Sometimes, you have to take a chance and pick the upset, but bravery cost the Predictions Dept. a couple of percentage points last week when neither Ole Miss nor South Carolina could follow through. This week, there are three matchups more intriguing than the others due to certain forces present in each, leaving us again in the position of trying to determine how brave we really are and how much we’re willing to risk by going against the grain.
Last Week’s Record: 2-2 (50.0%)
Season Record: 19-11 (63.3%)
MISSOURI at FLORIDA
Here’s the first one of those three games. Missouri is coming off a nice win over Kentucky last week, the one upset pick that we actually hit on. The Tigers finally have the right quarterback under center. But Florida comes into this game ranked 10th in the country with superior talent to Missouri all across the field. So what could make this game close? Florida has been the better part of three weeks in Covid-related shutdown, and the Gators’ last game before that was a surprise loss to Texas A&M. Florida will be somewhat rusty again while Missouri has some momentum. If the game was in Columbia, we’d probably take the upset, but even with a modest crowd, Columbia to Gainesville is a long trip. Missouri hasn’t found consistency in putting together great performances on the road in the SEC, and we don’t expect things to begin to come together in that regard during this crazy season.
GEORGIA at KENTUCKY
Georgia was off last week after getting crushed in the second half by Alabama two weeks ago. Kentucky is coming off a drab 20-10 loss to Missouri, a game in which the Wildcats looked very easy to control. Neither team is in a good place right now mentally, although Georgia has plenty more to play for than does Kentucky, which seems to be steaming toward a sub-.500 record by the time the 2020 season is over. Kentucky’s defense gives it a chance in any game, but the offense hasn’t been able to put together any kind of consistency, and it may be time to start auditioning other quarterbacks. Georgia just has far too much talent for this game to ever fall into any kind of danger.
MISSISSIPPI at VANDERBILT
It’s fairly clear now that the offensive juggernaut that gave Alabama a close game in Oxford was simply a mirage. Ole Miss just doesn’t have it yet, but the future is bright. Fortunately for the Rebels, they draw Vanderbilt this week, a team that seems completely incapable of defeating anyone on its schedule. Ole Miss probably represents the best opportunity for a Commodore victory in 2020 given that the Rebels can’t stop anyone from scoring, and Vandy sure needs the help. The ‘Dores have scored 12, 7 and 7 points in three games. Like Florida, it’s been three weeks now since the last Vanderbilt football game, thanks to Covid-19. Unlike Florida, Vanderbilt isn’t likely to get back into the action with a victory.
Ole Miss 43
ARKANSAS at TEXAS A&M
Our second intriguing matchup is this one, because suddenly Arkansas is belle of the ball in many parts thanks to its strong showing in 2020’s early going, and massive improvement over the train wreck it’s been in recent years. Texas A&M is coming off two wins over Florida and Mississippi State, but the offense sputtered against the Bulldogs and quite frankly, Arkansas has looked better in 2020 if you throw out the season-opening loss to Georgia. This game suddenly has some action to it, as Texas A&M’s defense will need to continue to hold the line so that its offense doesn’t feel pressured to keep up. The Aggies are at their most dangerous when they can play loose on offense, and they’ll need to find a way to do that here, as Arkansas has proven it is dangerous when allowed to hang around in the game. Another close one, but another upset we’ll pass up on picking.
Texas A&M 30
AUBURN at LOUISIANA STATE
Auburn is probably the hardest SEC team to figure out right now. The defense is OK but not great, and the offense goes through cycles where it either looks balanced and competent, or completely hopeless. Two weeks ago, we might have taken Auburn in this game, but that was before LSU rediscovered its offensive balance. The game is in Jordan-Hare Stadium, so hopefully Auburn can’t depend on a questionable, home-cooked referee’s call to help it win. We’re not completely certain taking LSU over Auburn in this game actually qualifies as picking an upset, because these are both flawed teams that will continue to struggle with expectations long after this week of the schedule has passed. But Auburn just doesn’t seem to have the firepower to keep up in a shootout, and that’s what this game is looking like.
IDLE: South Carolina, Tennessee
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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