Coming down the home stretch, Week 12 is a pseudo-week off for some teams while others – Alabama in particular – get a more significant challenge. The Bama-Arkansas game is by far the juiciest matchup on this week’s schedule, although Auburn-South Carolina has the potential to get interesting if the Tigers don’t respond well to the loss of their starting quarterback.
Last week’s record: 5-3 (62.5%)
Season record: 69-24 (74.2%)
FLORIDA at MISSOURI
A matchup of disappointing teams in the SEC East, Florida sits sixth in the division while Missouri is in fourth, although the two will flip-flop if the Gators find a way to pull this out. We have no idea what to do with Florida; it’s still a dangerous offensive team, as evidenced by 70 points scored last week against Samford – and that total is nothing to sneeze at no matter what division the Bulldogs play in. However, the Gators appear to have mentally checked out. Head coach Dan Mullen has already fired two assistants and is himself on the hot seat, but Missouri can’t play defense and Florida can use its athleticism at quarterback to great advantage. If the game was in Gainesville, we’d call it a Florida win and move on, but the game being in Columbia, Mo., changes things a bit. Missouri is coming off a win over a South Carolina team that Florida couldn’t beat, but can the Tigers keep the Gators caged?
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN at GEORGIA
The Bulldogs get a 4-5 FCS team a week before going down the road a few miles to face rival Georgia Tech. If this reads as an off-week to you, you’d be right.
Charleston So. 0
NEW MEXICO STATE at KENTUCKY
The poor Aggies have to take a second straight beating from an SEC team, having just suffered a 59-3 whipping at the hands of Alabama. Kentucky hasn’t been the same team in the second half of the season as it was the first half, but there isn’t enough looking past the Aggies that could take place here for New Mexico State to have a chance.
New Mexico St. 10
AUBURN at SOUTH CAROLINA
Two weeks, this game had “blowout” written all over it. If it were to still happen this week, it might be a blowout with the roles reversed. Auburn suffered a devastating injury at the end of its loss to Mississippi State, as QB Bo Nix was lost for the season with an ankle injury. There were other injuries as well, including one to PK Anders Carlson. Now Auburn gets to travel to Columbia and face an improving Gamecock team that has a sizable win over Florida on its resume. We’d feel more confident in the Gamecocks’ chances if they weren’t also coming off a loss on the road to Missouri, and despite Auburn’s defensive meltdown against MSU, South Carolina’s offense lacks the kind of punch necessary to really challenge here. The wild card is the Auburn quarterback situation, as T.J. Finley is now the man with the reins in his hands. If he’s not up to the challenge, anything could happen.
South Carolina 17
SOUTH ALABAMA at TENNESSEE
South Alabama’s best win probably came all the way back in Week 2 against Bowling Green. Since then, the best result was a near-upset of Louisiana in Week 4. Tennessee has developed into a dangerous offensive team and a win here makes the Volunteers bowl-eligible. Tennessee would have to absolutely gift the game to USA in order to lose it, as the Jaguars can’t challenge the Volunteers offensively.
South Alabama 14
VANDERBILT at MISSISSIPPI
This game used to bring with it a lot of drama back in the Bobby Johnson and James Franklin days at Vandy. Probably not this year, however. Ole Miss is playing for second place in the SEC West, and could still represent the West in Atlanta if Alabama absolutely comes apart in its final two games. As much of an inside straight as that is to draw to, it goes poof if the Rebels don’t take care of business against a Commodore team that has rarely been competitive in 2021. Some injury issues for Ole Miss could make for some nervous moments, but probably not enough to matter.
Ole Miss 45
LOUISIANA-MONROE at LOUISIANA STATE
Now here’s an interesting matchup: ULM hired Terry Bowden before the start of the season and the move turned the Warhawks from arguably the worst team in Division-IA in 2020 to 4-6 and with an outside shot at bowl eligibility in 2021. It’s hard to believe LSU is in sole possession of last place in the SEC West, but that’s where the Tigers find themselves. And now comes the opportunity for LSU to be put in the same situation as Alabama was in Nick Saban’s first year (2007), when ULM upset the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa and gave LSU fans one of the very few things they’ve been able to hold over Bama fans’ heads for the last 15 years. It’s sort of the last domino to fall in the whole Nick Saban LSU-to-Alabama saga and Bowden’s team has been competitive in most of its games. Keep an eye on this one.
TENNESSEE STATE at MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bulldogs are coming off an improbable win over Auburn that saw them finish the game on a 40-6 run and jump back into a battle for second in the SEC West. Tennessee State, an FBS school, is 5-5 with a decent defense but not enough offense to match the Bulldogs’ output.
Mississippi St. 47
Tennessee St. 13
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M at TEXAS A&M
Prairie View A&M is 7-2, but is playing its first game against FBS competition in 2021. Still, the Panthers lost by 2 points last week to Alcorn State after rolling off six wins in a row leading up to that game. Texas A&M needs to recover after a disappointing loss to Ole Miss that more or less cut down the Aggies’ hopes of an SEC West title. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Aggies sort of slog through this game but pull away to clinch it in the second half.
Texas A&M 38
Prairie View 13
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