A short week this time out, with only five games on the slate, headed probably by LSU-Ole Miss and the traveling circus that surrounds both programs. Alabama will host Tennessee, but the rest of the conference slate looks to be a snorefest.
Last week’s record: 5-2 (71.4%)
Season record: 53-16 (76.8%)
SOUTH CAROLINA at TEXAS A&M
South Carolina had to mount a late charge to overtake Vanderbilt last week, probably the last win the Gamecocks will see in 2021 barring a minor miracle. Texas A&M has far too many playmakers for the Gamecocks to handle, and with the game in College Station the best-case scenario for USC would seem to be keeping the ultimate outcome closer than the betting spread. As for future weeks, we’d like to see continued growth in the Gamecock defense, which would at least give the Cocks a puncher’s chance against Missouri or Florida in the closing weeks. The Aggies, meanwhile, can still put themselves in a good bowl game with a strong finish.
Texas A&M 37
South Carolina 13
TENNESSEE at ALABAMA
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MISSISSIPPI STATE at VANDERBILT
Now it’s time to see whether an old curse continues to prove true – i.e., teams that get crushed by Alabama tend to underachieve the following week. Mississippi State got blasted in every way possible by Alabama at home last Saturday, and QB Will Rogers’ availability and potential effectiveness for this game are both somewhat in question due to a shoulder injury he suffered in that contest. Vanderbilt overperformed in a loss against South Carolina, but how many more close calls can the Commodores take before it begins to wear on their psyche? Vanderbilt’s strength on defense matches up well with what MSU will want to do, but the question is can the Commodore offense score enough to keep its defense off the field.
Mississippi St. 28
ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF at ARKANSAS
Finally for Arkansas, a bit of relief after an unbelievable mid-year gauntlet run against some of the SEC’s best opponents.
LOUISIANA STATE at MISSISSIPPI
In classic LSU fashion, the Tigers scored a jaw-dropping upset of Florida, and then fired its coach. LSU athletics as a whole has been in ready-fire-aim mode for the past decade, especially a football program obsessed with trying, with much futility, to supplant Alabama (and particularly Nick Saban) at the top of the SEC West. There has been 900 percent more discussion this week about LSU’s next coach than about this game, and some believe Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin will use this matchup as sort of a de facto job interview. Ole Miss’ team, meanwhile, is coming off a cliffhanger win over Tennessee that will be the source of memes for decades given Tennessee fan conduct at the end. It’s a perfect soup of crazy in Oxford this week.
Ole Miss 51
IDLE: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN