Week 5 marks the fist Saturday of the 2023 college football season that every SEC team will face a conference opponent. This is where the rubber starts to meet the road. And because we have to rank everything these days, here is all of this weekend’s SEC games ranked in order of watchability (putting my fandom aside, obviously). Primarily to me, that means I think it will be a close game, but national relevance also plays a factor (and sometimes potential for schadenfreude does too). LET’S DO IT!
1. No. 22 Florida (3-1) at Kentucky (4-0)
11 a.m., ESPN
Line: BBN -1.5
This game kicking off at 11 a.m. is a darn shame, as it may define which of these teams is an actual contender in the SEC East. After a disastrous Week 1, Florida has rebounded nicely, hallmarked by their trouncing of Tennesee in the Swamp two weeks ago. Kentucky is undefeated, but hasn’t really been tested yet. The winner of this game will feel pretty darn good about themselves (and Kentucky plays Georgia in Week 6).
2. No. 13 LSU (3-1) at No. 20 Ole Miss (3-1)
5 p.m., ESPN
Line: Geaux -2.5
Just as the first game will start to shape the division race in the East, this game will do very much the same in the SEC West. If LSU goes to 2-0 in conference play while Ole Miss falls to 0-2, you’ve eliminated one team from title contention. But if they both end up at 1-1, the West continues to stay pretty darn open for just about anybody (well except Mississippi State).
3. South Carolina (2-2) at No. 21 Tennessee (3-1)
6:30 p.m., SEC Network
Line: Vols -12
Either South Carolina is going to fall to 2-3 (1-2) on the season or Tennessee is gonna fall to 3-2 (0-2). This is definitely one of those games where it’s not so much that the winner will feel great but the loser will feel like this is shaping up to be a lost season. Whoever does win will get their first truly good victory of the season though.
4. Texas A&M (3-1) vs. Arkansas (2-2)
11 a.m. SEC Network
Line: Ags -6
A&M is looking to start 2-0 in conference play for the first time under Jimbo Fisher and establish themselves as a true SEC West contender heading into next week’s showdown with Alabama. Arkansas is trying to right the ship after the LSU loss to avoid losing their third straight game and starting SEC play 0-2. Much like the the LSU/Ole Miss game, one outcome (an A&M win), begins to solidify the SEC West heirarchy for the 2023 season, while the other (Arkansas win), continues to muddy the waters and make this as wide open as it could be.
5. No. 1 Georgia (4-0) at Auburn (3-1)
2:30 p.m., CBS
Line: Dawgs -14
The point spread indicates this game won’t be close, and if Auburn plays the way they did last week against A&M, it likely won’t be. But this game is at Jordan Hare, and never underestimate a team’s ability to rise to the level of their opponent with the benefit of the home crowd. If Auburn’s defense continues to make plays against what has been a far from dominant Georgia offense, this game could be closer than expected.
6. No. 12 Alabama (3-1) at Mississippi State (2-2)
8 p.m., ESPN
Line: Bama -14.5
Bama has looked vulnerable at times, and this game is being played in Starkville. That said, the Bulldogs have looked atrocious offensively under new head coach Zach Arnett, and that likely continues against a good Crimson Tide defense. I think Bama covers with ease.
7. No. 23 Missouri Tigers (4-0) at Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3)
3 p.m., SEC Network
Line: Mizzou -13.5
Mizzou is 4-0 to start the season, but is also the only team in the SEC yet to play a conference game. Luckily for them, their SEC opener is against Vanderbilt, so congrats on getting to 5-0 Missouri! I’m betting you’ll see a pretty raucous environment when the Tigers come home to face LSU in Week 6.