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Barnhart's burning questions for Week 4

51 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Okay, gentle readers, the preliminaries are over. We are headed to the FOURTH Saturday of the season with a bunch of big conference games and one monster non-conference game that will have implications for the College Football Playoff.

Simply put, a lot of questions are going to be answered on Saturday which will only lead to a lot more being raised on Sunday morning.

This is starting to be fun. Here are five burning questions for Saturday, Sept. 21:

How will Kyle Trask fare in his first start at quarterback since the ninth grade?

Trask, a redshirt junior, has a cool personal story. He was thrown into the fire last week when Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks was knocked out of the game at Kentucky with a severe ankle injury.

The Gators trailed 21-10 and Trask rallied them to 19 straight points and a 29-21 win.

Trask played behind D'Eriq King, one of the top quarterbacks in the country, at Manvel High School near Houston. Florida coaches, like everybody else, were recruiting King but noticed how much the pesky backup kept making plays whenever he got a chance. Florida assistant Doug Nussmeier invited him to camp and eventually extended a scholarship offer. Trask lost the job to Franks last season and again coming out of spring practice, but he chose to stay at Florida rather than enter the transfer portal. Now he will start on Saturday against Tennessee and for the rest of the season if he can stay healthy.

 How many people will actually show up for the Notre Dame-Georgia game in Athens?

In 2017 the two teams met in South Bend, Indiana, with Georgia winning 20-19. The game was the launching point for a season that would see the Bulldogs make it to the CFP national championship.

In order to keep its commitment of providing 8,000 tickets for Notre Dame fans, Georgia has added 500 temporary seats to Sanford Stadium and will thus have a record crowd 93,246.

"We know what to expect inside the stadium," said Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity. "We've got that covered."

What Georgia officials don't know is how many people will show up for the game without tickets because they want to be a part of history and participate in the mother of all tailgating parties.

Oh, by the way: The game will match two top-10 teams in a non-conference game in Athens for the first time since 1966.

 What is the key to the Auburn-Texas A&M game?

Auburn (3-0) goes to Texas A&M (2-1) as a four-point underdog in the first conference game for both teams. Both teams, along with LSU, are chasing Alabama in the SEC West so a win here will be big.

Let's put it more simply: Every SEC West game among those four teams this season is going to be huge.

There is no mystery about this game. If Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond has time to work his magic, the Aggies will score enough points to keep Auburn at bay. But if the Auburn defensive line can make Mond uncomfortable, as Clemson did two weeks ago, the Tigers can come out of Kyle Field with a win. Last season, Auburn rallied from a 24-14 deficit to win at Jordan-Hare Stadium 28-24.

Can Kentucky recover from having its heart broken last week?

The Wildcats let a 21-10 lead slip away to Florida's backup quarterback and the final result was a gut-wrenching 29-21 loss to the Gators.

It would have marked Kentucky's second straight win over Florida, something it had not done since 1976-77.

Now the Wildcats (2-1, 0-1 SEC) go on the road to play Mississippi State (2-1, 0-0), which is coming off a disappointing 31-24 loss to Kansas State in Starkville.

Two years ago Kentucky lost a 28-27 heartbreaker to Florida at home and barely escaped the following week with 24-20 win over Eastern Michigan. Last season, with the SEC East championship on the line, Georgia dominated Kentucky 34-17. The following week Kentucky put forth what coach Mark Stoops called "not a very good effort" in a 24-7 loss to a Tennessee team that finished 5-7.

Stoops bristled in the offseason when someone suggested that Kentucky was going to take a big step back after going 10-3 last season. In order to avoid that fate, Kentucky needs to step up and win games like this.

How big are the next two weeks for South Carolina?

This big:

With a schedule that includes No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 9 Florida and No. 17 Texas A&M, everyone knew that this was going to be a tough year for the Gamecocks (1-2, 0-1).

So in order for Will Muschamp and his team to go to their fourth straight bowl game, the Gamecocks were going to have to win the "50-50" games where their talent is on the same level as the opposition.

They have already lost one of those 50-50 games to North Carolina which means that games with Missouri (2-1, 0-0 SEC) and Kentucky (2-1, 0-1) the next two weeks are huge.