The rise of Jeremy Pruitt took a big step forward this past weekend as Tennessee put a whooping on Kentucky. Alabama looked impressive once again, but they have a potential issue on their hands with Tua’s oft-injured knee. This weekend lacks the high-profile matchups we’ve seen lately, but we still have some critical games worth examining.
Player to Watch
A guy who I think deserves a ton of attention is Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen not to be confused with Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen. He leads the SEC in sacks. He has 65 total tackles and five forced fumbles to boot. The guy is everywhere and is a huge reason why Kentucky’s defense has been one of the best in the SEC. Standing at 6’5 and weighing 260 pounds he projects as a next level player. He’s a high energy guy who has a nose for the football.
His draft stock seems to rise every week he touches the field. He keeps impressing scouts and has a lot of people who project him as a first-round talent.
Games of the Week
Chiefs vs. Rams
This is the matchup of the season. Both teams are 9-1 heading into this Monday night prime time showdown. The Rams have been doing what everyone expected of them. But the Chiefs have surprised the league with their hot throwing quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He’s been setting records on his way to a potential MVP season and playoff run.
Outside of Mahomes, the Chiefs have been relying on a bevy of weapons on offense and defense. I recently highlighted Dee Ford (Auburn) as a guy who is worth watching because of his pass rush ability. This week they’ll need Ford to step up big. But the Chiefs will also need guys like Justin Houston (Georgia), Reggie Ragland (Alabama), and Breeland Speaks (Ole Miss) to have outstanding games. The trio of linebackers will have tough matchups against the Rams offense. Their biggest challenge will be slowing down superstar running back Todd Gurley (Georgia).
The Rams likewise will have a tough test in front of them. The Chiefs feature an electric offense that hasn’t slowed down for a minute this season. They will, of course, lean heavily on their bell cow back Todd Gurley. They’ll be without a key member of their offense as wide receiver Cooper Kupp is out for the year after tearing his ACL.
This one will be a barn burner that goes down to the wire. I’m taking the Chiefs in this one. I think they have a more balanced team and the Rams will struggle a bit without Cooper Kupp.
Mon 11/19 8:15 ET- ESPN
Final Score: 42-38 Chiefs
Tennessee vs. Missouri
This will be one of the few SEC games worth watching this weekend. The Vols are clawing their way back to a bowl berth after an impressive upset win against the Wildcats. Missouri led by quarterback Drew Lock is a tough matchup for a young Vols secondary who have had trouble when targeted deep.
The Vols struggled in the early part of the season. Most people assumed things would be rough, but they looked awful. Pruitt has brought a level of expectation and consistency to this program that has been missing for some time. The players have visibly responded to his tutelage. Each game the Vols have gotten better, save for that Florida debacle. They haven’t lingered on a single loss but have taken a fresh approach each week. The rookie head coach has won two ranked SEC games in his first year and has an opportunity to go .500 in conference play if they win out. This will be an excellent benchmark for their program moving forward.
Missouri has had an up and down season. They’ve lost some tough games, but they’ve also had some surprise wins with the biggest one being against Florida. Their offense is one of the best in the SEC, and Drew Lock is a playmaker at quarterback. If they can keep the Vols defensive line in check and stretch the defense, they’ll have a good shot at winning the game.
I think Tennessee has a ton of momentum heading into this one and they’ll keep riding the wave.
Final Score: 33-24 Tennessee
MTSU vs. Kentucky
Let me begin by saying I am an MTSU alum, so I am 100% biased here. This matchup could prove to be problematic for Kentucky though. They are coming off a painful loss to Tennessee that put a nail in any chances of making the playoffs. They turn around and seemingly have an easy matchup with an opponent outside the power five. But this MTSU squad is nothing to joke around with. They’ve been hot lately, and this will be their third SEC matchup this season. They won’t be scared or intimidated by Big Blue.
This is a dark horse upset alert game. If Kentucky lingers over that loss to Tennessee, then they run the chance of getting beat by another squad from the state of Tennessee. Kentucky will have the advantage on defense. MTSU will need to keep Benny Snell under wraps if they want to sneak out a win. But if they can manage to keep him at bay, they should have a fair chance at winning. This Kentucky offense is atrocious outside of their league-leading rusher Snell.
MTSU has put some players into the NFL lately, and some of those guys have become key players for their teams. Perhaps none of them have been as successful as the Mayor of Murfreesboro, and Titans All-Pro safety, Kevin Byard. He’s one of the best safeties in football on one of the best defenses in the NFL. They’ve got one of the leading passers in the NCAA on their team in lefty Brent Stockstill. He’s third on the active NCAA passing yards list, and he just passed SEC legends Peyton Manning (Tennessee), and Chris Leak (Florida) on the all-time passing yards list. He’s thrown for over 11,000 yards and has over 100 total touchdowns, yet you’ve probably never even heard of him. Their offensive coordinator is a guy by the name of Tony Franklin, he’s helped mold Stockstill. Just ask Jared Goff about him. This offense can put points on the board in a hurry, so Kentucky will need to be locked in defensively.
Kentucky won’t linger over their loss last week and will get things done versus a tough MTSU squad who is fighting for the number one spot in their conference.
Sat 11/17 1:00 ET- SECN
Final Score: 34-24 Kentucky
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(Photo courtesy of Football Pro Weekly)