By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Nov. 18, 2014
Last week’s record: 2-4 (33.3%)
Season record: 71-23 (75.5%)
After a one-loss Week 12, the Predictions Dept. took another tumble in Week 13 in what has been a decidedly poor season for picks. Only Alabama and Tennessee cooperated, with the rest of the week’s games conspiring to push the season record through the 20-loss plateau. This week, games against cupcakes headline contenders’ schedules, but one game in particular – Missouri at Tennessee – could decide the SEC East and will have interested parties watching closely from Athens, Tuscaloosa, Starkville and Oxford.
EASTERN KENTUCKY at FLORIDA
Who knows how Florida will respond to Will Muschamp’s firing … ahem, “resignation” … but with Muschamp staying on through the end of the regular season, bet on any remaining Gators with pride stepping up to win this game and at least secure postseason eligibility. Quirky special teams cost Florida the win against South Carolina, and Eastern Kentucky has been one of the best teams in the country on special teams, but it likely won’t be enough. This will be the win-it-for-coach game that sets up a matchup with Florida State that might be closer than the Seminoles want it to be.
E. Kentucky 10
WESTERN CAROLINA at ALABAMA
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MISSISSIPPI at ARKANSAS
Arkansas is a dangerous team right now thanks to its defense, but Ole Miss ought to be able to hold the Razorbacks scoreless or close to it. Ole Miss’ biggest challenge here is to not get caught up in scoreboard-watching: If Ole Miss beats Mississippi State next week and Alabama loses to Auburn, Ole Miss goes to Atlanta. While neither of the Rebels’ rivals are playing teams that matter this week, Arkansas is suddenly a team to be reckoned with and Ole Miss hasn’t proven that it can consistently respond to adversity. The game is in Fayetteville, and the Rebels have to avoid being caught looking ahead.
Ole Miss 16
SAMFORD at AUBURN
A week after losing to one set of Bulldogs 34-7, Auburn gets another set of Bulldogs. Fortunately for Auburn, this set isn’t nearly as tough. Reports out of Auburn are that the Tigers might start taking a look at other options besides Nick Marshall at quarterback, and this would be a good game in which to do it. If Auburn has even a smidge of trouble with Samford, it portends very bad things for the next game against Alabama.
VANDERBILT at MISSISSIPPI STATE
It would be one of the biggest upsets in recent SEC history if Vanderbilt were able to go into Starkville and sneak out with a win, but the only thing otherwise keeping this game from perfectly fitting the definition of a “trap game” is that it’s not being played in Nashville. It has all the other elements: heavily favored team coming off an emotional loss to a rival, archrival game on the schedule for the following week, upstart opponent looking to make a statement and turn a disappointing season around. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, making too many changes too quickly to its offensive and defensive schemes should allow the Bulldogs to get out of this game in one piece, whether they actually want to be here or not.
Mississippi St. 23
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN at GEORGIA
The Bulldogs are done with their SEC schedule, and nothing that happens in their final two games will make any difference whether they go to the SEC Championship Game. But if Missouri wins out and the Bulldogs slip up either here or against Georgia Tech next week, Mark Richt might have to dust off his resume. Georgia should be fine here as long as it doesn’t spend more time watching their cell phones for news on the Missouri-Tennessee game.
Charleston So. 10
MISSOURI at TENNESSEE
It’s all in front of Missouri at this point. If the Tigers win this week against Tennessee and next week against Arkansas, they go to Atlanta. Lose one of the two games and it’s over. The problem here is that Tennessee post-Joshua Dobbs is nothing like Tennessee pre-Joshua Dobbs. Since the Volunteers made the change at quarterback early in the Alabama game, the Volunteers have gone from a laughingstock to a serious player in the SEC East. The Vols are themselves chasing a goal – postseason eligibility – but even if they lose at home to Missouri, lowly Vanderbilt awaits next week. Missouri has the better team, but Tennessee has all the momentum here and the game is in Knoxville. The Tigers have played well for most of the season, but occasionally have looked hapless (loss to Indiana, blowout loss to Georgia, unimpressive win over Kentucky). If Missouri wants to claim its spot, the process must start now. The Vols made it a bit easier by having to suspend LB A.J. Johnson for off-the-field issues this week.
SOUTH ALABAMA at SOUTH CAROLINA
Don’t pretend that Steve Spurrier didn’t enjoy costing a Florida coach his job last week. This week he’ll try to keep the Gamecocks from completely looking over the Jaguars with rival Clemson due up next. South Carolina needs to win this game in order to ensure bowl eligibility in the event Clemson wins next week.
South Carolina 27
S. Alabama 14
IDLE: LSU, Texas A&M, Kentucky
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