Oct. 19, 2014
Last week’s record: 4-2 (66.7%)
Season record: 54-15 (78.3%)
The Predictions Dept. didn’t just lose two games last week, it lost two games via the blowout variety, as both Texas A&M and Florida took dives in their respective matchups with Alabama and Missouri. This week, the biggest game is likely Ole Miss’ bout against LSU, although South Carolina and Auburn could turn into something if the Tigers overlook the Gamecocks.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at KENTUCKY
Kentucky went from contender to pretender pretty quickly with an awful performance against LSU last week. And given that the Wildcats’ main problem is a lack of quality up the middle of its defense, playing run-heavy Mississippi State isn’t exactly a recipe for a bounceback game. Mississippi State probably won’t be challenged much in this game, on either side of the ball, but the Bulldogs have let fortune inexplicably slip away from them before, and they also haven’t been challenged on the road this season beyond the last few minutes of a win over LSU. As for Kentucky, even though the Wildcats are 5-2 and just off the SEC East lead, it’s not impossible for Kentucky to miss the postseason, as its final five games will all likely be played from the underdog’s position. This may be the least winnable game of the bunch.
Mississippi St. 38
ALABAMA at TENNESSEE
Missouri continued its inscrutable season with a blowout win over Florida last week, a win in which the Tiger offense barely even showed up despite recording a high point count. This week, Missouri gets a Vanderbilt team that is in horrid shape, and even a thin program like Mizzou ought to be able win this game using second-stringers. The question is whether Missouri will be able to beat Vanderbilt if it brings the effort it brought to its games against Indiana or Georgia. Honestly? The Tigers would probably still win this one.
SOUTH CAROLINA at AUBURN
Prior to the season, this game looked like one of the linchpin contests on the 2014 SEC docket. Now, it just looks like an easy win for Auburn. South Carolina’s defense has failed to show up at all this year, and new QB Dylan Thompson hasn’t been able to carry the team during hard times the way Connor Shaw was able to the last couple of years. South Carolina is ranked 90th in rushing defense, which by itself could be enough to derail any hopes the Gamecocks have of pulling this upset. It’s hard to imagine Auburn losing this game even if it were being played in Columbia; in Jordan-Hare Stadium, it’s downright impossible to imagine such.
South Carolina 21
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM at ARKANSAS
UAB has improved mightily in 2014, especially on offense. But the Blazers are a mediocre defensive team, and losses to Florida International and MTSU indicate that Bill Clark still has work to do with his team. Arkansas is coming off an ugly loss to Georgia that wasn’t as close as the score made it look, a week after nearly upsetting Alabama at home. UAB can put up the points, and Arkansas’ defense is prone to giving up a bunch, so the Razorbacks have to exercise caution here. Theoretically, Arkansas is still in the running for a bowl bid, but that all but goes away if the Hogs let UAB pull the upset.
MISSISSIPPI at LOUISIANA STATE
It’s not often that Alabama fans will pull for LSU, but you can count on it happening this weekend. Because of the SEC’s tiebreaker rules in the event of a three-way tie atop the SEC West, Alabama needs LSU to beat Ole Miss in order to avoid having to see what would happen in the event of such a situation. LSU has had trouble stopping running games this season, as the middle of its defense is the worst it’s been since before Nick Saban took over in Baton Rouge way back when, but then again, Ole Miss isn’t all that capable of exploiting the Tigers’ weakness there. Ole Miss has gotten to this point almost solely off its defense, and some timely plays from QB Bo Wallace and a deep receiver corps. But any team that lacks a consistent running game usually doesn’t go far in the SEC. This would certainly seem to be “upset special” material, except that LSU’s offense would seem to have no chance against a tough Rebel defense.
Ole Miss 24
IDLE: Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M
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