How Almost Perfect Picks Are Made

Gary Pinkel

Sometimes there is a misunderstanding about the Almost Perfect Picks. Predicting the exact score of a college football game – or just about any game other than soccer (1-0) – is almost impossible. What we strive for is to predict the correct winner of Southeastern Conference games each week and also to make an educated guess at a score we believe will indicate how the game will be played.



Close, blowout, low-scoring, high-scoring. That kind of stuff.

For instance, our Almost Perfect Picks has correctly forecast that Alabama would win the eight games it has played this year. The pressure is off to keep that streak alive this week because the Crimson Tide has an open date. Bama will return to action next week, hosting LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 9, with kickoff at 7 p.m. CT and television coverage by CBS.

But we don't usually get the score exactly right. For instance, last week our prediction was Alabama 45, Tennessee 10.

Oh, wait! We nailed that one!

Here's one. We predicted Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 24. The actual score was Bulldogs 28, Wildcats 22. So the ALMOST perfect pick had the correct winner and was within a point of the margin of victory and within a few points of the total number of points scored by each team.

Insofar as predicting the winning team, Almost Perfect Picks has been either perfect or almost perfect every week. Last week was typical, missing one game. We had predicted Missouri to defeat South Carolina by 31-17. The actual result was South Carolina 27, Missouri 24 in two overtimes as the Tigers blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead that kept Almost Perfect Picks from being perfect picks. We had no idea Gamecocks quarterback Conner Shaw was going to get out of his sick coop and perform brilliantly. The sun got in our eyes. Etc.

There is perhaps only one game that appears to be close this week. A couple of months ago Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville would have seemed to have major implications for SEC Eastern Division superiority and, perhaps, national championship implications. Instead, both teams have been decimated by injuries and have struggled to 4-3 records (3-2 in the SEC) and neither team is ranked. And yet, the winner of this game could reach the SEC Championship Game, though it will take some losses by Missouri.

Georgia Coach Mark Richt has a spotty record in critical big games and Florida Coach Will Muschamp has a bad record in the Bulldogs vs. Gators contest both as a Georgia player and Florida coach. We have a sneaky feeling the Bulldogs are going to get some help from the return of injured players. Georgia 28, Florida 3.

There are some baby seals that need clubbing this week.

Texas El Paso (1-6) at Texas A&M (6-2 overall, 3-2 SEC) – The Aggies won't be able to help themselves, even if they wanted to. Which they don't. Texas A&M 69, UTEP 10.

Alabama State (6-2) at Kentucky (1-6, 0-4) – It is with great trepidation that we view Kentucky as a favorite, but surely. Kentucky 24, Alabama State 14.

Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2) at South Carolina (6-2, 4-2) – Wouldn't you have liked to have been at a post-game beer-bust with the self-proclaimed Ball Coach after last week's win by the Gameocks? South Carolina doesn't win championships, but the Gamecocks do win a lot of games. They have to win this one to keep their SEC East hopes alive. The Bulldogs don't win much. South Carolina 35, Mississippi State 10.

Tennessee (4-4, 1-3) at Missouri (7-1, 3-1) – Tennessee, predictably (45-10 at the hands of Alabama), was slapped around pretty good last week, but that was nothing new to the rebuilding Vols after a dose of Lane Kiffin, followed by a shot of Derek Dooley. Butch Jones may get them back. On the other hand, Nick Saban's old Kent State teammate, Missouri's Gary Pinkel, may be in contention for SEC Coach of the Year, but not if he slips against the Big Orange. He won't. Missouri 31 (yes, they make a field goal), Tennessee 21.

Auburn (7-1, 3-1) at Arkansas (3-5, 0-4) – Auburn's Gus Malzahn is also a strong candidate for SEC Coach of the Year as he returns to the state where he made his reputation as a high school coach. He and Arkansas Coach Brett Bielema don't play well together, and that was exacerbated when the Razorbacks got the game film from Auburn and found the Tigers had been, shall we say, less than honest in the SEC-mandated exchange of films. (I know, I know. Auburn cheating. Shocking!) People say Auburn has been just getting by in SEC wins. But Arkansas had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Samford. Auburn 49, Arkansas 0.

(And this is a story for another day, but does anyone find it strange that Gary Pinkel and Gus Malzahn would be considered the leading candidates for SEC Coach of the Year while Nick Saban is not, even though he has his team on track for a third consecutive national championship?)

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