For the first time since 2012, both teams playing in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday have national championship hopes heading into the final week of October. No. 7 Georgia will travel across the state line to take on No. 9 Florida at TIAA Bank Field in what is the biggest SEC game of the year to date.
That's just one of several critical SEC games on the docket for Oct. 27. What will happen in Week 9 in the SEC? Let's make some picks.
Record straight up: 58-16 (5-1 last week)
Record against the spread: 24-31-1 (2-4 last week)
*Games without lines are not counted in the ATS record
No. 7 Georgia vs. No. 9 Florida (+7)
- Ground and pound
- Battle of the QBs
- Can Georgia rebound?
Both teams can pound the rock on the ground, so it's all about trust. Do you trust Florida's ground game to exploit the remarkably average Georgia run defense, or Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm to snap out of his funk and provide much-needed balance to the offense? I'll side with Fromm -- especially if coach Kirby Smart utilizes the partnership he created with true freshman Justin Fields more than he did the last time the Bulldogs took the field. Pick: Georgia (-7)
- Defense travels
- Fitzgerald struggling
- Wrong team favored
The Bulldogs looked dreadful in last weekend's loss to LSU, couldn't run the football and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald had nothing in the passing game. Texas A&M can replicate that exact same game plan. The Aggies lead the SEC and are fourth nationally in rush defense (81.57 yards per game), and will prevent Fitzgerald and running back Kylin Hill from taking control of the game on the ground. From there, quarterback Kellen Mond will play smart, not force things and lead the Aggies to a big win in Starkville. The wrong team is favored here. Pick: Texas A&M (+2.5)
- A game of keep away
- The hidden truth of the 'Cats D
- Upset brewing
The Wildcats are touchdown underdogs on the road despite just one loss and legitimate SEC East title hopes. Why? Probably because Tigers quarterback Drew Lock is a monster, and the Wildcats have been one-dimensional with running back Benny Snell shouldering the load. But the real star of the Bluegrass State is linebacker Josh Allen. Allen and the rest of the Wildcats defense will pay rent in the backfield, force Lock to make mistakes and Snell will take it from there. Give me Kentucky outright. Pick: Kentucky (+7)
- Bentley back?
- Bama hangover
- Super sloppy
The Vols have been playing smart football under first-year coach Jeremy Pruitt the majority of the time, but Pruitt hasn't had to deal with the "Alabama hangover." Tennessee's offense ranks dead last in the SEC in road games at 302 yards per game, hasn't broken the 400-yard mark since Sept. 15 and its defense ranks 13th in the SEC in total defense in road/neutral site games (478.7 YPG). Even though the South Carolina defense isn't stellar, it won't have to do much to help out its own offense. Quarterback Jake Bentley threw three touchdowns last time out vs. Texas A&M, but his completion percentage has been horrendous in October (48.6 percent). Bentley will have moments of brilliance and moments of ineptitude, but will do enough to earn his team a sloppy win ... but not a cover. Pick: Tennessee (+7.5)
- A win is a win
- Hog D back?
- Home field advantage
The good news is that one of these teams will notch its first conference win of the season. The bad news is that it might be the ugliest game of the SEC season. Quarterback Connor Noland gave Arkansas a spark in the shutout win over Tulsa last week, and fellow quarterback Ty Storey should be back in the mix against the Commodores. Can Kyle Shurmur and the rest of the 'Dores offense muster up enough to pull out a road win in the SEC against a Razorbacks defense that has plenty to be excited about after last week's shutout? I doubt it. Pick: Arkansas (+1.5)
What college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 9, and what title contender will go down hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,000 in profit over the past three seasons.