In straight-up wins and losses, I was 5-1 in last week’s SEC predictions, although I misread the final margins by which the top two teams in the league would emerge victorious while nailing precisely the sort of game the Palmetto State Poultry would play. The upshot is that I am 47-7 in league forecasts this autumn, so a stumble is inevitable and you are cautioned, as always . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Here are this week’s SEC tilts, all of which will be played on Saturday because this ain’t the Big East, brother:
Eastern Michigan Eagles at Arkansas Razorbacks: Way to man up on the non-conference schedule, Hogs. "So, who do you want to play?" "Let’s play a team from Michigan!" "Great! How about Michigan?" "No . . . too tough." "How about Michigan State?" "No . . . too tough." "How about Central Michigan?" "No . . . too tough." "How about Western Michigan?" "No . . . too tough." "How about Eastern Michigan?" "The third-best directional MAC school in Michigan? Perfect!" I had to look up Eastern Michigan’s nickname---seriously, if the abbreviation of your university is "EMU," you need to call yourselves the "EMU Emu" and let Jimmy Clausen be your sideline mascot, sans costume---and the rule still holds: if I have to look up your nickname, you aren’t beating an SEC team. Arkansas wins.
Tulane Green Wave at LSU Tigers: I would make fun of Louisiana State for continuing to play an in-state rival that used to belong to the SEC and has been bad more often than good for most of the last several decades, but, then, we still play Georgia Tech, so I don’t have much room to criticize. The Bayou Bengals are going to steamroll the Green Wave into the asphalt of the parking lot and use whatever is left over to pave small highways in the Pelican State. (Why small highways? Because it isn’t called Fourlane University. Think like a Louisianan.) LSU keeps the good times rolling.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Vanderbilt Commodores: If the Engineers are favored by 24 or fewer points, bet on the Ramblin’ Wreck. You may rest assured that Paul Johnson and his charges know that the Red and Black beat the Music City Sailors by 24 points and the Golden Tornado’s mission this weekend will be to defeat the ‘Dores by more. The Yellow Jackets will run right over Vandy and all seventeen of the Georgia Tech students who make the trip to Nashville will take full advantage of their only opportunity to tell an opposing fan base, "Give us your lunch money, nerds!"
Mississippi St. Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats: Evidently, UK fans are still a bit touchy about their school’s reputation as a roundball power only. (If it’s any consolation, we currently suck at everything except women’s gymnastics, and even that program is apt to take a step back this season.) This weekend, the ‘Cats have an opportunity to prove themselves in the Commonwealth. I don’t think they’ll do it. Dan Mullen has the MSU players believing in their ability to play toe-to-toe with the best in the league. That hasn’t translated to many victories yet, but the Western Division Bulldogs are ready to go on the road and beat a bowl contender in conference play.
Mississippi Rebels at Auburn Tigers: Will the real parvenu please stand? Fans of both schools are staring wistfully at their 2009 teams and hearing Rod Stewart’s "Reason to Believe" running through their heads. (The acoustic version from the MTV special, not the original single that was released with "Maggie May" as the B-side.) This will be the first season since 1994 in which these two teams meet without either of them being coached by Tommy Tuberville and I’m going to let my heart make this pick, because my head says to go with the Plainsmen and I hate Auburn, so I’m opting for Ole Miss, even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to regret that call.
South Carolina Gamecocks at the rich man’s South Carolina Gamecocks: Who knew a decade ago that there would ever come a day when two SEC teams were facing one another, one of them was coached by Steve Spurrier, and I’d say, "I hope that obnoxious SOB gets his tail handed to him on Saturday" . . . and I’d be referring to the other guy? I know better than to predict that even the Evil Genius is going to ring up half a hundred on the Big Orange---so far, Lane Kiffin’s mouth is writing checks Monte Kiffin’s defense can cash, at least against pro-style offenses---but this is liable to be the kind of game Darth Visor’s Big Chickens have specialized in winning: low-scoring and butt-ugly. There’ll be a safety in there somewhere and the winning team will not score more than 16 points, but I believe vengeful will get the better of stupid as Lane Kiffin tallies another moral victory and South Carolina strikes a blow for waiting until you’ve actually accomplished something before you start running your smart mouth.
You may feel free to run your smart mouth in the comments below, but, whatever you do, please be sure to heed the most important piece of advice you will get all week: Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Games of Interest.