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Big Ten & SEC Week Eight Preview

Early on in the season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are out on the road to meet with fans of our partner schools to spread the word about our brand-new home field opening for the 2014 bowl season.

This weekend, we’ll be at ten notable games featuring teams from our partner conferences*:

The Ole Miss Rebels (6-0, 3-0 SEC) welcome Tennessee (3-3, 0-2 SEC) for an SEC showdown in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebels have won seven straight games dating back to their bowl win last season. After their win over Alabama, the Rebels went into College Station and knocked off Texas A&M this past weekend, 35-20. The Ole Miss defense held A&M scoreless in the first half, the first team to accomplish the feat against a Kevin Sumlin-coached team. Tennessee capped off their non-conference schedule with a 45-10 win over Chattanooga. The win ended the Volunteers three-game skid that featured losses to ranked Oklahoma and Georgia programs. The two teams have not met on the gridiron since 2010 when Tennessee won, 52-14. Tennessee holds the edge in the series, 44-19-1 including 13 of the past 14 matchups.

Off to their best start since 2007, the Kentucky Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 SEC) travel to Baton Rouge to face  LSU (5-2, 1-2 SEC) at Tiger Stadium. The Wildcats are an undefeated 5-0 at home this season and in the midst of a three-game winning streak, their longest since 2010. Their only loss this season came after three overtimes in Gainesville against Florida. The Tigers are coming off of their first conference win of the season, topping the Gators 30-27 over the weekend for Les Miles 100th victory at the helm. The Tigers have had a rough go of it so far this season, falling out of the top 25 for the first time in 72 weeks. LSU leads Kentucky in the all-time series, 39-16-1.

Florida (3-2, 2-2 SEC) and Missouri (4-2, 1-1) meet for the fourth time in series history as both teams come into the game looking to bounce back from a loss in the previous week. Florida was on their way to a win over LSU for the first time since 2012 until LSU’s kicker Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 50-yard field goal with three seconds to go to sink the Gators. Missouri  was shutout at home by Georgia in their last outing, marking the first time they were shut out since their 38-0 defeat to Kansas State at home in 2002. The Tigers committed five turnovers in the game, allowing the Bulldogs, without star running back Todd Gurley, to earn the sound victory. The Tigers have won two of the three previous meetings, including last year’s 36-17 win in Columbia.

Arkansas (3-3, 0-3 SEC) hosts Georgia (5-1, 3-1 SEC) in search of their first SEC win this season. In their second year under Bret Bielema, the Razorbacks suffered three tough losses to conference teams that are ranked in the nation’s top 10. Last week the Hogs lost to Alabama, 14-13, with a blocked PAT being the difference. Despite the tough start in conference play, the Razorbacks have put up impressive numbers, scoring quickly and often. Arkansas has 12 touchdown drives of three plays or less to lead the nation, and have scored 21 touchdowns on the ground this season, tied for fourth-most in the nation. The Bulldogs are coming off of their first-ever road shutout of a ranked team after beating Missouri, 34-0. Georgia had no issues running the ball despite missing Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. Freshman Nick Chubb carried the ball 38 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in his first career start to lead the Bulldogs.

After back-to-back losses against Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2) is faced with another tall task as it travels to Tuscaloosa for a clash with Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC). In their five wins this season, the Aggies have turned it on early scoring 18 first half touchdowns. Texas A&M has found the end zone just once during the first half in their two losses, trailing by a combined 49-10 at halftime in those two games. Last week, Alabama found a way to win despite being outgained, 335-227, and having seven 3-and-outs on offense, the most in Nick Saban’s tenure. The Crimson Tide have a 4-2 lead in the series after getting payback last year with their 49-42 rout of Johnny Manziel and the Aggies in College Station.

Rutgers (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) faces its first ranked team and biggest test of the season thus far when it heads to Columbus to do battle with Ohio State (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten). The Scarlet Knights and Buckeyes both enter the matchup coming off of their bye week. Prior to their week off, Rutgers knocked off Michigan at home, 26-24, for their first Big Ten win. Quarterback Gary Nova was named Big Ten Player of the Week for his 404-yard, three touchdown performance in the win. After a slow start to the season, quarterback J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes have come alive, outscoring their opponents 168-52 in their three games since suffering a loss to Virginia Tech at home. Ohio State is has won 17 consecutive regular season conference games and has not lost following a bye week since. This will be the first time Ohio State and Rutgers meet on the football field.

Nebraska (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) travels to Evanston to face Northwestern (3-3, 2-1 Big Ten) in a Big Ten West Division matchup. The Cornhuskers had the weekend off last week following their first loss of the season to Michigan State. The Wildcats fell to Minnesota 24-17 for their first Big Ten loss last week after beginning their conference slate with back-to-back wins over Penn State and Wisconsin. Nebraska leads Northwestern 5-2 in the all-time series including wins in the past two meetings by a combined eight points.

Minnesota (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) welcomes Purdue (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) to TCF Bank Stadium looking for their third straight win to open up the conference schedule. The Golden Gophers are one of four teams still unbeaten in conference play after their 24-17 victory over Northwestern by way of a Jalen Myrick 100-yard kickoff return touchdown with 7:19 remaining in the game. The Boilermakers fell to Michigan State last week despite scoring 31 points, the second-most allowed points by the Spartans this season. The Golden Gophers hold a tight edge in the series, 34-32-3. The two teams did not meet last season but the Minnesota took the last meeting in 2012, 44-28.

The Maryland Terrapins (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) host the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) looking for their first conference home victory. The Terrapins lost to Ohio State two weeks ago in their most recent game, 52-24. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown has seven touchdowns through the air and five on the ground, leading the team in both categories on the year. The Terps enter the game coming off of their bye week. The Hawkeyes have won three straight since falling to in-state rival Iowa State early in the season. Last week the Hawkeyes defeated Indiana 45-29, the most points the Hawkeyes have put up since scoring 45 on the Hoosiers in 2011. This is the first meeting between the two programs.

Indiana (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) hosts Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) in search of their first conference win of the season. Indiana is coming off of a 45-29 loss to the Hawkeyes despite being outgained by only six yards. Running back Tevin Coleman racked up 219 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries to lead the Hoosiers, but the defense was unable to slow the Hawkeyes ground attack which gained 316 yards and three scores. The Spartans gave up more than 30 points for just the second time this season but were able to knock off Purdue, winning 45-31 in West Lafayette last weekend. Michigan State gained 532 yards of offense including 294 rushing yards between seven players. Running back Jeremy Langford ran for over 100 yards for the third-straight game while Nick Hill ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. The Spartans lead the all-time series 43-15-2 and are 23-6-1 against Indiana at home. Last season the Spartans earned a 42-28 victory at home.

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