The SEC Championship Game pairing has been set and the final week of regular-season competition in the conference is upon us. Thanks to a 5-1 record in last week’s predictions (which came within a single-score double-overtime setback of being 6-0), I have gone 48-10 in SEC forecasts this season. Such a successful streak cannot continue, so, if you haven’t abandoned all faith in my prognosticating skills already, now would be a good time to heed my weekly advice: Don’t Bet On It!
All of this week’s outings involving SEC squads will be played on Saturday, November 27, unless otherwise noted:
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Vanderbilt Commodores: This matchup might make for a decent basketball game or an exceptional college bowl showdown, but, on the gridiron, it’s just a clash between two teams sporting 2-9 overall ledgers and 1-7 conference marks. Unfortunately, the Deacs are going to get the win, prompting ACC fans to boast that their worst team is better than our worst team.
Kentucky Wildcats at Tennessee Volunteers: Derek Dooley’s Junkyard Vols have momentum, if by "momentum" you mean "the ability to beat enough of the crappy teams on their schedule to have a shot at a .500 record and bowl-eligibility." (Hey, I’m a Georgia fan, so I’m not knocking that or anything!) Even though Tennessee has struggled in several recent seasons, one indignity that has yet to befall the Big Orange is a loss to the Wildcats. I have yet to be given a reason to believe the Volunteers will lose to Kentucky in Neyland Stadium.
Mississippi St. Bulldogs at Mississippi Rebels: I love the fact that there is a football game played in the vicinity of Thanksgiving called the Egg Bowl. It reminds me of the family holiday gathering at my parents’ house many years ago at which there were two bowls of deviled eggs, and my uncle, noting that there was one deviled egg left in each bowl, pointed out that, if someone consolidated the two bowls into one, someone would eat one of the two remaining deviled eggs, but no one was going to be rude enough to eat the last deviled egg in either bowl. I’m pretty sure that same well-mannered attitude will be prevalent among the Ole Miss faithful in the Grove before they watch the Rebels fall to the Bulldogs.
Florida Gators at Florida St. Seminoles: The Sunshine State Saurians are enduring their worst season under the current coaching regime. The Seminoles have a new coach, a new attitude, a rejuvenated program, and home field advantage. Why is it, then, that I just can’t seem to shake the sense that this is just the sort of "put up or shut up" game for which Urban Meyer invariably does his best coaching? Admittedly, Coach Meyer has come up short a couple of times recently in big games against Nick Saban, and Jimbo Fisher is a disciple of the Armani Bear, but so was Derek Dooley, and that didn’t seem to stop the Gators from beating the Volunteers, did it? I’ll be rooting for Florida State, but I’m picking Florida.
South Carolina Gamecocks at Clemson Tigers: The Palmetto State Poultry are playing focused, disciplined, fundamentally sound football in November. Yeah, that weirds me out, too, but the Gamecocks have a chance to make 2010 arguably the best season in school history, and I doubt if South Carolina is going to squander the opportunity to sweep all four major rivals in a single autumn.
LSU Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks: I’ve got nothing. Seriously, I have no clue. In a season in which little has made sense, there may be no two teams in the conference whose success has made less sense than these two, but here they are. The Hogs would appear to have many advantages on their side, but I’m not picking against Les Miles and that magic hat, which I am increasingly convinced contains the rodent chef from "Ratatouille." Somehow, some way, the Bayou Bengals will find a way to win a game they probably shouldn’t.
Auburn Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide (Friday, Nov. 26): A part of me would like to see the Plainsmen go undefeated and have every one of their victories vacated by the NCAA in the offseason, but what I would like even better is for Auburn to lose and for Georgia to begin next season against the defending national champion Boise St. Broncos, so I’m going with hope over experience and picking the Tide to roll in the Iron Bowl.
Those, my friends, are your SEC games this week and my forecasts for them, but surely you know by now that you should not take my predictions seriously. In case you haven’t yet come to that realization, though, I will offer my usual disclaimer as a friendly reminder. When it comes to my prognostications, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Coming soon: National games of interest.