Sep 20, 2018

Big Ten & SEC Week 4 Preview: Alabama hosts A&M as conference play heats up

In the fourth week of the college football season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are making visits throughout Big Ten and SEC country, meeting with fans across both conferences in advance of the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Here’s a look at some of the most highly-anticipated games on the schedule this week:

No. 22 Texas A&M (2-1, 0-0 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. on CBS

On Saturday, the Aggies and the Crimson Tide will meet for the eleventh time all-time and the seventh time when both teams are ranked in the Top-25. The Tide hold an 8-2 lead in the series and have won the last five meetings.

Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher will face his former boss, Nick Saban, for the second time in his career and for the second straight season after the two previously met in a 2017 kickoff game, while Fisher was still the head coach at Florida State. Fisher served as Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU from 2000-04

Alabama has lost just one game to a team ranked outside the top 15 in the Associated Press poll since the start of the 2008 season.

Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Maryland (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on BTN

The Gophers travel to College Park this Saturday to open conference play against the Terps. The programs will meet for the fourth time, with the Terps taking two of the first three; however, the Gophers are 1-0 in their lone trip to Maryland Stadium.

Minnesota is 3-0 for the second straight season under head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck is the first Gopher coach to start his first two seasons 3-0 since Alexander Jerrems in 1896 and 1897. Fleck and Maryland interim coach Matt Canada coached together at Northern Illinois from 2007-09

The Terps are 3-1 overall in Big Ten openers since joining the conference in 2014.

No. 14 Mississippi State (3-0, 0-0 SEC) at Kentucky (3-0, 1-0 SEC) – 7 p.m. on ESPN2

In a matchup of undefeated SEC teams, Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to Lexington to challenge the surging Kentucky Wildcats.

Kentucky has a chance to move to 4-0 for the first time in 10 years and also has a shot to start conference play 2-0 for the first time since the 1977 team finished league play undefeated. Although the Bulldogs lead the all-time series 23-22 and have won eight of the last nine matchups against the Wildcats, Kentucky won the last meeting in 2016, 40-38.

The Bulldogs moved to 3-0 for the second straight year with a 56-10 win against Louisiana last weekend. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald scored four rushing and two passing touchdowns against the Ragin’ Cajuns, increasing his career totals to 37 and 43, respectively. He is now the third player in SEC history with at least 35 touchdowns both rushing and passing.

Florida (2-1, 0-1 SEC) at Tennessee (2-1, 0-0 SEC) – 7 p.m. on ESPN

Tennessee opens SEC play this weekend as the Vols host the Gators for the 48th meeting between the two programs. The Gators enter Saturday’s game leading the all-time series 27-20, while the Vols are 12-12 against the Gators in Neyland Stadium. Each of the last four meetings between the two teams have been decided by 10 or fewer points

The last time Florida visited Neyland Stadium, in 2016, Tennessee snapped an 11-game losing streak to Florida, scoring 38-unanswered points to defeat the Gators, 38-28.

No. 24 Michigan State (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Indiana (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) – 7:30 p.m. on BTN

Michigan State and Indiana will open their conference schedules when the Hoosiers host the Spartans on Saturday. The winning team will be awarded the Old Brass Spittoon, which has been given to the IU-MSU victor since its inception in 1950.

Last weekend, the Hoosiers wrapped up its second consecutive undefeated non-conference slate and are 3-0 to start the season for the 17th time in program history. Indiana last defeated the Spartans in back-to-back games at Memorial Stadium in 1991 and 1993.

Michigan State was upset by Arizona State in Week 2 and regrouped during a bye last week. The Spartans lead the all-time series against the Hoosiers 46-16-2, including a 24-10-1 record when playing in Bloomington.

No. 18 Wisconsin (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Iowa (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) – 8:30 p.m. on FOX

Wisconsin and Iowa will meet this Saturday in Iowa City to battle for the Heartland Trophy. Since 2014, the winner Iowa-Wisconsin matchup has gone on to represent the West Division in the Big Ten Championship Game (Wisconsin, 2014, ’16, ’17; Iowa, ’15).

The Badgers will look to claim the coveted trophy for the third consecutive year after defeating the Hawkeyes in 2016 and 2017. Running back and Heisman Trophy candidate, Jonathan Taylor is averaging 171.7 yards per game and is second in the nation is rushing yards. The sophomore is entering Saturday’s game needing 8 yards to become the 15th player in school history to run for 2,500 in a career.

The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten and rank second in the country in scoring defense (8.0) after allowing only 24 points through three games, their lowest total to start the season since allowing eight points through the first three games in 2008.

Other Big Ten and SEC games being played this week.

Friday
No. 10 Penn State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) – 9 p.m. on FS1

Saturday
No. 3 Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) at Missouri (3-0, 0-0 SEC) – 12 p.m. on ESPN
Kent State (0-2, 0-0 C-USA) at Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1 SEC) – 12 p.m. on SEC
Buffalo (3-0, 0-0 MAC) at Rutgers (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on BTN
Boston College (3-0, 1-0 ACC) at Purdue (0-3, 0-1 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on ESPN2
Nebraska (0-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at Michigan (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) – 12 p.m. on FS1
Tulane (1-2, 0-0 American) at No. 4 Ohio State (3-0, 1-0 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. on BTN
South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (2-1, 0-0 SEC) – 4 p.m. on SEC
LA Tech (1-1, 0-0 MAC) at No. 6 LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) – 7 p.m. on ESPNU
Arkansas (1-2, 0-0 SEC) at No. 9 Auburn (2-1, 0-1 SEC) – 7:30 p.m. on SEC

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