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HomeFootball2016 FootballSEC Previews and Predictions: Week 8

SEC Previews and Predictions: Week 8

Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

By Jess Nicholas Editor-In-Chief
Oct. 18, 2016

Last week’s record: 3-3 (50.0%)
Season record: 53-10 (84.1%)

The Predictions Dept. finally had its first bad week of the year, going 50/50 on its picks. Thankfully, it was a small slate of games, so there wasn’t much damage to the season record. This week, Alabama has the headline game once again, but Arkansas-Auburn and Ole Miss-LSU will both bring plenty of drama.

Kentucky, as unlikely as it would seem, is still alive for the SEC East title. What we have here is uncertainty: Who teams are worse, those at the bottom of the SEC East or those at the bottom of the SEC West? Aside from a near-win over LSU, Mississippi State hasn’t looked good all year. Kentucky has been up and down. There’s no consistency at either school, unless you mean they’re both consistently bad. This probably turns into Kentucky’s game of the year because if the Wildcats can’t win this one, there’s no reason to respect the direction of the program. Beat Mississippi State, though, and there’s not another automatic loss on Kentucky’s schedule, and the Wildcats could even make Atlanta with a little help. Mississippi State is just playing out the string at this point, as only this game and next week’s against Samford look winnable.
Kentucky 24
Mississippi St. 21

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All is not lost at Missouri – the Tigers could just as easily win the next four games on its schedule as not, which would make them bowl-eligible – but the Tigers were outscored 82-21 the last two weeks by LSU and Florida, and that’s the wrong kind of streak to be on if you’re Mizzou. This week, MTSU comes in to town fresh off a double-overtime win over Western Kentucky that was just the second loss of the year for the Blue Raiders. The problem was the first loss of the year was to the other SEC team on the schedule, and that team was Vanderbilt. MTSU has the look of the kind of program that runs up cheap stats against like teams, but when the big boys are on the schedule, no matter how mediocre, the Blue Raiders fold up.
Missouri 31

Massachusetts has won just one game this year, while dropping games to such luminaries as Old Dominion and Tulane. South Carolina doesn’t score much, but the Gamecocks have an excellent defense and that alone should equal victory for South Carolina. There’s a big team speed differential here, although UMass, for the first three weeks of the season at least, was overachieving in regards to its defense, keeping good teams stymied by a defense made up of players significantly slower, smaller and weaker than their opponents. South Carolina only has this and one other seemingly sure win (Western Carolina being the other), but UMass did put a scare into Mississippi State, so the Gamecocks can’t sleepwalk here.
South Carolina 27
UMass 13

The biggest mystery surrounding this game is that of which band is going to be the featured performer at halftime – of Vanderbilt’s own homecoming week. No one can screw up a football program like Vanderbilt, and even in the wake of a huge upset win over Georgia, by far Derek Mason’s biggest career win as a head coach, Vandy leadership is doing its best to create PR nightmares for itself. The game won’t be close; the question of which program’s leadership belongs in FBS very much is.
Vanderbilt 30
Tennessee St. 7

Arkansas should be commended for rebounding off a physical beating at the hands of Alabama to deliver one of its own against Ole Miss. But now it’s time for a road trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, not the Razorbacks’ favorite venue by a long shot, to face an Auburn team that sat home last week and rested up for this game. Some Auburn coaches and observers are chirping again after convincing wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi St., but those two opponents aren’t in Arkansas’ league. Arkansas should win this game unless the physical toll of playing too many good teams has more of an effect than expected. Auburn’s offense is still too limited, and the secondary can be vulnerable. If this comes down to the kicking game, Auburn will win, but it might not even be that close.
Arkansas 30
Auburn 21

A month ago, this looked like a sure Ole Miss win, that LSU wouldn’t even come close. Then Ole Miss lost to Alabama and Arkansas, effectively knocking the Rebels out of a chance to advance to the SEC Championship Game, and LSU fired Les Miles. Not only that, but LSU named former Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron as its interim coach, and Orgeron has about as much fondness for Ole Miss as a snakebite victim does for a cobra. Ole Miss is starting to show the same signs of midseason fatigue that have plagued them every year under Hugh Freeze’s tenure, while LSU’s defense is one of the few in the conference capable of slowing down the Rebels’ spread offense. The only question here is whether LSU’s offense can score enough to keep pace, because Ole Miss will score to some degree. But between Ole Miss’ penchant for second-half collapses, both in-game and in-season, and the demoralization of once again missing a trip to Atlanta, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if LSU found a way to pull this one out.
Ole Miss 31
LSU 24

IDLE: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee

Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN

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