Oct. 15, 2014
Last week’s record: 6-2 (75.0%)
Season record: 50-13 (79.4%)
The Predictions Dept. fell below the 80-percent mark for the first time in the 2014 season, a season that has proven devilish to correctly predict. Last week was going just fine until the two Mississippi teams played their games, both of which went against our pregame outlook. This week, Alabama finds itself in the league’s most intriguing game, and since that will be covered in its own preview article, we look to Missouri-Florida or Kentucky-LSU in this space as the conference’s other games of the week.
MISSOURI at FLORIDA
The Tigers come into this one meandering somewhat between two camps: Either they’re an upstart team bent on exceeding expectations, or the wheels are about to fly off completely. Florida came within a whisker of beating LSU, but in the end, the Gators’ effort only served to throw another log on the fire that is warming Will Muschamp’s seat. Provided Florida can get its offense working, the Gators have two decided advantages here: The game is in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and Florida matches up well with Missouri’s passing game. Missouri is still in the hunt for the SEC East title, bringing just one conference loss into this game, so it’s imperative the Tigers treat this game with the gravity it deserves. The problem, though, is that Florida holds most of the cards despite the current state of its season.
TEXAS A&M at ALABAMA
GEORGIA at ARKANSAS
Arkansas can go one of two ways following its oh-so-close performance against Alabama: It can either retreat into a hole and bemoan yet another lost chance at a SEC victory, or it can push the rock over the mountain that is the Georgia defense. Unfortunately for Arkansas, Georgia will find the Razorbacks’ defense a good matchup for its skill set, while the Bulldogs have a defensive line capable of frustrating the Hogs’ rushing attack. Moreover, Arkansas sustained injuries to the middle of its defense against Alabama, and it’s not clear yet just how severe those bumps were. Arkansas is certainly an improving football team, but this game figures to provide the Razorbacks with many of the same problems the Alabama game did.
KENTUCKY at LOUISIANA STATE
Here’s perhaps the most interesting game on the docket. Kentucky is considered a longshot to win the SEC East race in the end, but for right now, the Wildcats are in second place in the division, a half-game out of first. LSU, meanwhile, is reeling, and narrowly slipped by Florida last week. There’s no real evidence that playing games in Tiger Stadium means anything this year, so Kentucky will ultimately be judged in this game by how much it has improved in 2014, not by the general weirdness that usually accompanies games in Baton Rogue. The real key is how much LSU’s defense can limit Kentucky’s offense. LSU is likely to score plenty of points for a change against a Wildcat defense that needs help up the middle.
FURMAN at SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina took an off-week last week for this? To be fair, the Gamecocks have struggled with in-state, lower-division schools in the past, but despite USC’s defensive lapses in 2014, this game should be a winnable affair and set South Carolina up for next week’s showdown with Auburn.
South Carolina 45
TENNESSEE at MISSISSIPPI
Ole Miss is ripe for a letdown game; the problem is, Tennessee is almost wholly unequipped to do anything with the opportunity. After big wins over Alabama and Texas A&M in consecutive weeks, the lowly Volunteers show up in Oxford, and this is probably going to be the game Bo Wallace picks to go rogue. Good thing for Ole Miss that the Rebels have the defense necessary to survive a whole host of mistakes in this game.
Ole Miss 27
IDLE: Vanderbilt, Auburn, Mississippi State
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