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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Barnhart's Five Burning Questions for Week 6

14 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

All summer long we talk about SEC football and wonder if the season will ever, ever get here.

Then once it starts, it seems to go by in a flash. How do we know this?

Read this sentence carefully: After Saturday's games, 12 of the SEC's 14 teams will have completed HALF of their regulation-season schedule. Folks, when we go to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning the college football season will be half over.

And while Alabama and Georgia look so dominant in the conference, there are so many great story lines ahead of us to enjoy. So, in that vein let's look at Five Burning Questions for Saturday, Oct. 9:

1. Can Auburn pull off a shocking upset of Georgia?

After beating No. 8 Arkansas 37-0 last week in Athens, Georgia (5-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation) simply looked invincible is also looking like a sure bet for the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs are a solid favorite as they go to Auburn (4-1), which had a very nice 24-19 win of its own at LSU last week.But history shows us that when Auburn and Georgia meet on the football field, unexpected things can happen.

But major upsets have happened in the oldest continuous rivalry in the Deep South, which started at Piedmont Park in Atlanta in 1892.

In 1942 Georgia was ranked No. 1 and was set for a battle with No. 2 Georgia Tech where the winner would go to the Rose Bowl. But first Georgia had to face Auburn, which was struggling at 4-4-1 and given no shot to beat Georgia. Georgia got caught looking ahead and lost to Auburn 27-13. The history books about this game are full of stories about the favored team, looking for an SEC championship or more, stubbing their toe and losing their dreams. So watch this one closely.

2. Can the Aggies summon up some magic against the Crimson Tide?

This is not what the Alabama-Texas A&M game was supposed to look like.

Back in the summer many of us thought that Alabama's trip to Texas A&M would be the game of the year of the SEC. Alabama (5-0) is still No. 1 and riding a 19-game winning streak, which is where we thought the Crimson Tide would be at this point. But Texas A&M is NOT where we thought they would be.

The Aggies are last in the SEC West (3-2, 0-2). There is no mystery why. They rank 11th in the conference in total offense (376.4 ypg) and 12th in scoring offense (23.4 ppg). Texas A&M has not jelled on the offensive line and has struggled without starting quarterback Haynes King, who suffered a broken ankle in the second game of the season against Colorado.

Remember that Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 24-0 against his former assistants, a group that includes Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher.

3. Will Kentucky be caught looking ahead vs. LSU?

Last week's 20-13 win over Florida was a landmark win for Kentucky (5-0), which beat the Gators in Lexington for the first time since 1986. Next week's game with No. 2 Georgia in Athens will be for first place in the SEC East and perhaps the biggest Georgia-Kentucky game in history.

But first Kentucky will have to beat an LSU team (3-2, 1-1) that is feeling a sense of urgency after a 24-19 loss at home to Auburn last Saturday night. The last time LSU played at Kentucky was in 2007 when the No. 18 Wildcats stunned No. 1 LSU 43-38 in triple overtime. LSU went on to win the BCS national championship anyway.

4. Why is Arkansas at Ole Miss a huge game for both teams?

Why? One of the most famous phases in Coach Speak is: "Don't let the same team beat you twice." Simply put: Don't let the hangover from a loss be so severe that you're not ready to play the following week.

That's what Arkansas and Ole Miss face when they meet on Saturday in Oxford, Miss. Arkansas, which was undefeated and ranked No. 8, was taken to the woodshed by No. 2 Georgia 37-0. "We don't like it (losing to Georgia) and we're not accepting it but I'll be damned if Georgia makes us lose this Ole Miss game," said Sam Pittman, the Razorbacks coach.

Ole Miss lost to No. 1 Alabama 42-21 in a game that wasn't that close. "This is the SEC. Last week you played the No. 1 team and now you have to get ready for a Top 15 team," said Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.

5. Can Tennessee build on the momentum of a big win over Missouri?

Tennessee gave their long-suffering fans reason to hope after a huge 62-24 win at Missouri last Saturday. It was Tennessee's highest-scoring game since 2016.

A big part of that offensive explosion came from Virginia Tech transfer quarterback Hendon Hooker, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Tennessee (3-2) will try to win its fourth game against a South Carolina team that is still looking for its first conference win.

"I like what our guys are doing as we continue to evolve here," said Josh Heupel, Tennessee's first-year head coach. After Saturday's game, Tennessee then faces Ole Miss, Alabama, Kentucky, and Georgia over the next five weeks.