Georgia State Panthers at Alabama Crimson Tide
Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will begin this Saturday what many are calling a “bye month.” During the month of October, the Tide will face Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. Those four schools combined boast a record of 7-11.
The Crimson Tide will start the four-game stretch with a winless, eight-touchdown underdog in Georgia State this weekend.
The Alabama defense appears to be improving and reaching elite status once again. The Tide have not given up a single touchdown in the two games following the Texas A&M game, where they surrendered over 600 yards of offense and 42 points.
The offense, however, has still looked pedestrian at best. Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has matched his interception total for all of last year in his first four games of this season despite having 24 fewer touchdown passes. This should be a breakout game for the Tide offense.
How bad are the Panthers? Senior running back Travis Evans recently rushed for 118 yards on just 12 carries against West Virginia. He became just the third player in Georgia State history to rush for 100 or more yards in a game.
There are cupcake games, and then there is this type of game. Saban should consider pulling his starters after one quarter to avoid potential injuries. By the end of this game, the Tide should have their fourth-string players in.
Score Prediction: Alabama 52, Georgia State 0
Stat Prediction: T.J. Yeldon 125 yards on 10 carries
Georgia Bulldogs at TennesseeVolunteers
I must admit I was shocked when Vegas set the original line at -10.5 for the Georgia Bulldogs. Mark Richt has led his team to two wins in its three games against Top 10 foes this year. Tennessee, on the other hand, needed an interception in the end zone to defeat the South Alabama Jaguars last weekend.
I don’t mean that disrespectfully, and I think Vols head coach Butch Jones has Tennessee headed in the right direction for the first time in several years. However, the Bulldogs are a terrible matchup for the Vols.
Georgia’s offense is the most balanced offense in the nation. The Bulldogs can beat you with the pass, the run or a combination of both. Star tailback Todd Gurley could miss this game with a sprained ankle. However, backup Keith Marshall would still be the top running back in the game.
The Bulldogs defense has not been dominant early in the season. In fact, the unit has been atrocious defending the pass. However, Tennessee has been equally bad in throwing the football. To beat Georgia, you have to be able to take advantage of its young secondary.
While the Bulldogs have been inadequate in their attempted pass defense, they have been very good against the run the past two weeks. They held North Texas to a mere seven yards rushing in Week 3 and the LSU Tigers to 77 yards and only 2.1 yards per carry.
The Vols will have to establish the running game to have any chance to compete in this game. Look for UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to once again stack the box to stop the run and dare Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley to beat the Bulldogs with his arm.
This should also be a big game for Heisman candidate Aaron Murray, who needs just 99 yards to pass former Georgia star David Greene’s SEC record of 11,528 yards passing.
Score Prediction: UGA 48, Tennessee 21
Stat Prediction: Murray four total touchdowns
Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks
The Kentucky Wildcats are 1-3 this season, with their only win coming against Miami (OH). They were defeated by Western Kentucky in the opener and have been beaten by double figures in all three of their losses.
However, with that said, the Wildcats have improved dramatically in 2013 and even since their season opener.
Last weekend was another example, as they were defeated 24-7 by the Florida Gators but kept the game within reach and only gave up three points in the second half.
As a result, South Carolina will not be able to sleepwalk through this game. The Gamecocks looked prime for an upset, but this game is at Williams-Brice Stadium, where South Carolina has been dominant in recent memory.
South Carolina is 27-3 at Williams-Brice Stadium since 2009.
Connor Shaw is set to return this week for the Gamecocks, and Mike Davis is one of the top running backs in college football. However, the Wildcats will have some success on defense. The problem is that the Wildcats’ Air-Raid offense will not be productive enough on the road to win.
Score Prediction: South Carolina 28, Kentucky 10
Stat Prediction: Davis 110 yards rushing
LSU Tigers at Mississippi StateBulldogs
Let me start by stating that I believe that the Mississippi State Bulldogs are one of the most underrated teams in college football. They have a solid defense and an offense with a great deal of potential.
The Bulldogs will upset a ranked team this season, but it will not be LSU.
I never thought we would say that the LSU offense is the strength of the team with Les Miles as head coach, but that is exactly where the Tigers are. LSU is ranked 18th in the nation with 42.8 points scored per game.
LSU is coming off a tough defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs, where the defense was embarras sed one drive after another.
Dan Mullen has penciled in Tyler Russell to start against LSU after missing four weeks with a concussion suffered in Week 1 versus Oklahoma State. This could be dangerous, as the Bulldogs have found offensive success under dual-threat passer Dak Prescott.
Both quarterbacks have been solid, but Prescott has appeared to be a better fit for Mullen’s system.
This is a game that the Bulldogs have the ability to win. However, the Tigers have too much offensive talent to lose. They will try to establish the run early with Jeremy Hill. It will not be an easy task, but if unsuccessful, they will go to the air.
LSU will get out to an early lead but have to fight to hold on to it. The keys for LSU will be to not turn the football over and to win the field position battle.
Score Prediction: LSU 31, Mississippi State 21
Stat Prediction. Jeremy Hill two touchdowns