By Jess Nicholas
Oct. 19, 2017
Last week’s record: 5-2 (71.4%)
Season record: 56-9 (86.2%)
Once again, LSU went about spoiling the Predictions Dept.’s accuracy rate, but when the result is a defeat of Auburn, most Alabama fans aren’t going to argue. The other black mark on the record from last week involved an unforeseen loss by Tennessee, so we don’t expect a lot of sympathy from fans for our two losses this week. For Week 8, the SEC has a short schedule, just five games with a lot of teams on a bye week.
KENTUCKY at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Don’t look now, but Kentucky is 5-1 and just a point away from being undefeated. On the other hand, the Wildcats might still not make a bowl game this year. Such is the reality of Kentucky football, a place where teams seem to ride the peaks and valleys of emotion at a pace and severity far out of scope with the rest of the SEC’s mid-pack teams. If Kentucky doesn’t win here, bowl eligibility may come down to the Vanderbilt game on Nov. 11. Mississippi State isn’t the contender some analysts thought in the preseason, but the Bulldogs have by far the most dynamic player in this game (QB Nick Fitzgerald) and are playing at home. Kentucky still hasn’t shown the consistent ability to answer the bell in underdog situations. The Wildcats had Florida beaten but just flat-out choked it away. In addition, the Wildcats couldn’t put away weaker teams like Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan or Missouri. Mississippi State won’t give Kentucky unlimited opportunities, and won’t wait around for the Wildcats to decide whether they really came to play.
Mississippi St. 34
IDAHO at MISSOURI
Finally, a game Missouri can win. It still isn’t guaranteed, though. The Vandals are 2-4 this year, but three of those losses are only by a combined 17 points. A win over South Alabama is mixed in there, along with a victory over lower-division Sacramento State. Only a big loss to woeful UNLV in Week 2 looks problematic, and Idaho has the country’s sixth-best pass defense and ranks 30th in total defense. Missouri, meanwhile, can’t stop anybody. But the Tigers can sure score. Even against Georgia last week, an overmatched Missouri team kept things close in the first half due to the prowess of its quick-strike offense. Paul Petrino has done a good job of making Idaho competitive, but he’s fighting an uphill battle and the Tigers ought to be able to pull away in this one.
AUBURN at ARKANSAS
Auburn found an inventive way to lose to LSU last week: The Tigers let Ed Orgeron outcoach Gus Malzahn. Rarely have the words “Ed Orgeron” and “outcoach” been used in the same sentence unless Orgeron was the direct object rather than the subject. Malzahn suddenly finds himself in hot water, so it will be interesting to see whether Auburn has the juice necessary to rebound and take out some frustrations on an Arkansas team that had nothing for Alabama last week. If this was Texas A&M week or Georgia week or just about any other week for Auburn, the Tigers would be in trouble. The loss to LSU has already widened some cracks in the foundation of the program. But Arkansas is just a bad team, beaten up, and appears to be losing its will to fight.
LOUISIANA STATE at MISSISSIPPI
LSU is coming off the high of beating Auburn, making up a three-score deficit in the second half to win by a 27-23 score. Ed Orgeron has already proven to be an erratic manager of emotions within his previous teams, but he himself added to the problem this week by publicly admitting he dreamed of coaching LSU while he was still coach of Ole Miss. If it weren’t for the impressive amount of talent LSU has on its sideline, a comment like that might be enough to throw a game like this one. But LSU is just a much better football team than is Ole Miss. The Rebels’ only hope of victory here is for QB Shea Patterson to have a career game, and he is more than capable of doing so. He’s going to have to do so in order for the Rebels to win, because the defense has all but quit, and Matt Luke may be less adept at outcoaching someone than is Ed Orgeron. At least Orgeron can say he outfoxed Gus Malzahn. But that and a buck will buy you roadhouse coffee this week. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see LSU once again get down early, then have to come back to put away an opponent.
Ole Miss 20
IDLE: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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