The SEC enters its 4th week of football with six teams finally playing their SEC opener. Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas A&M open up their SEC season with a blank slate and optimism for a trip to Atlanta. All 14 SEC teams are active this week so let’s break down some of the games with the unconventional stats of college football.
Auburn(8) at Texas A&M(17): To first understand this match-up, the head-to-head record is necessary. Texas A&M leads the head-to-head 5-4. Auburn comes in with a 10-11-1 record in Texas while riding on a six game win streak. That win streak is similar to Texas A&M’s win streak of seven games in their home state, six of those wins coming at home and the seventh win was against Arkansas in Arlington for a neutral site rivalry game. Speaking of rivals, Auburn’s biggest rival, who happens to be Alabama, was A&M’s last home lost. That’s significant because A&M has never beaten a power five school from the state of Alabama at Kyle Field. Another factor in this head-to-head match-up is that the away team has the advantage in the series (since A&M joined the SEC) with a 6-1 record. With all that being said, the superstitious advantage goes to the Auburn Tigers.
Tennessee at Florida(9): A rivalry match-up that hasn’t been very even in this century will add another page to its rich history in this week 4 SEC match-up. Florida leads the overall series 28-20 but it’s a bit uglier in the recent chapter of the series. Florida has won 16 of the last 20 games between these two teams and to add on, has not lost at home to Tennessee since 2003. Now sometimes upsets happen and that’s what makes college football fun right? Well not so fast in this rivalry, because a ranked Florida team has never lost to an unranked Tennessee team. There’s not many ways to judge this game because every advantage arrow possible points to the Florida Gators and big.
LSU(4) at Vanderbilt: This next SEC match-up isn’t a common match-up anymore but was big in the 1930’s and 1940’s with LSU leading the overall series with 22-7-1 ( The tie being in 1933). These teams haven’t played in nearly a decade when LSU came to Nashville and won 27-3, but LSU does still hold a seven game win streak against the commodores. Vandy’s last win against LSU came in 1990, Vanderbilt’s only win that season. Since World War II has ended, LSU’s football team has traveled to Nashville, Tennessee 11 total times to play a football game, they’ve won seven of those games with the other four games being three loses to Vandy and one to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. All signs point to a dominating LSU victory.
Kentucky at Mississippi State: A little bit of a lesser known or even focused on rivalry sits at a dead even at 23-23. We are now 105 years removed from the first meeting between these two teams and there’s no clear cut trend like the two previous games to decide a favorable guess as to who will win so let’s move to a more unconventional statistic. Kentucky is a very weak 41-81-2 when playing against teams with a bulldog mascot while Mississippi State possesses a 25-26 record against teams with a wildcat mascot. A note to Mississippi State’s record against wildcats is that only five of those games have been against a team other than Kentucky. So this stat taught us that Kentucky really knows how to lose to bulldogs but also Mississippi State has very minimal experience playing wildcats. Since that didn’t show an edge, surely a home record in the rivalry will do the trick, right? Wrong. The home team is 28-18 which is only a 60% win percentage, not the clear dominating facts we need. The home team has, however, won the last four meetings between these two teams and that’s enough for me to tilt the arrow of unconventional game predictions towards the Bulldogs. Due to Kentucky’s horrendous record against bulldogs and the home team having a slight edge but more recent success, Kentucky just couldn’t gain the statistic support as they travel to Starkville.
We’ve learned a lot about these SEC on SEC match-ups but let’s move to a more interesting match-up that has peaked national interest and could have major playoff implications.
Notre Dame(7) at Georgia(3): This is a match-up between a classic and timeless mascot in the bulldog and a classic and timeless football program in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Georgia leads the series 2-0 over the Fighting Irish. Now, College Gameday will be in Athens for just the fourth time ever and Georgia has a disappointing 1-2 record when the gameday crews have been on campus and gets even worse when you look at their overall record of 6-15 on College Gameday. Notre Dame also has a sub .500 win percentage on College Gameday with a 13-16 record but it is a lot better than Georgia’s performances in front of the crew. This is the first time Georgia has hosted a top 10 team in Sanford Stadium since Auburn came to town in 2016 as Georgia won 13-7 while Notre Dame hasn’t travel to a top 10 team since 2017 when they got lit up by Miami and lost 41-8. That’s not a good omen for the Fighting Irish or for anyone that wants Georgia to lose, but let’s dig up one more stat. Georgia is a clean sheet undefeated against teams that are yet to join a conference while Notre Dame is 29-19 against the SEC with an 8-5 record when traveling to an SEC stadium. If that’s not enough to point the arrow to Georgia, let’s throw in one real football stat that is used to predict games. Notre Dame has the 120th ranked rush defense in the country, Georgia has the 8th best rush offense in the country. That enough closes that case, arrow to Georgia.
That concludes a very unconventional preview to get you ready for an SEC Saturday full of football.
For months the station has waited, but it all comes to an end this Saturday. WEGL Radio is up for 10 different awards, nine from the 2020 IBS Awards in New York and one from the ABBY Awards in Birmingham, Alabama.