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SEC Football 2012: Week Nine Previews and Predictions

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The SEC East race is Florida’s to win, while Alabama takes on the other remaining unbeaten team, Mississippi State, in the SEC West showdown.

My picks record for the season is 60-9.

Mississippi State (7-0) @ Alabama (7-0)
Mississippi State has a lot to be proud of this season and it is setting itself up for a nice bowl game at the end of the year. Unfortunately, the team runs into a wall this week in the form of Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s defense is outstanding and that’s no surprise as it is a hallmark of Nick Saban’s teams. It’s the balance on offense with nearly identical numbers rushing and passing that is impressive and should concern the Bulldogs. If Mississippi State loads up to stop the run, Alabama can get yards and scores throwing the ball. If the Bulldogs play back in coverage, get ready to watch the Crimson Tide’s backs chew up the ground in big numbers.

Mississippi State is a quality team, but Alabama has dominated in every game so far and there’s nothing in this one that convinces me the outcome is going to be any different. Alabama is one of the top teams in the country and this week is the first of three straight ranked opponents where the Crimson Tide will be on showcase.

Alabama 31, Mississippi State 10

Florida (7-0) vs. Georgia (6-1)
Florida’s defense plays fast, loose, and downright mean at times making it very difficult for opposing teams to move the ball with consistency. The Gators offense isn’t all that impressive but it takes advantage of opportunities to score particularly when it gets the short field on a turnover or special teams play.

Georgia’s offense is its footprint. Built for speed and big plays, the Bulldogs can score from a variety of positions. The one weakness is pocket protection and it is key to success if the team hopes to upend the Gators this weekend.

I expect the Bulldogs to come out fast and furious, but Florida’s defense is too good for me to think it can be had for more than a few plays early in the game. The Gators’ pounding running game will wear on Georgia’s defense like the oppressive heat of south Florida in July and propel Florida to the SEC East top by the end of the weekend.

Florida 30, Georgia 20

Tennessee (3-4) @ South Carolina (6-2)
South Carolina needs Marcus Lattimore like the flowers need the rain if the Gamecocks hope to stop this two-game slide. Tennessee is another team in turmoil with rumor circulating about the future of the head coach. All the hyperbole aside, the difference in the game is South Carolina’s defense. If the front can put pressure on Vols QB Tyler Bray, it will cause miscues and turnovers which will give the Gamecocks enough opportunities to cash in and pull ahead. However, I expect Tennessee will go down swinging but still end up on the mat for the 10 count by the last bell.

South Carolina 26, Tennessee 20

Ole Miss (4-3) @ Arkansas (3-4)
Hugh Freeze has Ole Miss believing it can win every time the squad takes the field, and the uptempo pace on offense is going to be an issue for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are improved from the free fall of earlier this season but still makes bumbling gaffes in each game that gives the other team opportunities. Ole Miss is just good enough to make that the difference in the game.

Ole Miss 37, Arkansas 31

Kentucky (1-7) @ Missouri (3-4)
Kentucky will fight hard for nearly the whole game but the Wildcats still make too many mistakes. Even against a beat-up and somewhat demoralized Missouri squad, I just don’t see matchups where Kentucky can exploit an advantage. I expect it to remain close but for the Tigers to pull out the win.

Missouri 23, Kentucky 20

Texas A&M (5-2) @ Auburn (1-6)
Texas A&M gets to work out the frustrations of letting a game slip away last week against an Auburn team struggling to find anything positive left to hang on to in 2012. Auburn’s defense has improved slightly but the Tigers offense does it no favors and won’t be able to match the Aggies’ scoring machine.

Texas A&M 34, Auburn 13

Massachusetts (0-7) @ Vanderbilt (3-4)
Vanderbilt is on the verge of back-to-back bowl seasons for the first time since (INSERT). UMass is suffering through the growing pains of playing FCS football and won’t be able to do much to stop the Commodores from running past them this weekend.

Vanderbilt 27, UMass 7

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