Rivalry week is always interesting in the SEC. Sure some teams have more to play for than others but each of these games will play a role in bowl seating as the SEC prepares to send a boatload of teams to the college football postseason.
Last Week: 5-0 Overall: 63-24
(Home team listed first)
Alabama (9-2) vs. Auburn (11-0)
Beyond all the hyperbole of this year-around rivalry this game boils down to just a few things. Auburn has run the ball with authority all season but especially the latter part of the year and not just against the chumps. Remember, this is the team that racked up 430 yards on the ground against a stout LSU defense. However, that was a home game.
Alabama's offense has not been the juggernaut many predicted but still has three established playmakers in RBs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson as well as WR Julio Jones.
Many will point to Alabama's losses to teams Auburn beat as reason enough to pick the Tigers but recall those were road games for Alabama. Auburn's three road game opponents combined aren't nearly as stout as Alabama's defense which while still young and not what it was last year, is very good. At home this year, the Crimson Tide is allowing only an average of around 9 points while scoring over 27. Auburn in its road games is scoring nearly 35 a game but the Tigers defense is spotting the home crew 26 points.
All of that points to a game that is going to be close and in that case, the edge goes to Alabama. Auburn hasn't been stopped this year but they have been limited and Alabama's defense is good enough to at least slow Newton down. The Tiger defense hasn't stopped anyone in conference this year and Alabama can score in a variety of ways. They're also the home team made up of veterans who have been in these situations before.
Alabama 27, Auburn 25
Arkansas (9-2) vs. LSU (10-1)
Arkansas definitely has the offense to hang with just about any team and the recent addition of a running game makes it even more dangerous. While the defense has been suspect at times it seems to have improved over the season. LSU has been up and down on offense but they appear to have figured out enough of what works to win both close games and shootouts. Arkansas's performances against South Carolina and Mississippi State are noteworthy and show signs that this team has matured and they've done it at home and on the road. These games are often back and forth and the same can be expected here. In the end, the edge goes to the Razorbacks.