Since UGA has a bye week this week, I seriously considered taking a bye as well. This feeling was exacerbated by the 2-4 run last week. Looking back, I wrote out solid reasons for the opposite of almost every pick. If I’d had the extra day to write it, I’m sure my genius would have prevailed. Yeah, that’s what I’ll blame it on.
But to be honest, I haven’t put much thought into this weeks picks. As I informed you last week, I made my semesterly pilgrimmage to Lexington, Kentucky, along with my roommate Larry and good buddy Phil. Lex Vegas completely lived up to the dream. So much that I really can’t discuss most of what happened. I can tell you that it left my body really pissed at me for the following week. Therefore, my usual habit of carefully watching the lines seriously suffered.
I caught the Georgia game last week against Vanderbilt and still remain largely unimpressed. Yes, the defense looked competent and we finally established the running game, but against Vanderbilt those things are a must. It’s a shame that it took such an outrage from the fans to get this team motivated. The good news is that Florida didn’t look great either. They’re in for another test at Mississippi State because Dan Mullen knows that offense inside and out. Luckily, we have the week off to prepare for that defense.
One final thought before we get to the picks. Has anyone investigated whether the SEC officiating crew that was recently suspended have any ties to Gator boosters? This crew took a win away from Georgia by flagging AJ Green for excessive celebration. In the East, Georgia looked like the only real competition for Florida. With that SEC loss, Florida has a major advantage as they figured to run through the rest of the conference schedule. When it looked like they might not run through that schedule against Arkansas, they conveniently flagged Arkansas for a phantom penalty late in the game that kept a Gator drive going and lead to the victory. Chances are it’s just coincidence. But it’s ridiculous that the top team in the country gets those kinds of benefits in a system without a playoff.
The first game is Vanderbilt at South Carolina. Spurrier was beaten soundly by Alabama last week like everyone else. Next week they face Tennessee. It’s a tough call whether this team will be looking to rebound or be looking ahead. I’m inclined to think the latter. Vandy +13
Speaking of Tennessee and Alabama, these two teams face off in Tuscaloosa this week in a game that should be a defensive battle for the ages. I think people are giving Tennessee a bit too much credit for stomping Georgia. It was a lot more that Georgia was pitiful than Tennessee good. Also, Nick Saban now has film of Tennessee looking as good as they will ever play. Bama -14
Arkansas travels to Ole Miss this week continuing their brutal schedule. Arkansas is getting a lot of love following their win (still bitter about that call) at Florida. I’m not sure whether they’re that good or if Tebow was that bad. Also, I still really like Houston Nutt. However, much like Dan Mullen a couple of weeks ago, this might be his last shot in my books. Ole Miss -6
As I mentioned before, Florida at Mississippi State should be quite the matchup. Both coaches know the others’ offensive scheme because Mullen and Meyer have been coaching together for years. The difference is, Mullen also knows Florida’s personnel. Granted, that personell is far superior to State’s but still, a four score spread is a lot to cover. When in doubt, take the points. State +23
Auburn at LSU should be the matchup of the week. We’ll finally see which Auburn team is the real deal. They ran through the early part of their schedule with a magnificent offense. They’ve since crashed back to earth with two losses, one to Arkansas and a bad (but glorious) loss to Kentucky. They’ll be sufficiently motivated for this one. We know what we’ll get from LSU: solid but inconsistent offense and a strong, challenging defense. Nothing special. And Auburn has the potential for big plays. It’s a tough call but I like the home team and Les Miles over Chizik who’s yet to prove he can right a ship. LSU -7