A miss in our Texas A&M-Mississippi State prediction broke up a string of 28 straight successful picks, and this week isn’t going to be easier to navigate due to a handful of games that have some drama about them. Alabama facing Texas A&M, likely without starting QB Bryce Young, makes that game one of them. Otherwise, the Tennessee-Georgia contest will likely eliminate the loser of that game from its respective division race.
Last week’s record: 6-1 (85.7%)
Season record: 49-7 (87.5%)
MISSOURI at FLORIDA
This looked like a walkover a week ago, and then Missouri suddenly found a way to play Georgia all the way to the final whistle and get pressure on QB Stanton Bennett while doing so. Florida is coming off a nice win over Eastern Washington, usually a tough out at the FCS level, and did it in a game delayed by a day due to Hurricane Ian and amid all the distractions such an event brings to the players on the hometown team. This will be one of the early games of the day, which typically favors home teams, and Missouri has to be on the edge of giving up after giving away two games to better teams over the past two weeks.
AUBURN at GEORGIA
Auburn got a lot closer to LSU than it had any right to, but the Tigers fell victim to the same thing that has consistently plagued them under Bryan Harsin’s tenure: a failure to close games in the second half. Georgia either didn’t take its matchup with Missouri seriously, or Missouri is getting a lot better (or Georgia a lot worse) than we thought. The most likely explanation is that Georgia simply overlooked Missouri, but it’s not like they ought to have to spend a lot of focus on Auburn, either. Auburn has a very average team overall, nothing to really hang its hat on, on either side of the ball. Georgia has been unimpressive two weeks in a row and just lost the No. 1 ranking. What do you think the Bulldogs are going to want to do in this one?
SOUTH CAROLINA at KENTUCKY
There’s always that point in the season where Kentucky takes its first “L” and then has to avoid immediately hitting into a multi-game slump. Mark Stoops hasn’t consistently been able to steer the Wildcats out of those holes, so South Carolina is hoping that it has the chance to pull the upset. If the game were in Columbia, perhaps we’d feel better about elevating this one to “upset special” status but as it is, we like the Wildcats to bounce back rather than bounce into the ditch.
South Carolina 20
TENNESSEE at LOUISIANA STATE
LSU’s defense is starting to come together but the offense is still misfiring. LSU can’t afford to get into a shootout with Tennessee, because the Volunteers have plenty of weapons on that side of the ball. Winning by just a smidge over Auburn last week also doesn’t inspire confidence in LSU, but at least LSU found a way to pull it off no matter how mediocre Auburn happens to be. Tennessee may not have WR Cedric Tillman available for this one, but the Volunteers can work around that problem, most likely. The lack of plays made at the quarterback position for LSU right now are the issue, and what will likely be the deciding factor in this game.
MISSISSIPPI at VANDERBILT
Vanderbilt has frequently been a thorn in Ole Miss’ side, and the Commodores were off last week while the Rebels were fighting for their lives against Kentucky. If Vanderbilt were any better on defense, this would be the classic trap game and we might be able to justify at least calling it close. But the Commodores can’t stop the run, meaning they can’t knock Ole Miss off-balance. Ole Miss’ defense would have to fail to get off the bus for Vandy to have a shot here.
Ole Miss 40
ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Probably the hardest pick on the board, you have an Arkansas team that tugged on Superman’s cape last week and then got blasted in the fourth quarter by Alabama, versus an upstart MSU team that made Texas A&M look very average. Mississippi State has the better defense and probably the better quarterback, but Arkansas is better everywhere else on offense and the front six on defense is about equal to the Bulldogs. Where problems start is in the Arkansas secondary, and unfortunately for the Razorbacks, they’ll see about a million passes from Mike Leach’s offense. We’ll see if Arkansas is one of those teams to fall flat on its face the week after giving Alabama a tough game.
Mississippi St. 31
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