Although I posted a 5-1 record in last week’s non-SEC picks to run my ledger for the season to 25-13, I will be dispensing with the national games of interest and disinterest this week, because there are none of the former, and because every outing occurring outside the Southeastern Conference this week is one of the latter. I’m sorry, but, this week, the SEC is all that matters, at least from our perspective here in Bulldog Nation, so I’m sticking strictly to conference contests.
Last Saturday, I went 3-1 in my SEC predictions (and, though I was wrong about the upset I foresaw, Auburn and Ole Miss were tied at halftime), so my mark for the fall now stands at 43-11. Even so, though, you should heed my advice before considering my prognostications: Don’t Bet On It!
Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks at Mississippi St. Bulldogs: I observe a simple rule for games such as this, which has served me well for many years. If you’re playing an SEC team on the road, and I had to Google your school to learn the name of your mascot before I could pick your game, you’re not winning that game. The Bulldogs will win handily.
Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders at Tennessee Volunteers: What do the Blue Raiders have that the Volunteers don’t? A conference win: Middle Tennessee State Northwest A&M Central Tech (I may have gone a little overboard there) is 1-3 in Sun Belt action, while Tennessee is 0-5 in SEC play. Fortunately for the Vols, they are 3-0 against non-conference opponents, and they’ll make it 4-0 as the Big Orange beat down the visiting Blue Raiders.
Mississippi Rebels at Kentucky Wildcats: Is it unfair to call it the "Unemployment Bowl" if both head coaches are totally fired already? If you know what’s good for you, you’ll call your cable or satellite provider prior to 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday and ask to have ESPNU removed from your package, just to make absolutely certain you don’t accidentally watch part of this game and find yourself blinded by bad football. If you happen to catch it, and you aren’t turned to stone or anything, what you’ll see is an ugly Ole Miss win.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Florida Gators: Poor Vandy. The ‘Dores have battled valiantly all season long, yet here they are at 4-4 overall, with four losses in SEC play, and they’re forced to go to Gainesville to face a Florida team that . . . is 4-4 overall, with four losses in SEC play. Huh; I’ll be danged. The Commies haven’t won in the Swamp since the Pleistocene Epoch (I’m not bothering to look that up, but it’s been a while, all right?), so I’m not picking ‘em to do it this week, either. The good news for the Georgia Bulldogs is that one of these teams will emerge from this contest as the first team the ‘Dawgs have beaten with a winning record. The bad news for the Georgia Bulldogs is that that team will be Florida (whom we dislike even more than we dislike Vanderbilt).
South Carolina Gamecocks at Arkansas Razorbacks: Traditionally, this is where I break out the annual "Battle of the Barnyard" jokes and make fun of the facts that (a) a Gamecock is really just a chicken and (b) a Razorback is really just a pig. This year, though, this game matters a great deal: Arkansas and South Carolina both are 7-1 overall, with the lone loss coming in SEC play, and, frankly, Georgia needs the Palmetto State Poultry to lose this one, in order to give the ‘Dawgs a chance to win the SEC East. Fortunately, my head and my heart here find themselves on the same page, as my hopes and the actual odds align in this instance. I want the Hogs to win, and they will.
LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide: I’ve been trying to get a fix on this game, but I’ve had a hard time because it just isn’t being given adequate media attention. (Boy, I say, boy, that’s a joke, son.) I would pick this game differently if it were being played in Baton Rouge, but I’m taking the Tide to get it done in Tuscaloosa.