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

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While it sounds good to say that I went 4-1 in last week’s S.E.C. predictions, last Saturday’s slate of Southeastern Conference games wasn’t any great shakes, so, really, there’s not a lot of pride to be taken in my having improved my record in league prognostications to 60-14.

In other words, don’t let the won-lost ledger fool you, folks: I’m bad at this, so my regular disclaimer continues to hold true. Whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!

O.K., he can bet on it.

Here are this week’s conference contests, whether noteworthy or otherwise, all of which will be played on Saturday, November 22, because only second-class conferences like the M.A.C. and the A.C.C. allow their teams to take the field on a weeknight:

The Citadel at Florida: All that stuff about not betting on it? Forget for the moment that I ever said that; bet the over and take the Gators to cover. Even if the spread is 80, you’d better believe Urban Meyer knows what it is and won’t let up until he gets it. I’m not saying that in order to accuse the Urbster of being an unsportsmanlike classless jerk with deep-seated self-esteem issues who believes at a subconscious level that, if he wins enough football games by a sufficiently large margin, it will somehow earn him the love of the emotionally distant father who never hugged him when he was a child; I just think he’s a cold calculating technocrat trying to capture style points to protect his place at the forefront of the national title debate. I mean, Urban Meyer is all of those bad things I just accused him of being---and, really, even Gator fans don’t doubt that this guy has something funky and unseemly with his internal wiring that was never true of Steve Spurrier even at his fourth-quarter-flea-flickeringest-to-get-to-50 moment---but, when he has an incentive to twist the knife, he’s never going to let it just stick out of your back untouched. Also, I’m pretty sure The Citadel’s mascot is the Bulldog, so they’re probably going to pay for that end zone celebration, too. Tim Tebow will toss his twelfth touchdown pass of the game with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter as Florida wins big.

Arkansas at Mississippi State: Be warned . . . watching this unsightly travesty of a game will do for your love of college football what watching Paul Giamatti steal back Thomas Haden Church’s wallet in "Sideways" will do for your libido. Some displays of ugliness simply were not meant for human eyes to behold. Of course, if you were given the chance to watch it, you couldn’t not watch it, in the same way you couldn’t look away from an impending train wreck. Between a locomotive hauling medical waste and a passenger carrier filled with circus freaks. In slow motion. While being filmed for a scene in a David Lynch movie. Starring Steve Buscemi. I look for the Bulldogs to hold a 3-2 lead late in the game and be in the process of running out the clock when the M.S.U. quarterback takes the snap, backs up to take as much time as he can before kneeling it out, stumbles over his own feet, and falls backward into the end zone to give the Razorbacks the game-winning safety.

How ugly is the Arkansas-Mississippi State game going to be? It’s going to be uglier than the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game!

Tennessee at Vanderbilt: In a way, this game is completely meaningless. Neither coach’s job security will be affected by the outcome---unless, I guess, you count the fact that the likelihood that Bobby Johnson won’t be back probably would be heightened by a Commodore win---and the result will not impact either team’s eligibility for a bowl game. However, this is nominally a rivalry game, any hope that the Volunteers hadn’t quit on their lame duck coach was dashed when they lost to Wyoming, any fear that the ‘Dores were mailing it in was answered when they won at Kentucky, and the game is being played in Nashville. The way I figure it, there’s no need to fail by a little; if you’re going to collapse, go for utter disaster rather than mere disappointment. The Big Orange go all in on this whole coming up short thing by losing to Vandy.

Ole Miss at Louisiana State: Let’s make one thing very clear from the outset . . . a Rebel win would not constitute an upset in anything other than the most strictly technical sense. There is no particular reason to believe that L.S.U. is a better football team than Mississippi. There is every reason to believe that Houston Nutt---who knows a thing or two about beating the Bayou Bengals, you might recall---will have his team ready to compete in what is almost certainly the S.E.C.’s most underrated rivalry. We already knew Ole Miss had the better-looking co-eds; on Saturday, the Rebels will have the better team, as well.

Take those predictions for what they’re worth---which, trust me, ain’t much---but do yourself a favor and take a little free advice; namely: Don’t Bet On It!

Coming Soon: National Games of Interest.

Go ‘Dawgs!