Big Ten & SEC Week Nine 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 eight notable games featuring teams from our partner conferences*:
Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) heads to Death Valley to meet LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC) for a primetime conference matchup. Both squads enter the meeting after earning big victories at home last weekend. Ole Miss notched a 34-3 victory over Tennessee while LSU slowed down a hot Kentucky team, 41-3. The Rebels are off to their best start since 1962 when they went 10-0 and earned a share of the national title. The Ole Miss defense leads the nation, giving up an average of 10.6 points per game. The Tigers have found their way back into the rankings following back-to-back victories and will try to knock off a top-10 team at home for the fifth straight season. LSU has held their opponents to seven points or less in three of their past four games. LSU leads the all-time series 58-40-4 including wins in nine of the past 12 games.
Tennessee (3-4, 0-3 SEC) hosts Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) in search of its first conference win this season. The Volunteers took an early 3-0 lead on Mississippi but the Rebels offense eventually broke out, scoring the game’s final 34 points. The Crimson Tide enter the week coming off of their fourth-largest win against an SEC foe in program history, defeating Texas A&M 59-0. A week after sneaking out of Fayetteville with a 14-13 win over Arkansas, Alabama put up 45 points in the first half against the Aggies to cruise to victory. Alabama’s defense stifled the A&M offense, marking the first time in 88 games as a head coach that Kevin Sumlin’s team was shutout. Alabama leads the “Third Saturday in October” series between the two programs, 50-38-7 including wins in the past seven meetings. The Volunteers last win came at home in 2006, when Arian Foster and Erik Ainge led Tennessee to a 16-13 victory.
Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC) welcomes South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC) to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a primetime clash. The Tigers were given their first loss of the season their last time out, falling to Mississippi State on the road, 38-23. They will look to extend their 13-game home win streak and remain unbeaten at home under Gus Malzahn. South Carolina has lost its past two conference games to unranked opponents. The Gamecocks have not lost three consecutive conference games since 2009. Despite the struggles in conference play, the Gamecocks defeated Furman 41-10 at home last weekend to remain undefeated outside of the SEC. Auburn leads the all-time series 9-1-1 including a 3-0 mark at home.
Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4 SEC) faces Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC) in Columbia for its third consecutive conference road game. The Commodores enter this week’s meeting off of a 21-20 win against Charleston Southern at home. The Tigers need a win to keep pressure on Georgia at the top of the SEC East. The Tigers bounced back from their first conference defeat by knocking off Florida in Gainesville last weekend, 42-13. Missouri relied heavily on defense and special teams, which returned a fumble, interception, kick and punt for touchdowns in the victory. Missouri and Vanderbilt have only met six previous times with the Tigers holding the slight edge, 3-2-1.
Ohio State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) visits Beaver Stadium for a primetime meeting with Penn State (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) in the school’s annual “Whiteout” game. Following an early season loss to Virginia Tech, the Ohio State Buckeyes have dominated their opponents. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has accounted for four touchdowns in each of the past four games, the longest current streak in the nation. The Buckeyes are in the midst of an 18-game regular season conference win streak and have set a program record, scoring 50 points or more in four consecutive games. The Nittany Lions have gone in the opposite direction of the Buckeyes, losing their past two games after starting the season 4-0. In their last outing, the Nittany Lions scored on their first three possessions to take a 13-7 lead on the road against Michigan but were unable to find the end zone the rest of the game, ultimately falling 18-13. Ohio State leads the series 15-8 with Penn State vacating 5 wins and Ohio State vacating one. The Buckeyes have won two straight and three consecutive at Beaver Stadium with the Nittany Lions last win at home coming in 2005.
Michigan (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) and Michigan State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) meet for the 107th time when the Wolverines visit East Lansing in search of back-to-back conference wins for the first time since 2012. The Wolverines, who had a bye this past weekend, are coming off of a win over Penn State two weeks ago. The Wolverines are 16 for 17 in the red zone on the season, ranking eighth in the nation, after scoring on two of their three trips against Penn State. Their lone non-score came when they kneeled down to end the game. The Spartans have won five straight since losing to Oregon in week 2, including a 39-point victory over Indiana last week. Michigan leads the all-time series 68-33-5 but have struggled against their in-state rivals recently, dropping five of the past six meetings. The Spartans are looking for their fourth consecutive win at home over the Wolverines and have held Michigan without a touchdown for eight straight quarters. Michigan State won last year’s contest, 29-6.
Rutgers (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten) visits Lincoln to square off against Nebraska (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) for the first time in 94 years. The two teams met for the first and only previous time on Election Day in 1920 with the Cornhuskers leaving New York as 28-0 victors. The Scarlet Knights are looking for their first conference road win after dropping their first road test against Ohio State last weekend, 56-17. The Scarlet Knights scored late in the first quarter to make it 14-7 before Ohio State scored five straight touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Desmond Peoples led the Scarlet Knights with two touchdowns on 83 yards. Nebraska remained in the Big Ten West division race by knocking off Northwestern last weekend, 38-17. Running back Ameer Abdullah ran for 146 rushing yards and four touchdowns giving him 14 on the season, second-most in the FBS. His 1,024 rushing yards this season are the third-most in the nation.
Maryland (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) travels to Madison for a meeting with Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon. The Terrapins knocked off Iowa for their second Big Ten win and first conference win at home last weekend. The Terps put up 418 yards of offense (including 212 on the ground) and three rushing touchdowns. Maryland has scored at least 24 points in seven straight contests and is currently on a six-game winning streak away from home. After dropping their conference opener to Northwestern, the Badgers topped Illinois 38-28 at home two weeks ago. Melvin Gordon paced Wisconsin with 175 yards and four touchdowns, increasing his season totals to 1,046 yards (second-most in FBS) and 13 touchdowns (third-most in FBS) on the year. This is the first meeting between the two programs.