Last Week’s Record: 4-3 (57.1%)
Season Record: 68-21 (76.4%)
The Predictions Dept. missed on three games last week and two of the losing coaches in those games are either now out of a job or headed that way fast. Arkansas’ inexplicable blowout loss against Western Kentucky cost Chad Morris his position, almost immediately following the game. South Carolina’s loss to Appalachian State, which probably should have done the same to Will Muschamp, instead has put the Gamecocks in a box due to the earlier upset of Georgia. This week’s slate of games is headlined by Georgia facing Auburn, with little else of significance outside of maybe Florida in a trap game at Missouri.
FLORIDA at MISSOURI
If the Tigers had shown any life last week against Georgia, we might be tempted to pick the upset here. Florida is traveling a very long way from home to play a team with an underrated defense and, if Kelly Bryant somehow manages to play, a quarterback that can do some next-level things. If Bryant’s hamstring is still wonky, however, Missouri might as well go ahead and cancel the game if it can. Florida is a hard team to figure and one that is still trying to find its legs. But it has developed a blue-collar identity as a hard-to-kill opponent with a defense that tends to feast on subpar opponents. In other words, Florida has become Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State teams already.
ALABAMA at MISSISSIPPI STATE
See our extended preview!
GEORGIA at AUBURN
Georgia’s offense has suddenly bumped up against the throttle governor, but the defense is showing the power of an Indy car. Auburn’s offense is a mess, and the loss of QB Joey Gatewood (and the controversy that it ignited) not only served to make things worse, it also robbed Auburn of a very good system QB in the backup role. The real question here is whether anyone is going to score, because Auburn’s defensive line has cemented its status as the best in the conference. It’s just that there are seven other guys on the field along with that defensive line, and they haven’t exactly been in the same area code as the DL yet. The key here for Georgia is what kind of day Jake Fromm is going to have at quarterback. It’s time for Fromm to take the next step from game manager to something more.
KENTUCKY at VANDERBILT
Every time we get ready to say Vanderbilt has mailed it in, the Commodores deliver a win over Missouri or scare LSU or something similar. It’s even more dangerous for us to hit the Commodores with the “mailed it in” tag this week, because the opponent is Kentucky. The Wildcats are just as apt to fall on their faces as they are to show out. This much is clear: Kentucky needs two wins to get bowl-eligible, and beating Vanderbilt is probably going to be a far sight easier than beating Louisville on the final week of the season. A win over UT-Martin next week is a given. As for Vanderbilt, Derek Mason probably survives the year with a 4-8 record, which he can get by beating either Kentucky or Tennessee to go along with an assumed win next week against ETSU. We’ve taken three road teams in this article so far (oops, spoiler alert: We’ll be taking Alabama over MSU in our extended preview), and we’ll continue the trend here. Neither team is multi-dimensional, but Kentucky has more to play for.
SOUTH CAROLINA at TEXAS A&M
Here’s where that take-the-road-team thing ends, abruptly. South Carolina is a bit of a mess at the moment; since beating Georgia on Oct. 12 – with a part-time receiver/quarterback at the controls, at that – the Gamecocks have lost big to both Florida and Tennessee (!), fettered around with a bad Vanderbilt team before eventually winning, and got hit with the “L” by Appalachian State last week in a game that might end up putting Will Muschamp on the unemployment line at season’s end. Only two games remain, and South Carolina is expected to get blown out in both. And if that happens, Muschamp might very well could be on Alabama’s defensive staff next fall. Texas A&M is on a three-game winning streak after acquitting itself fairly well against Alabama.
Texas A&M 42
South Carolina 20
LOUISIANA STATE at MISSISSIPPI
The only saving grace for Ole Miss is that it gets LSU a week after playing a physical, to-the-last-whistle game against Alabama. Otherwise, this one would be over at the end of the first quarter. The Rebels might now get a reprieve until halftime, or maybe sometime in the third quarter, but the eventual beatdown is coming at some point. Ole Miss’ defense simply can’t stop LSU in any way. Offensively, the Rebels could theoretically cause some issues for LSU due to its athleticism at quarterback, but what LSU is doing offensively at the moment is about as close to impossible to stop as any 2019 offense can be. On top of that, LSU’s assistant coaches ran circles around Alabama, schematically, at times last week. What chance does Ole Miss have?
Ole Miss 24
IDLE: Tennessee, Arkansas
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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