Things to watch in the Southeastern Conference in the third week of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 15 Mississippi at No. 2 Alabama. The Rebels and Crimson Tide have marched through their early season schedules with very little drama. Ole Miss has had impressive offensive numbers early – averaging 74.5 points per game in wins over UT Martin and Fresno State – but Alabama’s defense provides an exponentially more difficult test. History is not on the Rebels’ side: Alabama is 25-1 at home in the series and has won the last 12 in Tuscaloosa.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU: Two matchups come to mind: First, Auburn’s defense has to find a way to stop LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who steamrolled Mississippi State with 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns last week. Second, Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson has looked a little shaky this season and has another difficult test against a revamped LSU defense.
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NUMBERS GAME: The leading tacklers in the Football Bowl Subdivision are both SEC players. Missouri’s Kentrell Brothers has 32 tackles. Tennessee’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin has 30. … Missouri has allowed a total of 180 yards passing in its first two games. Every other SEC team has allowed at least 320 yards passing. The Tigers also lead the nation with 25 tackles for loss. … Georgia’s Nick Chubb has rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 straight games. The only FBS player with a longer string of consecutive 100-yard games is Toledo’s Kareem Hunt with 11. … Arkansas and Ole Miss haven’t had a three-and-out possession on offense all season. The only other FBS teams without a three-and-out series are Georgia Tech and Connecticut.
LONG SHOT: The history of the Florida-Kentucky series makes it easy to see why the Gators are favored by three points in Lexington. Florida has defeated Kentucky 28 straight times for the longest current winning streak by one team over another in an uninterrupted series. But this could be the year Kentucky ends the streak. The Wildcats are playing at home and coming off a 26-22 victory at South Carolina. Florida needed three overtime sessions to beat Kentucky at home last season. … It’s somewhat surprising to see Arkansas as a double-digit favorite over Texas Tech one week after losing to Toledo.
IMPACT PERFORMER: South Carolina QB Perry Orth. This former walk-is pressed into starting duty with Connor Mitch sidelined by a separated shoulder and a bruised hip. Orth has the unenviable task of making his first career start at No. 7 Georgia, though he did get some playing time against Kentucky last week.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this report.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org.