By Jess Nicholas
Nov. 11, 2015
Last week’s record: 5-2 (71.4%)
Season record: 63-20 (75.9%)
The Predictions Dept. might have lost two games last week, but there are no tears being shed over the result of the Ole Miss-Arkansas game. Alabama again has the SEC’s game of the week, this time against Mississippi State, but Arkansas-LSU and Georgia-Auburn will provide enough entertainment value to tune in.
FLORIDA at SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gators did their best to take themselves out of the national championship conversation, allowing Vanderbilt’s defense to dictate the terms of its game against Florida last Saturday. South Carolina, meanwhile, nearly upset Tennessee, as the Gamecocks seem to be actually playing better now that Steve Spurrier is no longer in Columbia. Florida can’t approach this game the same way it did Vanderbilt, or the Gators will miss out on any kind of chance to reach the final four. The pressure of winning the SEC East is off, but that may have been the problem against Vandy. Florida QB Treon Harris has to improve, quickly, or Florida will sputter at the end of what has been a fairly magical season thus far.
South Carolina 17
GEORGIA at AUBURN
The Bulldogs rebounded nicely to throttle Kentucky last week, but Auburn played probably the best game of any SEC team other than Alabama when it dominated Texas A&M on the road. This game will be an early kickoff in Auburn, and that slot tends to favor the home team. If Auburn can continue to get some balance out of its running back group and QB Jeremy Johnson, the Tigers will be hard to beat. Georgia has more talent and expectations were higher for the Bulldogs coming into the season than for the Tigers, but it’s hard to evaluate Georgia these days given the Bulldogs’ erratic field behavior. Don’t be surprised if Auburn pulls this upset. In fact, we’re picking it.
KENTUCKY at VANDERBILT
The Wildcats’ season has become a disappointment, but Vanderbilt’s season was a disappointment from Week 1 on. Kentucky comes into this one having laid down in front of Georgia last week, while Vandy put up yet another heartbreaking, almost-there performance against Florida before falling to a long field goal in the final minutes. That kind of collapse has been like rat poison to past Commodore teams, even in their infrequent good years. If Kentucky can solve the riddle of the Commodore defense, which is capable of causing problems even for good teams, the Wildcats should pull this one off. Vanderbilt simply can’t score consistently.
BRIGHAM YOUNG vs. MISSOURI (at Kansas City, Mo.)
TideFans.com considered taking this pick off our board this week due to the off-field cyclone of protests surrounding the Missouri program, but relented when it became clear nothing Missouri did or didn’t do this week was likely to affect the selection. We’re still not 100 percent sure this game will even be played, but if it is, it’s hard to see how Missouri can win it. The Tigers don’t have much on offense at the moment, with our without the contingent of “striking” players. BYU has dropped off the radar somewhat after its first loss of the season back in Week 3, and is coming off a one-point win over San Jose State. But the Cougars have at least shown a pulse on offense. If the game is played — and as of press time, it has a green light — they should win.
NORTH TEXAS at TENNESSEE
North Texas is 1-8, the Mean Green are in the middle of a coaching change and they probably don’t want to even be in this game. The only way Tennessee doesn’t win it is if the Volunteers don’t show up at game time – as in, literally don’t come to the stadium.
North Texas 7
ARKANSAS at LOUISIANA STATE
If LSU follows script, the Tigers will have a tremendous problem on their hands when Arkansas comes to town. Teams playing the week after facing Alabama this season have not found the next game easy pickings. The fact that Arkansas is a physical team coming off an emotional, leave-it-all-on-the-field kind of win over Ole Miss doesn’t help LSU’s chances any. This one comes down to Arkansas’ ability to stop Leonard Fournette, who, along with his offensive line, were embarrassed in Tuscaloosa. If Fournette wants to salvage his Heisman Trophy campaign, he needs to hang about 200 yards on the Hogs. But with Arkansas QB Brandon Allen peaking at the right time, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if LSU found a way to lose this game. Tigers beware.
WESTERN CAROLINA at TEXAS A&M
The Aggies laid an egg against Auburn on Saturday, and there are winds of discontent beginning to swirl around Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. Fortunately, the Catamounts come to town at the right time. Texas A&M needs a scrimmage-type game where it can work out some kinks, and this certainly qualifies. If the Aggies struggle in this game, the calls for Sumlin to make changes will only get substantially louder.
Texas A&M 52
W. Carolina 17
IDLE: Ole Miss
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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