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Barnhart's burning questions for Week 10

253 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Our Five Burning Questions as we begin what promises to be a November to remember:

No. 8 Georgia and No. 6 Florida return to Jacksonville for a game that will go a long way in deciding the SEC East. What's the biggest key to this contest?

Now, we should point out that Missouri (2-2 SEC) can still win the SEC East if it runs the table against Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

But let's be clear: From where I sit the winner of Saturday's game between Georgia and Florida is going to represent the East in the SEC Championship game on Dec. 7.

There are a bunch of important matchups in this game but here is the one to watch: Can Georgia's receivers - who are young but talented - make enough plays to keep the Florida defense honest?

South Carolina provided the blueprint to play Georgia in a 24-21 double overtime win over the Bulldogs on Oct. 12. Quarterback Jake Fromm threw a career-high 51 passes because the Bulldogs' running game could never get going. Fromm, who has a career record of 30-6 as Georgia's starting quarterback, is 0-5 in games where he has thrown it more than 30 times.

The formula is simple. If Georgia completes some passes, then it opens up the run game with D'Andre Swift.

"It is the ability to win one-on-one, win in space," Kirby Smart said during his Monday press conference. "We have to win more battles when it comes to that because people in this league are going to play you a certain type of way."

Auburn can't win the SEC Championship, but can decide who does. After a tough game with LSU (23-20 loss), will the Tigers have a letdown Saturday against Ole Miss?

Auburn (6-2, 3-2) has played four of its last five games on the road, a stretch which includes its losses to No. 6 Florida and No. 1 LSU. So now Auburn gets to finish the season with four straight games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The question is: How much will Auburn have in the tank against an Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3) team that took Texas A&M to the limit (21-17) on Oct. 19?

Enough, we think.

If Auburn can get past the Rebels, the Tigers get No. 8 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama at home in November. Two years ago Auburn beat both teams at home when each was ranked No.1.

Can South Carolina bounce back against Vanderbilt after a tough, tough loss to Tennessee?

South Carolina (3-5, 2-4) appeared to have turned a corner on Oct. 12 when it upset No. 3 Georgia 24-21 (2OT) in Athens. But the last two weeks have been difficult for the Gamecocks, losing to No. 6 Florida in Columbia (38-27) and getting dominated in the second half by Tennessee 41-21.

Now the Gamecocks must win three of their last four games against Vanderbilt, Appalachian State, Texas A&M and Clemson in order to reach their fourth straight bowl game under Will Muschamp.

Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3) has had a week off since a big home win over Missouri on Oct. 19.

In short: This is a must-win for South Carolina.

Tennessee is feeling good about the rest of the season after beating South Carolina. Should the Vols be on upset alert against UAB (6-1)?

After losing four of its first five games, Tennessee reached what looked like rock bottom under Jeremy Pruitt. Since a 43-14 loss to Georgia on Oct. 5, the Volunteers have beaten Mississippi State (20-10), played Alabama tougher than the 35-13 score would indicate and played their most complete game of the season in beating South Carolina 41-21.

Tennessee (3-5, 2-3) can go to a bowl if it wins three of its final four games against UAB, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt.

The Volunteers had better be on alert against UAB, where Bill Clark has done remarkable work rebuilding the Conference USA program, which was shut down after the 2014 season.

Mississippi State has lost four straight games. Arkansas has lost five straight games. Which team is finally going to get some relief?

Arkansas (2-6, 0-5) has not won a game since beating Colorado State on Sept. 14. The Razorbacks have lost 16 straight SEC games dating back to the end of the 2017 season. Arkansas has a chance to end that streak at home on Saturday against Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4).

Coach Chad Morris is trying to hit the reset button for a November where three of Arkansas' final four games are at home.

"It's an opportunity for these guys that there's still a lot ahead of them," Morris told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Mississippi State, under second-year coach Joe Moorhead, appeared to be headed in the right direction when it beat Kentucky on Sept. 21 in Starkville. But then the schedule got real with losses to Auburn, Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M.