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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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Important SEC West matchups highlight weekend schedule

Important SEC West matchups highlight weekend schedule

Here are a few things to watch in the Southeastern Conference during Week 11 of the college football season:

GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 3 Alabama at No. 20 Mississippi State: Mississippi State (No. 17 CFP) can turn the race for the SEC Western Division upside down with a victory over the Crimson Tide (No. 2 CFP) on Saturday. The Bulldogs come into the game with plenty of momentum, winning four games in a row. But Alabama has looked nearly unstoppable since losing to Ole Miss in September and was very impressive in a 30-16 victory over LSU on Saturday.

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Arkansas RB Alex Collins vs. LSU's run defense: The Razorbacks have turned into a factor in the SEC West after a terrible start to the season. Collins is a big reason for that resurgence with his third straight season of 1,000-plus rushing yards — including 108 yards in a 53-52 win over Ole Miss last week. LSU's run defense has been one of the best in the league for most of the year, though the ninth-ranked Tigers struggled to stop Alabama's Derrick Henry last week after being on the field for much of the second half.

NUMBERS GAME: The Georgia-Auburn series is tied 55-55-8 heading into Saturday's matchup. Georgia hasn't led the series since 1986. ... History suggests Auburn may not have much of an advantage by hosting Georgia this week. Auburn is 18-13 in Athens and Georgia is 15-11-2 at Auburn. The series also has featured numerous matchups in neutral sites (the game was held at Columbus, Georgia, from 1930-58). ... LSU's Leonard Fournette continues to lead all FBS players with 1,383 yards rushing and 172.9 yards rushing per game despite gaining just 31 yards on 19 carries against Alabama last week and despite not playing in the season opener against McNeese.

UPSET WATCH: Kentucky's recent slide may help explain why it's a three-point underdog at Vanderbilt, but the Wildcats have looked like the stronger team for most of the season. Vanderbilt may have made an impression on the oddsmakers with its near-upset of Florida, but the Commodores had lost 34-0 to Houston just a week earlier. Vanderbilt does have the home-field advantage, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Kentucky fans make up a large portion of the crowd in Nashville this week.

IMPACT PERFORMER: Alabama DL A'Shawn Robinson: While running back Derrick Henry garnered much of the attention after the Tide's victory over LSU, Robinson also had a great performance. Robinson delivered two tackles for loss, blocked an extra-point attempt and was part of the front seven that shut down Fournette. Robinson has another tough task ahead of him this week as he and the Tide look to slow down Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.

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