Last week’s record: 11-1 (91.7%)
Season record: 32-7 (82.1%)
Week 3 was very kind to the Predictions Dept., with the only mis-picked game, Memphis’ upset of Mississippi State, not exactly unexpected. We had warned readers to watch for that one, and a botched officiating call on a Memphis punt return (a call the SEC office later admitted was misapplied) proved to be the difference. This week, it’s most an all in-conference lineup, but there’s really only one game of extreme interest, as Texas A&M travels to Arkansas.
TENNESSEE at FLORIDA
Tennessee’s hopes here basically boil down to whether Florida does what a lot of Alabama’s victims tend to do, and not show up the week after a loss to the Crimson Tide. Otherwise, Tennessee is about to incur the wrath of a very upset Gator team that feels it should have beaten Alabama and probably believes it and not Georgia is the SEC East’s best. Tennessee looks to be playing better than it did in 2020, but the Volunteers admittedly underachieved last year relative to the team’s talent level, so this looks basically like the Vols are simply reverting to the mean. It isn’t good enough to beat Florida on a neutral field, and certainly not in The Swamp.
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI at ALABAMA
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GEORGIA at VANDERBILT
We’ve seen Vandy pull off miracle wins in conference play in prior seasons, but there’s virtually no chance of it happening again here. The Commodores don’t have enough offensive firepower to challenge even an average defense, and Georgia’s defense is far above that level. On top of that, the Vanderbilt defense just isn’t all that good, certainly not good enough to stop a talented Bulldog team that may have figured out the quarterback position.
KENTUCKY at SOUTH CAROLINA
Kentucky showed last week why we always have so much trouble believing in the Wildcats around here. Kentucky let Chattanooga hang around the entire game and only ended up winning the game by a single score. South Carolina should be an easy win, but the Gamecocks did their best to hang with Georgia (it lasted all of about one-and-a-half quarters) and is certainly a better team than was UTC. With the game in Columbia, Kentucky has to be careful, but the Wildcats still have a level of offensive explosiveness that South Carolina can’t match. The Kentucky defense needs to assert itself quickly, however, and can’t give up the same points production it did a week ago.
South Carolina 17
MISSOURI at BOSTON COLLEGE
Tucked in the middle of all these intraconference games is an intriguing matchup between Missouri and Boston College, to be played up north. Missouri won again last week, but its defense has been terrible so far and it can’t stop the run. BC, meanwhile, has a decent rushing attack and is 3-0. More importantly, Boston College ranks 14th in total defense, and Missouri hasn’t faced a stiff defense yet. Just like Memphis-MSU last week, if Boston College happens to win this game, it won’t surprise us a bit. What the Tigers have to do is leverage its speed advantage, especially in the passing game, quickly and repeatedly … as well as play much, much better on the defensive side of the ball.
Boston College 28
TEXAS A&M vs. ARKANSAS (at Arlington, Texas)
It will be interesting to see if this continues as a neutral-venue game after Texas joins the SEC and basically brings the remainder of the old Southwest Conference’s power base with them, because Arkansas doesn’t need to keep giving up home games for the sake of nostalgia. Why Arkansas ever agreed to go neutral-site with this game is a mystery; this game would be in Fayetteville this year otherwise and given how poorly Texas A&M has played on offense, a Hog home-field advantage may have been enough to make a difference in the outcome. As it is, Arkansas could still win this game, but Arkansas’ advantage over its opponents up to this point has been that the Razorback running game has been enough to win games by itself. Arkansas put up better numbers from the quarterback position last week against Georgia Southern, but the Eagles were truly a bad team and Texas A&M is not. The Aggies have their own offensive balance issues to worry about given the injury situation at quarterback, but will it be enough to trigger an upset? Probably not, as the Aggies have a big advantage with this game being played in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Texas A&M 30
GEORGIA STATE at AUBURN
Auburn continues its tour of a non-conference schedule front-loaded with patsies, the Penn State game being the sole outlier. Georgia State got its first win last week, a snoozer over Charlotte. It won’t get anywhere close to challenging Auburn.
Georgia State 7
LOUISIANA STATE at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State couldn’t pull out a third win in a row against Memphis, which would have brought the Bulldogs into this game on a high and playing with confidence. Instead – and especially since it was an official’s mistake that led to the loss – MSU now gets to contend with an LSU team bent on revenge for last year’s early loss to the Bulldogs, which effectively put LSU’s season on a downward trajectory. LSU shockingly cannot run the ball for a second year in a row, and any SEC team that can’t do that invites a lot of risk into the equation. Whether Mississippi State has enough juice to upset LSU a second time is unclear, but it does seem like the Bulldogs are more of a threat to score than they were in Mike Leach’s first season. Could be interesting.
Mississippi St. 30
IDLE: Ole Miss
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN