LSU and Alabama get home games against rivals as the final step before they lock up in what should be the college football game of the year.
Auburn (5-2) @ LSU (7-0)
On paper, this looks like a complete mismatch. LSU’s defense attacks and destroys; Auburn’s offense of late simply self-destructs. However, that doesn’t take into account one match-up where Auburn might find some success: the running game. LSU has given up yards on the ground to lesser teams than Auburn and lesser backs than Michael Dyer.
Auburn’s defense has improved greatly over the past four weeks and one bad quarter against Arkansas aside, it isn’t the liability it was earlier in the year. LSU’s plan is going to be the same it’s had all year: run the ball, throw when it has to, and let that defense go get turnovers. Gene Chizik’s worst losses as Auburn’s head coach have come on the road (including one to LSU in 2009) but something tells me this is going to be a closer and longer game than most think it will be. Auburn’s intangible ability to make something out of nothing will allow it to put up a fight but in the end, LSU is the better team this year.
Pick: LSU 34, Auburn 20
Tennessee (3-3) @ Alabama (7-0)
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said it best; scoring first against Alabama apparently “pisses them off,” as the Crimson Tide have given up the early score in a couple of recent games and gone on to obliterate the opposition. Well, Dooley has nothing to worry about because Tennessee is going to have a hard time scoring until this thing is long lost. Alabama should come out and push around that weaker defensive front and rack up tons of yards and points. Tennessee has to hope it can get out of the game without sustaining more injuries. Alabama doesn’t just beat teams, it hurts those teams. Just ask Florida and Ole Miss.
Pick: Alabama 41, Tennessee 3
Arkansas (5-1, 1-1) @ Ole Miss (2-4, 0-3)
Ole Miss has given up 30, 27, and 52 points in conference games this season (all double-digit losses). Arkansas should have no trouble at all dispatching with the Rebels. Ole Miss plays like a team that has quit for a coach who is on his way out. Arkansas’ defensive statistics will actually get inflated by this blowout win.
Pick: Arkansas 44, Ole Miss 9
Army (2-4) @ Vanderbilt (3-3)
James Franklin says Vanderbilt is done taking it from people and they get chance to work out some of that frustration this week. Army is improving from recent years but it doesn’t have anything to match Vandy’s defensive speed. The Commodores should take notes on the offense Army runs though. I still think that’s the way to get a real competitive advantage in this league.
Pick: Vanderbilt 27, Army 13
Jacksonville State (5-1) @ Kentucky (2-4)
Kentucky is by far the worst team in the SEC this year. It gives up points in bunches, can’t move the ball or score consistently, and plays with a lack of overall intensity. It’s almost like the players are ready for basketball season to get here too. Jacksonville State scored the program’s signature win against Ole Miss last year and it will score another win vs. the SEC this weekend. It’s not really much of an upset either.
Pick: Jacksonville State 21, Kentucky 14