Of the four misses in Week 5, the Predictions Dept. is most upset about the Florida-Kentucky pick, which we got right in the preseason but then changed to Florida due to loss of confidence in the Wildcats after Kentucky sputtered through a couple of also-ran opponents. This week, there are just seven games, with five of them highly interesting matchups. Alabama-Texas A&M is the big one, but the hardest to pick may end up being Arkansas-Ole Miss.
Last week’s record: 4-4 (50.0%)
Season record: 42-13 (76.4%)
VANDERBILT at FLORIDA
Vanderbilt has won two games at the buzzer already this year, but if a third is coming, it probably won’t be this week. Florida’s chances at reaching Atlanta are now all but over, but the Gators still have a lot to play for and unless Florida has decided to totally quit on the year following the Kentucky loss, this one won’t be close. Vanderbilt needed all 60 minutes to defeat a terrible UConn program last week, and the Commodores just don’t have the firepower to keep up with Florida, especially on the road.
GEORGIA at AUBURN
It’s hard to say what Auburn’s win over LSU really meant last week, as LSU is once again listing under poor management, but a win over Georgia this week would say quite a bit about the direction of the Auburn program. The game’s in the right place for Auburn, for sure – especially given how late-game weirdness seems to always favor the home team when the chips are down. Having said that, Auburn is nowhere close to Georgia in regards to talent. The Georgia DL against the Auburn OL is a mismatch of Mike Tyson-vs.-Glass Joe proportions, and Georgia’s running game ought to be able to control the flow of the game. But Georgia has quarterback health questions, and neither team is all that dynamic downfield. That could lead to the game being a close slugfest, and anything that keeps the game closer for longer is going to benefit Auburn.
LOUISIANA STATE at KENTUCKY
Now we get to see whether Kentucky can play as a frontrunner. The Wildcats took care of business against a better Florida team last week than the LSU team that will show up this week. LSU, meanwhile, lost to Auburn at home, and then head coach Ed Orgeron may or may not have threatened a prank caller on his weekly call-in show with bodily harm (or at least, getting permanently lost in a swamp somewhere). It all depends on how you interpret Orgeron’s storytelling and allegorical abilities, we guess. On paper, LSU is still the better team here, but the Tigers haven’t been playing like it. The biggest question to answer this week is whether Kentucky will get overwhelmed by its own undefeated record and sudden status as SEC East contender.
NORTH TEXAS at MISSOURI
Missouri gets a break this week as North Texas comes in on a three-game losing streak. More importantly, the Mean Green can’t pressure defenses throwing the football, which is Missouri’s weakness. With the UNT offense struggling, Missouri should be able to outpace them here and get a much-needed win before conference play resumes.
North Texas 14
SOUTH CAROLINA at TENNESSEE
Tennessee’s offense woke up in a big way against Missouri, and if the Volunteers can hold onto that momentum, it could wind up salvaging a decent bowl bid. The Vols’ issue here is that South Carolina’s defense is legit, whereas Missouri’s defense started out bad and has been getting worse. Fortunately for Tennessee, South Carolina can’t score points, so as good as the Gamecock defense can be, it can’t win the game by itself. With the game in Knoxville, taking the home team looks like a safe bet.
South Carolina 10
ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI
You just kind of knew the Arkansas train was going to derail at some point, since the Razorbacks don’t really make a lot of plays from the quarterback position and the defense, scrappy though it is, doesn’t have the necessary depth. Now Arkansas gets to run around and try to cover a bunch of fleet Rebel receivers who want to make amends for last week’s anemic showing in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss has the same questions up front that it did a week ago, though, namely how to keep QB Matt Corral’s jersey clean long enough for him to find targets downfield. Also, Ole Miss’ defense, especially its front seven, is not the strongest, and the Arkansas offensive line may be better than the Alabama offensive line that just got through pummeling the Rebel front. We’ll see this week whether Arkansas is truly a contender, or if the Razorbacks are beginning to fade under the pressure of a long season.
Ole Miss 34
IDLE: Mississippi State