Thanks to a 7-2 record in last week’s SEC picks, my ledger for the season in league play is 17-3, which might make you think I know what I’m doing, but I don’t. Truly, I don’t, which is why I preface each set of prognostications with a warning: Don’t Bet On It!
Each of this week’s SEC showdowns will be played on Saturday, September 17, unless otherwise indicated. These are they:
North Texas Mean Green at Alabama Crimson Tide: I’m not entirely convinced ‘Bama isn’t playing the team from "Necessary Roughness," which gives me pause, because Scott Bakula, Sinbad, and Kathy Ireland were playing some pretty doggone good football by the end of that movie. Even so, though, I think the Tide can take ‘em.
Troy Trojans at Arkansas Razorbacks: Oh, for crying out loud, are you kidding me? We’re over here playing a top five Boise State team and a top 15 South Carolina team, and these nancy-boys are opening the year against Missouri State, New Mexico, and Troy? Hey, Hogs, Bill Snyder just called . . . he wants his schedule back! Seriously, even Bobby Petrino thinks the guy who lines up his team’s non-conference opponents is a coward. Arkansas will win this one going away; somebody wake me when the Razorbacks are ready to man up and play a real football team.
Mississippi Rebels at Vanderbilt Commodores: Given the famously erratic Houston Nutt’s penchant for losing games he shouldn’t (usually right before he wins a game he shouldn’t; say, which opponent does Ole Miss have on tap for next week, anyway?) and the resurgence evidently underway under the new regime in Nashville, there are good reasons to like the Commies to win this game at home. However, Vandy’s rush defense and Mississippi’s mammoth offensive line do not offer a combination that appears likely to produce a victory for the Music City Mariners, so I’m picking the Rebels to beat the Commodores. Of course, I made that same pick before Farragut damned the torpedoes and went full steam ahead, too, so what do I know?
Louisville Cardinals at Kentucky Wildcats: The resistible force will confront the movable object, as a UK outfit that carded underwhelming victories over Western Kentucky and Central Michigan crosses paths with a U. of L. club that was far from dominant over Murray State and actually lost to Florida International. I was half tempted to declare this the national game of disinterest, but then I realized that, if any SEC non-conference game deserved that designation, it was the one set to be played in Sanford Stadium this Saturday afternoon, so I decided to pick this game, and to pick Kentucky to win this game.
Navy Midshipmen at South Carolina Gamecocks: At long last, the Palmetto State Poultry get their shot at exacting revenge on the student-athletes of Annapolis for the 1984 loss that virtually no one outside of Columbia considers important. (It wouldn’t have mattered in the least if the ‘Cocks had gone undefeated during the regular season. For the first century of South Carolina football, the Garnet and Black were like marijuana: They always got smoked in a bowl.) The Middies will get their yards on the ground, but the Gamecocks’ talent will permit them to prevail.
Tennessee Volunteers at Florida Gators: Will the real parvenu please remain seated? Someone’s 2-0 start against a soft slate is about to be exposed as a chimera, and, by "someone," of course, I mean Tennessee, because the Vols aren’t beating the Gators in the Swamp, no matter how happy I would be to see it happen.
Auburn Tigers at Clemson Tigers: Definitely the Tigers. You know, the ones who wear orange. You know, the ones who used to be coached by John Heisman. You know, the ones with a long history of NCAA infractions. Oh, the heck with it; you just know Auburn is going to find some stupid way to win another stupid close game to keep their stupid winning streak alive.
LSU Tigers at Mississippi St. Bulldogs (Thurs., Sept. 15): I simply don’t know a word adequate to describe how weird it is that two ranked SEC teams are going to square off in a critical divisional battle on a Thursday night, which is saying something, because I have a very extensive vocabulary. Someone in Starkville should lose his job for allowing this shocking bit of sorry scheduling to occur, though. Last weekend, Louisiana State faced a Division I-AA cupcake and Mississippi State faced the defending national champion. There’s absolutely no question which of these two teams is better positioned to rebound after a short week. On Saturday, I would expect this to be a competitive game, but, on Thursday, I believe the Bayou Bengals are going to throttle the Bulldogs.
While I certainly hope you have been entertained by the preceding predictions, I am equally fervent in my desire that you not permit yourself to believe you have been edified by them. To repeat, at the risk of being redundant, you should place no faith in my forecasts, so, whatever you do, please: Don’t Bet On It!
Coming Soon: National Games of Interest.