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By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Oct. 17, 2012
Last week’s record: 7-0 (100.0%)
Season record: 55-8 (87.3%)
The Predictions Dept. made a nice comeback after its Week 6 disaster, pulling a flawless record on its Week 7 picks in what was a week of many close games. Week 8 offers up some challenges of its own, as Alabama may get a tougher challenge from Tennessee than expected, while South Carolina meets Florida and Texas A&M tangles with LSU in a game most are overlooking.
SOUTH CAROLINA at FLORIDA
South Carolina, as expected, folded a bit against LSU, which was to be expected following such an emotional high in its win over Georgia the week before. There is no rest for the Gamecocks, though, as they travel to The Swamp to face a Florida team that is improving each week. Florida isn’t yet a complete team – the Gators lack a reliable passing game, and one has to wonder how much more pounding Mike Gillislee can take at tailback before something gives – but the Gators can pressure the quarterback, and are committed to a downhill rushing attack, which severely stresses the corners of the South Carolina defense, which is more at home knocking down quarterbacks and snuffing lateral rushing games. This should be another close affair for South Carolina, but again, the pressure of keeping the train rolling figures to be too much for the Gamecocks to overcome.
South Carolina 14
ALABAMA at TENNESSEE
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GEORGIA at KENTUCKY
Pity poor Kentucky in this one. Georgia needs to make a statement that it isn’t as bad as it looked against South Carolina, while the Wildcats are in full-on quit mode at the moment. The game being in Lexington won’t have much effect, as Kentucky fans aren’t expected to fill the stadium again until a new coaching staff is hired. These are the kind of games Georgia tends to feed on under coach Mark Richt.
AUBURN at VANDERBILT
This is the hardest game on the board to pick this week, by far. Throw out the records, and on paper Auburn looks like a two-touchdown favorite. Vanderbilt caught a lot of people in its hype machine in the preseason, but the truth was always that this was a team with pedestrian defensive personnel and a lack of consistency at quarterback and along the offensive line. Against Auburn, the principal mismatch is Auburn’s speed on offense versus a lack thereof on Vanderbilt’s defense. Also, Vandy’s offense is not terribly difficult to defend. This may be the “dead cat bounce” game for Auburn. In truth, it won’t be a surprise no matter which team wins this game.
LOUISIANA STATE at TEXAS A&M
The focus this week is so much on what is happening in Gainesville and Knoxville that few people are noticing what could be the week’s upset special. Texas A&M has, without a doubt, a good offense. Its only stumble came in the Aggies’ opening game of the year, against one of the SEC’s best defenses (Florida). LSU, meanwhile, has a stout defense, but the Tigers have been erratic in the running game and outright stinch-worthy in the passing game. Zach Mettenberger may find things easier this week, as the Aggies have a subpar secondary. This will be first real test of whether a Big 12-style spread offense can make it in the SEC. If the Aggies win, they suddenly control their own destiny in SEC West play.
Texas A&M 23
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE at MISSISSIPPI STATE
MTSU is not a terrible team, but the Blue Raiders are thin on both sides of the ball. The Blue Raiders blew out Georgia Tech earlier in the season, but also lost to Division-IAA McNeese State. Of particular concern to Blue Raider fans is a secondary that can’t stop anything. This is one of the worst teams in the country against the pass, and Mississippi State’s passing game has evolved in 2012. On the other hand, these are exactly the types of games the Bulldogs sometimes fail to show up to play. The Bulldogs’ closest call of the year didn’t come against Auburn or Tennessee; it came against MTSU’s conference mate Troy. Don’t look for State to have such a problem with this game, but it probably will be closer than the betting line.
Mississippi St. 45
IDLE: Missouri, Arkansas, Ole Miss
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