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By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Nov. 19, 2012
Last week’s record: 10-1 (90.9%)
Season record: 86-17 (83.5%)
Vanderbilt cost more than just the Predictions Dept. a perfect record last week, it cost Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley his job. This week’s slate of games is highlighted by the Alabama-Auburn game, because of what it means to the SEC West title run, and the rivalry games involving Georgia and Florida. With Alabama back inside the top two of the BCS, and Georgia and Florida nipping at the Tide’s heels, this week is all about bowl positioning.
FLORIDA at FLORIDA STATE
By all reasonable logic, Florida should win this game. But the Gator offense has been deplorable for a full month. Florida State has a better offense and the defense is stout enough that the Gators won’t be able to just show up and win this one. In fact, the Seminoles have the No. 1 overall defense in the country at the moment, albeit partially because of a weak schedule. Still, the defenses are too similar, and offensively, Florida has been barely competent lately. With the game in Tallahassee, look for the upset here.
Florida State 21
AUBURN at ALABAMA
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GEORGIA TECH at GEORGIA
The Yellow Jackets have a primo rushing attack; the problem with Tech is that it occasionally misfires badly, as it did in the Jackets’ 41-17 loss to BYU back on Oct. 27. Georgia did the smartest thing possible by scheduling Georgia Southern last week and getting practice for Tech’s option attack. And whether Georgia struggles a bit stopping Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets have little chance to stop the Bulldog offense. Tech has made mediocre offenses appear to be the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf all season long.
Georgia Tech 24
KENTUCKY at TENNESSEE
Stuck in the middle of a bunch of good games is this one, where the already-fired Joker Phillips will face a Tennessee team coached by Jim Chaney, thanks to Derek Dooley already being fired and already told to pack. There might be 30 people in attendance, counting families of players. Most fans will be at home, stuck on the internet, trying to read tea leaves and figure out who the next coach of their respective teams will be. Meanwhile, neither of these teams has a defense, and the only thing a game like this does is enrage the officiating crew charged with having to work it.
SOUTH CAROLINA at CLEMSON
Don’t look now, but Clemson is trying to get an at-large BCS bid. The only way that happens is for the Tigers to knock off South Carolina. Fortunately for Clemson, South Carolina no longer has Marcus Lattimore, and the Gamecock pass defense has been erratic against better teams. South Carolina’s fortunes in this game largely depend on what kind of game Connor Shaw has at quarterback, an iffy proposition to begin with but even more so given the potency of Clemson’s offense. While Steve Spurrier would dearly love to derail Clemson’s BCS hopes, the Gamecocks might not have the horses to get the job done this year.
South Carolina 27
VANDERBILT at WAKE FOREST
Tennessee and Auburn not eligible for postseason play, and Vanderbilt goes for 8 wins and a bowl either on or very near New Year’s Day. This is why the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. Wake Forest has been devolving for several weeks now, and provided Vanderbilt doesn’t completely forget to show up, the Commodores should hit the 8-win mark and set themselves up for a nice Christmas.
Wake Forest 17
MISSOURI at TEXAS A&M
Thanks to an epic fourth-quarter collapse against Syracuse last week, Missouri must do the near-impossible and beat Texas A&M to get bowl-eligible. Defensively, Missouri looks slow and undisciplined as of late, a poor recipe for stopping Texas A&M and its do-everything quarterback, Johnny Manziel. Were the game in Missouri, it might be possible to consider an upset given that Texas A&M looked sloppy and unfocused last week against Sam Houston State, a week after beating Alabama on the road. Alas, Missouri is playing the Aggies one week too late to take advantage of any potential letdown.
Texas A&M 51
LOUISIANA STATE at ARKANSAS
One of the most shocking and disappointing seasons in Arkansas history mercifully comes to a close Friday, as LSU invades Fayetteville and likely pays the Hogs back for a handful of recent late-season losses. If Zach Mettenberger had a good game against Alabama’s secondary, he should, by all rights, have a game befitting Brett Favre this time out. Arkansas has one of the worst pass defenses in the country, and there is virtually no want-to either in or around this program at the moment. The attention in Fayetteville is already on hiring John L. Smith’s replacement and forgetting the 2012 season even happened.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at MISSISSIPPI
This game will be intriguing for a few reasons. Ole Miss is going for bowl eligibility, Hugh Freeze is trying to both exceed first-year expectations and continue to build what might be an impressive recruiting class, and Mississippi State is having a bit of a second-half skid. This game will not be like those of recent years, when the Bulldogs had the more aggressive, physical philosophy and could dictate terms to the Rebels. There is a lot of the line for Ole Miss, while many Bulldog fans are still trying to come to terms with how a magical 7-0 season suddenly became just another 8-3 campaign that will end in a mediocre bowl. Don’t be surprised to see an upset happen.
Ole Miss 30
Mississippi St. 27
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