Georgia, Auburn meet in SEC game with playoff implications
Here are a few things to watch in Week 11 of the Southeastern Conference football season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 2 Georgia (No. 1 College Football Playoff) at No. 10 Auburn (No. 10): Alabama and Georgia might not be the SEC’s only playoff contenders. Even though Auburn already has lost two games, the Tigers are high enough in the CFP rankings that they could work their way into the top four if they win out. Of course, that would mean beating Georgia this week, knocking off No. 1 Alabama (No. 2 CFP) in its regular-season finale and then beating Georgia again in the SEC championship game. The first step is winning Saturday. This will mark just the fourth time in the 121-game history of this series that both teams have been ranked in the top 10 at the time of their matchup.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Mississippi State’s running game vs. Alabama’s run defense: The 18th-ranked Bulldogs (No. 16 CFP) have won four straight, largely because of a running game that’s putting up big numbers. QB Nick Fitzgerald has run for at least 100 yards in all four of the wins . Alabama counters with a defense that’s giving up just 75 yards on the ground per game, which ranks first in the SEC and second in the nation.
NUMBERS GAME: Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson is averaging 13.7 points per game to lead all Football Bowl Subdivision players. ... Tennessee hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in 22 consecutive quarters. ... South Carolina has won four of its last seven meetings with Florida. Before that stretch, the Gamecocks had gone just 4-23-3 in this series. ... Florida has allowed 28.4 points per game. The Gators haven’t given up that many points per game over the course of a full season since 1964. ... LSU (No. 24 CFP) and Arkansas are meeting Saturday at 11 a.m. Central time. That’s the earliest LSU home kickoff since a 2011 game with Kentucky also started at 11 a.m. local time. LSU has won 14 of its last 15 day games at Tiger Stadium. ... Kentucky has lost in each of its last three trips to Vanderbilt. The Wildcats will be seeking their first win at Vanderbilt since 2009 this week. ... Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb has 3,885 career yards rushing and is just 43 yards shy of former Florida star Emmitt Smith, who ranks 10th in SEC history. Georgia’s Nick Chubb ranks fifth with 4,291 yards.
UPSET WATCH: Vanderbilt is a 2½-point home favorite over Kentucky, which seems odd considering the Commodores haven’t won an SEC game yet this season. Kentucky hasn’t played particularly well over the past few weeks, but still has a 6-3 record, including a 3-3 mark in the SEC. The Wildcats could easily be 5-1 in the league if it hadn’t been for last-second losses to Ole Miss and Florida.
IMPACT PERFORMER: Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr. is 103 yards away from becoming the first player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. He has run for 356 yard and six touchdowns over Kentucky’s last two games. His 897 yards rushing this season lead the SEC, though Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson has more yards rushing per game.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.