Written by Ryan Lippert
With another weekend of college football drawing near, more marquee matchups will come with it. The Southeastern Conference has dominated the polls this season and things are starting to get very interesting at the top. This week, we have a very interesting matchup between two top ten teams in the country that could help us come closer to getting a clear picture of the SEC. With that being said, let’s take a closer look at this week’s SEC Game of the Week between the #10 Florida Gators and #7 Auburn Tigers.
Bo Nix Takes on a Very Talented Florida Secondary
As I have mentioned throughout the season, a lot of Auburn’s success so far can be credited to the surprising breakout season from freshman quarterback Bo Nix. Nix put on a show once again last week in a 56-23 victory over Mississippi State. He was 16/21 with 335 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions through the air. He also led the Tigers in rushing with 56 yards and a touchdown. Nix benefitted from a huge game from sophomore wide receiver Seth Williams, who finished with eight receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
While last week’s performance was impressive, Nix will be facing a different animal this week in this Florida defense. The Gators have played great on defense even with several key injuries. Fortunately for the Gators, those injured players will be back just in time for their biggest game of the season so far. Among those returning players is edge rusher Jabari Zuniga, who is touted as a top NFL draft prospect and will look to apply some pressure on Nix.
Behind him, this Florida secondary has been outstanding so far. They have only allowed 191 passing yards per game and three passing touchdowns this season. This secondary has also come up with nine interceptions. This week, they look to be even better as they get back cornerback C.J. Henderson, who has been out the past couple weeks. Henderson is arguably one of the best defensive backs in the country and should make an immediate impact.
Trask Must Lead the Way for the Gators
I strongly believe that this game will be a battle of the quarterbacks. After having a good 2018 season, Florida’s running back, Lamical Perine, has yet to truly get things going so far this season. He has rushed for only 197 total yards and three touchdowns through five games. I don’t see this week as his week to get back on track as he will be facing the best front seven he has faced so far. Led by future NFL defensive linemen, Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson, this Auburn front seven is one of the best in the country.
With the running game likely being shut down, the Gators must have a big game out of quarterback Kyle Trask if they want a chance to win this game. Trask has done enough to keep Florida undefeated following the injury to starting quarterback Feleipe Franks. He has thrown for 647 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions in four games for the Gators. He has been able to do this without their top wide receiver, Kadarius Toney, who will be out once again this week. Franks will look to spread the ball around to a committee of solid pass catchers in Van Jefferson, Trevon Grimes, Tyrie Cleveland, Josh Hammond, and others in this game.
Luckily for Trask, he will be facing an Auburn secondary that has struggled for the most part this season. They have allowed 225 passing yards per game and seven passing touchdowns so far this season. This defense has also only forced one interception. If Florida’s offensive line can do a good job at containing this Auburn defensive front and give Trask time to go through his progressions, he should have a chance to have a big game.
As I mentioned, this game is going to be huge for the outlook of the SEC. Both of these teams are undefeated and looking to stay at the top of their respective divisions. I see this game being very close for about three to three and a half quarters. However, I think Auburn is just simply the better team. I see their defense getting after Trask and making things very difficult for him, especially down the final stretch. I have Auburn pulling away in the fourth quarter behind some big plays from Bo Nix to win 28-17.