All I’m going to write in reference to last week’s “Game of (Fill in this space with your favorite hyperbole here)” in terms of a proposed rematch is don’t want one, already seen it. Time will tell if LSU can finish their run and who their opponent might be.
Now that all of that is out of the way, there are several games this weekend that will be mean the difference between a bowl game and no bowl game for some teams and the destination of that bowl game as well.
Auburn (6-3) @ Georgia (7-2)
Experts will tell you Auburn has no business being even considered in this game. Never mind the fact that Auburn under Gene Chizik has habitually over performed when the odds are stacked against them. Georgia is the Phoenix, rising from the ashes to take control of the lead in the SEC East (to eventually go get curb stomped by LSU if it continues to win). Georgia’s best bet is to establish the run to set up the pass.
But here’s the thing. Auburn has seen better running backs and stopped them in a road game where many would have told you it doesn’t stand much of a chance. Auburn held Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina to 66 yards. And the Auburn defensive line has greatly improved since that game. For Auburn to win, it’ll have to get a performance closer to the Ole Miss game than any of the previous outings. Auburn’s attack works best when there’s a deep threat in the passing game to open up the running game.
Something tells me this is Auburn’s “big game” and that it will find a way as it often does under Chizik to get the win.
Pick: Auburn 26, Georgia 24
Florida (5-4) @ South Carolina (7-2)
This has the makings of a close game; I would be surprised if either team ran away with it. Neither of these teams were where they wanted to be when toe met leather in September. Florida completely fell flat in October and a rash of injuries has derailed South Carolina. The Gamecocks have won more games and there’s something to be said for that. The defensive front is solid, though not perfect, while the offense has become increasingly predictable since the loss of RB Marcus Lattimore.
The Gators offense has largely been contained by opponents because of shaky protection on the offensive line. That could really cost them in a road game like this. South Carolina’s ability to create pressure on the quarterback and disrupt the backfield gives them the slightest of edges over Florida.
Pick: South Carolina 24, Florida 21
Kentucky (4-5) @ Vanderbilt (4-5)
Kentucky surprised many (including me) last week by pulling away late to notch a blowout win over hapless Ole Miss. Now the Wildcats have to take the show on the road to face a Vanderbilt team that has lost a lot of close games this year. Both teams are fighting for chances at bowl games so the stakes couldn’t be any higher. I think Vanderbilt has enough talent and moxie to win this one at home but I expect it will be a close game down to the end. The difference in the game is quarterback. Jordan Rodgers has really emerged as a good signal caller for the Commodores and I think he can make enough plays against a porous Kentucky defense to get Vandy one step closer to a bowl game.
Alabama (8-1) @ Mississippi State (5-4)
Alabama will be out to prove that it “deserves” another shot at LSU by attempting to blow out their remaining opponents. That whole stupid scenario aside, this Mississippi State team doesn’t match up well in this game. The Bulldogs offense isn’t special and folds under pressure. The defense doesn’t do much in the way of stopping opponents. Some will make this out to mean more than it should. Alabama is the better team and if it doesn’t come out flat, it should take care of business and win comfortably.
Pick: Alabama 28, Mississippi State 13
Tennessee (4-5) @ Arkansas (8-1)
Arkansas’s defense still isn’t spectacular but the offense is on fire right now. Tennessee is still racked with injuries and doesn’t have near enough depth to hang in with the speedy Hogs.
Pick: Arkansas 34, Tennessee 10
Out Of Conference Games
Western Kentucky (4-5) @ LSU (9-0)
Western Kentucky’s RB Bobby Rainey is one to watch; he’s got NFL potential. I doubt he gets many yards against this defense though. LSU doesn’t need much of an offense to win this one.
Pick: LSU 31, Western Kentucky 7
Louisiana Tech (5-4) @ Ole Miss (2-7)
Ole Miss’ season is over. Houston Nutt is holding a place on the sidelines but intends to resign at the end of the season. No one cares about this game. I bet there will be many empty seats at Vaught-Hemingway. Who can blame them?
Pick: Ole Miss 24, Louisiana Tech 21