By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Nov. 9, 2011
Last week’s record: 6-1 (85.7%)
Season record: 67-6 (91.8%)
The Predictions Dept. finally took a loss; unfortunately, the Kentucky-Ole Miss game was the culprit, not our pick of LSU to beat Alabama. This week, Auburn faces Georgia in the conference’s most important matchup, while Alabama tries to rebound against Mississippi State.
FLORIDA at SOUTH CAROLINA
Florida snuck by Vanderbilt last week, while South Carolina kept things respectable against Arkansas before falling late. This week, the Gators will try to put a definitive end to South Carolina’s SEC East title hopes and beat former coach Steve Spurrier in the process. The Gamecocks could theoretically finish the year with a 10-win regular season with victories here, against The Citadel and then finally by knocking off Clemson. It’s doable. The only question is whether QB Connor Shaw is up to the task.
South Carolina 23
ALABAMA at MISSISSIPPI STATE
See our extended preview!
AUBURN at GEORGIA
Georgia isn’t much better than Florida, South Carolina or Vanderbilt, but the Bulldogs have been good enough to dispatch with two of those three teams and finds itself atop the SEC East. Beating Auburn this week and Kentucky the next clinches the East for the Bulldogs, and doing so would likely save Mark Richt’s job for 2012. But the power this year resides in the SEC West, and despite Auburn being maddeningly inconsistent all season long, the Tigers have a better-than-average chance of upsetting the Bulldogs here. There are plenty of reasons to favor both teams, but we’ll go with the Bulldogs on the faith that, for once under Richt, Georgia realizes what it has in front of it and acts/plays accordingly.
KENTUCKY at VANDERBILT
It’s feasible that Kentucky, with wins here and against Tennessee to close the season, could still finish 6-6 and be bowl-eligible. The Wildcats looked solid in beating Ole Miss last week, but the Rebels have been terrible. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is also chasing bowl eligibility, and the Commodores have lost three conference games by a total of 13 points this season. Their opponents in those games? Georgia, Arkansas and Florida. Kentucky has more talent, but the Commodores have looked much more well-coached throughout 2011. With a win here and then another over either Tennessee or Wake Forest, the Commodores go bowling.
TENNESSEE at ARKANSAS
Things don’t get any easier this week for the Volunteers. After shutting out MTSU last week, the Vols get a Razorback team that is trying to peak late in the year and knock off LSU in a couple of weeks. Tennessee still has QB issues, injuries throughout its roster and now, the specter of missing the postseason. Arkansas’ defense is regressing as the season goes along, but the Volunteers might not be in any position to do anything about it.
WESTERN KENTUCKY at LOUISIANA STATE
What’s French for “cannon fodder?”
W. Kentucky 7
LOUISIANA TECH at MISSISSIPPI
Houston Nutt gets what will probably be his last chance at a victory before heading either to the Sun Belt or a lower division as head coach, or busting it all the way back to coordinator level. Ole Miss announced this week it would let Nutt go at season’s end, so Louisiana Tech provides Nutt with one last win-one-for-the-Gipper moment. Ole Miss certainly won’t beat LSU next week and will be heavy underdogs in the Egg Bowl the week thereafter. There’s only one problem: LaTech has won four straight, including games over decent opponents such as Fresno State and Utah State. What’s more, the Bulldogs took Mississippi State to overtime earlier in the year and narrowly missed knocking off both Houston and Southern Miss before that. Would a Rebel loss really surprise anyone?
Ole Miss 24
Louisiana Tech 23
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