The SEC East race looks like Florida’s to lose, as they have a big game this week while other teams continue to stake claims for the college football postseason.
My picks record for the season is 55-8.
South Carolina (6-1) @ Florida (6-0)
South Carolina’s glass ball shattered in the waning moments of the LSU game last Saturday and now like East foes Georgia, the Gamecocks can ill-afford to drop another conference game if they hope to make a run at the championship game in December or anything of significance beyond. Florida looked bored most of the night with Vanderbilt before finally finishing them off and the Gators are poised to take another step towards wrapping up the division. The formula for Florida is the same as it was against LSU: stifle the run game and make the QB beat you. While SCar’s Connor Shaw is better than LSU’s Mettenberger, he can be contained as evidenced last weekend. Expect the Gators to use a heavy dose of the run game to wear out the Gamecocks defense and pull out a close game.
Florida 21, South Carolina 17
LSU (6-1) @ Texas A&M (5-1)
Texas A&M’s offense is as explosive as you’ll find in the SEC this year led by QB phenom Johnny Manziel. Sadly, the Aggies defense has given up a lot of points over the course of the year. However, they don’t give up yards on the ground nearly as often as they do through the air. That spells trouble for LSU; a team without an identifiable passing threat. This is the third week in a row that defense will be called upon to called the load against a powerful offense and at some point that dam is going to break. I’m calling for that break to be this week. Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies get a big signature win in the inaugural season and LSU’s championship hopes are dashed completely by the end of the week.
Texas A&M 21, LSU 13
Alabama (6-0) @ Tennessee (3-3)
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have still yet to play that complete game though last week’s battle against Missouri was certainly headed that way until lightning delayed the game and threw both teams into disorganization. Alabama’s biggest concerns now are mounting injuries and a second straight long road trip.
Tennessee, meanwhile, is quickly slipping off into that goodnight having lost three SEC games in a row. The Volunteers have fought hard in all of those games but they haven’t had the pieces in place to finish. There’s your difference in the game. Alabama, in spite of injuries and youth, is so deep and so well-coached, they have overcome lapses and hiccups in games particularly down the stretch. I expect Tennessee to come out guns blazing but just like previous contests to peter out as the game wears on with Alabama chalking another dominant victory.
Alabama 34, Tennessee 16
Auburn (1-5) @ Vanderbilt (2-4)
Auburn’s offense had a much improved outing against Ole Miss but failed to maintain momentum and once again the defense folded like a cheap umbrella in the fourth quarter. On the year, the Tigers have been outscored 62-3 in the final period and that 3 was in the first game of the season. Vanderbilt is not all that special but they cause turnovers on defense and they know how to pounce on a vulnerable opponent when the opportunity presents—see the win against Missouri a couple weeks ago. I expect the Commodores defense to get a late turnover or two that will put them in position to score just enough to topple the Tigers.
Vanderbilt 19, Auburn 16
Georgia (5-1) @ Kentucky (1-6)
Georgia had a week off to lick the wounds of a beating the last time out while Kentucky lined up and took another one. Look for Georgia to exorcise some frustrations and work out any final kinks they can against this outmatched SEC East foe. Big Blue is just trying to stay above Auburn in the “worst team in the league” race at this point.
Georgia 44, Kentucky 10
Middle Tennessee State (4-2) @ Mississippi State (6-0)
Mississippi State is a prime example of a team that learns how to ride momentum and now the Bulldogs are on the verge of a special season. This week’s draw out of the Sun Belt is not chump (and Sun Belt teams have been holding their own this year) but State’s continually improving line play and balance on offense should be enough to propel them to a 7-0 start and a showdown with Alabama next week.
Mississippi State 30, Middle Tennessee State 17