Alabama may have slipped behind Georgia in the College Football Playoff rankings, but Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide is still No. 1 in the regular writers and coaches polls.

And until someone officially replaces Alabama as the SEC champion – or knocks the Tide off on any given Saturday – that’s the way it should be.

Will this be the week? Doubtful.

But that doesn’t mean Alabama (8-0, 5-0) won’t be tested when No. 19 LSU (6-2, 3-1) visits Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa  for a game that will be televised at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday by CBS.

Saban’s bunch is averaging 43 points per game while only allowing 9.8 points.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to forget that LSU already has lost once this season to a team from the state of Alabama, and it wasn’t Auburn. Five weeks ago, Ed Orgeron’s squad somehow lost a home game to Troy, 24-21.

To their credit, the Tigers have bounced back from that non-conference stunner. But they are still living on the edge, having beaten Florida and Auburn by a combined four points, which explains why the Tigers are scoring 27.4 points per game and allowing 20.0 points.

 IN THE SPOTLIGHT

All times Central

LSU at Alabama, Saturday 7 p.m. CT, CBS

Auburn at Texas A&M, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN

Massachusetts at Mississippi State, Saturday 11 a.m., SEC Network

Florida at Missouri, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2

Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt, Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPNU

South Carolina at Georgia, Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

Mississippi at Kentucky, Saturday 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network

Coastal Carolina at Arkansas, Saturday 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network

Southern Mississippi at Tennessee, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC Network

FAB FIVE

  1. Alabama (8-0, 5-0): Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Alabama is only team in the country ranked in the top 12 in scoring defense (No. 1), scoring offense (No. 5), rushing defense (No. 1), rushing offense (No. 7), total defense (No. 1) and total offense (No. 12). The Crimson Tide is outscoring its opponents by an average of 43.0 to 9.8.
  2. Georgia (8-0, 5-0): Last Week – W, Florida, 42-7. The Impact – Bulldogs jump to No. 1 in CFB rankings, but still stuck at No. 2 here. Sony Michel rushed for 137 yards on just six carries to lead rout of wounded Gators.
  3. Auburn (6-2, 4-1): Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Auburn is ninth nationally in scoring defense (15.0 points) and 13th in total defense (298.3 yards). Kerryon Johnson has scored 12 of his NCAA leading 13 rushing TDs in SEC games.
  4. LSU (6-2, 3-1): Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Derrius Guice is only SEC player to record three 250-plus rushing games, gaining 276 (Mississippi). He topped the 250 mark twice last season against Arkansas (252) and Texas A&M 285).
  5. Mississippi State (6-2, 3-2): Last Week – W, at Texas A&M, 35-14. The Impact –Apparently, Rebels don’t care for drama – winning their six games by an average of 33.1 points and losing twice by average of 33.5 points.

THE PACK

6. Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2): Last Week – L, Mississippi State, 45-14. The Impact – Nick Starkel has returned from broken ankle, giving Aggies another option on offense. He should get start against Auburn after coming off bench to connect with Camron Buckley on 69-yard touchdown.

7. South Carolina (6-2, 4-2): Last Week – W, Vanderbilt, 34-37. The Impact – Gamecocks’ defense would have to force at least three turnovers for Will Muschamp’s team to have shot at winning in Athens. Now that QB Jake Bentley is willing to run, he needs to learn how to safely slide before he gets hurt.

8. Kentucky (6-2, 3-2): Last Week –W, Tennessee, 29-26. The Impact – Wildcats overcame four fumbles to beat Vols for first time since 2011 as QB Stephen Johnson scored winning TD with 33 seconds left. He passed for only 46 yards but rushed for 84. Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 180 yards and three scores

9. Florida (3-4, 3-3): Last Week – L, vs. Georgia, 42-7. The Impact – Now that Jim McElwain has left the premises, it’s up to interim coach Randy Shannon to get the Gators to a bowl game. His first step, naming former Notre Dame starter Malik Zaire as No. 1 QB. He’s only played in two games and thrown 23 passes this season.

10. Arkansas (3-5, 1-4):  Last  Week – W, at Mississippi, 38-37.  The Impact – Trailing by 24, Razorbacks roared back to steal first SEC win at Ole Miss with late field goal, ending three-game skid. Bret Bielema still sitting on hot seat, however.

  1. Mississippi (3-5, 1-4): Last Week – L, Arkansas, 38-37. The Impact – Jordan Ta’amu started his first game, passing for 368 yards and rushing for two touchdowns, but had late fumble returned for TD by Razorbacks.

THE UNPROVEN

  1. Tennessee (3-4, 0-5): Last Week – L, at Kentucky, 29-26. The Impact – Brent Cimaglia missed 43-yard field goal five minutes after making 45-yarder to give Vols a 26-21 lead. He made 4 of 6 field goals as Vols struggled in red zone in loss.
  2. Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-5): Last Week – L, at South Carolina, 34-27. The Impact – Commodores will finally end skid with home game against Western Kentucky but Derek Mason’s team has surrendered 46.6 points per game in SEC.
  3. Missouri (3-5, 0-4):  Last   Week – W,   at Connecticut,   52-12.  The Impact – Mizzou’s two week break from SEC action is over, but closing stretch against Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Arkansas offers hope for another win or two.

 Beard’s Picks

Predicted winners in Bold Caps

LSU at ALABAMA

AUBURN at Texas A&M, Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN

Massachusetts at MISSISSIPPI STATE

Florida at MISSOURI

Western Kentucky at VANDERBILT

South Carolina at GEORGIA

Mississippi at KENTUCKY

Coastal Carolina at ARKANSAS

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI at Tennessee

LAST WEEK: 4-2

OVERALL: 54-14 (77.1)

Note: Each week during the college football season, I’ll be  updating how things are unfolding in the Big Ten by Wednesday, the SEC by Thursday and ACC by Friday.  

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