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

Although I nailed the call on the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, I tanked on the rest of my S.E.C. picks, managing only a 2-3 record in Saturday's Southeastern Conference prognostications. This dropped my league ledger to 46-15.

My losing record in forecasting this past weekend's action ought to send up red flags and offer ample warning why you should pay no heed whatsoever to my skills at predicting the outcomes of football games, but, just in case you needed a little extra prodding, let me spell it out for you in no uncertain terms: Don't Bet On It!

Trusting me to pick the winner of a football game is like trusting Hamilton Burger to prosecute the person who committed the crime.

Each of the following games will be played on Saturday, November 3, because this is the S.E.C., where we don't play no stinking Thursday night games:

Tennessee Tech at Auburn: Is this a joke? Is this a trick? Is this another April Fool's Day prank involving the Plainsmen? I ain't falling for it. I'm not buying it. I don't think Tennessee Tech is a real team. In fact, I'm pretty sure Tennessee Tech is the made-up football team from the Confederate flag episode of "Sports Night" a few years back. Can it really be the case that there's a Tennessee Tech? Since I'm pretty sure that Auburn (unfortunately) actually exists, I'm picking the War Eagle to win at home against a fictitious opponent.

I hear that Auburn only scheduled Tennessee Tech after Texas State backed out at the last minute. I hate Auburn.

Louisiana-Lafayette at Tennessee: How crazy has this college football season been? Here's how crazy: the Volunteers lost 45-31 at California, lost 59-20 at Florida, lost 41-17 at Alabama, were outscored 24-3 in the third and fourth quarters against South Carolina . . . and control their own destiny in the S.E.C. East. It hasn't been the Big Orange's year when playing on the road, but U.T. has fared pretty well at home, particularly against the likes of U.L.L. I'm picking Tennessee to play umpteen choruses of "Rocky Top" this coming Saturday, then wishful thinking will compel me to pick against the Vols in every game for the rest of the season.

Northwestern State at Ole Miss: Let me get this straight . . . Ed Orgeron is going to be hosting a bunch of visitors from Natchitoches, La.? If Powers Boothe and Keith Carradine are planning to be in attendance, they'd better bring lots of live ammo, because I seem to recall a similar scenario working out very badly for them in "Southern Comfort." This is a frustrating time to be a Rebel fan; in the last five weeks, Mississippi has found itself in the second halves of games against Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn within striking distance of pulling off the upset, but the inability of Coach O's squad to close the deal has left Ole Miss as the only team in the S.E.C. with no shot at attending a bowl game in 2007. With mighty L.S.U. and a resurgent Mississippi State squad remaining on the Rebs' slate, this will be the last chance for Ole Miss to take out its frustrations on an opponent and the squad will make the most of that opportunity.

I formally retract my "Necessary Roughness" reference from the preceding photo caption; it turns out that Texas State is a real team, because Texas State beat Northwestern State last weekend. Apparently, Kathy Ireland kicked a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock or something.

Vanderbilt at Florida: Commodores, Gators; to-may-to, to-mah-to. Bobby Johnson has made Vandy considerably more competitive, beating Tennessee in 2005, Georgia in 2006, and South Carolina in 2007 but falling short---barely---against the Gators on more than one occasion. With the Saurians reeling from a grueling month, will the Commies have the chance to avenge their loss in the Swamp two years ago, when a nitpicky celebration penalty probably deprived the 'Dores of the victory that rightfully was theirs? I'll be pulling for Vanderbilt, I really will, but the Orange and Blue remain a formidable team and, with the advantage of playing at Florida Field, I believe the Gators will be too much for a scrappy Commodore squad that will fall a bit short.

South Carolina at Arkansas: The two S.E.C. newcomers who joined the league in 1992 hook up once again for the most heated barnyard battle since George Orwell's Animal Farm as the Gamecocks (whose mascot is just a chicken) take on the Razorbacks (whose mascot is just a pig). In the course of this competition to settle which squad is more suitable for being barbecued, most of the focus will be on the respective coaches. Age is taking its toll on the Evil Genius, whose efforts to slam his headset to the ground in frustration now are accompanied by embarrassing attempts to keep his bifocals from being broken in the process, making him look less like Darth Visor grinning evilly while calling fourth-quarter flea-flickers in order to get to half a hundred and more like Ben Franklin fumbling for his spectacles so he can double-check the placement of the movable type on the printing press before publishing the latest edition of Poor Richard's Almanac. Meanwhile, across the field, Houston Nutt will lash out uncontrollably in the death throes of his career like the T-1000 flailing about while being reduced to molten inert elements at the end of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." Steve Spurrier and Houston Nutt serve as useful reminders of the fact that the word "mad" has two definitions. The Ol' Ball Coach is angry and Houston Nutt is, well, nuts. I'm going with irate to get the better of mentally unbalanced as South Carolina gets it done on the road.

I know absolutely nothing about this movie, but I figured it was high time I made a reference to a publication, television series, or film produced more recently than the 1990s, lest I underscore once more my status as the Scott Marchand of the Peach State.

Louisiana State at Alabama: Honestly, I have no idea which way to go on this one. Perhaps if this game had received adequate media coverage, I might have been given some useful information from which to work. For instance, if news outlets could provide me with some details on the coaches of these two teams---like, say, letting me know where they coached before getting their current jobs or whether either of them has ever made any comments about the other school that included any strong profanity or ethnic slurs---that might provide me with some keen insights. Instead, I'm just going to have to go with the fact that L.S.U. has been superb while 'Bama has been merely pretty good, which leads me to the conclusion that the Tigers will win.

That is how the landscape appears to me, but, then, aside from a few random nuggets of fantastic forecasting---predicting Kentucky's upset of Louisiana State! letting you know that Georgia would beat Florida a year in advance!---I haven't the foggiest Knowshon---I mean, notion; Freudian slip---what in the world is going on in this spectacularly nutty season. That being the case, you should hear me now and believe me later (drat! another outdated cultural reference!) when I tell you, whatever you do . . . Don't Bet On It!

Go 'Dawgs!