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SEC Football 2012: Week Five Previews and Predictions

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A bulk of the conference gets a week off while two teams that figure in the SEC East race prepare to square off.

My record on the year for SEC picks is 39-5. Here’s a look at this week’s games.

Tennessee (3-1) @ Georgia (4-0)
The league’s top two offenses will be on display here and this game carries a ton of weight in the SEC East race. Tennessee cannot afford another conference loss (having already fallen to Florida) if they hope to remain a factor in this thing. Georgia needs a coming out party stronger than what they’ve had against Missouri or Vanderbilt which were both games they were favored to win.

For Tennessee to get this done, mitigating Georgia’s fierce pass rush will be top priority. The Volunteers have a serviceable running game but they go as well the arm of QB Tyler Bray, so keeping him upright is the way to victory.

Georgia, on the other hand, has grown to not need QB Aaron Murray to do it all as the Bulldogs’ running game has emerged behind freshman phenom Todd Gurley, who leads the league in rushing yards per game and averages over nine yards a carry. And that is the issue for Tennessee; they don’t do well against the run, giving up nearly five yards a carry.

Tennessee will put up a fight but Georgia’s pass rush and running game are enough to propel them to win and one step closer to establishing a serious claim to the SEC throne.

Georgia 28, Tennessee 24

Arkansas (1-3) @ Texas A&M (2-1)
Some will claim young teams can’t win. Texas A&M believes otherwise and have backed that up by posting the number two ranked scoring offense and number four ranked scoring defense this season. That’s impressive considering this team was asked to replace so much experience plus change their offensive and defensive schemes.

Arkansas’s season has spiraled completely out of control and making a tough road trip against a natural rival is a recipe for more disaster at this point. The last couple of games between these two have been shootouts that the Razorbacks have won, but the odds are match-ups are not in their favor at all this year.

It may be a close game but Texas A&M is in a better place right now and being at home, along with their more consistent play gives them the advantage.

Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 20

South Carolina (4-0) @ Kentucky (1-3)
South Carolina looks like a team with serious aspirations to return to the top of the SEC East while Kentucky looks lost in a fog of mediocrity. That stated, South Carolina still has to show up interested to win this game. The Gamecocks have answered the bell all season in the face of adversity and this week should be no different as they notch another win closer to the big goal of making a trip to Atlanta in December.

South Carolina 36, Kentucky 14

Ole Miss (3-1) @ Alabama(4-0)
Alabama has played well in the first four games of the season and has totally dominated in each contest. That’s not to say the team still doesn’t have work to do but this is one of two teams in the country firing on all cylinders right now, and that’s commendable.

Ole Miss leads the league in rushing and that’s a major turnaround for a team that could barely get out of the tunnel right last year. However, Ole Miss doesn’t have the depth, strength, or speed to hang with a team like Alabama right now. Expect Alabama to have another opportunity to get that depth plenty of work as they cruise to another victory.

Alabama 34, Ole Miss 0

Missouri (2-2) @ UCF (2-1)
Missouri has struggled mightily finishing games this season and that is a trend that will have to change if they hope to emerge successful out of a series of coming SEC games. The key is keeping opposing defenses off of the quarterback, which has been the biggest issue for Mizzou this year. That offense is predicated on timing, and consistent pressure has disrupted their effectiveness as well as cause injury to starting QB James Franklin.

UCF is a quality opponent but Missouri has faced tougher this year and walked away with the win. Expect a hard fought game similar to last week’s with Missouri coming out on top. Missouri’s offense is good enough to win here and being on a long road trip will help prepare the Tigers for coming road trips in the conference.

Missouri 27, UCF 24

Towson (2-1) @ LSU (4-0)
If you can find Towsen without Googling it, congratulate yourself. LSU gets to run it up on an outmatched team, further masking glaring issues on this offense.

LSU 41, Towson 3

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About J. Newcastle