Georgia coach Kirby Smart is applying a "hunting" mentality once again this season, on the road at Mississippi State tonight (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

Around the SEC: TV times, networks, picks; Georgia faces road challenge, Nick Saban at crossroads

ATHENS — Georgia football grounds its identity in toughness, stressing balance on offense and controlled aggression on defense.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs don’t always win the statistical beauty contests — TD passes and sack totals don’t equal others among the elite — but the end result is hard to argue.

Coach Kirby Smart acknowledges Georgia has a different type of challenge on its hands with Mississippi State, a Jekyll-Hyde team that’s 6-0 at home this season entering tonight’s 7 p.m. clash (TV: ESPN) with the Bulldogs.

WATCH: Experts debate if Georgia has replaced Alabama as SEC standard

“Defensively they have nine starters back, they are really physical, it’s a different scheme, disruptive, they take a lot of chances,” Smart explained.

Offensively, Mike Leach’s team is just as unique.

“They spread you out, it’s different than Tennessee, it’s horizontal and vertical mixed in the pass game,” Smart said. “(Leach) is definitely different, but he’s sharp and knows what he’s doing.

“He’s more experienced in his offense than you are defending.”

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Perhaps, but the cooler temperatures and wind should favor Georgia’s talent and willpower as they put an undefeated season on the line.

The pick: Georgia 31, Mississippi State 10

LSU -2 at Arkansas (Noon, ESPN)

The Tigers have something to play for, and that equals pressure that coach Brian Kelly said his first-year program will need to learn to deal with.

If Hogs quarterback K.J. Jefferson is less than 100 percent, that’s a big enough factor to believe in the Bayou Bengals.

The pick: LSU 30, Arkansas 27

Vanderbilt at Kentucky -17 (Noon, SEC Network)

The Wildcats are coming off a controversial win at Missouri, while Vanderbilt still hasn’t won a road game in the SEC since 2018 (at Arkansas).

Kentucky has a first-round NFL talent at quarterback and the league’s most proven runner in Chris Rodriguez.

The pick: Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 10

Missouri at Tennessee -20 (Noon, CBS)

The Vols are ready for the College Football Playoffs, looking for any and all scenarios that will give them a second shot at Georgia.

It all starts with beating Missouri, a team with a strong defensive front that nearly tripped up the Bulldogs in Columbia earlier this season.

Good thing for Tennessee the Tigers have no offense, and it’s a 60-minute game, the Vols pull away.

The pick: Tennessee 38, Missouri 14

Alabama -12 at Ole Miss (3:30 p.m., CBS)

It’s a crossroads game for Nick Saban, who hasn’t had a three-loss season since 2010.

Rebels coach Lane Kiffin spent the week making light of how too many were writing off Saban and the Crimson Tide.

The Ole Miss players will see and learn that first hand, at home, in front of a national television audience.

The pick: Alabama 45, Ole Miss 20

South Carolina at Florida -9 (4 p.m. SEC Network)

The Steve Spurrier Bowl features two programs where Spurrier is the winningest head coach, a feat no other SEC coach dead or alive can boast!

Florida was always the better program, and Billy Napier is starting to hit on key recruits and build promise in the future.

The Gators should win this game today, but it won’t be easy, as Shane Beamer will have his Gamecocks fired up enough to keep it close.

The pick: Florida 30, South Carolina 27

Texas A&M -2 at Auburn (7:30 p.m., SEC Network)

There’s a lot of energy at Auburn where they just unveiled a brand-new $90 million football building and have Carnell “Cadillac” Williams keeping the Tigers fired up as interim head coach.

The Aggies have lost five in a row. Let’s make it six on the road at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The pick: Auburn 24, Texas A&M 21

NextWATCH: ‘Has Georgia football replaced Alabama as the SEC standard?’
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