By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Nov. 1, 2011
Last week’s record: 5-0 (100.0%)
Season record: 61-5 (92.4%)
Yet another perfect week has elevated the Predictions Dept.’s 2011 record, but the Dept. sincerely hopes the string stops this week thanks to our LSU-Alabama prediction. Despite how it must feel after two weeks of hype, LSU-Alabama isn’t the only game happening this week. Florida faces a surprisingly tough Vanderbilt squad, while Arkansas and South Carolina meet in what is clearly the conference’s No. 2 game of the week.
VANDERBILT at FLORIDA
If not for Vanderbilt stubbornly being Vanderbilt in close losses to Georgia and Arkansas, this game could have much more important ramifications than it already does. Vandy is looking for a rare win over the Gators and to launch itself into perhaps the second tier of SEC bowls. Florida is looking for a soft place to land, and has lost its last four games. By all rights, Vanderbilt should win, as the Commodores are arguably the better team. But Vanderbilt will have to stop being Vanderbilt first, and we won’t pick them to win until they finally do turn that mental corner.
LOUISIANA STATE at ALABAMA
NEW MEXICO STATE at GEORGIA
Georgia fans had better be glad the Bulldogs drug-tested on a non-conference week. Otherwise, RB Isaiah Crowell and others might miss a game that actually matters. Georgia should beat New Mexico State with or without a scholarshipped tailback in the game, but “should” does not always equal “will.” New Mexico State already counts wins over Minnesota and New Mexico this year and figures to make more of a game of this contest than it otherwise should be. Georgia, meanwhile, gets to slap itself on the back for getting tough on drugs the week before, not of, the Auburn game.
New Mexico St. 14
MISSISSIPPI at KENTUCKY
Oh, this is delicious. The loser of this game will be, unequivocally, the worst team in the SEC. A quick glance of statistical rankings for the two teams reveals more three-digit assignments than the jersey check-in desk at the Boston Marathon. It’s not so much that we can’t call this game; it’s that no one really cares if we do.
Ole Miss 20
SOUTH CAROLINA at ARKANSAS
South Carolina is fighting for its SEC Championship Game lives. Provided Georgia doesn’t lose again, South Carolina has to win out against Arkansas and Florida in order to make Atlanta. That wasn’t such a tall order a month ago, but the loss of QB Stephen Garcia and especially RB Marcus Lattimore have made the task a steep one. It doesn’t help that Georgia is beyond most of the meat of its SEC schedule. Connor Shaw has been barely acceptable following his ascension to unquestioned starting quarterback for South Carolina, and now he gets to play in one of the league’s toughest road venues in Fayetteville. South Carolina’s one ray of hope revolves around the fact that Arkansas hasn’t been on its game the last two weeks. If the Razorbacks allow South Carolina to stay in the game the way they did Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks are good enough to win.
South Carolina 16
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE at TENNESSEE
Three weeks ago, Tennessee scored 7 points against LSU. That’s the largest point total of the last three weeks for the Volunteers. No wonder Vol head coach Derek Dooley was talking up the threat of losing to MTSU in his press conference this week – it might actually happen. The Blue Raiders have enough offense to do it; the question is whether the defense is good enough to stop even the anemic Volunteers. Tennessee is having quarterback issues and must win this game to have a shot at bowl eligibility. Look for it to be closer than it ever should have been in a normal year.
TENNESSEE-MARTIN at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Harvard of the Haystacks comes to Starkville to face the Bulldogs in what should be, at least, the biggest mismatch of cultures this week. UT-Martin has been respectable this year, with most of its losses coming by fractions to good teams in its division. But this is the SEC, and even a disappointing team like Mississippi State figures to have a clear advantage. The Bulldogs are trying to sort out quarterback issues, but are a win here and another against Ole Miss at season’s end away from being bowl-eligible. Don’t look for the Bulldogs to miss out on the chance.
Mississippi St. 39
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