Georgia Tennessee Football

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt will try to end Nick Saban's streak of 22 consecutive wins without a loss against his former assistants when the Volunteers host Alabama on Saturday afternoon.(AP Photo/Wade Payne, File) ORG XMIT: NYDD209

SEC Power Rankings

Week 5 of the Southeastern Conference schedule brings another juggling act that has just eight members of the 14-team league taking the field. Two games were moved back to next week and one was moved up to this week as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks. Still, there are some intriguing games even if nothing matches the buildup to last week's Alabama-Georgia showdown. Alabama, the last unbeaten team in the SEC following its impressive second-half rolling of Georgia, is one of six teams playing Saturday that will reach the midpoint of its truncated schedule. Bama will try to maintain its grip on the SEC West race when it visits Tennessee, which is just trying to get back on track after dropping its last two — including last week's sloppy home loss to Kentucky. On the other hand, two teams that have come on lately — South Carolina and Kentucky — try to take another step forward. South Carolina looks to upend an SEC West team for the second week in a row and secure a third straight win overall when it visits LSU after topping Auburn; Kentucky also goes for three in a row when it hosts Missouri, which gets back on the field after having a week off to savor its huge win over LSU.

Sheldon Mickles

1. ALABAMA

RECORD: 4-0

PRV. RANK: 1

THIS WEEK: at Tennessee, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS

LINE: Alabama by 21

STORYLINE: For the fourth consecutive week, Nick Saban faces one of his former assistants in third-year Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. Saban has won those three games this season over Jimbo Fisher, Lane Kiffin and Kirby Smart by an average of 20 points and is now 22-0 all-time against his former pupils.

2. GEORGIA

RECORD: 3-1

PRV. RANK: 2

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: N/A

LINE: N/A

STORYLINE: Georgia was on a nice roll after starting the season with an unproductive first half in an eventual win over Arkansas on Sept. 26. But its hot offensive streak came to a grinding halt when Alabama pitched a second-half shutout and won 41-24. An open date comes at a good time for the Bulldogs.

3. TEXAS A&M

RECORD: 3-1

PRV. RANK: 3

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: N/A

LINE: N/A

STORYLINE: Like Georgia, Texas A&M has an open date Saturday. Unlike the Bulldogs, however, the Aggies would like to play on after climbing into the Top 10 of the polls with back-to-back wins over Florida and Mississippi State. But the rest will be good with what looks to be a favorable six-game closing stretch coming.

4. FLORIDA

RECORD: 2-1

PRV. RANK: 4

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: N/A

LINE: N/A

STORYLINE: Because of the scheduling switch to accommodate a COVID outbreak among its team and staff, Florida will have a second consecutive open date after its game with Missouri was moved to next week. The only problem is the Gators' longstanding open date before the Georgia game is gone.

5. KENTUCKY

RECORD: 2-2

PRV. RANK: 8

THIS WEEK: at Missouri, 3 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Kentucky by 5½

STORYLINE: Fueled by an aggressive defense, Kentucky has allowed just nine points in its past two games against Mississippi State and Tennessee — and two of those came on a safety. The big turnaround came after the Wildcats gave up 42 points and fell to Ole Miss on a missed extra point in overtime.

6. AUBURN

RECORD: 2-2

PRV. RANK: 5

THIS WEEK: at Ole Miss, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Auburn by 3

STORYLINE: Auburn was fortunate in its win over Arkansas, but no help was forthcoming for the Tigers in their sloppy setback at South Carolina last weekend. Now, with Gus Malzahn sitting firmly on the hot seat once again, Auburn has come to a major crossroads and faces a must-win matchup with Ole Miss.

7. SOUTH CAROLINA

RECORD: 2-2

PRV. RANK: 10

THIS WEEK: at LSU, 6 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: LSU by 7

STORYLINE: Unlike LSU, South Carolina found the cure for an 0-2 start when it crushed Vanderbilt two weeks ago. But after thumping the Commodores by the same score (41-7) the Tigers did one week earlier, the Gamecocks capitalized on it and took care of business against Auburn. Can they do it again at LSU?

8. ARKANSAS

RECORD: 2-2

PRV. RANK: 12

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: N/A

LINE: N/A

STORYLINE: The jury is still out on Arkansas since its two wins have come at the expense of two 1-3 teams — Mississippi State and Ole Miss. But you still have to give credit to the Razorbacks for putting up a fight for a half against Georgia and what should have been a win on the road against Auburn.

9. LSU

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 7

THIS WEEK: vs. South Carolina, 6 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: LSU by 7

STORYLINE: LSU hasn't faced the most daunting schedule, but yet the Tigers are 1-2 and searching for answers on both sides of the ball. They'll likely start a freshman quarterback against South Carolina, but the defense will have to provide some help after getting mauled in two of its first three games.

10. TENNESSEE

RECORD: 2-2

PRV. RANK: 6

THIS WEEK: vs. Alabama, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS

LINE: Alabama by 21

STORYLINE: Tennessee thought it was on the right track when it rose to 14th in the AP poll and 12th in the coaches poll following a 2-0 start. But a 44-21 setback to Georgia, in which the Vols fell apart in the second half, led to an unsightly 34-7 home loss to Kentucky last week. Now, Alabama could deliver more rocky times.

11. OLE MISS

RECORD: 1-3

PRV. RANK: 9

THIS WEEK: vs. Auburn, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Auburn by 3

STORYLINE: Could it be just two weeks ago that Ole Miss threw a scare into Alabama and played the Crimson Tide on even terms for more than three quarters? All the air went out of the Rebels that night and they were flat when facing a tough Arkansas defense last week. That makes this a big one for Lane Kiffin's crew.

12. MISSOURI

RECORD: 1-2

PRV. RANK: 11

THIS WEEK: vs. Kentucky, 3 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Kentucky by 5½

STORYLINE: After its huge victory over LSU, Missouri had an unexpected open date when the Vanderbilt game was postponed. That means Mizzou will be well-rested for an important matchup with a surging Kentucky team that blew the doors off Tennessee on the road last week.

13. MISSISSIPPI STATE

RECORD: 1-3

PRV. RANK: 13

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: N/A

LINE: N/A

STORYLINE: Since shredding the LSU defense for 623 yards passing and 44 points in its opener, Mike Leach's offense has just 817 yards through the air and produced 21 points in its last three games after putting 17 points on the Tiger Stadium scoreboards in the final quarter. It can't be a fun time for Leach.

14. VANDERBILT

RECORD: 0-3

PRV. RANK: 14

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: N/A

LINE: N/A

STORYLINE: Vanderbilt is getting a second straight week off after dropping back-to-back games to LSU and South Carolina by identical 41-7 scores — both at home. While the Commodores need to get everyone healthy from a COVID outbreak, they desperately needed a respite from the field.

Email Sheldon Mickles at smickles@theadvocate.com