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Don't Bet On It!: Around the SEC

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What with the bye week and all, I did things a little differently this time around, opening with the (nominal) national games of interest before turning to the various showdowns occurring around the SEC on Saturday. Last week’s 4-1 record boosted my season-long total to 42-6, so the collapse assuredly is imminent. Consequently, I must caution you: Don’t Bet On It!

Louisiana-Monroe Indians Warhawks at Kentucky Wildcats: ULM’s visit to UK is the only genuine stinker of the bunch this weekend; even though the Warhawks upended the Crimson Tide in 2007, Louisiana-Monroe hasn’t posted a season above .500 since making the jump to Division I-A in 1994. Thanks to last Saturday’s streak-snapping victory at Auburn, perhaps as much as ten per cent of Wildcat sports fans’ focus is on the gridiron rather than on the hardwood, which ought to be enough to get a few boosters to show up to see Randall Cobb lead Kentucky past ULM before he hops on his motorcycle and goes looking for Nathan Arizona, Jr.

Vanderbilt Commodores at South Carolina Gamecocks: If how a team fares against Georgia is an accurate measure of the merit of that team---and it isn’t, incidentally---then the Palmetto State Poultry must be a whole heap better than the Music City Sailors, unless you count the facts that the ‘Dawgs didn’t manhandle Vandy quite as badly as the final margin suggests and the ‘Cocks didn’t perform quite as well in Athens as the score indicates. Nevertheless, it is inconceivable that Steve Spurrier would ever lose three in a row to the ‘Dores, particularly in Columbia, so I’m going with South Carolina in a low-scoring competitive slugfest.

Arkansas Razorbacks at Ole Miss Rebels: The Grove will be buzzing, and not in that William Butler Yeats "bee-loud glade" way, either. Houston Nutt, whose sideline antics make him look like a combination of an over-the-top parody of a snake-handling itinerant preacher leading a tent revival by the river and Chevy Chase at the following juncture in "Modern Problems" . . .

. . . welcomes his old team to Oxford, so he should be good and motivated. Unfortunately for him, the Rebs were overrated, the Hogs are much improved, and it isn’t an upset if everyone sees it coming. I haven’t gone wrong picking against Ole Miss when the Rebels face legitimate competition so far this season, so I’m not going to change now. The Razorbacks will head home with a W.

Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers: I’m going with the Tigers. (You’d think that joke would get old, but it never, ever does.) This is a tough one to figure, given the Plainsmen’s penchant for pulling off upsets against league rivals and the Bayou Bengals’ frequent displays of weakness in the first half of the autumn. I’m not about to side with an Auburn team coming off of a deflating setback and going into Death Valley to face a rested Louisiana State squad, though. I’m taking LSU to protect its turf.

Florida Gators at Mississippi St. Bulldogs: Oh, I so totally wish it were so. The Sunshine State Saurians historically have struggled in the Magnolia State. Dan Mullen has firsthand insights into Urban Meyer that no other head coach in the league possesses. MSU came exceptionally close to knocking off LSU, so the players know they can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. Those, though, are the reasons I’m confident it won’t happen. The Gators know all of those things, so they’ll be prepared heading into Starkville. I expect Florida to win this one handily . . . so handily, in fact, that the Gators will be flying high and feeling bulletproof heading into their next game. Anybody happen to know which team the Orange and Blue are facing next weekend?

Tennessee Volunteers at Alabama Crimson Tide: Despite his track record as a head coach (10-25 with no postseason appearances), Ed Orgeron is the finest recruiter in all of football. Despite his track record as a head coach (16-17 with no postseason appearances), Monte Kiffin is the finest defensive mind in all of football. Despite his track record as a head coach (8-18 with no postseason appearances), Lane Kiffin is the finest up-and-coming coach in all of football. At least, that’s what the Tennessee faithful tell me. An alternative view would be that Lane Kiffin is an immature little weasel dancing around his parents’ living room in his underwear and Nick Saban, who combines confidence with competence, is going to give him the pistol-whipping he so richly deserves. I like ’Bama by a bunch.

It ought to be a pretty wild weekend in the Southeastern Conference, which is all the more reason you should consider yourself forewarned that my abilities as a prognosticator are highly suspect. To put it bluntly, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It

Coming Soon: National Game of Disinterest.

Go ‘Dawgs!