By posting a 7-1 record in last weekend’s conference forecasts, I improved my SEC ledger for the season to 17-2, which attests more to the weakness of the opposition faced by the league’s member institutions than to any particular acumen on my part. Lest I be mistaken for a prognosticator of any meaningful ability, I must caution you that, where my predictions are concerned, the rule of thumb is a simple one: Don’t Bet On It!
All of this week’s SEC games will be played on Saturday, September 18, because we’re done with that weak Thursday night nonsense, which ought to be the province of upstart programs in minor media markets and such other college football also-rans as the ACC. These are the games in which the conference will compete this weekend:
Furman Paladins at South Carolina Gamecocks: A lot of Georgia fans were up in arms in the wake of last Saturday’s Bulldog loss in Columbia, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a heavy dose of disdain directed at the Palmetto State Poultry from our environs. I, however, prefer to take the long view, and, as reasons for disliking teams go, being named for the Atlanta newspaperman who helped defame Wally Butts is a much better basis for regarding a school with contempt. I therefore am pleased to report that South Carolina will win.
Akron Zips at Kentucky Wildcats: Like two-thirds of all football fans in the Bluegrass State (in other words, like two football fans in the Bluegrass State), I’m looking forward to the start of the Joker Phillips era in Lexington. Until then, though, we’ll just have to content ourselves with the latest exhibition match in Kentucky’s NFL-style extended preseason. The ’Cats complete the clean sweep of their three-game tune-up schedule before beginning actual intercollegiate competition next weekend.
Alabama Crimson Tide at Duke Blue Devils: I have to say, I’m a bit baffled at the Tide’s thought process in scheduling this game. "Hey, ‘Bama, this is Duke. Would you like to come to Durham, N.C., to play us? Our team is coached by David Cutcliffe, who formerly was the successful head coach of a team in your division and who previously was the successful offensive coordinator of your most hated out-of-state rival, and our stadium is named for the national championship-winning coach we stole from y’all!" How Nick Saban didn’t hang up when that call came through, I’ll never know, but this game actually is taking place, so I’m picking the Tide to roll.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Mississippi Rebels: Remember the "Saturday Night Live" sketch during which a visibly and hilariously uncomfortable Al Franken explained the prostate procedure Ronald Reagan was slated to undergo? Try imagining Houston Nutt going through a similar set of gesticulations while listening to Robbie Caldwell explaining the turkey insemination procedure. Now try imagining Ole Miss squeaking out a less than impressive victory over Vandy in Oxford, because that’s what’s going to happen.
Mississippi St. Bulldogs at LSU Tigers: After the 1992 World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, in which Steve Spurrier’s worst Florida team beat Ray Goff’s best Georgia team, I realized that, had the two teams switched coaches the week before the game, the more talented Bulldogs would’ve won in a blowout. Likewise, if Les Miles and Dan Mullen had swapped jobs on Sunday, I’d pick the Bayou Bengals to trounce their guests. As it stands, though, I expect the better-coached team to lose a competitive contest to the more talented squad as Louisiana State cards another underwhelming victory.
Clemson Tigers at Auburn Tigers: I’m going with the Tigers. You know, the ones who wear orange. You know, the ones who used to be coached by John Heisman. You know, the ones whose rivalry with Georgia became so heated and competitive in the 1980s, when they were coached by the guy who got them put on probation for cheating. You know, the . . . ah, forget it. I’m picking Auburn.
Florida Gators at Tennessee Volunteers: Boy, the offseason sure sucked the life out of this one, didn’t it? After last year’s festival of festering hate, fans were treated to Urban Meyer’s 24-hour flirtation with treating his family, his faith, and his health as priorities and Lane Kiffin’s departure for browner pastures, which led to two lackluster efforts by the kinder, gentler Gators and an historically bad outing by Derek Dooley’s rebuilding Vols. Heck, it’s hardly even worth hoping for a cataclysmic meteor impact to prevent another uninspiring Florida victory in an ugly football game.
Those are this week’s SEC forecasts, which are offered more for your entertainment than for your edification. They shouldn’t be taken too seriously, because, frankly, I’m bad at this, so I would urge you to proceed with caution. Whatever you do, . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Games of Interest.