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Don't Bet On It: Around the S.E.C.

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To the surprise of exactly no one, I tanked completely in last week's S.E.C. picks, getting all the easy ones right but missing each of the toss-ups.

A fellow could take most of what these guys took in the '60s and still stand a halfway decent chance of forecasting football games better than me. (Photograph from All Posters.)

That left me at 4-2 for the weekend and 38-8 for the season in Southeastern Conference predictions. Surely that should be all the incentive you would ever need to give no credit whatsoever to my skills as a prognosticator, but, just in case you needed an additional reminder, let me hasten to add . . . Don't Bet On It!

Here are the forecasts for this week's S.E.C. games, each of which will be played on Saturday, October 14:

Southeast Missouri State at Arkansas---As astounding as it is to contemplate, the Razorbacks control their own destiny in the Western Division race. I'm a firm believer that you're never as good as you seem and you're never as bad as you seem, so I don't want to read too much into the Hogs' victory over Auburn, but, just the same, I have every confidence that Houston Nutt will have his team ready to play a squad with two directional indicators and the word "State" in its name, so I'm going with Arkansas.

This does not impress me. Now, if your marching band goes out and spells "Southeast Missouri State" in cursive . . . that would impress me. (Photograph from The Ohio State University Marching Band Drum Major.)

Jacksonville State at Mississippi State---Jacksonville State? Honestly, I've been to a lot of Georgia-Florida games by the St. John's River, and I never knew there was a college there. . . . I'm sorry, what's that? Jacksonville, Alabama, you say? There's a Jacksonville, Alabama? I make it a rule never to pick a team I've never heard of to beat one with which I am familiar. Well, it's not so much a rule; it's really more of a guideline, but, in any event, I think the Bulldogs can beat Jacksonville State.

Kentucky at Louisiana State---U.K. isn't as bad as you think. The Wildcats are averaging over 28 points per game, their passing attack is just a half-step behind Florida's, and they are led by Rafael Little, who ranks second in the league in all-purpose yardage. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, they are atrocious defensively, permitting the second-most points per outing of any team in the conference and ranking last in the S.E.C. against the pass. Add to that the fact that they are going into Baton Rouge to take on a Tiger team looking to take out some frustrations on someone after a 1-2 start in league play, and it becomes abundantly clear that the home team won't need a bayou version of the Bluegrass Miracle to get out of this one with a victory. L.S.U. wins . . . big.

Ole Miss at Alabama---This game has 14-10 written all over it . . . and not 14-10 in a classic-S.E.C.-defensive-struggle-straight-out-of-1962 sort of way, either. I'm talking about 14-10 in a dull, plodding, ham-handed sort of way. I'm thinking the Tide will be the ones with the 14.

The final score may make you think Johnny Vaught is still coaching, but the quality of the football won't. (Photograph from The Tennessean.)

Florida at Auburn---It's the long-awaited meeting between the two sets of Stalwarts in Orange and Blue ("S.O.B.s" for short)! An otherwise thoroughly forgettable slate of Southeastern Conference contests culminates in a battle that will go a long way toward deciding both divisional races. If the Gators win, it's hard to imagine that Florida will lose enough league games to allow once-beaten Georgia and Tennessee to sneak back into the picture. If the Plainsmen win, they stay alive in the Western Division race and may retain hope that Arkansas will lose a couple of their upcoming conference contests, some of which are daunting. It is a rarity for me to root for the Tigers, but this is one of the few occasions on which I must pull for the Bulldogs' oldest rival and, as my heart goes, so goes my prediction, as I am picking Auburn. I hate Auburn.

Before long, I'll give you my forecasts in the national games of interest, but, in the meantime, be sure to remember that, whatever you do . . . Don't Bet On It!

Go 'Dawgs!