Barnhart’s Five Burning Questions for Week 7

8 hours ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Of this, dear readers, we can be sure: When it comes to the fun and pure entertainment of SEC football, it’s going to be hard to beat last Saturday.

Ole Miss and Arkansas played in one of the SEC’s best shootouts ever, with the Rebels winning 52-51.

No. 2 Georgia marched into Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium and marched out with a 34-10 victory. Now the Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Kentucky dominated LSU with 330 yards rushing to win 42-21 at Kroger Field. Now the Wildcats are 6-0 for the first time since 1950, when a gentleman named Paul “Bear” Bryant was the head coach.

Tennessee won its second straight conference game by beating South Carolina, 45-20.

And in the nightcap we will never forget, Texas A&M shocked the world by beating then-No. 1 Alabama, 41-38, at Kyle Field. The students stormed the field as Jimbo Fisher became the first Nick Saban pupil to beat the teacher.

This Saturday marks the first time this season that all 14 SEC teams play a conference game. Will it top last Saturday? Maybe not, but here are Five Burning Questions that we hope to get answered before the close of business:

1. Is this the biggest Georgia-Kentucky game ever?

Well, let’s see.

Both teams are 6-0. It is the first time the two teams have met when both were undefeated.

Georgia is ranked No. 1 and Kentucky is ranked No. 11. Both teams are 4-0 in the SEC and the winner will hold sole possession of first place in the Eastern Division. ESPN’s College Game Day and the SEC Network’s SEC Nation will be there to set the scene.

So yeah. This is the biggest Georgia-Kentucky game ever.

2. Does Bama bounce back strong against Mississippi State?

Alabama hasn’t had a whole lot of experience at learning how to handle losses under Nick Saban. But keep a couple of things in mind: Saban has won seven national championships in his storied career.

Only twice have those championship teams gone undefeated (2009, 2020). So every goal that Alabama set in the preseason is still attainable. If Alabama (5-1) runs the table, starting Saturday night at Mississippi State (3-2), and then wins the SEC championship game in Atlanta, Alabama will return to the College Football Playoff.

Remember that in 2017 Alabama did not win its division but still made the CFP as the No. 4 seed. The Crimson Tide won the national championship, beating Georgia.

“Like I told them yesterday, you’ve got to respond from the edge of the cliff,” Saban told the media earlier this week. “You don’t have a lot of room for error.”

Actually, coach, Alabama has no room for error. Mississippi State had last week off.

3. What will be this Saturday’s most entertaining game?

That’s easy. Ole Miss (4-1) at Tennessee (4-2) playing in what is sure to be a packed house at Neyland Stadium.

Ole Miss, which won that great shootout against Arkansas last week, leads the SEC in scoring with 46.2 points per game. Tennessee is third at 41.5 ppg. After beating Missouri 62-24 and South Carolina 45-20, the Volunteers have scored 107 points in their last two games.

I was in Knoxville on Monday and I’ll tell you this: The Big Orange Nation is excited.

4. Can Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson keep a hot hand against Auburn?

A few days before Arkansas played Texas A&M on Sept. 25, Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman was asked about his starting quarterback K.J. Jefferson. “I like what’s going on with our quarterback,” he said.

You can say that Pittman is really happy now after a huge game from Jefferson in the narrow loss to Ole Miss last week.

On the season Jefferson has thrown for 1,235 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also run for 320 yards with five more touchdowns. He is the only quarterback in the SEC and one of six in the FBS who has thrown for over 1,200 yards and rushed for over 300 yards this season.

5. Can LSU survive facing a tough second-half schedule?

The Tigers (3-3) lost to Kentucky last week 42-21 in a game, quite frankly, that really wasn’t that close.

With six games left, the injuries are kicking in big time for Ed Orgeron’s team. The Tigers lost their most explosive receiver, Kayshon Boutte, in the Kentucky game. Two All-America corners, Eli Ricks and Derek Stingley, Jr., are also done for the year. And the list goes on.

The final six games on the schedule includes five teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25: Florida (20), Ole Miss (13), Alabama (5), Arkansas (17), and Texas A&M (21). Getting his team up for an Noon ET start (11 a.m. CT) against 4-2 Florida will not be easy for Orgeron.

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