Another strong week for the Predictions Dept., ruined only by Kentucky embarking upon its near-annual failure to show up against a conference also-ran. This week’s slate of games is headlined by the Alabama-Tennessee affair, but LSU-Florida should be entertaining if nothing else, while the Arkansas-BYU contest has potential for fireworks.
Last week’s record: 6-1 (85.7%)
Season record: 55-8 (87.3%)
LOUISIANA STATE at FLORIDA
LSU’s defense allows it to be dangerous against anyone, but the Tigers are highly dependent on getting good quarterback play. When it’s not there, neither are the wins. Florida is still a team in transition, but the Gators have more potential to put up big numbers if things break their way. With the home-field advantage, Florida is our pick here, not necessarily because of what the Gators are, but what the Tigers aren’t. LSU showed last week that they’re not quite ready to respond to the pressure of facing an offense that has any kind of weapons.
ALABAMA at TENNESSEE
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VANDERBILT at GEORGIA
As expected last week, Vanderbilt gave Ole Miss more than it wanted – for at least one half of football. Georgia has had its struggles over the years at time with Vandy, too, and we’ll be interested to see if the Vanderbilt offense can poke some holes in the Bulldog defense. But the Commodores showed what they really are when they faced off against Alabama. They have no hope of slowing down Georgia’s running game, and expecting the Commodores to effectively cover Georgia’s tight ends in a tall order in and of itself. Close for a bit, but not at the end.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at KENTUCKY
Lots of pressure on Mississippi State here; Kentucky is vulnerable but the game is in Lexington and Kentucky QB Will Levis is expected to play in this one. His absence directly cost Kentucky the South Carolina game last week, and Mississippi State is a far bit better than are the Gamecocks, so if Levis can’t go, chalk up another loss. Even if he can, he won’t be 100 percent, and that has to concern the Wildcats. As for MSU, we keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but it appears Mike Leach adequately tightened the lugnuts. With Bryce Young still questionable in Tuscaloosa, if the Bulldogs are going to put themselves in a position to possibly steal the SEC West, they have to win this game, period.
Mississippi St. 27
ARKANSAS at BRIGHAM YOUNG
BYU is 4-2 but the schedule may be deceiving. Yes, the loss to Notre Dame was by a respectable amount. No, the loss to Oregon wasn’t. In between those games, BYU has skated by such luminaries as Wyoming and Utah State. A 6-point win over Baylor is definitely the highlight of the year, but that assumes Baylor is as good as a lot of the pundits think. The biggest positive for the Cougars here is they host the game, and you can bet the BYU staff was watched Arkansas’ struggles in pass defense. Having said that, Arkansas will be the biggest and fastest team BYU has faced this year, and that probably means more than location of the venue.
AUBURN at MISSISSIPPI
Bryan Harsin’s farewell trail continues with a trip to Ole Miss, where Lane Kiffin might just be auditioning for Harsin’s job. Most expect Kiffin to pass up Auburn if it comes calling, but if he has any designs on the Tiger job, now’s the time to put his foot on the gas. Auburn has very little left to play for, and the Tigers are such a momentum team, and always have been, that all the positives that come with forward momentum backfire on the program when the momentum is turning the other way. What really should concern Auburn here is the improvement shown by the Ole Miss defense in 2022. Add in Kiffin’s offensive genius and it’s not a situation ripe for an upset.
Ole Miss 40
IDLE: Missouri, South Carolina, Texas A&M
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN