By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Oct. 14, 2013
Last week’s record: 6-1 (85.7%)
Season record: 57-7 (89.1%)
The Predictions Dept. should have followed its hunch about the Missouri-Georgia game, once again proving the point about nothing ventured, nothing gained. Missouri once again finds itself in the game of the week against Florida, a game that could well decide the fate of the SEC East.
FLORIDA at MISSOURI
If QB James Franklin hadn’t been injured against Georgia, Missouri would probably enter this game a slight favorite. But despite Florida’s offensive woes, Missouri without Franklin is a much different team – and not necessarily a good one. Florida’s defense is also miles ahead of Missouri’s, and games with so much on the line are typically decided by defense in this league. Florida will need all the help it can get, too, as the Gators are coming off a 6-point output against LSU. Missouri’s Maty Mauk has less than a week to rise from liability to playmaker, which might be too much to ask. Florida in a squeaker.
ARKANSAS at ALABAMA
GEORGIA at VANDERBILT
The Bulldogs’ offense has been decimated by injuries, but the Vandy defense has failed to live up to the hype. On the flip side, Vanderbilt’s offense has been acceptable, but the Commodores are struggling in the running game and still fight issues with consistency. Georgia may be vulnerable, but it’s hard to believe the Bulldogs are vulnerable enough that Vanderbilt could knock them off. Still, the Commodores are a quality opponent, and this game might be the tipping point for Georgia’s season. How the Bulldogs approach this game could determine whether they’re able to bounce back and challenge for a BCS bowl slot, or wallow in their own misery.
South Carolina put it all together last week and destroyed Arkansas, while Tennessee had the week off to ponder its close-but-not-good-enough effort against Georgia the week prior. Provided South Carolina shows up in Knoxville with the same intensity it displayed against the Razorbacks, Tennessee has no chance. It’s too early yet to say whether Tennessee’s showing against Georgia is evidence of improvement – from a pure talent standpoint, Tennessee is mediocre and that won’t change for a couple of recruiting cycles, at the very least – but a blowout loss to South Carolina this week would confirm for many that the Volunteer program is on the skids.
South Carolina 37
AUBURN at TEXAS A&M
The Aggies got a scare last week from Ole Miss, while Auburn changed quarterbacks and rolled over Western Carolina, as was expected. It’s hard to get a feel for how good Jeremy Johnson is or isn’t for Auburn; Western Carolina is one of the worst teams playing the sport at the moment. The Aggie defense isn’t much better, but Johnson will be pressured to make plays because Johnny Manziel is sure to make them for the other side. Manziel suffered a knee injury against Ole Miss but played through it, although his effectiveness certainly seemed to be diminished. Auburn is improving, but A&M is likely to put more pressure on the Tigers than Auburn is ready to handle.
Texas A&M 41
LOUISIANA STATE at MISSISSIPPI
Ole Miss’ nightmare stretch continues. After dropping three straight to Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M, Ole Miss gets perhaps its worst matchup yet against trending LSU. The Tigers struggled on offense against a very good Florida defense last week, but the LSU defense had by far its best game. Ole Miss’ offense can be effective, but it’s too erratic at the moment. If LSU’s defense plays with the same intensity it showed against Florida, this game will get ugly in a hurry for the Rebels. But LSU’s problem in the past, against both Mississippi schools, has been that very thing – intensity, and focus.
Ole Miss 14
IDLE: Kentucky, Mississippi St.
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