Oct. 22, 2013
Last week’s record: 1-5 (16.7%)
Season record: 58-12 (82.9%)
Well, that was ugly.
It’s been awhile since the Predictions Dept. had such a sorry week – 11 years, to be exact – as every SEC team other than Alabama suffered an upset loss (even though Missouri was ranked above Florida, most SEC observers thought the Gators were the better team).
Fortunately for Alabama fans, the Dept. hit the one game that truly mattered to them, as the Crimson Tide crushed Arkansas. As its reward, Alabama will get a Tennessee team that upset South Carolina last week. South Carolina, meanwhile, finds itself in the conference’s headline game this week, as a loss to Missouri would effectively end the chase for the SEC East.
KENTUCKY at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Poor Mississippi State, poor Kentucky. Both teams were off last week, and of course it was the one week where every also-ran SEC team managed to find glory. Instead of being part of the upset party, the Bulldogs and the Wildcats were both off, preparing for this mega-important showdown. While Kentucky has shown blips of life under its new coaching staff, the team’s defense has let the Wildcats down this year, and will likely be the reason for State’s win this week. The Bulldogs have been good at home under Dan Mullen against other SEC teams, and with Kentucky having quarterback issues, look for the Bulldogs to have little trouble here. But if Mississippi State does lose this game, bowl eligibility likely goes out the window, given the remaining schedule.
Mississippi St. 30
TENNESSEE at ALABAMA
SOUTH CAROLINA at MISSOURI
The Gamecocks were clearly looking ahead to this game last week against Tennessee, letting an inferior Vol squad pick up the victory in the last minute. In addition, QB Connor Shaw was knocked out of the game with a knee injury and his stats for this game is listed as doubtful. South Carolina isn’t a healthy team overall, anyway. The injury sheet for the week shows 11 names on it, but Missouri is also without QB James Franklin and could be without star DB E.J. Gaines. The big news here is that a Missouri win effectively locks up the SEC East. With a win over South Carolina, the Gamecocks would have three losses, while Florida and Georgia face each other next week and Missouri holds the tiebreaker over both teams. Missouri’s finishing schedule? Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Texas A&M. Even if Mizzou splits those four games, the Tigers would go to Atlanta with a win here. Missouri’s problem, historically, has been finishing the deal, and South Carolina is at its best when its back is against the wall. An upset wouldn’t shock anyone, but with the way the Missouri offense has been playing of late, the Gamecocks will have to play over their heads to win.
South Carolina 34
VANDERBILT at TEXAS A&M
Credit the Commodores for pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent Vandy history, over Georgia last week. That win puts Vanderbilt on track for bowl eligibility, as Kentucky and Wake Forest are coming up on the schedule. But this week, the Commodores have the task of stopping A&M QB Johnny Manziel – if he even plays. Manziel suffered a shoulder injury against Auburn that may be worse than first reported. Still, the Aggies ought to have enough firepower to keep Vanderbilt at bay. The only place Texas A&M can be consistently hurt is by the ground game, and Vanderbilt doesn’t have a good one. Texas A&M has enough weapons to hold off the Commodores even with Manziel on the sideline.
Texas A&M 35
FLORIDA ATLANTIC at AUBURN
The Owls are 2-5 on the year with wins over South Florida and UAB. But FAU was blown out just once, by Miami in its opener, and has improved each week since. Last week saw the Owls lose by 1 point to a decent Marshall team. The problem is, the strength of the team is its pass defense, while the rush defense has been poor – and Auburn’s greatest strength right now is running the ball. The fact FAU has one of the most anemic passing offenses in the country doesn’t help at all.
Florida Atlantic 7
FURMAN at LOUISIANA STATE
Perhaps the least-expected upset of Week 8 was LSU’s loss to Ole Miss. The loss made it extremely difficult for LSU to maintain any hope of going to Atlanta after the season – the Tigers will have to hope for Alabama to beat Auburn, but lose to LSU and Mississippi State, for starters – but no amount of crying and absentmindedness could put LSU in jeopardy this week. The Purple Paladins of Furman are just 3-4 at the Division-IAA level. LSU could start walk-ons and win.
IDAHO at MISSISSIPPI
The Vandal program is in such disrepair that the most frequent offseason conversation tends to revolve around the topic of whether the school should drop down a division. Ole Miss is sure to have a hangover after the unexpected upset of LSU, but like LSU with Furman, it’s not going to matter. Idaho has one win this season – over Temple – and is coming off a 48-24 loss to Arkansas State. The only question is whether the Ole Miss fans can be bothered to leave the Grove for the stadium.
Ole Miss 38
IDLE: Florida, Georgia, Arkansas
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