Last week’s record: 5-4 (55.6%)
Season record: 38-13 (74.5%)
There is usually one week per season that kills the Predictions Dept., and Week 5 may have been it. Upsets in the Alabama-Georgia and Florida-Ole Miss games, coupled with Missouri’s typical midseason awakening, conspired to send the Dept. home hovering around the .500 mark. This week, a small slate of games is once again headlined by Alabama, which hosts Arkansas, while Florida travels to Missouri in a prototypical trap game.
FLORIDA at MISSOURI
Missouri has an interesting choice here: QB Maty Mauk was suspended for the South Carolina game, which Missouri won in large part due to the quarterback play of backup Drew Lock, who was pressed into service in Mauk’s stead. Mauk is back this week. So who do you play? Florida is coming off an unexpected drubbing of Ole Miss at home, which makes this game the quintessential trap game: road game against a quality opponent that you’re supposed to beat in the week following an emotional victory. This doesn’t even tap into the fact that Missouri is starting to do exactly what it has seemed to do every year since joining the SEC – flop around for the first month or so of the year before taking off like a rocket in the middle of the season. Florida should win this game, but the Gators are still a fragile team that is learning to win again under new head coach Jim McElwain. At best, this one should be closer than the Gators would like.
GEORGIA at TENNESSEE
Tennessee is crumbling, losing for the third time after leading in a game by double digits last week to Arkansas. But Georgia is also vulnerable. The Bulldogs lost in a physically demanding game against Alabama, although Georgia is likely to get over the physical aftereffects a bit more quickly thanks to the fourth quarter of the game essentially being rained out. Georgia was able to put the gearshift in neutral somewhat and prepare for this week’s game. Had the Bulldogs won, this game would have been yet another trap game, but now, the Bulldogs have something to prove. Tennessee is floundering, its head coach is in serious trouble and the team appears just about ready to quit. A beatdown by Georgia here would probably do the trick.
LOUISIANA STATE at SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gamecocks’ defense is a problem, and Leonard Fournette is a problem-solver. LSU didn’t look spectacular last week against an improving-but-outmanned Eastern Michigan team, but South Carolina is looking for a soft place to land. Quarterback issues will make it difficult for the Gamecocks to keep pace with LSU, but the Tigers are also getting spotty QB play at the moment and need to use this game to straighten things out. Steve Spurrier is good for one massive upset a year but this one doesn’t look like it. Not unless Fournette gets hurt, anyway.
South Carolina 17
NEW MEXICO STATE at MISSISSIPPI
The one thing Ole Miss has proven it can do this year is crush bad out-of-conference teams. New Mexico State, owner of an 0-4 record including a loss to Georgia State, which was widely picked to be the worst FBS team in 2015, certainly qualifies. The Rebels will kill the Aggies. And if it plays out any other way, Ole Miss may be on the verge of disintegrating.
Ole Miss 57
New Mexico St. 14
TROY at MISSISSIPPI STATE
This game has caused some nervous moments for Mississippi State in the past, but it’s unlikely to do so in 2015. Troy is 1-3 with its only win coming over Charleston Southern. Even South Alabama put the Trojans down. Mississippi State is coming off a tough loss to Texas A&M, but the Bulldogs can be too dynamic at times for Troy to keep up. It doesn’t help Troy’s cause that the once-high-flying Trojans have cracked the 20-point barrier only once this season.
Mississippi St. 41
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