Things to watch in the 10th week of the Southeastern Conference season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Mississippi. The Tigers and Rebels were both part of the first projected four-team College Football Playoff bracket with Auburn coming in at No. 3 and Ole Miss at No. 4. Now Saturday’s game sets up a likely knockout scenario with the loser sinking to two losses and little chance of jumping back into the bracket. Ole Miss must recover quickly after its first loss of the season last weekend — a 10-7 setback to LSU.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: No. 1 Mississippi State’s running game vs. Arkansas’ running game. Those who enjoy physical, ground-based football should love the matchup between the Razorbacks and Bulldogs. Four of the league’s top seven rushers will be present — Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson and Arkansas’ Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. Robinson is coming off a 198-yard performance against Kentucky last weekend. Said MSU coach Dan Mullen: ”(Arkansas has) the biggest offensive line in the United States, including the NFL. They are a big, physical outfit, and they have two of the best tailbacks in the country.”
NUMBERS GAME: Arkansas will be facing a fifth consecutive conference game against a top-10 opponent Saturday when it visits No. 1 Mississippi State. This marks the first time in Football Bowl Subdivision history that anyone has played five straight conference games against teams ranked 10th or higher. Northwestern played four straight Big Ten games against top-10 teams in 1958. Arkansas lost 45-21 at No. 6 Auburn, 35-28 in overtime to No. 6 Texas A&M, 14-13 to No. 7 Alabama and 45-32 to No. 10 Georgia. Rankings reflect where those teams stood at the time they faced Arkansas.
LONG SHOT: Kentucky and Tennessee both have reason to feel confident about pulling upsets this week. Kentucky is a 6 ½-point underdog at Missouri. The Tigers’ last three home games include a loss to Indiana, a 34-0 loss to Georgia and an unimpressive 24-14 victory over Vanderbilt. South Carolina is a seven-point favorite against Tennessee, which beat the Gamecocks last year and showed signs of progress last week in a 34-20 loss to Alabama.
IMPACT PERFORMER: Florida freshman quarterback Treon Harris makes his first career start Saturday against No. 9 Georgia. The job security of Gators coach Will Muschamp could rest on whether Harris can lead the Gators to an upset. Harris has thrown for just 263 yards and rushed for 51 more this season, but he sparked Florida’s rally from a nine-point deficit in a 10-9 victory at Tennessee on Oct. 4.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, compiled this story.