No. 11 Florida, Georgia meet in vital SEC East matchup
Things to watch in week nine of college football in the Southeastern Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 11 Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville, Florida: The Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) already have a one-game lead over Georgia (5-2, 3-2) in the Eastern Division and would seize control of the race with a victory. A Georgia win would force a tie atop the standings and would allow the Bulldogs to own the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage. This game could come down to the performance of Florida quarterback Treon Harris, who led the Gators to an upset of Georgia last season in his first career start. Both teams were off last week, giving them extra time to prepare for this game.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. vs. Vanderbilt defense: Ward is a major reason why the 18th-ranked Cougars are undefeated. He ranks ninth among all Football Bowl Subdivision players in total offense and is the only FBS player to average over 200 yards passing and 90 yards rushing per game. He has run for 15 touchdowns to match LSU’s Leonard Fournette for the FBS lead. He faces one of his toughest tests against a Vanderbilt team that has yielded just 316.6 yards per game to rank 22nd nationally in total defense.
NUMBERS GAME: Tennessee has won 29 of its last 30 games against Kentucky, with the lone Kentucky victory coming in 2011. … LSU’s Brandon Harris has thrown 128 passes this season without getting intercepted. Harris and Arizona’s Anu Solomon are the only FBS quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts who haven’t been picked off. … Missouri’s Kentrell Brothers leads all FBS players with 103 tackles. Nobody else has more than 85. … Florida, Auburn and Duke are the only FBS teams with zero turnovers in the month of October.
UPSET WATCH: No. 19 Mississippi at Auburn: The Tigers are a 7 1/2-point underdog on Saturday, but do have the advantage of playing at home. Auburn’s offense has looked better in recent weeks during a 30-27 win over Kentucky and a 54-46 loss against Arkansas in four overtimes. Ole Miss has the league’s most prolific offense, but has been beaten badly in its last two road games against Florida and Memphis.
IMPACT PERFORMER: Auburn RB Peyton Barber. It’s a great year for running backs in the SEC so Barber’s solid season has been lost behind stars like LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. Barber, a sophomore, is fourth in the league with 770 yards rushing and third with 12 rushing touchdowns. Barber ran for 120 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s loss against Arkansas.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.