By Jess Nicholas
Nov. 15, 2016
Last week’s record: 4-3 (57.1%)
Season record: 72-19 (79.1%)
The Predictions Dept. slid under the 80-percent mark for the first time this season on the back of a mediocre Week 11. Given the lack of competitive matchups this week, it would be difficult not to rise back above the 80-percent mark heading into Week 13. The rescheduled Florida-LSU game is by far the most intriguing of Week 12’s games, to the extent that Mississippi State-Arkansas is the next-best offering on the sheet.
FLORIDA at LOUISIANA STATE
It seems like we’ve been here before. The Hurricane That Wasn’t knocked this game out of its original time slot and date, and also was able to blow it completely out of the state of Florida despite never coming anywhere near Gainesville. The debate rages as to who “won” the fight over this game – LSU for getting a late-season home contest, or Florida for setting up a scenario that will see the Gators host LSU in the three consecutive years following this one. LSU made a gamble that the Tigers would still be in the SEC West hunt at this point, but LSU failed to move the needle against Alabama and now this game is largely irrelevant for them. It’s not irrelevant for Florida, however, which needs to win this game lest the Gators yield control of the SEC East to Tennessee. It’s regrettable for Florida that the Gators were not able to keep the game in Gainesville, but the SEC forced negotiations on the premise that if Florida and LSU didn’t reschedule the game, neither team would be eligible to contend for its respective division title. But with Florida leaking oil and LSU playing better under Ed Orgeron, the situation here looks grim for the Gators.
TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA at ALABAMA
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LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE at GEORGIA
UL-Lafayette’s best win this year is arguably over South Alabama. Georgia is coming in fresh off an upset of Auburn, a win that guaranteed the Bulldogs bowl eligibility and took a lot of heat off first-year head coach Kirby Smart in the process. Georgia doesn’t have much of an offense, even with its impressive backfield talent, but it won’t need much this week. The Ragin’ Cajuns have tended to wilt in close matchups and even found a way to lose to Idaho.
AUSTIN PEAY at KENTUCKY
The Wildcats will get bowl-eligible after all, but must still be thinking about what might have been after close losses to Georgia and Tennessee.
Austin Peay 20
MISSOURI at TENNESSEE
If Missouri plays the way it did last week against Vanderbilt, the Tigers have a chance to pull an upset here. Tennessee isn’t handing out stickers for big plays, it’s handing out purple hearts for survival. But even with a depleted roster, the Volunteers still show up to this one well in control of the matchup. Win here and against Vanderbilt in the closing week, and Tennessee goes to Atlanta for a rematch with Alabama, providing LSU takes care of Florida as expected. It’s been a wacky year in Knoxville and just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
WESTERN CAROLINA at SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gamecocks will join Kentucky in getting bowl-eligible this week, barring some kind of cosmic occurrence. Big wins over Tennessee and Missouri, coupled with a quality showing against Florida in a loss last week, have propelled the Gamecocks forward, and Will Muschamp will use the unexpected postseason qualification as a springboard in recruiting.
South Carolina 38
W. Carolina 7
MISSISSIPPI at VANDERBILT
This used to be a staple of either Week 1 or Week 2 in the SEC, but now comes at the end of the year. Ordinarily, the change in schedule would benefit the deeper Rebels, as Vanderbilt would be expected to bleed off players over the course of a season. But it hasn’t worked out that way in 2016, with Vandy being the healthier team of the two. Unfortunately for the Commodores, Ole Miss decided to pull the redshirt off QB Shea Patterson last week, and it appears the Rebels now have a jump start on identifying their quarterback of the future. Vanderbilt simply doesn’t have enough offense to keep up.
Ole Miss 37
ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State looked almost like a high school team last week against Alabama. The loss wasn’t unexpected, but the level of domination the Crimson Tide displayed over the Bulldogs was. Arkansas was similarly roughed up by LSU, and come into this game licking their wounds and trying not to utterly fall apart down the stretch. The Razorbacks have the more complete team, and wins here and at Missouri next week would give Bret Bielema a nice 8-4 record in a year most thought would be a rebuilding effort.
Mississippi St. 21
ALABAMA A&M at AUBURN
Auburn will have to use this game to find a healthy quarterback, running back and H-back, as the Tigers have lost a key player at each spot over the last two weeks. Fortunately for the Tigers, Alabama A&M is barely competitive at this level. Auburn should come out of this game with a lot of confidence – which will be nice to have given the sawmill called Bryant-Denny Stadium awaits the following week.
Alabama A&M 6
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO at TEXAS A&M
Texas-San Antonio wraps up the list of hyphenated schools playing SEC programs this week, but the Roadrunners won’t have much of an answer for the Aggies. UTSA is 5-5 and fresh off a 63-35 loss at the hands of Louisiana Tech, a result that doesn’t bode well for their ability to put the brakes on a dangerous A&M offense. Because of an injury to Trevor Knight, Texas A&M does have quarterback issues, but this is a great opportunity to work out the kinks.
Texas A&M 38
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN