Don't Bet On It: Around the S.E.C.

Because I elected to give you Too Much Information earlier than usual, I wasn't able to post this week's picks prior to last night's embarrassing reminder that, if it is possible to have a worse option at quarterback than a Clausen, it is having a Leaf lining up under center.

I posted a 4-1 record in last week's Southeastern Conference predictions, including my forecast of Mississippi State's victory over Alabama. For the autumn, I am 55-17 in S.E.C. contests, but that luck is bound to run out eventually, so trust me when I tell you, whatever you do . . . Don't Bet On It!

How bad are my predictions? Well, I forecast a landslide victory for Dennis Kucinich in the 2004 presidential election; what does that tell you?

Here are Saturday's Southeastern Conference contests not involving the Georgia Bulldogs:

Florida Atlantic at Florida: If you're like me, you can't tell your F.A.U. from your F.I.U. I think Howard Schnellenberger still coaches one or the other of them, and I have a pretty good idea that they're both in a part of the Sunshine State farther south than the University of South Florida, but, honestly, I don't know which one is which. I have the impression, though, that the Golden Panthers are the ones who are 0-9 and the Owls are the ones who are 5-4, so, technically, the Gators are liable to get a better game from the team they're facing than they would from the team we can't distinguish from the team they're facing. Still, Florida Atlantic beat Arkansas State by a field goal, beat Louisiana-Lafayette by a touchdown, and lost to Louisiana-Monroe, so I'm thinking Florida can take 'em.

It would be wrong of me to wish for this yutz to get Dennis Dixoned against F.A.U. tomorrow, wouldn't it? It would? Well, O.K. How wrong would it be, exactly?

Louisiana-Monroe at Alabama: Just as I cannot distinguish Florida Atlantic from Florida International, so, too, do I confuse U.L.M. with U.L.L. I know one of them used to be Northeast Louisiana and one of them used to be the Indians, but I'm not sure which is which or whether they're the same one. I'm halfway convinced that the team that will be playing in Tuscaloosa is neither the Ragin' Cajuns nor whichever one of the Pelican State squads in the Sun Belt Conference happens to be 2-8, but, really, your guess is as good as mine. Still, even if these are the Warhawks and they're 4-6, the way I think they are, well, they're still not anywhere near good enough to beat even a 'Bama squad that fell somewhat short of expectations, are they? I didn't think so. The Tide will roll.

Mississippi State at Arkansas: I'm still way behind in sorting through my e-mail, which is why I missed the latest BlogPoll roundtable, but the answers to any set of discussion questions concerning coaches on the hot seat would have to include this contest as an exhibit. Sylvester Croom has silenced questions about his future in Starkville by beating Alabama, Auburn, and Kentucky, whereas the temperature of Houston Nutt's seat continues to increase as the losses mount. Given the amount of pressure the embattled Arkansas coach is under, he has to be on the verge of reaching the boiling point, which means viewers are apt to get an eyeful from the league's most animated sideline stalker. We're at the point where Coach Nutt is liable to look like Bloom County's Bill the Cat on an overdose of diet pills during tomorrow's contest. Although the Bulldogs get no love from Sunday Morning Quarterback, they've found a way to get it done lately and the Razorbacks are going through a slow-motion implosion in lurid living color beneath the watchful gaze of seemingly every Arkansan capable of completing the paperwork to make a Freedom of Information Act request. I'm going with Mississippi State to continue its march back to a bowl game.

Houston Nutt, you are about to be Croomed.

Louisiana State at Mississippi: This is more of a rivalry than many of you may know. Perhaps the most famous moment in L.S.U. history---Billy Cannon's Halloween 1959 punt return---came against Ole Miss. The Fighting Tigers were propelled to the 2003 national title with a 17-14 win in Oxford. The Rebels were spoilers when Mississippi upset Louisiana State in Baton Rouge following the Bayou Bengals' upset of top-ranked defending national champion Florida in 1997. Historically, this has been a back-and-forth battle . . . only not this year, because the Bayou Bengals are going to cruise to victory in Oxford.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee: Please. Please please please please please please please please. Please. Please. Please. Please please please please please please. Please! Go Vandy.

Let's get Steve Martin's team to a bowl game! (Oh, yeah, and, um, Georgia to the S.E.C. championship game, too. Please?)

As long as we're on the subject of the Southeastern Conference, by the way, I'd like to point out the following fact: Georgia has beaten Alabama, Auburn, and Florida in the same season seven times prior to 2007. In those seven seasons (1920, 1927, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1959, and 1976), the Bulldogs were 5-0 against Kentucky. I'm just saying.

Since we're mixing it up here in Bulldog Nation---Evil Richt! celebration penalties! black jerseys! Too Much Information before Don't Bet On It! madness! madness!---I'm not going to end with my usual disclaimer. Instead, I'm going to close by sending my best wishes to Doug "This Is What You Do With Your Disposable Income When You're 30 and Single" Gillett as he heads out to Ann Arbor.

I would tell Doug to stay away from fast women in Big Ten country, but we already know all the speed is in the S.E.C., anyway.

Also, since The Friday Random Ten + 5 contained a George Dickel reference (causing me to recall pleasant memories from the college party at which George Dickel was the beverage of choice, prompting an evening full of lines like, "I have to pee; can you hold my Dickel for me while I go to the bathroom?"), I'd like to give Doug a little free advice from a married guy to an aging serial dater: script your voice mail messages in advance, dude! You don't just call a girl spontaneously, man! You have to plan it out, time it right, and rehearse what you're going to say! You don't just pick up a phone and call somebody you're trying to impress! Take five minutes and jot something on a 3x5 card, pal; you'll be glad you did.

Go 'Dawgs!

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