There were really only two tough predictions to make last week, and the Almost Perfect Picks department missed on both of them. Who would have dreamed the self-proclaimed Ball Coach would blunder so against Mark Richt, or that Florida would play giveaway in an important intrastate game at Miami? But those were the results in a 10-2 week.
Although the Alabama at Texas A&M game Saturday is not only the biggest game involving Southeastern Conference teams, it’s the biggest game in the nation this week. And, depending on the outcome of later games, this third week of the season game could prove to be key to an SEC and/or national championship.
There are several other interesting games involving conference teams this week, and really only a couple in which league teams continue to feast on cupcakes. Here’s how we see it this week:
Louisville at Kentucky: This is one where the SEC team is the cupcake. Louisville is a very good team with a pathetic schedule and beating up on weak sisters is probably going to hurt the Cardinals in trying to move up with the big boys. Nevertheless, the Cards will enjoy very much the romp over in-state rival UK. Louisville 35, Kentucky 10.
Southern Miss at Arkansas: In just one year, Ellis Johnson – now the defensive coordinator at Auburn – managed to take a decent Southern Miss team to among the worst in the nation. The Golden Eagles aren’t close to recovering and the Razorbacks will run their record to 3-0. Arkansas 35, Southern Miss 14.
Kent State at LSU: Obviously a mismatch, unless LSU finds itself looking ahead to its SEC opener against Auburn next week. No, even if LSU should be looking ahead to Auburn and beyond, this is a mismatch. LSU 56, Kent State 0.
Tennessee at Oregon: Tennessee followers should be encouraged by what they have seen of the Vols this year, particularly after last week’s rout of Western Kentucky. Western Kentucky was a turnover machine, though. Oregon doesn’t turn the ball over much because with their three-play, 30-second touchdown drives, they don’t have time for turnovers. This could get ugly. Oregon 49, Tennessee 13.
Ole Miss at Texas: Talk about two prorams that could wave at one another as they head in different directions. Ole Miss is feeling it is now with the big boys of college football, and Texas is trying to remember what that felt like. Rebels Coach Hugh Freeze is on a Mississippi pedastal, while Mack Brown is on the hot seat at Texas. Although it is difficult to predict an Ole Miss win over the Longhorns on the road, it’s the popular choice. I want to be the with the popular crowd, too. Ole Miss 35, Texas 27.
Vanderbilt at South Carolina: South Carolia is coming off a disappointing loss because the Gamecocks had a disappointing performance against Georgia last week. When a team is down, what better than to have Vanderbilt next on the schedule. Well, at least that’s the way it used to be. Vandy Coach James Franklin isn’t in the reputation league with South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, but Fanklin has his Commodores prepared to give battle. It won’t be enough to win, though. South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 20.
Mississippi State at Auburn: Talk about important games, and this one is for these two teams. The winner isn’t going to be a championship contender by any means, but the loser frequently goes in the tank. Consider Auburn last year going 0-8 in SEC games after losing to Mississippi State. It was the beginning of the end for Coach Gene Chizik. Now Auburn comes with its high-powered offense (but, as yet, low-powered quarterback) in what is likely a battle to stay out of the SEC West basement. Auburn 40, Mississippi State 9.
Alabama at Texas A&M: Almost everyone focuses on the Johnny Manziel offense against Bama’s defense, but a more uneven battle may be the Crimson Tide offense against an Aggies defense that has been horrible.
This game has been figured every possible way. Home field advantage. Quarterback battle. Revenge factor. Nick Saban record in such games (overlooking that he wins most games regardless of any “esternal factors”). Yada yada yada.
Last year Alabama gave up 20 points in the first approximately three minutes, or so it seemed. It was actually a quarter. Bama’s defense, inexplicibly, was not composed in that time. Although Johnny Football continued to make plays later, the Tide got it together and really lost the game because of a horrendous series at the goalline in the final minutes.
If it comes down to having to go six yards in four downs to win the game this year, look for a different plan…like hand off to the tailback going north-south for a few plays.
But it won’t come down to that. Alabama keeps the ball most of the game, keeping Manziel on the sidelines, and the Tide scores pretty much at will. Additionally, the defense will be prepared.
Alabama 42, Texas A&M 21.