SEC Previews and Predictions: Week 13

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By Jess Nicholas
TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Nov. 25,

Last week’s record: 7-3 (70.0%)
Season record: 74-27 (73.3%)

As we head into the last full week of the season, the Predictions Dept. is capping off a decidedly mediocre year. Too many teams devolved into erratic messes, and then there were the outright – and shocking – collapses at and Auburn. For the final slate of games, most of which are rivalry tilts, is arguably the biggest game in regards to the strength of the teams involved, but Alabama-Auburn and Ole Miss-Mississippi State are the games with the most on the line.


FLORIDA STATE at FLORIDA
Both teams have quarterback issues, but the Gators have been in trouble now for three weeks in a row, against such shining opposition as Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic. At some point over the last month, national respect for the Seminoles’ product waned heavily, coinciding mainly with FSU’s loss to Clemson. It’s a curious take, in our opinion; Florida State is a strong that gave a good game and is certainly playing better football than Florida at the moment. The Gators are just trying to get to the relatively intact and take their chances on an upset of either Alabama or Ole Miss. The Gator defense looks more potent in this matchup than that of Florida State, but the Seminoles are more explosive on offense by several degrees.
Florida State 28
Florida 17


ALABAMA at AUBURN
See our extended preview!


GEORGIA at GEORGIA TECH
The scheduled Georgia as a tune-up game to this one, and were nearly on the wrong side of a shocker for their trouble. The scare better have been worth it. The Yellow Jackets’ season fell apart early on and Tech is now an inexplicable 3-8 on the season, including losses to Virginia and Virginia Tech. Still, Georgia Tech has enough firepower on offense to make this game tough for the Bulldogs, who have struggled at times against power rushing attacks. The key matchup, though, will be Georgia’s quarterback (expected to be Greyson Lambert) against the Yellow Jackets’ porous defense. Georgia will need to make enough plays on offense to offset a couple of expected bust plays that Tech almost always gets as a result of its option scheme. But the Bulldog defense has toughened lately, and it’s unlikely Georgia Tech will be able to punch enough holes in it.
Georgia 31
Georgia Tech 21


LOUISVILLE at KENTUCKY
The Cardinals, despite being 6-5, don’t have any bad losses on their schedule. But they haven’t beaten anyone they shouldn’t have, either. Fortunately, Kentucky is not a Louisville shouldn’t beat. The got off to a promising start before stalling at the midseason mark. Things were still going OK, though, until Vanderbilt dealt severe damage to the Wildcats’ bowl hopes two weeks ago. Now Kentucky must win this game to make the postseason. Louisville has superior talent in spots and much better coaching than does Kentucky, but the Wildcats have found ways to pull the upset in this series before. If Mark Stoops drops this game, he’ll enter 2016 as having one of the warmest seats of any SEC head coach.
Louisville 37
Kentucky 31


MISSOURI at ARKANSAS
We’ve given up trying to predict what Missouri will do on any given week. So the Predictions Dept.’s focus here is on Arkansas, which could claim sole possession of second place in the SEC West this year if Alabama beats Auburn. Who would have thought it possible a month ago? The Razorbacks finally discovered a passing attack and have been pressuring teams offensively ever since, but the Hog defense is putrid. Good thing, then, that Missouri’s offense would have to take a couple of sizable leaps forward to even get to putrid-level. The Tigers have scored in single digits a whopping five times this year and scored 20 or fewer points another three times. This is one of the worst offenses in the history of the SEC and it would take a mammoth effort from the Tiger defense to keep this game close in the fourth quarter.
Arkansas 27
Missouri 13


at SOUTH CAROLINA
Dabo Swinney has had more than his share of problems winning in this series, but one of his biggest impediments to success – Steve Spurrier – is no longer in Columbia. The highlight of South Carolina’s season was undoubtedly a Week 1 win over North Carolina, giving the Tar Heels their only loss so far. How that ever happened is anyone’s guess; since that game, South Carolina has been on almost a straight path downward to the SEC East cellar. A loss last week to The Citadel – a game which saw the attempt only three passes all game – put the rotten cherry on top of a sewage sundae for the Gamecocks. should be able to name the score in this one, as the Gamecocks have neither the defense to stop the Tigers nor the offense to keep pace. A South Carolina win here would be one of the biggest Division-IA upsets in the last 10 years.
30
South Carolina 13


VANDERBILT at TENNESSEE
Vanderbilt is playing better football as of late – or at least the Commodores were, until Texas A&M, not known for being a premier defensive presence, shut out last week. The Commodores now get in-state rival Tennessee, which is still paying Vandy back for losses sustained during the James Franklin years. Vanderbilt has put up more than 20 points only twice this season, and one of those games came against Austin Peay. Somehow, the Commodores still have a more highly-ranked offense than Missouri, but that’s not relevant here. What’s relevant is, even with the Commodores improving drastically on defense in 2015, they can’t win this game because they can’t keep up with the Volunteer offense.
Tennessee 27
Vanderbilt 7


TEXAS A&M at STATE
This could be Les Miles’ swan song in Baton Rouge, which is a borderline ridiculous possibility when the numbers are broken down. Even if he keeps his job, though, Miles would have to explain the utter collapse of the past month, which started with yet another loss to Nick Saban’s Alabama team, but then also included losses to an overmatched Arkansas and a thumping at the hands of an erratic Ole Miss squad. Texas A&M has its own issues, especially at quarterback, but Kevin Sumlin has at least found a way to get his team not to completely mail it in down the stretch. Last week’s 25-0 win over Vanderbilt was a good salve for the Aggies. You would think ’s players would do anything possible to send Miles out a winner, but anything’s possible (or impossible) for this team.
24
Texas A&M 21


MISSISSIPPI at MISSISSIPPI STATE
This rivalry game has turned into one of the more interesting ones of its kind in recent years, with the underdog winning with enough regularity to make the outcome legitimately in doubt regardless of the strength of the teams involved. This year, you can throw in the Rebels’ slim divisional championship hopes, as Ole Miss must win here and Auburn must upset heavily-favored Alabama to send Ole Miss to for a rematch with the Florida Gators. On top of it all is the final conference game for Mississippi State quarterback – and potentially the greatest player to ever reside in Starkville – Dak Prescott. Even while getting murdered by Alabama two weeks ago, Prescott threw for 300 yards and proved his mettle. This one is basically a coin flip now. It comes down to whether Ole Miss, which has far more talent overall, can go into a hostile environment and beat a led by its legend.
Ole Miss 35
Mississippi St. 31

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