Three games: Week 3 offered SEC division matches; Week 4 follows - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

  • WLBT Online Poll

  • What SEC game are you looking forward to most this weekend?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Kentucky at Florida
    3%
    14 votes
    Missouri at South Carolina
    49%
    227 votes
    LSU at Auburn
    33%
    155 votes
    Vanderbilt at Georgia
    8%
    39 votes
    Other
    7%
    32 votes

Three games: Week 3 offered SEC division matches; Week 4 follows suit

LSU, newly ranked No. 2 in the nation, visits Auburn this weekend. (Source: lsusports.net). LSU, newly ranked No. 2 in the nation, visits Auburn this weekend. (Source: lsusports.net).
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(RNN) – Alabama and Florida have established themselves as the teams to beat after two important division wins.

Below is a look at three games from Week 3 and what they mean going forward followed by a look at three big games from next week and the impact they will have.

Week 2 recap:

Alabama 52, Arkansas 0

This game revealed more about Arkansas than it did Alabama. To get the Alabama analysis out of the way, a weakness hasn't yet been exposed. The Crimson Tide (3-0, 1-0) plays fearlessly and with determination, and if they have a weakness it's the secondary, which has allowed receivers to get open at times. But the Alabama pass rush has so far prevented teams from exploiting that.

Now, for Arkansas (1-2, 0-1), it's a different story. Hardcore Hog fans will point to Tyler Wilson's absence as the reason for the team's struggles. That ignores the Arkansas defense, which has allowed 36 points per game. Arkansas has trailed in every game it has played, losing two.

Early in the second quarter of their opener against Jacksonville State, the Razorbacks fell behind 14-7 before scoring 28 unanswered. Arkansas has now entered free fall, it looks like that fall will continue. Arkansas plays undefeated Rutgers this week then faces back-to-back road games against Texas A&M and Auburn.

Florida 37, Tennessee 20

Winning this game sets UF up for a nice run at the SEC East championship. Florida has shown it is a legitimate challenger for that title, and if things go according to script, the Oct. 27 match with Georgia will probably decide who wins it.

That's looking too far ahead for the moment. Florida has Kentucky this week then an open date before facing LSU. That sets up well for the Gators (3-0, 2-0), who could use some work on getting their offense rolling in the first half. The second half, however, has not been an issue. Wil Muschamp has clearly defined his game plan, but so far Florida hasn't shown it can compete with the likes of LSU. If Florida can get a little more explosive in the passing game, its offense will be tough for any defense to handle.

The flip side for Tennessee is that coach Derek Dooley needed a win to regain the trust of the fanbase. The Vols (2-1, 0-1) play Georgia in two weeks, and if they can pull off a win over the 'Dogs things should be fine. But a loss there would put Tennessee at 0-2 in the conference before a gauntlet run against Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina. If Tennessee can't dodge a couple of those bullets, Dooley may have to surrender his job.

Auburn 31, Louisiana-Monroe 28 (OT)

Auburn needed a win, but what it didn't need was to blow a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter and squeak by in overtime after a blocked field goal. The Tigers had high hopes entering the year. If things had gone the way they were expected to, Auburn would be 3-0 entering this week's game against LSU. Instead, it is 1-2 and is lucky to have that one win.

The only thing Auburn really has going for it right now is that Arkansas looks just as bad, so that has turned into a winnable game when before the season it was viewed as a likely loss. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier has done nothing to inspire confidence, and the offense has struggled at every turn. Auburn's defense hasn't been much better.

ULM was scheduled as a welcome break to rest up and prepare for the conference slate. Auburn won't get another such "easy" game until November.

Games to watch in Week 4 (times Eastern):

Missouri at South Carolina, 3:30 p.m., CBS

The No. 7 team in the country gets a crack at Missouri. It didn't work out too well for the Tigers (2-1, 0-1) two weeks ago when then-No. 7 Georgia took a 41-20 win in Columbia (Missouri). South Carolina isn't Georgia, and the Gamecocks (3-0, 1-0) didn't look all that good in their only game against a semi-decent opponent, a 17-13 win over Vanderbilt. Missouri comes into Columbia (South Carolina) badly needing a win.

The biggest questions in this game are who will start at quarterback for Missouri, and who will start at quarterback for South Carolina?

Connor Shaw suffered a shoulder injury in South Carolina's opening win over Vanderbilt and didn't start against East Carolina the next week. He started against Alabama-Birmingham last week, but aggravated the injury and left the game.

It's a nearly identical scenario to what Missouri is dealing with. James Franklin was injured and didn't play against Arizona State last week and his status for this game is unknown. There are some questions regarding whether Franklin could have played last week and was held out and his toughness is being called into question as a result.

If the backups have to play, give the advantage to South Carolina. Dylan Thompson filled in for Shaw and threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns against East Carolina and 177 yards and two TDs against UAB. Missouri turned to Corbin Berkstresser, who threw for 198 yards and an interception against the Sun Devils. He also had a garbage-time touchdown against Southeastern Louisiana in the season opener.

LSU at Auburn, 7 p.m., ESPN

Newly installed as the No. 2 team in the country, LSU (3-0) gets exactly what it was hoping for to open SEC play: easy prey.

Nothing suggests Auburn will keep this game competitive, but the (Auburn) Tigers will be the toughest test the (LSU) Tigers have faced this season. LSU is making its first road trip of the season and Auburn is desperate for something positive to happen.

Auburn needs to get its offense and defense in sync and establish something it can build it on. With an off week and then games against faltering Arkansas, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt following this one, Auburn has the opportunity to start something if it can establish a consistent running game and stop missing tackles.

LSU is hoping this is just a minor speed bump before it hits tougher games against Florida and South Carolina in the coming weeks. It will be the toughest test so far, and LSU is hoping to keep its early season dominance from wavering.

Vanderbilt at Georgia, 7:45 p.m., ESPN2

The last thing Vanderbilt needed entering this game was a quarterback controversy, but that's exactly what coach James Franklin created.

Blaming inconsistency in the play of Jordan Rodgers, Franklin played Austyn-Carta Samuels against Presbyterian and didn't play Rodgers at all in the 58-0 win. That sounds like Samuels was being prepared to take over the starting job.

Vanderbilt did struggle against Northwestern two weeks ago, losing 23-13 after blowing a halftime lead. Rodgers, however, was not the culprit. He threw for 217 yards and a touchdown in that game and was the team's leading rusher with 51 yards. The Commodores (1-2, 0-1) simply don't have any other playmakers.

Samuels threw for 195 yards and a touchdown against Presbyterian, but that is hardly a challenging opponent, and Georgia (3-0, 1-0) certainly will be one.

Regardless of who plays QB for Vanderbilt – and it could be both Rodgers and Samuels – Georgia's defense should have little problem against the Commodores' offense, which has shown inconsistency in the running game and an inability to get receivers open. Georgia should be able to pick up a win fairly easily and have plenty of momentum entering its game with Tennessee on Sept. 29.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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