The SEC this week: Vols long shot against Auburn
Nov 7, 2013 at 8:09 AM
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 10 LSU at No. 1 Alabama. The Western Conference showdown is still must-see TV even if the matchup lost a little luster when the Tigers lost to Mississippi three weeks ago. LSU has one of the league's best passing attacks and needs a win to stay in the division race. Undefeated Alabama looks as formidable as ever, giving up just 9.8 points per game. Alabama has given up 10 points or less in six straight games, including two shutouts.
BEST MATCHUP: Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews against Florida's pass defense. Matthews has been one of the league's best receivers this year, catching 66 passes for 890 yards and five touchdowns. Florida ranks fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense and will try to rattle Vanderbilt QB Patton Robinette, who is expected to make his second start in place of the injured Austyn Carta-Samuels. "(Robinette) is young, so we have to make him more comfortable," Matthews said. "The more we do that, the more he'll continue to improve."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Tennessee hosts No. 7 Auburn on Saturday, which means the Volunteers will face a ranked opponent for the seventh time in an eight-game stretch. According to STATS LLC, Tennessee is the first team since Pittsburgh in 1993 to play seven ranked foes in an eight-game stretch within the same season. ... Georgia's Aaron Murray has 113 career touchdown passes, one off the SEC record of 114 set by Danny Wuerffel, who played for Florida from 1993-96 Murray already owns SEC career records for passing yards (12,287) and total offense (12,591).
LONG SHOT: It's easy to see why Auburn is a 7 ½-point favorite over Tennessee. Auburn leads the SEC with 306.2 yards rushing per game, while Tennessee is allowing a league-high 201.7 yards rushing per game. But Tennessee has shown it can compete with quality teams when it's playing at Neyland Stadium. In its last two home games, Tennessee lost 34-31 in overtime to Georgia and won 23-21 over No. 12 South Carolina.
PLAYER TO WATCH: LSU QB Zach Mettenberger. The 6-foot-5 Mettenberger had one of his best games last season against the Tide, throwing for 298 yards and a touchdown in a 21-17 loss. The Tigers will need a similar performance on Saturday. "I think our quarterback has to play well," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I think we have to have balance, both run and pass, so that it becomes something that (Mettenberger) can do routinely or without having to make great plays."
Complied by AP Sports Writers David Brandt in Jackson, Miss., and Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn.