Five SEC coaches on hot seat in 2017 – Fox Sports

Five SEC coaches are among the top 12 college football coaches who should be looking over their shoulder come 2017, FoxSports.com has said.

They are:

  • Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M)
  • Gus Malzahn (Auburn)
  • Butch Jones (Tennessee)
  • Bret Bielema (Arkansas)
  • Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss)

Among the things blamed were late season collapses in 2016 (all of these except for Freeze), and an atmosphere of uncertainty around the Ole Miss program – especially bearing in mind worries about the potential NCAA sanctions stemming from a string of alleged misbehaviours from the Ole Miss staff – including paying players.

Sumlin’s below-par performances at the back-end of the season and the inability of Texas A&M to beat big division rivals (ie Alabama and LSU)  lately has certainly warmed his seat, while Bret Bielema’s not exactly loved at Arkansas at the moment – especially after the season’s catastrophic loss to Missouri. Gus Malzahn is the

Gus Malzahn is the strangest for us. Fox Sports.com said: “Then the Sugar Bowl happened. Then his highly regarded offensive coordinator left for less money at UConn. It’s all setting up for the 2017 season to be just as rocky as 2016, and there’s no guarantee Gus will survive that ride.”  It wasn’t a surprise that Auburn lost to Oklahoma as it was Auburn losing to Georgia earlier in the season, which was perhaps a far bigger sin in our eyes. The fact that Auburn’s offensive co-ordinator Rhett Lashlee went to UConn seemed to be a strange decision. Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich was thought to be a contender, only for news to come through that he’s pulled himself out of contention.

 

So if you follow us on Twitter (@SECBlog), you’ll know that when we asked the simple question “Would non-Alabama fans root for Alabama in the National Championship Game?”, only one or two out of 40 replies said: “Yes”. Other answers ranged from rooting for terrorist factions before Alabama, or going through the punishment Mel Gibson went through in Braveheart before rooting for the Crimson Tide.

Well, here’s the fact, Alabama haters: The Alabama Crimson Tide are unbeaten, and back in their second National Title game in a row. They’ve won over 20 games on the bounce and this year’s batch looks absolutely frightening. This year the Tide are again playing Clemson, and Vegas has made them a 6-1/2 point favorite, going upwards from an open of six after they comfortably smothered Washington 24-7 in the Peach Bowl.

Here are our Top 5 points.

1. Clemson offensive line vs Alabama defense

The starting question’s normally about the stars, but actually, the biggest question is whether Clemson’s offensive line will be able to stop Alabama’s defense. If they don’t, then we might as well call this game over because DeShaun Watson’s going to be running like DeSean Jackson….to stop himself getting killed. The big deal will be whether Clemson can stop them long enough to help the team get into easier yardage situations to collect first downs – although it’s well-noted that 3rd and 4 against Alabama is like 3rd and 14 against normal defenses. Teams have converted 13% against Bama on 3rd and 4. That’s scary. Or scary good, if you’re Jeremy Pruitt. Alabama’s defense has the stars in Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster.

2. A tale of quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts is definitely an electric runner. We know that because he has 891 rushing yards and 12 TDs. He can also throw – 2620 and 21 TDs. But because he’s a freshman, you can always count on him making mistakes, and he’s done so with regularity, throwing 9 picks this season. And against Washington, he threw one awful ball that should have been picked off by Washington safety Budda Baker.

And although Deshaun Watson’s had a great season (4,173 yards, 38 TDs), he’s actually been a bit of downgrade since 2015, at times not looking the offensive dream that ripped the Tide to shreds in the 2016 Natty. And you know what’s really gotten worse? His interceptions. He’s thrown 19 INTs (as opposed to 13 in 2015), including 4 picks in the last three games (including two against Ohio State), and the four teams NOT to pick him off in 2016 were mighty South Carolina State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Boston College. And in the ‘monster games’ (Louisville, Florida State and Ohio State), he threw for at least two picks in each game. The good thing for him is that he had a defense to bail him out. If he screws up like this against Alabama, arguably you see one go back for a pick six, and Alabama’s offense probably ending costing the Tigers.

But as runner, Watson is still electric – he’s run for 581 yards and 8 TDs this year – but that’s nearly half of the season before. Was that ACC defenses adjusting or was that simply that he wanted to prep himself for the NFL as more of a pocket passer? We haven’t a clue.

3. Alabama’s running backs should show

Alabama’s running back coupling of Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough (as well as Hurts too) are downright scary. Scarborough’s averaging 6.6 per carry and has scored 9 TDs, while Harris has gone over the 1,000 yard mark himself. Scarborough’s been big in the last three games of the  year, rushing for a nasty 90 yards, 91 yards and 180 yards against Auburn, Florida and Washington – all three of them very reputable rushing defenses who couldn’t deal with a man mountain hammering into them. We think Scarborough gets more of the ball than Harris against Clemson. Clemson gave up 123.1 yards per game in the regular season, and the way they reduced Ohio State to just 88 rushing yards will certaintly give them confidence. But Hurts will be a worry for Clemson – they gave up 273 yards on the ground to Lemar Jackson of Louisville, and we think Hurts – with the offensive line he has – could have over 100 yards on Monday.

On Clemson’s side, it would be foolish to run at Alabama, but Wayne Gallman will try it. Gallman had 85 yards against Ohio State and 82 against Florida State, but Alabama’s a whole other beast. This could be his worst day of the year (OK, he might outdo his 36 against Pittsburgh but still).

4. Alabama’s corners and safeties had better be ready for Clemson’s receivers.

As much as has been made of Alabama’s knack of grabbing INTs, with Minkah Fitzpatrick leading the way with 6, arguably they are going to face a different beast than they’ve faced all season long – especially with a better quarterback than they’ve faced all season long – in Clemson. Mike Williams is 6-4 and has 10 TDs, Deoin Cain is 6-2 and is fast, Hunter Renfrow has great hands, and 6-5 TE Jordan Leggett’s got great hands,  as a tight end, too (although we think Leggett will spend most of his time trying to stop Watson getting killed). You can expect Watson to go long on Fitzpatrick & Co to see if he can get an advantage early on, and push him back, leaving room for Leggett and Renfro to (maybe) give Alabama problems. That said, Alabama’s linebackers have great hands, too.

5. So who’s going to win? 

Alabama will stay perfect and win by 10. But it’ll be close until midway through the fourth quarter, when Alabama will pull away.

 

Who’s going to win Alabama vs Washington?

I sorted of jumped around in my seat when I saw that Vegas had narrowed the prediction of Alabama’s margin-of-victory to under two touchdowns before their College Football Play-Off game with Washington in Atlanta.

There are no doubts that Washington’s a good side. Their sole loss of the season – to a USC side that probably would be playing in its place if the Trojans had had any early season form (they were good for about a quarter against Alabama on Opening Saturday!) – wasn’t great, but otherwise, Chris Petersen’s side was effective.

All the odds stack up in Alabama’s favour. It’s defense – Nick Saban’s pride and joy – is the best in the country. Washington will give you a chance, but their secondary feasts on stupid decisions by quarterbacks. They had 19 interceptions in the regular (plus Pac-12 Championship Game) season. Alabama’s defense is downright FREAKY – its linebackers and secondary players seem to average a touchdown and a Pick-6 EVERY SINGLE GAME.

On  the offensive side, Alabama’s offensive line is – as we know – incredible, and everyone from Bo Scarborough – who’s going to battle it out for a Heisman in 2017 to Calvin Ridley to OJ Howard are frigteningly good. Washington has playmaker John Ross who can destoy a mistake-making secondary, but wouldn’t Nick Saban have focused on ways for him NOT TO GET THE BALL?

The question will be, then: Who is the quarterback to avoid those problems. Jake Browning, if we’re honest, hasn’t really been the same since he was torched against USC for two interceptions and safety, while Jalen Hurts has been convincing all season. Of course, there have been moments that he’s given up the odd stupid INT, but with the offensive line as it is, I sincerely doubt that Washington’s going to get the pressure.

PREDICTION: Alabama by 21 and the only reason why it’s that close is that Saban shows respect for Petersen.

And Ohio State vs Clemson is going to be a battle royale between two great teams. If it was on coaches alone, we’d take Urban Meyer every time, but Clemson  has a better quarterback, more talented receivers, and an attacking defense and more’s the case, has got a team that’s been there before. The problem with Clemson is that Dabo Swinney can see his team take a big lead, and then becomes far more conservative, which in fact ended up hurting him in the National Championship and several games this season. It would be wise of him not to do that against the Buckeyes.

PREDICTION: Clemson by 5 in AN INSTANT CLASSIC.

Georgia star RBs, LBs return for senior year

Georgia star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will return for their senior years, giving second-year head coach Kirby Smart a massive boost going into the 2017 season.

Added to that is the news that Smart’s defense will be boosted by the announcement that offensive linebackers Lorenzo Smart and Davin Bellamy will also return.

Last year Chubb had 988 yards and 7 TDs on 207 carries, averaging at nearly 5 yards a carry. Michel had 753 yards on 137 carries with 3 TDs.

Carter had 37 total tackles including 17 solo tackles, while Bellamy had 49 tackles and 4 sacks and one pass defended.

Lane Kiffin to leave Alabama, reports say

Lane Kiffin is to leave his job of offensive coordinator at Alabama to become the new head coach of Florida Atlantic, multiple reports have said.

Florida Atlantic will apparently pay Kiffin $1 million-per-year – a near-30% drop – from the $1.4 million-per-year he’s being paid by Nick Saban.

Kiffin was praised by legendary Miami and Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger who told Fox Sports: “He was a great player, himself, and a fine coach. He’s got a good track record and he’s qualified.

Kiffin will continue to coach the school during the College Football Play-Off – in which Alabama is an overwhelming favorite to take home the title. Nick Saban was supportive of the move.

We think this is a wonderful opportunity for him,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job here.”

It’s weird and wonderful that this news comes just a day after the SEC Blog wrote the article: Why can’t Lane Kiffin get a head coaching job?

 

 

 

Why can’t Lane Kiffin get a head coaching job?

This year the rumors were hotter than ever that Lane Kiffin would get a prized coaching job. And even hotter that they would be in Houston, following Tom Herman’s decision to go to Texas to be the new head coach.

It looked a slam-dunk. The good people at USA Today reported so. And then suddenly, there was a U-Turn in the Houston ranks, who instead decided on former UH offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to be the head coach.

The school’s logic? Houston’s board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta (great name, by the way sir) called into a radio station and said: ‘”Lane Kiffin did not show me anything that Major Applewhite did not show me. Sure, he’s been a head coach, and he’s been an OK head coach. But I can tell you this: It was not a safe hire.”

OK, so what did he mean by safe hire?

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about really being an ‘OK head coach’?  At Tennessee he moved the Vols from a 5-7 record to a 7-6 record, but his mouthing-off about Alabama and Florida didn’t help him when lost to them. And there seemed to be a bunch of hope. So when he left for SC, Kiffin was actually better than most people believe at USC – particularly after the postseason bans and loss of scholarship players in the 2010 season that dropped his would-be 85 scholarship players to just 71….and he came with an 8-5 record. The next season – with another bowl ban – USC had a 10-2 record. In 2012, he showed a lot of self-confidence — even voting the Trojans to No.1 in a preseason poll….and finished with an 8-5 record. In 2013, the most famous move for him was being fired at LAX after starting the season with a 4-7 record. And as an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too. But there is this fact: In two out of three of his head coaching jobs, Kiffin has been fired. And both of them have been unceremonious. Houston probably couldn’t face a controversy like that again.

….But he’s proved to be excellent offensive coordinator… As an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about loyalty? The University of Houston probably looked at Kiffin’s one-stop ‘drop’ of Tennessee (and the way he did it) and thought to themselves: ‘As soon as ‘bigger job’ comes up, he’ll walk. And we don’t want to be seen as a ‘feeder school’ to big-time programs.

But remember this… Kiffin was fired at the Oakland Raiders. And he was fired at the Trojans. He didn’t leave them.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his mouth and actions? OK, so here’s the problem that Houston probably thought about Lane Kiffin. While every time you’ve seen Kiffin on the sidelines next to Nick Saban, Saban’s been the one giving out the abuse (Kiffin’s taken it…much to my admiration, if I’m honest). But that hasn’t always been the case. He was called a ‘flat-out liar’ by Oakland’s ownership in 2008 because the rumors were floating about his considering college football roles…and then he denied it. That probably didn’t score any points with the Houston guys. Then, there was his arrival in Tennessee, when not only did he say in an overly-confident arrival that he would beat Florida and Alabama (he didn’t), but a few weeks after said that Urban Meyer – then the Florida coach – of cheating and NCAA violations. That probably didn’t go down well. Then he was rude about other SEC competitors.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his actions? And speaking of actions, there have been a bunch of accusations  – that we won’t print – about Lane Kiffin’s off-the-field behavior that certain boards of regents might be unhappy with. But then again, Major Applewhite didn’t exactly do himself any favors in that department, either.

So how will it play out? We don’t know. Kiffin’s obviously an offensive genius but he’s got the hirers really, really worried about his mouth, his history with ownership, leadership, and SEC and NCAA administrators when a head coach. Nick Saban has openly supported Lane Kiffin finding a head coaching job, and has said that he’s ‘ready again’ to take the job. That’s an excellent reference if you ask us. Florida Atlantic are said to be going for Kiffin, but the talks have stalled. How does this blog think things will go? Kiffin will stay for another year as OC of Alabama. And God Help Us All. 

Hey guys, if you believe the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Florida’s going to be close, then you’re either a really, really overly-confident Florida fan, or a Florida fan who’s taken a lot of LSD.

Alabama will win, and Alabama will probably win big.

They won’t win so big – in the way that they destroyed Florida last year – and Missouri the year before – because Florida has some sort of defense that maybe will keep Hurts from putting on the hurt (see what we did there?) for the first quarter-and-a-half.

If there are Alabama fans who insist to you (because it’s ‘important to be humble’) that it could be close because of all the injuries the team has, I want to throw this out there:

How is it that every time there’s been a difficult injury to Alabama, they’ve generally managed to rebound in time for a big game, and then play the game of their lives? I can think of star safety Eddie Jackson. Bo Scarborough suffered an injury against Chatanooga that had people pretty scared, until he ran over people against Auburn. Guys, when Nick Saban’s warning the media that the team’s got some injuries and how’s it’s a modern miracle that the team has come this far, please don’t know he’s taking the media for a spin. Or he’s talking B.S., if you want to put it like that. He’s trying to seem humble, when he really knows that Alabama should beat the living crap out of this Florida team.

And we think they will do.

PREDICTION: Alabama 45, Florida 6. 

Here are some other games that might interest you:

  • Clemson vs Virginia Tech: We hate the fact that the game was moved to Orlando from Charlotte. Not because of the principles of the political matter, but because it was moved to frickin’ Charlotte. Why couldn’t have the game have been moved to Tennessee or Jacksonville or someone else? Orlando’s a shitty place for both sides to get to. Anyway, about the game. Virginia Tech has done well against teams it has no business doing well again, and it’s punished teams that have made mistakes (we see you, Notre Dame). The problem with Virginia Tech is that they turn over the ball too much – and this will be against a Clemson team who WILL punish teams for doing so. The offense is finding its mojo again, but the opposition will be far more superior to what they’ve faced the last two weeks. PREDICTION: Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 21.
  • Wisconsin vs Penn State: We were talking to a buddy of ours who writes for Penn State’s 24-7 website, and he says that the best battle of the day will be Penn State’s lightning receivers against Wisconsin’s DBs. My argument would be whether Penn State’s offensive line can give Saquon Barkley (check out the highlights, people – he’s awesome! (He was offered by Ohio State, Notre Dame and Missouri (amongst others)), and whether Barkley is fit. Also, whether Wisconsin’s offensive line can be troubled by Penn State’s defenses. Both defenses can brawl. This will be low-scoring. PREDICTION: Wisconsin 20, Penn State 10. 
  • Washington vs Colorado: We wish the game was played on January 2nd, because the smell in the parking lot would have been AWESOME. Joking apart, we expect Washington to win pretty comfortably  I know, I know, everybody would love to see the Buffs win (including ESPN’s Chris Fowler), but I just can’t see it. PREDICTION: Washington 45, Colorado 10. 
  • Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma: A de facto Big XII Championship Game between two sides who are pretty fun to watch. It’s called ‘Bedlam’, because it’s an awesome name for a rivalry. It’s been close over the last five years (OU leads 3-2), but Oklahoma has absolutely owned Oklahoma State, leading Bedlam in not particularly Bedlam-esque fashion, 85-18-7. What was pointed out by SB Nation’s ‘Shutdown Fullcast’ is that the reason why it should be a lot of fun is that both sides will be looking to win and impress the Play-Off Committee, so you can expect a high-scoring game. Although they also noted the Big XII’s chances of making it TO the play-off has gone by the wayside – particularly with the conference’s dismal OOC record. PREDICTION: Oklahoma 55, Oklahoma State 45. 

Ed Orgeron named LSU head coach

Ed Orgeron has been named as the head coach of LSU after a crazy Thanksgiving period.

On Thursday – before LSU’s visit and subsequent demolition of Texas A&M – there were rumors that Tom Herman, the much-sought-after Houston coach would be departing for Baton Rouge and was just about to pen a deal.

Joe Alleva tried to put messages out to the media saying that no discussion whatsoever had happened. LSU then crushed A&M 54-39 in a win that was even more dominant than that (the Aggies got their touchdown in the dying seconds), playing without Leonard Fournette, Arlen Key and a number of other stars. The players started cheering for Alleva and his staff to ‘Keep Coach O’, who is one of the most popular figures on the LSU staff. He took over as interim head coach after Les Miles was fired after the Tigers’ loss at Auburn.

Anyway, then came the rumor mill that Herman would not only meet with LSU but also meet with Texas. Texas was crushed at home by TCU on Friday, which basically – after the Kansas debacle 6 days’ beforehand – said goodbye to Longhorns coach Charlie Strong. Herman, who was a graduate assistant in Austin in 1999-2000, was known by then to be leaving his spot in Houston – a matter not helped by Houston’s hilarious loss to Memphis (This season, the Cougars have managed to defeat Oklahoma and Louisville and lose to SMU, Navy and Memphis. Yeah, we don’t get it either).

Herman was said to have a ‘heavy lean’ towards Texas  – who has the bigger financial firepower than LSU.

Orgeron’s plight was also helped by the fact that LSU stretched out to Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher….. And their hand was pushed back.

So LSU went ahead and named Orgeron their head coach, and the reaction has been incredibly positive so far from LSU fans and the media alike.

 

It’s THAT weekend again, which means that either you are going to have drunken yourself into a stupor by the time Rivalry Weekend comes around, or most of your Thursday-or-Friday-or-Saturday will be spent either talking crap at tailgates or talking crap while being stuck in traffic.

A couple of weekends ago it was set to be a tremendous Iron Bowl, and then Auburn went and lost to a crappy Georgia team, while the SEC East looked really interesting. Now, Florida can afford to get thumped by Florida State and have the excuse: “We were resting folks for the SEC Championship Game” (where they’ll get shellacked anyway). Still, almost every game involving a SEC team should be interesting this week -which is more than can be said for Week 12. You know, apart from the Vanderbilt game. HOLY CRAP DID ANY OF YOU SEE VANDY BEAT OLE MISS LIKE THAT?

So here we go…..(in order of day)

THURSDAY

LSU vs Texas A&M

This is a battle for the two of the biggest let-downs of the season. LSU let us down from the moment they lost to Wisconsin, while Texas A&M had a great start to the season, and then lost handily to mighty Mississippi State. This will probably be the last game we say goodbye to Leonard Fournette and Myles Garrett, so the match-up will be worth watching when you get bored of the ad break that is the NFL. LSU’s a road favorite in Kyle Field  – but after watching their awful offensive performance against an undermanned Florida we have one question: Why?

PREDICTION: LSU’s a 6-1/2 point favorite. We’re taking Texas A&M to win outright. 

FRIDAY

Arkansas vs Missouri

The great thing about this game is that (probably) not a lot of people will be watching it, so the CBS guys can pretty much talk about the Iron Bowl. The most interesting thing to come out of Missouri this week is that the NCAA is investigating the school for academic fraud – which should fit it in nicely with a lot of other SEC schools. Joking apart,  Missouri fans will be wanting this game – and their seasons – over with bearing in mind the defense’s failures and the news that livewire running back Damarea Crockett had been arrested for pot and banned for this game, which will give the crowd in Columbia even less reason to be excited. Arkansas, on the other hand, ain’t great either.

PREDICTION: The Crockett loss will be huge for Missouri. Arkansas is favored by 8. We predict they’ll beat that nicely.

SATURDAY 

  1. No.13 Auburn at No.1 Alabama (3.30pm) 

Nick Saban wasn’t too pleased about how Alabama played against Tennessee-Chatanooga, and for very good reason….the Crimson Tide was awful. But does this mean that the No.1 team in the nation – who has been imperious all season long – will underestimate their hated rival? No. Auburn’s definitely improved on both sides of the ball as the season has gone on, but they really need Shaun White to come back from injury to get the team going again. Jeremy Johnson was able against Alabama A&M, but then again Gus Malzahn himself could have thrown for a couple of TDs bearing in mind the opposition. As for Alabama, this is a pretty beaten up team, but they’ll be fine come Iron Bowl. They always are!

PREDICTION: Alabama’s a 17 point home favorite. We think they win by 3 touchdowns. 

2. South Carolina at No.2 Clemson (7.30 pm) 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked whether he planned to rest players for South Carolina game prior to the ACC Championship Game in Orlando. He looked the reporter in the eye and said: ‘You’re obviously not from South Carolina‘. Funnily enough, Dabo’s not either…..he’s from Birmingham, Alabama (but that’s another point entirely). ANYWAY, with all that said and done, he’s gonna have a damned fired up Clemson team to face South Carolina in the other Death Valley. If Clemson play as well as they are capable of (and don’t take their foot off the gas) they’ll win this easily.

PREDICTION: Clemson’s a 23-1/2 point favorite. We think Clemson wins by 24. But it’ll be one of the most interesting games of the day from a betting point-of-view, we can tell you.

3. Kentucky at No.11 Louisville

The Governor’s Cup game is high on the list because of Lamar Jackson – and no other real reason. If Jackson puts up a ton of points and touchdowns, then it’ll be difficult not to put him in the Top Three for New York, if not the No.1. Not because Kentucky’s incredible, but it’s because it will cap an incredible season. After Louisville’s O-Line was mauled all night long by future NFLer Ed Oliver and the Louisville defensive line, it’ll be interesting to see if Kentucky can get the same sort of pressure.

PREDICTION: The bookies don’t seem to think so, with Louisville at 25-point favorite. I’ll take Louisville to win, but by 14 in a game that’s close until the final quarter.

4. No.13 Florida at No.14 Florida State (8pm)

After their stunning victory at LSU despite the Tigers living in their red-zone, Florida will be really excited to go into Tallahassee to play their ultra-hated rival. The Gators have the annoying ‘Gator Chomp, while the Seminoles have the annoying ‘Tomahawk Chop’ (or whatever they call it). Florida hasn’t beaten FSU since 2012 and has only won once in the last six years, and this doesn’t look an opportune time to change.

PREDICTION: Florida State’s a 7 game favorite. We’ll take FSU by 10 or more.

5. Georgia Tech at Georgia (12pm) 

The Georgia – Georgia Tech game’s got one of the best names for a rivalry around: “Clean, Ole Fashioned Hate”. Georgia will be looking for revenge after the last time Tech went to Georgia and won at Sanford in overtime 30-24. The great things for the neutral is that the last three games have been very close (2015 was decided by 6, 2014 and 2013 went to overtime and double overtime respectively). This year, it’ll be intriguing to see how both sides rev themselves us for a rivalry where pride is TRULY on the line, bearing in mind both sides are 7-4 and out of contention in their conferences. Seriously, this one’s all about record. Won’t stop the fans liking each other any less, though.

PREDICTION: Georgia’s a 4-point favorite. We’ll take Georgia in the ‘over’. 

6. Mississippi State at Ole Miss (3.30 pm) 

The Egg Bowl has been christened by some cruel people ‘The Rotten Egg Bowl’ bearing in mind how bad the football has been in The Magnolia State this year. Of course, for every close (loss) Ole Miss has had (and there have been another) there has been getting beaten by three touchdowns by Vanderbilt. For every win over Texas A&M that Mississippi State has stunned the world with, there’s been a South Alabama, and a Kentucky. Listen, we still think Nick Fitzgerald’s a great quarterback and Shea Patterson’s a lot of fun to watch, but the rest of this game could be one for the bourbon. Just to get you through it.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is an 8-point favorite. We’ll take Ole Miss by a field goal in an under-the-radar awful-come-classic. 

 

I love the SEC as much as anybody, but I hate it when the schools decide that the weekend before Thanksgiving is going to be THE WEEKEND to play garbage.

I know, I know. The protector of such massive games such as Alabama A&M’s visit to Auburn will beg you to look at what nearly happened to Auburn against Jacksonville State last year, or what DID happen to Mississippi State against South Alabama. Or what happened to Arkansas against Toledo last year. ‘Hey, Alabama once got beaten by UAB’, another fan will tell us.

The fact is this: Alabama ain’t gonna get beaten by Chattanooga, Austin Peay ain’t gonna conquer Kentucky, Western Carolina probably won’t stop South Carolina, and we don’t see UTSA beating Texas A&M. The only that’s possibly interesting is Louisiana Lafayette’s game against Georgia – and that’s because UGA was so goddawful against Nicholls State. Sorry about the spreads this week, folks. They ain’t worth the effort. Rather like watching the games themselves (if Georgia loses to ULL in a ‘blackout’ game it will be funny, though)….

So here are the SEC games that are on offer. And it’s hardly run-to-the-TV to watch these, either (outside of LSU vs Florida). Once again, we order them in terms of interestingness….

  1. No.23 Florida vs No.16 LSU

By now, you understand the background to this game: It was meant to be played much earlier in the year in Gainseville (where it probably would have meant a hell of a lot more), but Hurricane Matthew stopped that happening. Anyway, LSU has been greatly improved since Les Miles’ departure, losing one game only, that was to Alabama. Florida’s defense has a lot of NFL-good players on it, but it’s beaten up at the moment, while Leonard Fournette and Darius Guise are looking to continue as one of the best 1-2 punches in college football.

PREDICTION: LSU’s a 14-1/2 point favorite. We’ll take LSU by 14 as the SEC East continues its slide against the SEC West. 

2. Missouri at No. 19 Tennessee 

A lot of people – even the excellent Missouri podcast ‘The Mizzodcast’ doesn’t see a lot of hope in the Tigers winning in the Neyland Stadium, but they sure think it would be funny. They are also a lot happier than they were a week ago after Mizzou finally got its first SEC win in quite a while by defeating Vanderbilt. They’ll be hoping they play the same inconsistent Tennessee team that’s been driving its fans crazy all season long. At times, we’ve seen flashes from the Volunteers that’s made us think ‘play-offs’, and at times we’ve seen flashes from the Vols that’s made us think ‘mediocre’. Well, they are pretty mediocre, but mediocre could still get them a spot in the SEC Championship Game, where they’ll probably lose by 900 to Alabama.

PREDICTION: Tennessee’s a 16-1/2 point favorite and we think the Vols walk this one, winning by 3 touchdowns. Although if there’s money on Missouri being within 3 at half-time….take it. 

3. Arkansas at Mississippi State

Arkansas has been one of the most fun-yet-infuriating teams to watch this season. They’ve looked golden against tough defenses like Florida, yet fell to pieces against LSU’s run. Mississippi State, on the other hand, have looked like crap most of the season….until they blew out Texas A&M in one of the season’s most ununderstandable results. I actually like MSU’s Nick Fitzgerald a lot as a quarterback, but I’m unsure about the rest of the team.

PREDICTION: Mississippi State’s a 1-1/2 point favorite. This could be one of the most secretly entertaining games of the week. We’re taking Arkansas by a field goal. 

4. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Everyone’s fallen in love with Shea Patterson. Including us. Maybe not Texas A&M fans.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is a 10-point favorite against a tough defense. We’re taking Ole Miss to win by 21 with Shea Patterson doing even more Johnny Manziel stuff.

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