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Don't Bet On It!: Around the SEC

I knew I was going to regret picking Ole Miss to beat Auburn, but I did it, anyway, so I wound up going 4-2 in last week’s SEC picks to strand me at 51-9 for the autumn. Do I even have to say it anymore? Don’t Bet On It!

Here is this week’s Southeastern Conference slate of games, about which you should try to contain your unbridled enthusiasm:

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at Mississippi Rebels: The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks? Arizona is located in a dadgum desert! There are no trees there! Where there are no trees, there are no lumberjacks! "Northern Arizona Lumberjacks" ranks right up there with "Utah Jazz" and "L.A. Lakers" on the list of the stupidest mascot names ever! Games like this make me get in touch with my inner Sam Kinison. The Rebels will win; let’s move along. . . .

Furman Paladins at Auburn Tigers: As a Georgia fan, I find myself torn by this choice. On the one hand, the home team is the Bulldogs’ oldest and (I would argue) most bitter rival. (I hate Auburn.) On the other hand, the visiting invader is a 147-year-old newspaper hack who had a hand in the hatchet job on Wally Butts that got the Saturday Evening Post sued out of existence. Oh, wait . . . Furman Paladins, not Furman Bisher? Well, then, the Plainsmen ought to have that one in the bag.

Memphis Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers: Somewhere, Peyton Manning just felt a shiver go up his spine at the thought of this matchup. Not to worry, though, Peyt; Tommy West has driven this program straight into the ground, then backed up, driven it into the ground some more, gotten out of the car, dug down deeper with a shovel, driven it even farther into the ground, climbed on top of the back end of it, and jumped up and down until it plummeted to the core of liquid hot magma at the center of the earth. The Big Orange’s unquestioned supremacy of a state without so much as a single solid Division I-A squad continues unchallenged.

Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Kentucky Wildcats: November is upon us, which means it’s time once again for the yearly Bluegrass State battle for local bragging rights as the ‘Cats take on their bitter in-state rivals from . . . no, wait, hang on, I’m thinking of the Louisville Cardinals. All right, so who are these guys? Generally speaking, when University of State hosts University of Subsection of State, University of State wins, and, as always, the rule applies: if I have to Google your team to find out your mascot, you’re not beating an SEC team. Kentucky beats a school it probably will face in the round of 32 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Vanderbilt Commodores at Florida Gators: When a bad team that’s tanking travels to take on a good team that’s peaking, the result is a contest that will make you want to gouge out your own eyes . . . and you’ll have to do it yourself, because Brandon Spikes is taking the week off, the lazy bum. Something tells me it won’t matter as the Gators pile-drive the ‘Dores.

South Carolina Gamecocks at Arkansas Razorbacks: The annual Battle of the Barnyard goes down in Fayetteville and/or Little Rock this weekend as the Gamecocks---and, let’s face it, a Gamecock is just a chicken---take on the Razorbacks---and, let’s face it, a Razorback is just a pig---in a scuffle straight out of Animal Farm. South Carolina typically struggles down the stretch, partly because the Gamecocks’ slate is backloaded with annual games against Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson and partly because the recruiting challenges faced by the Palmetto State Poultry hamper their depth and, accordingly, make them more susceptible to injury-induced late-autumn fades. I have a hunch, though, that Steve Spurrier will come through in the clutch against the Hogs. If he doesn’t, his tenure in Columbia will not be at an end, but the mystique of the Evil Genius officially will be a thing of the past. Against my better judgment, I’m siding with South Carolina.

LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide: If only because ESPN would have wanted all its money back if the SEC had actually served up a weekend slate as crappy as the previous six games plus the Georgia-Tennessee Tech tilt, Nick Saban’s former team and Nick Saban’s current team are contractually obligated to go at it this Saturday. The Bayou Bengals look like they’re hitting their stride, but something tells me Coach Saban used the ‘Bama bye week for something other than spray-painting the Red Elephants’ helmets. I’m not picking against a rested (and cresting) Tide at home.

On a weekend with as many conference clunkers as this one features, I ought to go 7-0, but I’m sure my faulty prognosticating ability will cause me to louse up at least a couple of those calls, so, no matter how tempting it might be to take a walk on the wild side, please heed my weekly warning: Don’t Bet On It!

Coming Soon: National Games of Interest (such as they are).

Go ‘Dawgs!