There is no letting up in the SEC schedule this week.
Every SEC team that will be active on Saturday will be playing a conference game -- the first time that has happened this season. That includes three games (No. 9 Tennessee at No. 8 Texas A&M, LSU at No. 18 Florida and No. 1 Alabama at No. 16 Arkansas) that ESPN Stats & Information's matchup quality metric ranks among the four best contests of the weekend.
Let's take a look at five things to watch for in those games and others in the SEC this week:
Can Tennessee's magical run continue?: Butch Jones' team has already cleared two major hurdles, using a second-half comeback against Florida and Josh Dobbs' miracle completion to Jauan Jennings on the final play against Georgia to remain undefeated. So far, so good in the four-week stretch that will define the Volunteers' season. However, that could change rapidly -- perhaps as soon as this weekend's meeting with a reinvigorated Texas A&M program (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS). ESPN's Football Power Index lists the Volunteers (5-0, 2-0 SEC) as underdogs at the Aggies (5-0, 3-0) and next week against Alabama, giving Tennessee just an 11 percent chance to still be undefeated once it has played those two games. The Vols might be the SEC East favorite even if they lose both, but a Tennessee win on Saturday coupled with a Florida loss against LSU would make it seem a near certainty that the Vols will represent the East in Atlanta.
Ed Orgeron meets the Swamp people: After making a statement with a 42-7 win over Missouri in his debut as LSU's interim coach, Ed Orgeron knows he is in for a much greater challenge Saturday at Florida (noon ET, ESPN). The Gators (4-1, 2-1) struggled to move the ball throughout last weekend's ugly win against Vanderbilt, but their defense is still getting the job done. Florida has surrendered more than 7 points just once this season -- in its 38-28 loss to Tennessee -- and that is a concern for LSU (3-2, 2-1) and an offense that has been highly inconsistent. The Tigers exploded for 634 yards against Missouri in their first game with Steve Ensminger calling the offensive plays. Even if LSU fails to duplicate those historic numbers against Florida, Orgeron needs efficiency from the group if he hopes to escape from the Swamp with a win.
Razorbacks lying in wait?: The FPI gives Alabama an 84.7 percent chance to win at Arkansas (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), the Crimson Tide's most favorable odds in any of the next four games (road trips to Tennessee and LSU and a home date with Texas A&M are next). Further, the Tide (5-0, 2-0) is a two-touchdown favorite over the Razorbacks (4-0, 0-1). Alabama fans will tell you, though, that this game has been a weird one over the past couple of years. Arkansas came within an eyelash of beating Alabama in 2014, outgaining the Tide by more than 100 yards before Alabama rallied for a 14-13 win. Then, last year, Alabama trailed 7-3 late in the third quarter before finally pulling away for a 27-14 win. We're not predicting an upset here. Just saying defensive coordinator Robb Smith has made Alabama's Lane Kiffin sweat in their past two meetings.
Auburn on the move: Don't look now, but here comes Auburn (3-2, 1-1). Since the Tigers' two losses against unbeaten teams (Clemson and Texas A&M) in which they put up a good fight, they have climbed to No. 13 in the FPI. However, they are about to venture away from the Plains for the first time this season after five straight home games. Saturday's trip to Mississippi State (noon ET, SEC) will explain a lot about both teams. The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1) come off an open date still looking for consistency after staggering through most of September. State has won three of the past four meetings.
Bulldogs seek to exorcise Williams-Brice demons: On paper, it might seem like Georgia should coast on Saturday at South Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC). The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) should have star running back Nick Chubb back and are coming off a near-miss against Tennessee that, while heartbreaking, should generate confidence that they can compete with the best teams in the East. On top of that, South Carolina (2-3, 1-3) ranks second-to-last out of 128 FBS teams in scoring at just 14 PPG. But as ESPN’s Lee Corso might say, "Not so fast, my friend." South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium has been a house of horrors for Georgia teams much of the past decade. The Bulldogs have lost their last three games there, and that streak might be four if not for Rennie Curran's forced fumble at the Georgia goal line that preserved the preseason No. 1 Bulldogs' 14-7 win in 2008. Crazy things seem to happen to Georgia teams in Columbia, so this could be a sneaky good game.