For the second straight weekend, I was perfect in my S.E.C. predictions, posting a flawless 5-0 mark that included my bold forecast of a Kentucky victory and brought my season-long ledger in Southeastern Conference contests to a much-improved 41-9.
Does that mean it's time for you to start putting stock in my prognostications? Absolutely not! If I've been hitting it out of the park lately, that just indicates that a slump is forthcoming as the inevitable regression to the mean occurs. Consequently, you need my usual disclaimer:
Now more than ever: Don't Bet On It!
Here are this week's S.E.C. outings, all of which are slated to be played on Saturday, October 20:
Arkansas at Mississippi: Instead of making the two teams take the field against one another, why don't we just lock Houston Nutt and Ed Orgeron in a steel cage at midfield and let them go after one another? It probably will make for better television and it certainly will spare the loser the ignominy of being fired. (How fired is Houston Nutt? He is so fired, dude!) No team in the conference has suffered such a string of heartbreakers as the Razorbacks, who have lost five straight S.E.C. contests by a combined margin of just 33 points. The Rebels, on the other hand, have dropped five straight outings against B.C.S. conference competition, yet Coach O's squad has put serious scares into the Gators and the Crimson Tide while losing to Georgia in a game that was closer than the score indicated. Something's got to give and I'm afraid it's going to be Ole Miss as the Hogs right the ship with a road win in Oxford.
Mississippi State at West Virginia: The Western Division Bulldogs are markedly improved, at least in terms of wins and losses, but, even so . . . ouch! The Mountaineers are playing at home and coming off of a bye week. This
could will get ugly. West Virginia will win by a bunch.
On the plus side, this kid will perform a duet with Ronny Cox at halftime.
Vanderbilt at South Carolina: When Bobby Johnson's Commodores go up against the Evil Genius, do you go with the smart kids or the smart aleck? There's no question in my mind that the Gamecocks will be going down to defeat sooner rather than later, but the inevitable second setback that damages, if not derails, the Palmetto State Poultry's S.E.C. title chances is unlikely to come as soon as Saturday. Coach Johnson won't be getting any apologies for classless behavior from the opposing coach during the postgame handshake this weekend after South Carolina sends Vandy packing.
Tennessee at Alabama: It goes without saying that we in the South are absolutely psychotic about our college football, so much so that, when a University of Georgia graduate who used to write for The Red & Black and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution comments on psychotic Southern college football fan behavior, an Alabama fan will accuse him of being from north of the Mason-Dixon line. There is, however, no other level of psychotic college football fan behavior comparable to that to be found on the third Saturday in October, when the Crimson Tide and the Volunteers---two teams I regard about as highly as a fellow can consider two longstanding conference rivals---exhibit a level of unmitigated hatred I find shocking when directed at any team that is not Auburn. I'm afraid the Alabama Fighting Sabans are in for a long day in Tuscaloosa, as Tennessee is hitting its stride and will come away with the victory in a bruising battle. (By the way, my plentiful references to psychotic fan behavior are in tribute to Orson Swindle's and Warren St. John's book signing in Buckhead earlier this evening, which I did not attend due to other obligations, and also because that darned Orson Swindle at least owes me a few free autographed copies, dang it! I mean, come on, Orson! You're co-authoring a book on psychotic fan behavior and you didn't invite me to take part? Are you kidding me? I change clothes, caps, and even game viewing locations at halftime when my team is trailing at the break! I turn the Uga statue on my back porch so that it is looking in the direction of the city in which Georgia is playing! I believe my wife's choice of trash bags affects who wins the national championship! I'm the poster boy for psychotic college football fan behavior! So, Orson, Warren, all I'm saying is . . . keep me in mind the next time you're putting a book together, O.K.? I mean, come on; I'm nominating you for president and backing you up on your lawsuit and writing your will and everything! So help a blogger out, will ya? For the rest of you . . . Orson's and Warren's book may be purchased here.)
Warren St. John (center) and Orson Swindle (right): cool kids who write books.
Doug Gillett (center) and me (right): dorks who tailgate the spring game in the pouring rain and the freezing cold. Still, Doug refers to me publicly as "my homey, my ace, my slice" and I am "[t]he Mayor of the capital of the college football blogworld," so I guess I've got that going for me.
Auburn at Louisiana State: I like the Tigers in this one. (The classics never die.) If Les Miles and Will Muschamp exchange words afterwards, what the microphones pick up is apt to sound like dialogue from a Quentin Tarantino movie starring Dennis Hopper as a stevedore, but I suspect Bulldog Nation's ostensible choice to be the next defensive coordinator at Georgia will enjoy the conversation more than Wolverine fans' ostensible choice to be the next head coach at Michigan, because Will Muschamp can coach him some defense and I have never gone wrong placing my faith in Les Miles's ability to take 13-0 talent to an 11-2 record. The peaking Plainsmen will hand the Bayou Bengals their second straight setback.
Florida at Kentucky: I offered what the "GameDay" gang would call a "lean" in my postgame breakdown of the Vanderbilt win, but I'll lay it out for you again in case you missed it. College football is a game of emotion. (That fact, and that fact alone, explains why Sunday Morning Quarterback isn't right about absolutely everything.) L.S.U. came back in gutsy fashion to win a thriller over Florida, confirming the Bayou Bengals' status as the nation's consensus No. 1 team . . . and setting the Tigers up for a letdown in Lexington against a well-rested and underappreciated Kentucky team that, unlike Louisiana State, hadn't spent the last week hearing how great it was. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that same formula works against them this weekend: Kentucky is the squad that will be physically drained and emotionally spent after a triple-overtime victory over the top team in the land and the Gators are the ones coming into the game with fresh legs and in a bad mood. Live by the letdown, die by the letdown: Florida will keep its shot at a second straight S.E.C. East title alive by beating Kentucky in the Commonwealth.
Rich Brooks reacts to my prediction with a sarcastic slow clap.
That is how the lay of the land looks from my vantage point here at Dawg Sports, but, then, what do I know? Yeah, I was one of, like, three guys in America who foresaw the Wildcats' upset of the Bayou Bengals, but I also thought Michigan would win the national championship, so you shouldn't put any stock in what I say. In fact, the best policy would be to take this disclaimer to heart: Don't Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Games of Interest . . .