will be played between AP Top Ten football teams from the SEC…one between Alabama and Texas A&M and one between Florida and LSU. Texas A&M, Florida, and LSU are all still unbeaten so far this season. And this week, that’s going to change for at least one of those teams. Who will it be? Will Alabama make a statement in College Station after last week’s early-game struggles? Will the Gators rally around Treon Harris to topple LSU? It’s time to get a better idea of the answers to those questions with a quick preview of the two biggest showdowns in SEC football this week…and arguably so far this season.
Alabama @ Texas A&M
Last year, Texas A&M got their heads handed to them on a platter and then some in Tuscaloosa. It was BAD. Like 59-0 bad. No, that was not a typo. So what makes this year different? Does Texas A&M really stand a chance against Alabama since they are undefeated at this point? Well, about that undefeated thing. Their early season schedule is anything but impressive as far as SEC schedules go. The best team they’ve played so far is Arkansas. And Arkansas only lost to them by a touchdown. So maybe they’ve just had an easy stretch of games so far that’s led them to this point of being undefeated.
But we have to consider something else…we have to consider that maybe Texas A&M is the dark horse playoff team that sports journalists were buzzing about before the season even started. Maybe all the personnel changes that resulted from last year’s embarrassing loss to Alabama and carried over into this season have really transformed the Aggies. Though I expect Alabama to win this game, there is some doubt in my mind because of the momentum Texas A&M seems to have going for them at this point. Sometimes that momentum and playing in your home stadium can make up for some of the shortcomings your team may have.
Florida @ LSU
Last year, Florida very narrowly lost to LSU at home under former head coach Will Muschamp. And after getting his first significant reps in the Tennessee game, QB Treon Harris had to sit this one out due to sexual assault accusations. This year, Florida has even bigger QB drama heading into this game. And this time they also won’t have the advantage of playing in the Swamp. Florida had seemed to finally find an offensive rhythm with new coach Jim McElwain and redshirt freshman QB Will Grier. The Gators finally had a pretty good passing game. But all that came to a screeching halt when the news of Grier’s failed NCAA drug test broke. Grier, at this point, is slated to sit out for the rest of this season and half of next season too. So now this game poses two very intriguing questions as we head into Saturday instead of just one.
First, the newest question…will sophomore QB Treon Harris be able to lead the offense with a well-balanced attack? Harris was in close competition with Grier for the starting position earlier this season. But at the end of the day, Harris is more of a rushing QB while Grier has the better arm. Now the Gators offense will have no choice but to rally around Harris and try to give the offense a chance at doing more than just running the ball all game. Because let’s be honest, there’s no way that’s going to result in a win for the Gators. Especially not with a weapon like Leonard Fournette on LSU’s side. That brings me to the second big question…will the Gators defense be able to contain Fournette? Though I’m a Gator, I have a great amount of respect for Fournette and what he’s done so far this season. In five games, he already has over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. He seems unstoppable on his path to the Heisman Trophy this season. But the Tigers haven’t faced a defense like Florida’s yet. The Gators have a killer secondary led by Hargreaves and Tabor, not to mention an explosive group of linemen ready to come after QB Brandon Harris as well as Fournette himself. The Gators have allowed an average of just below 100 rushing yards per game this season and have yet to allow a touchdown on the road this year. Their defense really does seem like one of the most complete, most suffocating defenses in the country right now. So maybe, just maybe they have a chance at slowing down Forunette enough to get a victory.
All this being said, since nothing seems to be a given in college football this year, I’m not going to even bother speculating as to who will actually win each of these two games. But upon closer examination I can assure you that we’re in for a great weekend of SEC football. May the two best Top Ten teams win.