Week 3: Three things to watch in the SEC

Georgia coach Kirby Smart congratulates wide receiver Jermaine Burton (7) after he scored a touchdown during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


No. 14 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia. One of two league matchups between ranked teams, the Vols recent run of success will face its most difficult test to date. Tennessee (2-0 SEC) has won its last eight games and has opened this season with solid victories at South Carolina and at home over Missouri to continue their longest winning streak since the 1998 national champions won 11 straight games. Georgia (2-0) has also started strongly and moved into the top three after a convincing 27-6 win over then seventh-ranked Auburn. The Bulldogs have won five of their last six games with Tennessee at home and the past three overall in the series. It will likely be hard to surprise either coaching staff in this one. Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was defensive coordinator for Georgia while Vols offense coordinator Jim Chaney served the same role for the Bulldogs under Kirby Smart from 2016-18. Tennessee offensive line coach Will Friend did that job at Georgia for four seasons under Mark Richt.


Florida’s combo of QB Kyle Trask and TE Kyle Pitts vs. Texas A&M’s pass defense. The fourth-ranked Gators have averaged 44 points a game, largely due to the Trask-Pitts connection. Trask has thrown a SEC-leading 10 touchdown passes, six of them to Pitts, the strong, mobile and elusive tight end who leads the Football Subdivision in TD catches. The pair have led Florida to scoring 35-plus points in consecutive SEC games for the first time since 2012. The Aggies (1-1) are 10th in the SEC in pass defense, allowing more than 290 yards through the air. They gave up 435 passing yards in a 52-24 loss last week to No. 2 Alabama and will have to improve in a hurry to slow down the Gators.


LSU quarterback Myles Brennan is on a record-setting pace in his first season as starter for the defending national champions. Brennan has the most passing yards (682), completions (50) and touchdown passes (seven) of any Tiger in his first two games as QB1. Brennan played in 10 games last season as the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, passing for 353 yards and a touchdown. The 17th-ranked Tigers (1-1) paly at home against Missouri (0-2) on Saturday.


Mississippi (1-1) and first-year coach Lane Kiffin is the latest ex-Nick Saban assistant trying to break the Crimson Tide coach’s 20-0 mark when facing former staffers who became head coaches. Kiffin spent three seasons as Saban’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2014-16, helping win the 2015 national championship. Some believe Ole Miss’ explosive offense (the Rebels are third in the SEC in scoring at 38.5 points a game) can give Alabama some problems. The Tide have given up 294 yards passing a game this season.


South Carolina receiver Shi Smith has become the latest Gamecocks wide out to make a major impact. Smith, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior, leads the SEC in catches with 22 for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Smith follows former Gamecocks and current NFL players in Alshon Jeffrey, Pharoh Cooper and Deebo Samuel as play-making receivers. South Carolina (0-2) plays at Vanderbilt (0-2) on Saturday.


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