By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Nov. 14, 2012
Last week’s record: 4-3 (57.1%)
Season record: 76-16 (82.6%)
The Predictions Dept. continued on its good-week-then-bad-week pattern of recent with a three-loss weekend, helped in great part by Alabama’s upset at the hands of Texas A&M. This week, several teams, Alabama among them, go down a division to find opponents as they ready their year-end push. Of games of significance, all of a sudden Vanderbilt-Tennessee may decide a coach’s fate and the possibility of a New Year’s bowl for the Commodores, while LSU hosts Ole Miss in what might be the most attractive intraconference matchup on the schedule.
JACKSONVILLE STATE at FLORIDA
No one was more disappointed to see Louisiana-Lafayette get close to upsetting Florida last week than the coaching staff of Jacksonville State, who were hoping to pull a repeat of their recent upset of Ole Miss. Unfortunately, Florida can now be considered completely refocused on the task at hand. The Gators figure to actually put up some points this week, as Jax State has one of the worst defenses at the Division-IAA level. If Florida has trouble with this game, it would cast doubt on the legitimacy of what otherwise appears to be a stellar season all around.
Jacksonville St. 17
WESTERN CAROLINA at ALABAMA
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GEORGIA SOUTHERN at GEORGIA
Of all the games against potential weak sisters, this is the one that stands out. Alabama fans well remember the trouble Georgia Southern gave the Crimson Tide last November, a game in which Alabama looked so bad at times that it caused worry as to whether the Tide would remain above Oklahoma State in the BCS. Now, 9-1 Georgia Southern again brings a crisply-run option attack that leads Division-IAA. The Bulldogs aren’t the most disciplined outfit in the SEC, either, and have been erratic in stopping the run. This one might produce fireworks.
Ga. Southern 30
SAMFORD at KENTUCKY
Now that it’s official that Joker Phillips won’t return for Kentucky, the primary goal is avoiding a 10-loss season. To do that, Kentucky will have to beat both Samford and Tennessee to finish the year. Unfortunately for Phillips, Samford is no pushover at 7-3. Still, Kentucky must avoid stooping so low as to embarrass its conference brethren by actually losing this game. If the Wildcats have emotionally quit, though, it’s possible.
SYRACUSE at MISSOURI
This one is for bowl eligibility, because the Tigers aren’t going to knock off Texas A&M next week unless Johnny Manziel breaks a hip. Missouri will have to hope Syracuse is too caught up in its shocking upset of Louisville last week to care much about this game. But the Orange is also 5-5 at the moment, so both teams’ postseason hopes rest largely on the outcome of this one. Basically, Missouri picked the wrong time to schedule an FBS school.
WOFFORD at SOUTH CAROLINA
Wofford always seems to give the Gamecocks trouble, and while Georgia gets Division-IAA’s best rushing attack in Georgia Southern, the No. 2 attack in that same level will be heading to Columbia to face Steve Spurrier’s team. There have been more nail-biters than blowouts in this series, it seems, and with Marcus Lattimore out for the Gamecocks, don’t expect any different this time out.
South Carolina 31
TENNESSEE at VANDERBILT
The Volunteers’ loss to Missouri last week likely cut Derek Dooley’s chances of returning to Knoxville by half. Vanderbilt is 6-4 and with wins over Tennessee and Wake Forest to end the year, ostensibly could rise to a very high bowl slot especially if Alabama or Georgia finds its way into the BCS Championship Game. The one problem with this plan is that Vanderbilt can’t even seat a majority crowd in this game, even though it’s in Nashville, and Tennessee might be ready to do a dead-cat bounce. The biggest issue is Vanderbilt’s offense can’t keep up with Tennessee’s offense if this one becomes a shootout.
ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Arkansas must beat the Bulldogs this week and LSU next week to reach the postseason. While Arkansas has improved since the season started, it hasn’t been by enough or fast enough. John L. Smith is coaching out the string, and surely knows what’s coming. Mississippi State is coming off three severe beatings in a row and needs to win this game just to stop the bleeding.
Mississippi St. 37
ALABAMA A&M at AUBURN
If New Mexico State were to host Alabama A&M, Alabama A&M might just be a slight favorite. Still, it’s unlikely A&M is good enough to take down Auburn, even in the Tigers’ weakened state. Auburn is coming off a 38-0 thrashing at the hands of Georgia, and things have moved into the territory of the ridiculous with the amount of turmoil surrounding the Tiger program. Look for this game to be a comfortable win for Auburn, but not necessarily a blowout as the Tigers save up the last shot in the tank for Alabama.
Alabama A&M 10
MISSISSIPPI at LOUISIANA STATE
Ole Miss did itself no favors with last week’s loss to Vanderbilt, and now face the prospect of beating either LSU or Mississippi State to get bowl-eligible. LSU did a good job bouncing back after the loss to Alabama by beating Mississippi State last week, but this game might have an Alabama-Texas A&M feel to it if the Rebels bring the right offensive plan. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the rush defense isn’t likely to contain the Tiger running backs for long, and QB Zach Mettenberger is finally starting to put things together.
Ole Miss 20
SAM HOUSTON STATE at TEXAS A&M
Aside from Western Carolina, none of these lower-division teams playing SEC teams this week are bad ones; Sam Houston State is 8-2. But SHSU is about to get introduced to the Johnny Manziel Experience, and there’s no telling how ugly it will get.
Texas A&M 52
Sam Houston St. 7