To recap last week, I was 8-3, missing Texas, Oregon and Texas A&M. I continue struggling with the NB3 section, but my SEC picks continue to remain solid. I really though Mississippi State would have a better showing against A&M, and I thought Ole Miss would put up more of a fight against UGA, but other than that, the other SEC games went as expected. And for those that said I was crazy for the score I predicted in the USC-Oregon game, the score was close to what I said, I just picked the wrong team to win.
While the race in the SEC East isn't officially over, Florida can win with a UGA loss, it's pretty clear it will be Georgia against Alabama in the SEC Championship. With a little help, UGA could be in great position to make the National Championship game with an SEC Championship win. They would need two of Oregon, ND and Kansas State to lose, but as a UGA fan, I'm extremely excited to have just an outside chance of making it this year.
This week's games:
Kentucky- At least they can't lose this week.
The Mildly Interesting Non Conference Game
UL Lafayette at Florida- I say mildly interesting because LA-L is a decent Sun belt team that could probably knock off some top teams on a bad day. But for the game, LA-L ranks in the middle of the pack in nearly every category. Mid pack passing offense, mid pack running offense and mid pack defense. They don't have the depth to content with Florida on this one, and while I doubt the game will be a blowout, I do think Florida wins fairly easily. 35-14 Florida
The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry
Georgia at Auburn- Most years, this would be the game of the week. It's one of the better rivalries in the SEC, but this year, UGA and Auburn are at opposite ends of the NCAAF spectrum. Auburn has been terrible this season, they are currently winless in conference play and have yet to beat a BCS conference team. Their offense is terrible, their defense is not much better, and their only highlight of the year is keeping the LSU game close.
This is an important game however, if Auburn manages to pull the upset, they will send Florida to Atlanta to play Alabama, if Georgia wins as expected, they play Alabama.
As for the game, UGA's defense seems to have found its groove with the players returning from early suspensions finally getting into game mode. The defense won't have to worry about Auburn throwing the ball, man coverage will do just fine. UGA will be stacking the box all game and Auburn's talented runners will once again go to waste. I think Murray will put up another big game, and while Marshall hasn't been getting much action lately, Gurly has continued to post great numbers, I look for his third consecutive 100 yard gaqme Saturday. Easiest UGA victory at Auburn in a long time. Georgia wins 45-7
At Least it's a Conference Game
Arkansas at South Carolina- South Carolina might miss Lattimore, but I don't think they will have many problems beating Arkansas this year. SC's defense is still among the best in the conference, and Arkansas still doesn't have an O-line, and once again I think those talented skill position players will go to waste. Connor Shaw and co should have no problems moving the ball against Arky's shaky defense, and Clowney and co should have no problem putting pressure on Wilson all game. Dennis Johnson and Colbi Hamilton have had big games for Arkansas lately, but they haven't faced a top defense since the Bama game. Arkansas' hope of making a bowl game goes up in smoke. South Carolina wins 38-17
Interesting Conference Games
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss- Both teams sit just one win away from bowl contention. The difference is this is likely Ole Miss's last chance to reach the 6 win mark as they face LSU and Mississippi State in their remaining gamkes while Vandy has two winnable games remaining against Tennessee and Wake Forest.
I've been very impressed with the improvement of this Ole Miss team. They hit a road block in Athens this past week, but the team still has a lot of confidence, and Hugh Freeze is a candidate for coach of the year. Bo Wallace has been great, and he has weapons to throw to in Mackey and Moncrief. Big question on Ole Miss continues to be their defense, though they have had some play makers emerge.
Vandy has rebounded from a 2-4 start and currently hold a 5-4 record with 3 conference wins. Their defense has been decent, but their offense has struggled at times this season.
For the game, I've been more impressed with Ole Miss. They have more playmakers on offense, and while their defense isn't great, neither is Vandy's offense. I think Bo Wallace will get his team back in the win column in front of the home crowd. Ole Miss will be playing in a bowl game this year. 28-13 Ole Miss
Missouri at Tennessee- The battle of the disappointments. Tennessee looked to be a much improved team to start the year. Bray had another year of experience, Hunter was back and Patterson was another threat in the passing game, and the win against NC State was impressive. Since then, Tennessee has started SEC play 0-5, the third consecutive year they started conference play 0-5, only Vandy had done that previously. Their defense and inconsistent play from Tyler Bray have been their biggest down falls.
Missouri's story isn't much better. Early in the year, people were picking them to beat Georgia and South Carolina. Their only conference win of the year has been against Kentucky. SEC defenses slowing down their offense and the injury to James Franklin have been their biggest problems.
This is a big game for both. Both sit at 4-5, and both would like to play in a bowl game. If Tennessee wins, they can beat Kentucky and go bowling. If they lose, they must beat both Vanderbilt and Kentucky to go bowling, it's doable, but I think Vandy would be favored. If Mizzou wins, they can beat Syracuse and go bowling, if they lose, they must also beat Texas A&M, which doesn't seem likely.
As for the game, I like Tennessee's offense better, They have put up points on all teams played not named Alabama, and I don't think you can compare Mizzou's defense to Bama's even after the solid showing against Florida. Bray will probably turn the ball over a time or two, but at the same time I look for him to find Hunter and Patterson for big plays. Missouri simply doesn't have the offense to keep up. Tennessee might have a weak defense, but Missouri has struggled scoring against anyone this season. Plus the game is in Knoxville. Tennessee wins 38-21
Co game of the Week
Mississippi State at LSU- Miss State needs this win to avoid losing 3 straight games after their 7-0 start, and early in the year, I said they would be favored against LSU. I might have to change my tone now. Both teams are eliminated from catching Bama, and it's unlikely either will get the SEC's at large bid to a BCS bowl, especially if Florida finishes with just 1 loss and UGA has a strong showing against Bama.
LSU is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Bama. They played Saban and co tight all game, but their upset bid fell a bit short. Bama is still undefeated and LSU now sits with two losses. LSU must put this game behind them and continue to fight, and hope for some scenarios to earn them the SEC's at large bid. It's hard to rebound from a loss like that, but the Mad Hatter should have his team ready.
Both teams lack momentum coming in to this game. Miss State is coming off back to back blowout losses at the hands of Bama and Texas A&M. And while I like Dan Mullen as a coach and Russell as a QB, I think Miss State needs another year before they will be able to hang with LSU in baton Rouge. I expect a relatively low scoring game, but Les Miles is the more experienced coach, and LSU has won big games against South Carolina and A&M this year. Mettenberger showed promise as a QB last week, if he can play half way decent, I think LSU's running game and defense will be too much for Misss State to handle. 3 losses in a row hurts, especially after a 7-0 start, but I have to pick LSU to win 24-10
Game of the Week
Texas A&M at Alabama- A&M has been impressive in their first year of SEC play. Manziel has been one of the better QBs in the county as a freshman, which is scary to think about really. Their only losses have been close games to Florida and LSU, two teams that are currently ranked in the top 10 in the country, and they have made a much smoother than anticipated transition to the SEC.
Bama is still Bama. They still demoralize offenses with their amazing defense, they still like to run the ball, they still like to control field position and time of possession, and they're still undefeated and ranked number 1. LSU in Bator Rouge last week was their toughest test of the season, it was a tight game, but Bama pulled out the win, which is tough for any team to do in Death Valley.
There's not much on the line for winning the West, Bama has all but clinched that, but every game is a must win for Bama to stay atop the BCS rankings if they want to repeat their National Title performance of last season.
As for the game, A&M's offense has struggled against the top defenses in the SEC this year. They couldn't put up points against Florida or LSU, and Bama's is the best defense in the conference. With Nick Saban at coach, I don't really worry about the hangover after a big win affecting Bama in this game. A&M's defense has been decent, but Bama's O-line is among the best in the country, they have the two headed monster of Lacy and Yeldon running the ball, and this is week 11 and AJ McCarron hasn't thrown an interception yet. I think Bama has the edge talent wise, coaching wise and defensively, and this game is in Tuscaloosa. Nothing to be ashamed about, A&M, but Bama wins 35-14.
The Next Best 3
Oregon State at Stanford- I haven't had the chance to watch either play too much this season, but I think Stanford is the better and more physical team. Close game, but Stanford wins 24-21
Kansas State at TCU- The Status of Collin Klein is the biggest storyline in this game. He suffered a concussion last week, but Snyder says he seems fine and expects him to play. TCU is a decent team, but not a world beater, and if Collin Klein plays, Kansas State wins 35-21
Penn State at Nebraska- Not a lot to choose from this week, but Nebraska controls their own destiny to play in the B1G championship. I'm not a big fan of either team, but I think Nebraska is the better of the two. Nebraska wins 27-21