Nov. 12, 2014
Last week’s record: 5-1 (83.3%)
Season record: 69-19 (78.4%)
Auburn “snapped” what would have been a perfect, six-game Predictions Dept. performance in Week 11, and with the season winding down, the games certainly don’t get any easier to pick. It seems like the entire SEC West is in the running for what might constitute the game of the week this week, but it’s obviously Alabama-Mississippi State due to the implications to the divisional title race. Auburn’s tilt with Georgia and Texas A&M’s game against Missouri will go a long way toward determining the SEC East winner.
SOUTH CAROLINA at FLORIDA
This might be the game that determines Will Muschamp’s fate in Florida. Muschamp’s team has rebounded nicely behind a two-quarterback offensive strategy, and South Carolina is playing horrible football at the moment. Steve Spurrier loves beating up on his former team, but he faces a quandary here: Beat Florida, and the Gators will almost certainly fire Muschamp at season’s end and potentially hire someone a lot better. No one seriously expects Spurrier to tank this game, of course, but if Florida does happen to win this game, the Gators could get back to Atlanta at season’s end, representing the nutty SEC East. Fortunately for Florida, even though the Gators are basically one-dimensional on offense, South Carolina is zero-dimensional on defense. Plus, the Gamecocks appear to have mailed it in.
South Carolina 21
MISSISSIPPI STATE at ALABAMA
AUBURN at GEORGIA
The last-minute buffoonery aside, Auburn’s loss to Texas A&M would have been troubling even had Auburn eventually won the game. The Aggies ran at will on Auburn, something Texas A&M had done to exactly no one leading up to that game, and Auburn allowed a freshman quarterback to throw for 4 TD passes – the same true freshman who looked absolutely hapless in relief two weeks earlier against Alabama. Auburn’s defense hasn’t been good since Tommy Tuberville left, but now it’s a major problem despite having a lot of (allegedly) good athletes on the field. The question now is, is Georgia capable of actually doing something about it? The Bulldogs want to atone for last year’s fourth-quarter debacle on fourth down that led to an inexplicable loss in this series, but Georgia has lost to two bad football teams this year and Bulldog fans are starting, once again, to call for Mark Richt’s head. Neither team is predictable, and haven’t been for years, which is what makes this one of the most interesting rivalries in the SEC year in and year out.
KENTUCKY at TENNESSEE
Here’s a fun one: Kentucky has to win this game to get bowl-eligible. If they don’t win here, only Louisville remains, and it’s unlikely the Wildcats get by the Cardinals this year. Tennessee, on the other hand, needs to win twice to reach the postseason, and has woeful Vanderbilt on the final week of the year. The Volunteers get Missouri next week, and the Tigers will be favored in that game – which means this UK-UT matchup probably serves as an elimination game for someone. Kentucky’s defense has fizzled out lately and Tennessee has ignited behind QB Joshua Dobbs, and those factors will probably be the ones that determine the outcome of this one. Plus, with the game in Knoxville, Tennessee has a built-in edge.
MISSOURI at TEXAS A&M
If Missouri wins out, the Tigers will go back to Atlanta, a scenario few people thought possible at the beginning of the year, or even the middle of it. But as erratic as Missouri has looked game-to-game, betting on a three-win finish to the season is tough to imagine. Texas A&M’s season was saved last week at Auburn, and with this game in Kyle Field, the Aggies would appear to have the advantage. It doesn’t hurt that Missouri QB Maty Mauk is starting to backslide a little as the season winds down. Missouri doesn’t have to win out to win the East, provided Auburn beats Georgia, and the Tigers may have to hope for that scenario to happen.
Texas A&M 40
LOUISIANA STATE at ARKANSAS
Welcome to the Nearly Beat Bama Bowl. LSU and Arkansas will square off to decide who came the closest to taking out an actual contender, and due to Arkansas’ recent offensive resurgence, some are giving the Razorbacks the edge here. This game has not played to script in a long time; it’s the closest thing Les Miles has to a thorn in his side outside of the Alabama game. Still, it’s hard to imagine Arkansas having more success against LSU than Alabama did, and Arkansas doesn’t have nearly the assets on the defensive side of the ball that the Crimson Tide has. Still, LSU will be facing the same issue Alabama will face against Mississippi State: The Tigers are coming off a physical, back-and-forth boxing match and it might take them awhile to actually wake up in this game. And if Arkansas gets up by a couple of scores early, LSU does not possess the ability to make big comebacks.
IDLE: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss
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