Last Week’s Record: 4-1 (80.0%)
Season Record: 45-12 (79.0%)
Auburn fell hard into a trap game in Week 6 and took the Predictions Dept. with it. While the Gators had looked almost dysfunctionally cute so far this season, they put it all together long enough to knock off an Auburn team that suddenly has all kind of problems on offense. This week, Florida again gets the conference’s marquee game, going on the road to face LSU in Baton Rogue.
FLORIDA at LOUISIANA STATE
Back-to-back games against physical teams is tough for any program to overcome, and Florida certainly gets a hard assignment this week. Getting past a one-dimensional Auburn team is one thing; getting past a balanced LSU team that played its most complete game of the season in a tune-up against Utah State is another. Florida can’t score enough to keep pace with LSU, so the only hope here is that the Gator defense is as legit as it looked against Auburn last Saturday. The real question is whether Florida will be adequately rested and prepared for this game, having just come off an emotional win where getting beaten up in the trenches by a veteran AU squad is certain to have taken its toll. Unfortunately, the train of undefeated teams can’t carry both passengers beyond this week, and this is where Florida gets off.
ALABAMA at TEXAS A&M
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SOUTH CAROLINA at GEORGIA
If you’re inclined to believe the first half of last week’s Georgia-Tennessee game means anything sinister for the Bulldogs, then South Carolina is imminently more equipped to do something about it than the Volunteers were. South Carolina played a nice game in a convincing win over Kentucky, which kept the Gamecocks’ postseason hopes viable. Unfortunately for USC, watching Georgia dismantle Tennessee in the second half of that game tends to lead one to believe the first half was a fluke fueled by Tennessee’s decision to switch quarterbacks. And this game is in Athens. Georgia does seem to have some vulnerabilities is 2019, but South Carolina probably doesn’t have enough depth, or key playmakers, to expose them all.
South Carolina 21
ARKANSAS at KENTUCKY
The wheels are off at both schools at the moment. Kentucky’s quarterback issues have been just one other problem to throw onto the pile following an offseason where graduation and the NFL Draft laid low the roster. Arkansas, meanwhile, can’t seem to get out of the gate, although its near-miss against Texas A&M did give some hope, especially after Nick Starkel has emerged somewhat as an option at quarterback. This game winds up being one of the toughest on the board to pick, simply because we’re not sure who is going to stink the least this week. When in doubt, take home-field advantage.
MISSISSIPPI at MISSOURI
Ole Miss finally got off the mat against Vanderbilt, but there isn’t another sure thing on the schedule beyond a game with New Mexico State on Nov. 9. Missouri, meanwhile, has been a tale of two teams all wrapped up in one: Missouri against Wyoming, and Missouri against anyone else. To be fair, Mizzou hasn’t played a truly tough team yet – South Carolina is the strongest so far of the opponents the Tigers have faced. But also to be fair, Ole Miss isn’t a tough team, either.
Ole Miss 31
MISSISSIPPI STATE at TENNESSEE
Georgia – or the first half of that game, at least – may have been Tennessee’s Dead Cat Bounce game. If so, this game is about to be the typical dead-cat follow-up, meaning it’s very likely the Bulldogs are going to bring a shovel, vault and a headstone with them from Starkville. The Bulldogs haven’t been themselves, thanks to injuries at the quarterback position, and are probably eager to prove they’re still a “Tier 2” school in the SEC West. For that to happen, the Bulldogs can’t let Tennessee up off the mat. Otherwise this will be the game that probably lands Joe Moorhead on the hot seat in Starkville and sets up a win-or-else scenario for Mississippi State in 2020.
Mississippi St. 24
NEVADA-LAS VEGAS at VANDERBILT
UNLV won its opener handily over lower-division Southern Utah, and then has lost four in a row since, scoring between 13 and 17 points in each game. The Runnin’ Rebels moniker fits, because they’re certainly not the Throwin’ Rebels this year – a fact that will probably end all chances of an upset. UNLV is too one-dimensional to pressure Vanderbilt’s weaknesses, and there are many. The Commodores are one of the worst, if not the worst, teams in the country from a statistical standpoint. Of the nine major statistical categories – four offensive, five defensive – Vanderbilt ranks 100th or worse in eight of them. That kind of incompetence is almost unheard of, especially from a team that was as respectable as Vanderbilt was in 2018. As such, Derek Mason is vulnerable in his job, and it’s going to be difficult for Vanderbilt to avoid a 10-loss season … impossible, even, if the Commodores lose here.
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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