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By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Last week’s record: 8-0 (100.0%)
Season record: 72-13 (84.7%)
The Predictions Dept. bounced back nicely in Week 11, notching a perfect record and hopefully setting itself up for a strong stretch run. This week, Alabama again finds itself in the conference’s marquee matchup, but other games have the potential to be interesting – such as Auburn-Georgia or LSU-Mississippi State, both of which could have implications on the SEC Championship Game and the SEC bowl picture.
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE at FLORIDA
The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off a win over Louisiana-Monroe, the early-season media darling of the Sun Belt Conference. ULL hasn’t been quite the team some thought they might be in the preseason, but this is still a well-coached outfit with a good, balanced offense and a decent defense against the run. Florida should win easily, but with the Gators’ struggles on offense, don’t expect a total blowout. A repeat of the Gators’ opener against Bowling Green is probably more the order of the day.
TEXAS A&M at ALABAMA
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GEORGIA at AUBURN
Georgia keeps threatening to revert to form, as seen in its blowout loss to South Carolina, its near-miss win over Kentucky and the first quarter or so of its game against Ole Miss. Still, the Bulldogs are one of the league’s most talented teams, and when Georgia is playing with its head on straight, few teams can stop the Dawgs. Auburn finally had something good happen last week against lowly New Mexico State, as the combination of a victory and the play of freshman QB Jonathan Wallace have convinced some Tiger fans that a full turnaround is on the horizon. But Auburn may come crashing back to earth this week. If Georgia shows up motivated, the Bulldog defense is capable of completely wiping out the Auburn offense, while the Bulldog offense is busy blowing the scoreboard to bits. Look for either a last-second nailbiter or a blowout, with no in-between.
MISSOURI at TENNESSEE
Missouri looked much improved, particularly on defense, last week against Florida. But oft-injured QB James Franklin was too rusty to be of much help, and turnovers allowed the Gators to sneak by. Tennessee is coming off a flag football display against Troy that saw the Volunteers very fortunate to emerge with a win in hand. Both teams need this game to become bowl-eligible, especially Missouri, who must finish with Syracuse and Texas A&M. If Tennessee loses this game, however, it could be the catalyst that finally ends Derek Dooley’s tenure on the Vol sideline.
ARKANSAS at SOUTH CAROLINA
Oh, what a difference a couple of months make. Prior to the season’s start, this game had the look of a late-season dramatic test for two division contenders. Now, it’s just a pair of also-rans playing out the string. Arkansas fans’ attention is about to turn full-time towards a coaching search, while South Carolina will play without star RB Marcus Lattimore. If Arkansas has any hope at a bowl this season, it must upset South Carolina in this game and Mississippi State next week, because the Hogs aren’t getting by LSU this time.
South Carolina 27
VANDERBILT at MISSISSIPPI
It’s no longer imperative for Vanderbilt to win this game to be bowl-eligible – the Commodores are 5-4 with winnable games against Tennessee and Wake Forest ahead – but the ‘Dores could put all speculation to rest by beating the Rebels on the road. Ole Miss, meanwhile, would also become bowl-eligible with a win here, and with LSU and Mississippi State yet to appear on the schedule, Vanderbilt certainly makes for the easiest path to the postseason. Vanderbilt is coming off an impressive 40-0 domination of Kentucky, but Ole Miss is a much tougher opponent thanks to a competent offense. Vandy has handled Ole Miss with regularity lately, but the Rebels bring too much speed and offensive prowess this time out.
Ole Miss 34
MISSISSIPPI STATE at LOUISIANA STATE
Mississippi State and LSU ought to rename this game the “I Just Got Beaten By Bama” Bowl, and compare war wounds. If Alabama follows through with a win over Texas A&M, this game could be to decide second place in the SEC West and a spot in the Cotton Bowl at year’s end. LSU certainly has the most to get past, thanks to the way Alabama put the game away late, but Mississippi State was exposed by Alabama’s defense and then further humbled by Texas A&M the following week. It’s unlike the Bulldog front seven can slow down the LSU rushing offense, and if LSU QB Zach Mettenberger can play even half as well as he did against the Crimson Tide, LSU will run State out of the building early.
Mississippi St. 7
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