SEC Saturday roundup

Saturdays are always fun in the SEC, but this particular Saturday brings what has been one of the most tightly contested games in the conference in each of the last two years: Alabama and LSU.

Yes, the Tide and the Tigers will take center stage at 8 p.m. ET, and if you're an SEC fan -- heck, if you're a college football fan -- there's a good chance you'll tune in and take a peek. Because no matter your allegiance or preferred style of football, Alabama and LSU have done a good job of bringing us drama in their last couple of meetings.

In 2011 -- the "Game of the Century" -- it was a defensive slugfest, which LSU won 9-6 in overtime. Last season, it was a game that was in the Tigers' hands until Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron engineered a 72-yard drive capped by a 28-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Yeldon for a 21-17 comeback win in Death Valley.

We should be so lucky to get such a finish tonight. Even though No. 13 LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) isn't as highly ranked as it has been in the last two meetings, there's still plenty at stake, because Alabama (8-0, 5-0) is still No. 1 and still trying to make its way toward a third consecutive BCS national championship.

But no, that's not the only game today.

No. 8 Missouri (8-1, 4-1) will try to maintain its hold on the SEC East Division lead when it travels to Kentucky (2-6, 0-4). Of note is who starts at quarterback for the Tigers. Will it be James Franklin, who missed the last three games because of a shoulder injury? Or will freshman Maty Mauk get his fourth start of the season. Either way, Franklin's close to returning, according to coach Gary Pinkel.

Over in Knoxville, Tenn., No. 9 Auburn (8-1, 4-1) tries to continue what has been a magnificent turnaround season under new head coach Gus Malzahn. Every game is critical for the Tigers, because they're still in the SEC West title chase, just a game behind Alabama, whom they will meet at season's end. Tennessee (4-5, 1-4), which built up quite a bit of positive momentum earlier this season, looks to get up off the mat after taking two decisive losses on the road to Alabama and Missouri.

Is Texas A&M's defense really improving, or was it the product of facing a pair of backup quarterbacks? We should find out when the No. 15 Aggies (7-2, 3-2) host Mississippi State. It's the last of the Aggies' eight home games and could be the final time playing at Kyle Field for quarterback Johnny Manziel and/or receiver Mike Evans, both of whom will be draft eligible after this season. Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3) should get an emotional boost from quarterback Dak Prescott, who dealt with the tragic death of his mother Peggy as a result of cancer, earlier this week. Coaches and teammates attended Peggy's funeral with Dak on Tuesday, but he returned to practice on Wednesday and will play today, head coach Dan Mullen told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

With a win at home today, Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3) would become bowl eligible and get to .500 in conference play. It's been a rough season for the Rebels' opponent, Arkansas (3-6, 0-5) and new head coach Bret Bielema.

Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4) and Florida (4-4, 3-3) each need a couple wins to reach bowl eligibility. The Commodores hope to repeat their strong finish from a year ago, when they won five in a row to close out the year. Florida didn't think it would find itself in this position, but an inept offense and an uncanny number of injuries have put the Gators here, basically out of SEC East title contention.

Georgia (5-3, 4-2) has the only non-conference game of the day, hosting a 2-7 Appalachian State squad. That one should be over in a hurry.

Here's a rundown of today's full SEC schedule:

Auburn at Tennessee, noon ET, ESPN

Vanderbilt at Florida, noon ET, FSN

Missouri at Kentucky, noon ET, ESPNU

Arkansas at Ole Miss, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC TV

Applachian State at Georgia, 12:30 p.m. ET

Mississippi State at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

LSU at Alabama, 8 p.m. ET, CBS