Here are some things to watch in the final week of the Southeastern Conference regular season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: The Iron Bowl. There are plenty of solid rivalry games this week, but it doesn’t get any better than No. 1 Alabama (No. 1 CFP) at No. 6 Auburn (No. 6 CFP). The stakes are high: The winner will finish on top of the SEC’s Western Division and earn a spot in the conference title game against Georgia. Both teams are also fighting for position in the College Football Playoff rankings. Alabama is undefeated this season while Auburn has looked very impressive over the past month, especially in its win over East Division champion Georgia on Nov. 11.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK: Georgia Tech’s running game vs. Georgia’s run defense: Georgia Tech ranks fourth among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in yards rushing per game (319.3) and 14th in yards per carry (5.45). No. 7 Georgia (No. 7 CFP) ranks sixth nationally in run defense and has allowed only 105.6 yards rushing per game. Georgia Tech has two 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback TaQuon Marshall and KirVonte Benson. Georgia’s Roquan Smith is a finalist for the Butkus Award given each year to the nation’s top linebacker and the Bednarik Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive player. The Yellow Jackets need to win to become bowl eligible.
NUMBERS GAME: Auburn is averaging 43 points and Alabama has 41.9 points per game in SEC competition this year. That makes them the highest-scoring SEC teams in league play since Florida’s 2008 national championship team averaged 44.9 points in its conference games. …Missouri is bowl eligible and appears on its way to becoming just the 12th team ever to earn a bowl bid after starting a season 1-5. The only SEC team to accomplish that feat was Mississippi in 1983. … This marks the seventh straight season that Alabama has at least 11 wins. … This is the first time since 1959 that Florida and Florida State both carried losing records into their annual matchup. … Georgia’s Nick Chubb could move into second place on the SEC’s career rushing list with a big game against Georgia Tech. Chubb has 4,469 career yards rushing to rank fourth. Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (2005-07) is second with 4,590 and LSU’s Kevin Faulk (1995-98) is third with 4,557. The SEC career rushing leader is Georgia’s Herschel Walker (1980-82) with 5,259 yards. … Tennessee heads into Saturday’s game with Vanderbilt trying to avoid its first eight-loss season ever and is attempting to avoid finishing winless in SEC play for the first time since the league’s formation in 1933. … Vanderbilt is seeking to avoid going winless in SEC competition for the 20th time since 1960.
UPSET WATCH: Louisville is a 10-point favorite on the road against Kentucky in the Governor’s Cup. The Cardinals will have the best player on the field in QB Lamar Jackson, but Kentucky won last year’s game and this time get to host the rivalry. … Georgia is an 11-point favorite on the road against Georgia Tech. That might be generous considering the Yellow Jackets have won two of the past three games and the past four games have all been decided by less than a touchdown.
IMPACT PERFORMER: One of Alabama’s biggest strengths over the years has been its extraordinary depth, but the team statistics reveal how critical Calvin Ridley is to the Crimson Tide’s receiving corps. Ridley has four times as many catches and more than four times as many yards receiving as any of his teammates. Ridley has caught 52 passes for 858 yards and three touchdowns this season. Ranking second on the team in catches is Cam Sims with 13. The No. 2 Alabama player in yards receiving is Jerry Jeudy with 208.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.