Week 3 SEC Preview: Vols-Gators, MSU-LSU

With the destruction of Hurricane Irma still lingering over the State of Florida, there will be a lot of positive sentiment flowing towards the Florida Gators in Week 3. Can they back it up with a good offensive performance against Tennessee?

The SEC Football Blog previews that game and all the others involving SEC teams in our Week 3 preview….

  1. No.23 Tennessee vs No.24 Florida (-5.5): From 2005 to 2016, Tennessee-Florida was hardly a rivalry. Florida won 11 in a row. Sure, 2014 and 2015 had been squeakers, but it just didn’t look as though UT would beat the Gators. Then 2016 happened, and Tennessee romped to a 10-point victory. Suddenly, after Florida fell apart against Michigan on Week 1 (sadly, it’s the last we saw of them because of Hurricane Irma), and Tennessee started the season 2-0, the questions are less about Butch Jones’ coaching ability and more about Jim McElwain’s. Yes, we know that Florida has an incredible defense, and – as Michigan found out – anything disastrous from Tennessee QB Quinten Dormady could result in a Pick-6. Tennessee showed that they can score AND come back from big deficits against Georgia Tech, and the Indiana State game was a predicted slaughter. WR Antonio Callaway and RB Jordan Scarlett will miss the game through suspension (as well as seven other depth players), which has been seen as a bonus. What we think gives Florida an edge is the fact that Florida has The Swamp behind it. With Florida mourning from Irma after the awful hit, the Gators will see it as a moment to fight for the State. And the Vols had better watch out. PREDICTION: Florida by 7.
  2. No. 12 LSU (-7) vs Mississippi State: There haven’t been a lot of teams who have made more impressive starts than LSU, who showed both youth and skill in a lot of places. But as they showed for the last 3 years (including a win with Dak Prescott in Tiger Stadium), this team under Dan Mullen isn’t going to lie down and let LSU give them a geaux-ing over. Last week Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State was very impressive in smashing La. Tech on a road 57-21 in a game many thought could cause the Bulldogs a lot more headaches than actually happened. Fitzgerald could cause this Tiger secondary – who calls itself ‘DBU’ – a lot of problems, and so could Aeris Williams, who’s averaging 7.6 yards per carry this season. So could running backs Jefferey Simmons and Montez Sweat on the other side of the ball. For LSU, Arden Key, LSU’s best pass rusher and future NFL first round pick, is back after injury but Coach O has said that he’s not confident he’ll play the whole game. One of the most interesting factors will be how LSU Derrius Guice deals with a firmer defense than he’s played for the last two games. Guice hasn’t exactly exploded out of the gates so far this year, averaging just 5.3 yards per play on 45 carries. This game could be one of the best SEC games of the year. And one thing’s for certain, we’ll hear a few bells ringing. PREDICTION: LSU by 10 in a game a hell of a lot closer than that until the final few minutes. 
  3. Kentucky at South Carolina (-6.5): Of all the SEC teams, we’ll throw it out there and say South Carolina’s had the most testing of schedules. The NC State game wasn’t easy, going into Missouri wasn’t (meant to be) easy, and now Kentucky, who some people talking about as a vastly improving team, come into Columbia for the Gamecocks’ first game of the season. That ain’t easy. But South Carolina’s 2-0, they dismantled a very good offense in Missouri spectacularly easily, and Jake Bentley’s looking like one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. As for Kentucky, they are 2-0 but haven’t convinced anybody. I like Carolina, and I like Carolina a lot. PREDICTION: South Carolina by 14, smashing the spread.
  4. Ole Miss (-3.5 to 4) vs Cal: If any of these two teams’ defenses have been anything to go by in the last two weeks, then this game should be awesome. Cal gives up 505.5 pts per game, while Ole Miss gives up around 354. Both sides have given up 6 touchdowns this year to pretty terrible opponents. And it’s a 10.30 ET game, and it could be the most spectacularly high-scoring of the night, with the good money on the over/under of 72.5 getting blown out like the marijuana smoke from them Hippies’ lungs up there.  Even Ole Miss’ fan website haven’t a clue about what will happen. That’s what will make it so damned fun. PREDICTION: Ole Miss in a high-scoring crazy one, winning by 10 in a late-night classic (for the record, I think Ole Miss by 10 might be conservative).  
  5. No.18 Kansas State (-4) vs Vanderbilt: Bill Snyder’s team of veterans come into Nashville as a 4-point favorite, and we’re pretty excited about this one, as it could be under-the-radar. Derek Mason’s given this team a lot of hope this year, despite not playing anybody and going 2-0. Kansas State hasn’t played either, so it’ll be interesting. PREDICTION: Vanderbilt wins in the upset. 
  6. Purdue vs Missouri (-7): Things have gotten so bad at Missouri that the Tigers fired their defensive coordinator after just two games into 2017 (If we’re honest, he should have gone after the 2016 debacle, but that’s another story). After their horrific all-around performance against South Carolina (and Purdue’s ‘lucky getaway’ loss against Missouri (it could have been a lot more), there are thoughts that Missouri could be better. Vegas doesn’t seem to think so, making the Tigers only 7 point favorites. If Barry Odom loses this one, prepare for the seat to be set to boiling. PREDICTION: Missouri wins by 14, but no-one’s satisfied.
  7. ULL vs Texas A&M (-24): The world is expecting Texas A&M to rout ULL after they were dropped 66-42 by Tulsa last Saturday, and we’re expecting it too. But to do this, A&M desperately needs an offense. Kevin Sumlin’s still struggling about who will be the QB – Jake Hubenak or Kellen Mond, and the defense is simply struggling. Traeyvon Williams and Keith Ford should keep running the ball down the Ragin Cajuns’ throat all night long, as the Aggies seek a big blow-out victory. PREDICTION: Aggies by 30.
  8. Colorado State vs Alabama (-28.5): Nick Saban seems to believe in the Rams, called Mike Bobo’s team a “really good football team”. Vegas doesn’t seem to, believing the Crimson Tide will win by over four touchdowns. To be fair on Colorado State, a lot of Rams fans believe that they should have had the upset over Colorado in the ‘Weed Bowl’ after blowing out Oregon State in Week 1. The name Crimson Tide fans have got to look for is WR Michael Gallup, who’s a big NFL prospect. We look forward to the Gallup vs Fitzpatrick battle in the secondary…..if QB Nick Stevens is given any time to throw! PREDICTION: Alabama rolls by 31, but it’s a lot easier than that.
  9. Mercer vs No.15 Auburn: After not getting into the end-zone against a beastly Clemson defense, the fanbase will be looking for the Tigers to run up the score against Mercer’s defense who is yet to play a quality opponent. This is their time. PREDICTION: Auburn by 45, leaving Auburn fans a little happier. 
  10. Samford vs Georgia: There’s a lot of excitement about Georgia QB Jake Fromm after the Bulldogs came out of Notre Dame with a 20-19 victory, and Bulldogs fans will look for the $1m game (well, Samford’s getting paid $1m to get the butts in Athens in front of next-to-nobody) to show that the offense can really, really click. Look for less about Fromm and more about Nick Chubb and Sony Michel running riot. PREDICTION: Georgia by 50. At least.

Oh, and we’re not usually the kind to give some out-of-conference betting tips, but we would urge you to stay the heck away from Clemson (-3)-Louisville, but WOULD encourage you to take USC as a 16.5 point favorite against Texas. We saw Texas in Austin on Saturday, and we can safely say that Texas is horrible. 

Can Auburn beat Clemson? SEC Previews for Week 2

fAmid a lot of crap,  there are three great non-conference games for the SEC, featuring Auburn going to Clemson, Georgia rolling down to Notre Dame, and TCU rolling into Arkansas. In the SEC, we have our first in-conference game of the year with South Carolina rolling into Missouri for the battle of the Columbias. The rest of the games, well, aren’t very interesting.

Oh, and thoughts are out there to all Floridian players and fans as Hurricane Irma rolls in. Hope everyone stays safe. And if you didn’t know already, Florida cancelled their game with Northern Colorado at The Swamp.

So here are your games in order of what’s interesting…

  1. No. 13 Auburn at No.3 Clemson (-6.5): I’ll get this one out of the way early: It’s not like Auburn’s not used to playing in Death Valley! They have to play there every other year. This game won’t be full of drunken, loud Cajuns….it’ll be full of drunk, loud South Carolinians wearing orange and purple. We expect more of a celebration tailgate between the two sets of fans, bearing in mind Clemson’s accomplishments last season against Auburn’s most hated rival. As for the game, Clemson’s favored by 6.5 and if we’re honest, we kinda like it. Although it’s hard to say against substandard opponents, Clemson impressed me more than Auburn did. Clemson seem to have something special in Kelly Bryant, but we’ll see how he fares against stronger opposition. Auburn’s got Jarrett Stidham, who’s a known quantity and will test Clemson’s ‘D’ to it’s full with his spread attack and three awesome running backs with Kam Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Kyle Davis. Pettway and WR Kyle Davis both come back from suspension. Clemson’s still got plenty of weapons to test Auburn’s secondary. This will be fun. PREDICTION: Clemson by 7 in a barnburner of a game.
  2. No.15 Georgia at No.24 Notre Dame (-4): This was such a joke to gamblers early on that the line moved from -6.5 to -4. Vegas still thinks Notre Dame beats the Dawgs in South Bend – although we think a lot of that is dependent on the fact that Jacob Eason went down with an injury against Appalachian State, and they think that Irish QB Brandon Wimbush is going to be better than UGA starter Jake Fromm, and that Notre Dame’s going to be able to stop UGA RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. For us, the biggest factor will be what Notre Dame’s pass rushers can do to Georgia’s young-and-susceptible offensive line. If they can get through them, Fromm will be running for his life. Georgia’s ‘D’ is pretty solid, by the way, so give them some credit out there, but if the O-Line is making a game a perpetual 3-and-out (see Michigan vs Florida last week for example), Georgia’s in trouble. PREDICTION: Georgia to win by 3.
  3. No.23 TCU (-3) at Arkansas: Last year’s game – which went into double overtime – was electric and we’re hoping for the same when the Horned Frogs roll into Fayetteville. In Week 1 both sides teed off against crappy opponents and got the expected blow-out, givers-of-confidence results that you would expect and normally get, so this game provides quite the opponent markup. TCU is going to bring out a fast-paced offense that’s going to give Arkansas a lot of problems, while we expect Arkansas to pound the Horned Frogs with a solid running game that features Chase Hayden. If Arkansas’ offensive line doesn’t hold out and Austin Allen isn’t given the time, the Razorbacks are in trouble. PREDICTION: TCU wins by 7 in a high-scoring classic.
  4. South Carolina at Missouri (-2): I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU VEGAS! South Carolina beat NC State, one of the better ACC opponents in a thrilling victory, while Missouri showed all of us that if there’s a defense, then they have heard of it (although if there’s an offense, they certainly have). We expect a high-scoring fun one with both defenses driving their head coaches crazy, both quarterbacks (USC’s Jake Bentley and Mizzou’s Drew Lock) to post great numbers, and one side to stop another maybe sometime. USC showed thta it could do that in a close game against NC State, but will they continue it against Missouri? We think they will. PREDICTION: South Carolina wins a barnburner by 3, but if we’re honest, we’re more confidence about the ‘over’ at 71.5. We also like the ‘over’ for 71.5.
  5. Mississippi State (-8.5) at Louisiana Tech: Vegas thinks that this one will be pretty close, but we don’t think it will be, despite MSU being on the road. We can’t wait to see if Nick Fitzgerald picks his act up from Week 1 to Week 2 (last week 16-29, 239 yards, 2 TDs), where we expect him to get a fuller game than he did last time. This could be one of those spread blow-out games. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 18.
  6. Fresno State at No.1 Alabama (-44): You’ll know that Alabama beat Fresno State, but what you might not know is that Fresno State beat college football monster Incarnate Word 63-0 on Saturday. That’s about as deep as we’re going to get this one, because we expect Alabama to roll. If you’re a gambler I’d keep away from this one because Nick Saban would really p*** you off late on with a late Fresno TD against the second team. PREDICTION: Alabama by 41. As we said, watch the late TD stuff. 
  7. UT-Chatanooga vs No.12 LSU: LSU’s defense was incredible against BYU last week, keeping them to -5 rushing yards and choking any offense that the Cougars may have brought with them to New Orleans. And let’s be honest, we expect the same to be done in Death Valley. Vegas thinks the game is going to be so close that it’s not allowing bets on it. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 40, and it’s not even that close.
  8. Nicholls State vs Texas A&M: There are so many internal issues at Texas A&M (Coach Kevin Sumlin not only on the hotseat after the UCLA loss but also getting no support from an A&M regent after said loss as well as racial abuse sent to his home) that even a medium side would feel that they could capitalise on the calamity at Kyle. But Nicholls State isn’t one of those teams. PREDICTION: A&M. Easily.
  9. Eastern Kentucky vs Kentucky: After coming through the struggle at Southern Miss, Kentucky will have it pretty easy about Eastern Kentucky. Commonwealth Stadium will be expecting Stephen Johnson to rack up the passing yards, CJ Conrad to catch a TD or three, and this game to be over by half-time. PREDICTION: UK by over 40.
  10. UT Martin at Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze blah blah…..Hugh Freeze….Ole Miss coming back blah blah……PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 40. 
  11. Indiana State at No.25 Tennessee: Sadly, Larry Bird won’t be playing WR for Indiana State. If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young. Anyway, Tennessee scrapped through against Georgia Tech and guessed right to stop a 2-point conversion in double overtime, and this game should be over by halftime. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 50. 
  12. Alabama A&M vs Vanderbilt: Derek Mason’s psyched about this game, but he’s the only one. PREDICTION: Vandy by 41 after changing team at halftime.

Calm down about Kevin Sumlin, Aggies fans

The Texas A&M fanbase really, really needs to calm down about Kevin Sumlin.

Yes, the loss to UCLA was stunning, nearly equalling the biggest-ever comeback by a school (33 points instead of Michigan State’s 34-pt one against Northwestern).

But let’s get this into context: UCLA was damned lucky, too.

Here’s why:

  1. Josh Rosen had a TD that should have been Deshawn Capers-Smith’s INT, but it wasn’t. I’d say 9 times out of 10 Capers-Smith has the INT and a big return from it, but for some reason, it went through his hands and UCLA added to the TD.
  2. Second, Rosen throws the ball into a crowd of people and the UCLA WR comes up with the ball. That’s luck, folks.
  3. And finally, the refs at the game didn’t see Jordan Lasley bobble the ball for the game-tying TD. It should have been overturned and reviewed, but it wasn’t.
  4. Nick Starkel was doing a pretty fine job as A&M’s QB, going 6-13 for 62 yards. He was clever in his game management and made sure that Traevyon Williams and Keith Ford had the ball without making mistakes. Williams and Ford then absolutely routed UCLA’s defense. Now, there are arguments that Sumlin should have given the ball to his two horses for the second half too, but it seemed as though when Starkel got injured, Kellen Mond took his place and the offense changed to a more spread-like look, with Mond doing a lot more running. That’s good, because Mond was atrocious at throwing (3 for 17), but good at running (54 yards). Had Starkel continued playing, you have a feeling A&M would have run the game down UCLA’s throats, and won.

Of course, there were some hideous moments that had a lot of A&M fans cry: “What the heck?”

  1. Why weren’t the running backs used more during the second half? Williams, after scourging UCLA for 188 yards in the first half, only had 7 touches in the second. We think it was due to the ‘Mond’ thing, but we’re not quite certain.
  2. A&M changes kicker for the fourth and final FG, with Braden Mann taking over from Daniel LaCamera. Mann misses. Why? We’ll never know.
  3. A&M’s pass defense was dreadful. It really was. Especially in the second half.

But why go and scream for Sumlin’s head? Because A&M lost at UCLA, which is a Pac-12 school armed with NFL talent at quarterback and receiver? Because UCLA got lucky? Please. If A&M fails to go a bowl and finishes at the bottom of the SEC West, then let’s talk about Sumlin walking. Not after one game.

Will Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand play against Florida State?

Alabama pre-All SEC first team DE Da’Shawn Hand was arrested on Saturday for a DUI. Details of how much was in his system have not been released as yet.

Details of how much was in his system have not been released as yet.

To say the least, Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban was not pleased. “This type of behaviour is not acceptable and we are disappointed in Da’Shawn’s actions“, he said.

However, the next thing worried The SEC Football Blog: “We are still gathering information and will evaluate what we need to do in terms of appropriate discipline as we move forward, so better choices and decisions can be made in the future.”

Having said that, I couldn’t help but worry that Nick Saban won’t take this DUI as seriously as the rest of the country’s coaches would.

The reason why? Saban – under the guise of how he loves to give players who run into the law ‘second chances’ – has a reputation of giving players (especially those that are important to him) reduced sentences so they can play in big games.

Alabama’s first game of the season – if you haven’t heard – is against Florida State in Atlanta in one of the biggest games of the season. And in one of the biggest games of the season, the Crimson Tide is going to need their All-SEC defensive end – who had 21 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble last year but really hasn’t matched up to his five-star billing since his arrival in Tuscaloosa.

We know one thing for certain: Hand will use all the promises in the world and excuses in the world to attempt to avoid Saban’s full ire – and a reduced suspension and start some of the Florida State game.

 

 

QBs in the SEC: Who’s in the best shape for 2017?

LSU always seems to have a quarterback problem, it’s been argued that Florida hasn’t had a good one since Tebow, and Georgia hasn’t won the SEC despite having good quarterbacks, while Alabama has won a lot of SEC titles without having any quarterbacks that you’d say are NFL-worthy. So for 2017, which SEC team is in the best shape at quarterback? And who is struggling? Clue: It’s probably not a team from Baton Rouge.

  1. Mississippi State: Nick Fitzgerald did wonders at Mississippi State last year. He led the SEC in total yards in 2016, throwing for over 2,400 yards and 21 TDs (and no interceptions) and rushing for nearly 1,400 yards and 16 TDs. He also beat Ole Miss, which pretty much makes him God in Starkville. There are worries because he didn’t have a sharp Spring Game, but it’s a Spring Game. Mississippi State’s in fine fettle at that position. Whether he’ll have the contributors he needs now Fred Ross he needs to give him the good stats is another thing altogether.

2. Auburn: After playing one Spring Game for Auburn, there was already Heisman hype around Jarrett Stidham on the plains. Some have even compared him to Drew Brees. Managing to get Stidham – who was already familiar with a high-octane offense by playing for Baylor in 2015 – to come play for you was a masterstroke by Malzahn and company. Stidham is a fantastic dual-threatt QB who’s going to cause defenses a lot of problems.

3. Alabama: Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Nick Saban keeps on getting hold of freshmen who are so good that that sophomore who had an insane season is suddenly worrying about his job. We see with Jalen Hurts – who had an incredible freshman year – in a sudden quarterback battle with Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa – a five star from Hawaii – had a brilliant Spring Game which got the tongues about Hurts’ job stability. And next season? There will probably be someone else to scare the crap out of these two.

4. Georgia: With Jacob Eason, the Bulldogs have an entrenched starting quarterback. His problem might well be the same that haunted him last year – the offensive line. But for pure stability – and a cannon for an arm – the Dawgs are going to be juuuuust fine.

5. Arkansas: We quite like the shape the Razorbacks are in at this position. Allen’s got a cannon, and threw for 3,450 yards, 25 TDs and 15 INTs last year. His problem will be the offensive line, which got him sacked THIRTY FOUR times last year. But if that improves, the Razorbacks have one of the best weapons in scrimmage around.

6. Missouri: Drew Lock’s going to start at quarterback for the Tigers, and he’s got the arm to be a star. If his receivers (we see you, J’Mon Moore) could actually catch the ball, then he could put up some immense stats and lead the Tigers forward.

7. Kentucky: Drew Barker vs Stephen Johnson is an interesting QB battle. Barker was the 2016 starter before he hurt his back, and then Johnson took the team over and led the team to seven wins – including a win over hated rivals Louisville. There is hope in Big Blue Nation. Although Mark Stoops has been uncommittal about the QB battle, it’s Johnson’s team, and UK is in a good position.

8. Vanderbilt: Kyle Shurmur will start. He had 2,400 yards passing, although he threw more INTs (10) than TDs (9). He progressed nicely through the last few weeks of the season, throwing for 221, 252, 273 and 416 yards in his last four games of the year. The 416 came against Tennessee’s defense (just in case you were thinking it was against a ‘nobody’. Vandy should be in pretty good shape here.

9. Ole Miss: Shea Patterson was given a lot of love when he walked into The Grove, and during his first year he threw for nearly 900 yards with 6 TDs and 3 INTs. And the opposition (Texas A&M, Vandy and MSU) wasn’t terrible either. The problem won’t be about Patterson’s skills, but more if the team plays with confidence after the trouble that the school is going to be in with the NCAA. And we’d argue that’s going to be a lot.

10. South Carolina: A lot of people were excited about Jake Bentley, who came in mid-way through the season and threw for 1,420 yards and 9 TDs (and 3 INTs). His strong Spring Game got Gamecocks fans drooling (if they weren’t already bearing in mind they had a Final Four game to watch that day).

11. Florida: The QB battle between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask is certainly an interesting one, although both aren’t particularly well-known quantities. Luke Del Rio’s coming back from a shoulder injury, and could compete for the job. While some are excited about Florida if the QBs prove capable, we still don’t know a massive amount about them. They should be helped by a nasty defense, though.

12. Texas A&M: Jake Hubenak, Kellen Mond, and Nick Starkel didn’t exactly stand out at A&M’s Spring Game, but Starkel was given the most love because of how he stood in the pocket – and that his receivers dropped passes. The good news for Aggie Nation is that the running game looks very solid indeed.

13. Tennessee: Former Josh Dobbs back-up Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are fighting it out for the Vols QB position, but I’m not convinced about either of them. Sorry, Vols fans.

14. LSU: This is how bad the LSU QB competition is. Ed Orgeron – normally Mr Exuberant and Mr Confident in these situations – told the press: “No-one has earned the starting spot…. Most of the spring, [starter for most of 2016] Danny [Etling] has been there. Nobody has taken him over. But tonight, underneath the pressure, the guys didn’t perform the way we wanted to. They’ll have to show me who can perform under pressure and be the LSU quarterback.” Normally when the guy who ended last year as the starter is safe and hasn’t transferred or been arrested (ie doesn’t go to Oklahoma), he’s your man to be the starter for 2017. Not so for Louisiana State University. In the Spring Game, Justin McMillan passed only three times and Lindsay Scott didn’t pass once. And Etling was horrible. These could be bad, bad times for the Purple and Gold and trying to get a QB into Baton Rouge.

Who’s going to win the Iron Bowl? And other Rivalry Week predictions

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. 

 

Er, this is a terrible SEC line-up of games: Week 12 Predictions

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.

Who’s going to win on Week 11?

As we understand by Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House, nothing is a foregone conclusion, but we don’t expect Alabama to shoot themselves in the foot at home to Mississippi State.

Anyway, here’s what we think is going to happen in the Week 11 games:

  1. No. 9 Auburn at Georgia – This season’s becoming so weird that you half expect Georgia to pull off the upset. But then again, that means that they’ll actually have to play well on both lines – something they’ve proved to be unable at doing. Auburn, on the hand, is on fire. We’ll take Auburn by 7 in a doozy.
  2. No.24 LSU at No.24 Arkansas – Both sides have been completely non-sensical all season long, which should mean that this game will be a lot of fun. I’m taking LSU by 10, with Leonard Fournette taking things over in the fourth quarter.
  3. Ole Miss at No.8 Texas A&M – The Aggies shouldn’t be ranked as high as they are, but they are at No.8 despite getting blown out at Mississippi State because the Play-Off Committee was videoed having an orgy a few weeks ago, and Texas A&M has the tapes. Allegedly. Quarterbacks, Chad Kelly and Trevor Knight won’t be playing, which makes this game a little more unsexy. Unless Shea Patterson starts and lives up to the hype. This will be fun. I’m taking Texas A&M by 4 in a back-and-forth classic.
  4. Kentucky at Tennessee – This could be under-the-radar fun. I expect both sides to put up a ton of points and give up a lot of points too. Tennessee wins by 14 with scores late in the game, but it’s close most of the way.
  5. Mississippi State at No.1 Alabama – Both sides overcame emotional victories last week, although we don’t expect Mississippi State to be a match for this Alabama team. Bama cruises by 24.
  6. South Carolina at Florida – Apparently Steve Spurrier’s got his eye on this game. I’m taking Florida by 14 in an awful one. 
  7. Vanderbilt at Missouri – Yuck. Missouri pulls off the ‘upset’ and wins! Maybe? 

Who’s the worst team in the SEC? (Hint: They play in the East)

The race for the bottom of the SEC was a really difficult race, made a lot harder to work out after the frankly illogical Mississippi State victory over Texas A&M, a win that should have been celebrated by the fanbase violently clanging bells on the field. We were shocked the field at Davis-Wade Stadium wasn’t invaded after the felling of the mighty Aggies, but there we go.

But it also made us think: Who in the heck is the worst team in the SEC? So here’s our countdown from 1-14. You can probably guess No. 14. Roll Tide.

  1. Missouri (0-5 SEC, 2-7 total) – Hasn’t won a game and while they looked competitive against South Carolina, this is a bad, bad team – especially on the defense. The fanbase seems to hate new DC DeMontie Cross and the decision to recalibrate the defense, and the offense is riddled with mistakes.
  2. Vanderbilt (1-4, 4-5) – The defense is definitely doing some good things, but the offense is still terrible.
  3. South Carolina (3-4, 5-4) – Back-to-back SEC victories is suddenly exciting a fanbase about the Will Muschamp hire. We’re still not excited about the Gamecocks for 2016, although Muschamp’s 2017 class – considering how good he is a recruiter – could be something to watch.
  4. Mississippi State (2-3, 4-5) – The win over Texas A&M boosted them up the table, but you still think that things would have been different had Trevor Knight and Myles Garrett not been injured during the game.
  5. Kentucky (4-3, 5-4) – Gave Georgia the fright of its life and it’s a lot of fun to watch the Wildcats on offense. Defensively, they are a shambles.
  6. Georgia (3-4, 5-4) – Georgia’s medicore. That’s all there is to really say (They beat UNC, South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and should have beaten Tennessee, but were slaughtered about Florida, and lost to Vanderbilt and things will probably be really ugly against Auburn)
  7. Ole Miss (1-4, 4-5) – Chad Kelly’s injury ain’t going to make things a lot easier. Defensively again this has been a trouble.
  8. Florida (4-2, 6-2) – Boatraced on the road at Arkansas. The offense hasn’t clicked for most of the season. We will see how the Gators do down the stretch against LSU and FSU. This could get nasty.
  9. Tennessee (2-3, 6-3) – The only saving grace for Tennessee this season has been the win over Florida and the taking Texas A&M to double overtime despite the injury horror show. How much they’ve rebounded from the other horror show – the debacle at South Carolina – remains to be seen. They also haven’t managed to play a 100% good game this year. Butch Jones for Coach Of The Year? Nope.
  10. Arkansas (2-3, 6-3) – The excellent performance against Florida seems to indicate things going in the right direction, although whether this is a minor blip for Bielema remains to be seen what with LSU.
  11. LSU (3-2, 5-3) – The loss at home to Alabama showed us the importance of Les Miles actually recruiting a good QB, which he failed to do every since Zach Mettenberger.
  12. Texas A&M (4-2, 7-2) – This MSU loss was a bad day at the office. With the loss of Trevor Knight for the year and Myles Garrett’s injury really not 100%, we’ll see how bad this day at the office gets.
  13. Auburn (5-1, 7-2) – Hot Seat what? Gus Malzahn for Governor!
  14. Alabama (6-0, 9-0) – Nick Saban 2020. Just saying.

(A Very Fast) Week 10 SEC Preview

After the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, this blogger feels like he’s been writing, drinking and tweeting all week long, so apologies if this SEC Week 10 preview is shorter than usual.

So in order for you to read this (quickly), here’s a line on what we think will happen in each of the SEC games this week, which is – as usual – in order of importance.

  1. No.1 Alabama at No. 13 LSU — Alabama will do the same as they did last year and block off Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guise, and force LSU to throw. LSU’s QB Danny Etling really isn’t very good. Sure, LSU’s ‘D’ athletic enough to keep this close, but we still think Alabama wins this by 10. It’ll definitely be fun in Baton Rouge though!
  2. No.4 Texas A&M at Mississippi State – This is only this high because Texas A&M’s in the College Football Play-Off, and suddenly everyone will be watching for this game to be a potential pigskin. Don’t worry Aggies fans….it won’t. Texas A&M by 28, and Dan Mullen’s seat gets hotter.
  3. No.11 Florida at Arkansas  – This is the first part of the CBS doubleheader, so if you hate Verne and Gary, the 3.30’s the one to watch. But if you don’t want to watch an ugly game, we’d advise staying away. Florida will probably win by 6 in a lackluster game, and edge ever closer to another visit to Atlanta.
  4. Georgia at Kentucky – Kentucky’s still in with a shout of the SEC East. Georgia is not. If Georgia loses to UK for the first time since 2009, the cries of Dawgs yelling: “Did we pick the right coach?” will get ever louder. We think Georgia will win this won by 7 in probably the second-most entertaining game of the week. Pity it’s on the same time as LSU vs Alabama. Not even the Kentucky and Georgia fans wanted that to be the case…
  5. Missouri vs South Carolina – Two weeks’ ago, this would have been a battle for the SEC’s worst teams, but Misssissippi State and Missouri are claiming the spots for their very own- particularly after USC upset Tennessee last week. This game is going to be incredibly poor in standard. South Carolina to win by 10. Maybe 13-3. 
  6. Vanderbilt at No.9 Auburn – We’ve got this lower than a number of other games because we think a born-again Auburn’s going to win this in a hurry. Tigers by 28. 
  7. Georgia Southern vs Ole Miss – Ole Miss destroys their second Georgia-based team of the season by 40.
  8. Tennessee Tech vs Tennessee – Tennessee hosts their 2-5 rivals. I didn’t know they were called the Golden Eagles, or were called Cookeville, TN home. I do know that Neyland Stadium’s probably going to be 2/3 full – if that – for this one, and the Vols should win by 48.
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