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Hot Reads: Saturday nears, and we smell upsets

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If Ole Miss can beat Alabama, the sky is the limit this season. But a strong performance from quarterback Bo Wallace is the one thing the Rebels must have. (Source: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics) If Ole Miss can beat Alabama, the sky is the limit this season. But a strong performance from quarterback Bo Wallace is the one thing the Rebels must have. (Source: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
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(RNN) - The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the playoffs. It has absolutely nothing to do with this column, and Hot Reads has no rooting interest in them, but the historical significance of the feat has to be something akin to the discovery of penicillin.

If Kansas City had clinched, there would have been enough bliss spread around the country to make people forget about Obamacare. Almost enough? A significant amount? Maybe not, but still.

We don't know what's on the radio where you are, but for some reason Karma Chameleon is blaring in the background here, and the annoyance could not be more volatile.

Let us pull out ye ole register of gentlemanly contests between football representatives from Southern institutions of higher learning, and we shall learn a thing or two.

In plain English, let's see what's on the slate for SEC games this weekend.

SEC vs. SEC

Ole Miss at Alabama, 6:30 p.m.. ET Saturday

It was widely thought that Alabama's bout with heavyweight contender Texas A&M could have been the biggest SEC game of the season, with the exception of the championship game in Atlanta.

The chances are high that won't be true. Why, you ask?

Shocker alert coming in 3… 2… 1… The Rebels have the best chance of anyone this season of beating the Crimson Tide.

It seems like a pretty large leap to make that statement. It would also be a huge blow to a state that prides itself on being barely ahead of Mississippi in just about everything - diabetes cases, progress in race relations - and oh yeah, football, where the margin is not quite as narrow.

If the Aggies could actually stop anyone from scoring (Or maybe even slow them down. We're not picky.), the Fightin' Manziels would be 2-0 vs. Alabama.

Well, think of Ole Miss as a version of Texas A&M with a defense and better talent on offense. Scary, right?

There are matchup nightmares all over the field for Alabama, starting on the outside. It's not totally fair to criticize Alabama's secondary, Yes, they have allowed an alarmingly high 250 passing yards per game, but the bulk of that average came in the Texas A&M game against a Heisman winner.

Consider this, though. The Aggies have one receiver who can truly be called a threat, and Alabama could not stop him. The Rebels have three or four of those guys.

Let's put this in perspective. Ja-Mes Logan had the second-most receptions for Ole Miss last year. This season, he is fourth in total catches through three games.

The worrisome thing about Alabama is that it's allowing more than 100 rushing yards per game. That's the matchup that could decide this game because Ole Miss, led by tailback Jeff Scott, is second in the SEC in rushing.

Of course, Alabama has the J-Boys - A.J. McCarron and T.J. Yeldon - an offensive line that seems like it is progressing from crawl to walk, and receivers second to none.

All this being said, there is one true key to the outcome of this game - Bo Wallace. He is a talented dual-threat quarterback and has all the weapons around him to pull off an upset. But he has not yet delivered in a major game.

If he plays like the guy last year that threw first and thought second, the outcome will be predictable. But if he plays like the guy this year who has been savvy, cool and confident, we'll be talking about Ole Miss as a team that has arrived to the big time.

LSU at Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

It must be the weekend of really talented quarterbacks who are finally putting it together. Before Wallace tests his mettle against Alabama, Zach Mettenberger will have a homecoming in Athens.

Consider this a faceoff of the best two quarterback prospects the NFL's unofficial minor league has to offer.

LSU and Georgia are third and fourth in the SEC in scoring this season, but don't look for this game to turn into a shootout. Unlike the Bulldogs, the Bayou Bengals can actually play defense. LSU has just three interceptions this season, but it's three times as many as Georgia.

The Georgia defense is gaining a reputation for having a lot of talent and playing with very little discipline. That's a problem because the five guys protecting Mettenberger and Co. are as good as anyone in the country, and they play with a mean streak.

If the Bulldogs want any chance to win this game, they better have a sterling start. The Tigers have outscored opponents 62-3 in the first quarter, and they haven't trailed an opponent for a single second all season.

Home field advantage? Not so much. Georgia is 31-45-2 against ranked opponents in Athens. Dawgs fans probably knew that, and they're probably tired of hearing it. Sorry.

There's life outside the SEC?

South Alabama at Tennessee, 12:21 p.m. ET Saturday

In successive weeks Hot Reads touted Tennessee as a team that could hang with Oregon and probably beat Florida.

After they got dump-trucked each time, I felt like the guy that sees his girlfriend without makeup for the first time and goes "Whaaaaa…"

An upset against South Alabama? Don't laugh.

It doesn't seem likely since the Volunteers have never lost to a Sun Belt team. But the Jaguars have a decent offense and a decent defense. Tennessee can claim neither of those things.

The Jags have a little confidence coming off two straight wins, the most recent against Western Kentucky. You may remember the Hilltoppers have already beaten an SEC team this season. It was Kentucky, but whatevs.

Knoxville has been a brutal place for coaches to survive recently.

Someone remind me again. Why'd they fire Phillip Fulmer?

Stat of the Week

+11: Arkansas is leading the SEC in sacks per game and sacks allowed per game, making it the only team in the country to lead its conference in both categories. The plus-11 differential is the highest in the league and third-highest in the FBS.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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