By Jess Nicholas
Nov. 3, 2015
Last week’s record: 6-0 (100.0%)
Season record: 58-18 (76.3%)
It took the Predictions Dept. until Week 9 of the 2015 season, but we finally notched a perfect record for the week. For Week 10, the only game that will have anyone’s attention will be Alabama-LSU, which is the first of potentially two eliminator games (LSU-Ole Miss is the other, in a couple of weeks) between SEC West teams. Elsewhere, Auburn faces off against Texas A&M, while Kentucky and Georgia meet in a game that could seal Mark Richt’s fate as Bulldog head coach.
VANDERBILT at FLORIDA
The fact that the Commodores lost to an undefeated Houston team last week isn’t necessarily a surprise; that it came by a 34-0 score is – no matter how bad Vanderbilt happens to be. Derek Mason may not get a third year if Vandy continues to regress. Mason, for the second consecutive season, is cycling through his quarterback depth chart in a move that screams “desperation.” Florida, meanwhile, clinches the SEC East with a win in this game. The Gators demolished Georgia in a rivalry game last week and have an outside chance to play for a national championship if they keep winning. They’ll keep winning this week.
LOUISIANA STATE at ALABAMA
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KENTUCKY at GEORGIA
Kentucky got schooled by Tennessee last week in a game that, coupled with Tennessee’s near upset of Alabama the week before, was a signal that the Vols may actually be on the road back. The Wildcats, however, are not. Kentucky has improved under the Mark Stoops regime, but the Wildcats are still mediocre on their best day. Georgia would happily settle for mediocrity at this point. The wheels are off in Athens and local media are finally starting to figure out what objective observers have known for years: Mark Richt is a good coach, but not a great one, and the Bulldog program is celebrating its third straight decade of middling results. Richt curiously decided to start Faton Bauta at quarterback against Florida, then inexplicably stayed with him despite several interceptions. How Richt plays out the QB decision this week is anyone’s guess, but if Kentucky beats Georgia, it won’t be anyone’s guess what happens to Richt at the end of the season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at MISSOURI
With Tiger QB Maty Mauk now suspended for the balance of the year, and without a game-ready backup on the roster to take his place, Missouri doesn’t seem to stand much of a chance, even against a sparsely weaponized team like Mississippi State. Beyond QB Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs don’t have much, but Dan Mullen’s best coaching job to date has allowed the Bulldogs to find a top-25 ranking and play solid football despite substandard explosiveness. Mississippi State’s biggest roadblock to victory here will be in getting caught looking ahead to its game against Alabama the following week. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine Missouri being competitive in this one.
Mississippi St. 23
SOUTH CAROLINA at TENNESSEE
The Gamecocks seemed to have perked up a bit in the weeks following Steve Spurrier’s abrupt retirement. South Carolina lost to Texas A&M last week, but in a game that was much more competitive than most probably thought it would be. Unfortunately for South Carolina, they get one of the SEC’s hottest teams this week, and must play them at their house. Tennessee played over its head against Alabama two weeks ago and nearly won the game, then followed up that effort by trouncing Kentucky in Week 9. It wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to see the Gamecocks pull this upset – Butch Jones is good for a couple of head-scratchers every year – but the way Tennessee is playing at the moment, the Volunteers might not lose again in the regular season.
South Carolina 21
ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI
Alabama fans who couldn’t stand the thought of pulling for Auburn last week will find it much easier to pull for the Razorbacks this week. But while Alabama needs Ole Miss to lose again, that loss probably won’t come here. Ole Miss is playing better since the return of LT Laremy Tunsil and back-to-back wins over Texas A&M and Auburn give the Rebels something to build on for the stretch run. Arkansas’ defense may not have enough juice to stop Ole Miss’ outside running game, while the Razorback offense can’t keep up with the Rebels if this game devolves into a firefight. Alabama fans will likely have to wait at least one more game to get the second Rebel loss they need.
Ole Miss 30
AUBURN at TEXAS A&M
The Aggies are wobbly, thanks to an inscrutable quarterback situation, a wobbly defense and questions about the mental state of the team’s locker room. Auburn, though, may be in worse shape: A loss here would force Auburn to upset either Georgia or Alabama to get bowl-eligible – quite a fall for a team many picked to win the division before the season started. Auburn competed admirably last week against Ole Miss, but still fell in the end. Some fans are beginning to grumble about the job Gus Malzahn is doing as head coach, and historically, Auburn isn’t able to perform at optimum levels once the rumors and innuendo really begin to fly. Look for a mutually high-scoring affair this week in College Station, and if Auburn loses it, look for the Tiger bandwagon to lose a wheel or two.
Texas A&M 42
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