#7 LSU (9-2, 5-2) @ Arkansas (4-7, 2-5) 1:30 p.m. Friday
LSU escaped last week by the skin of their teeth, edging out Ole Miss at home by 6. They’re facing a lesser opponent this week in Arkansas who became the first SEC team with a conference win this season to lose to Mississippi State last Saturday. LSU is more talented and is seemingly on a roll into bowl season, but crazy things happen in this rivalry, see 2007. I just don’t see this one swinging in the Pigs’ favor with the Golden Boot staying in Baton Rouge.
LSU 28 Arkansas 23
Georgia Tech (6-5) @ #3 Georgia (10-1) 11:00 a.m.
This matchup is dubbed as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”, and there is no love lost between the two schools. Georgia Tech, a premier engineering school, belittles the academic standards of the University of Georgia, while Georgia students simply belittle Tech’s ability to socialize with other human beings. It’s all in good fun until the ball is kicked off, that’s when things will get ugly for the insects. Georgia does not have anything close to an elite run defense, but the speed of their linebackers will make it difficult for the Yellow Jackets to run the ball. While they are on a three-game winning streak, let’s not forget that Tech has allowed 40+ points three times this season.
Georgia Tech 14 Georgia 49
Kentucky (2-9, 0-7) @ Tennessee (4-7, 0-7) 11:21 a.m.
This Battle for the Barrel features too maligned cellar-dwellers who are set to decide who will be the lone winless team in the eastern division. Last season, Kentucky broke Tennessee’s 26-game win streak in the series, winning a thriller 10-7 in Lexington. Both schools are already full-swing into basketball season as this matchup between two coachless teams comes to the forefront. Joker Phillips was fired on Nov. 4 and chose to coach out the season while Derek Dooley, fired on Sunday, declined to coach the rest of the way giving way to interim coach Jim Chaney. This game may not be the best watch and even though Tennessee can’t stop anybody, it’s obvious that Kentucky also can’t score on anybody. Self-proclaimed “America’s team” should roll.
Kentucky 17 Tennessee 41
#4 Florida (10-1) @ #10 Florida State (10-1) 2:30 p.m.
Florida State (-7)
It feels good to see both Florida and Florida State in the top 10 of the polls again. In the Spurrier years, both teams were fixtures at the top of the polls, but in the last ten years, the teams have traded places being relevant. College football needs the Florida’s and Florida State’s of the world to be in the top tier, just like they need Texas, Oklahoma, and USC up there. Public opinion on the two teams is differing heavily however. Florida has been widely criticized lately for unimpressive games against Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Jacksonville State, squeaking by with an anemic offense and a stellar defense. The Seminoles on the other hand, have the 7th scoring defense along with the 5th scoring offense and are seemingly one of the more underrated teams in football. The Noles defeated their first three opponents this year by a combined score of 176-3 behind quarterback EJ Manuel. There has not been a game in this rivalry decided by single-digits since Florida won 21-14 in 2006. FSU has won the last two meetings and I think they’ll take the Florida Cup yet again.
Florida 10 Florida State 24
Vanderbilt (7-4) @ Wake Forest (5-6) 2:30 p.m.
After starting the season 5-4, the Demon Deacons have lost their last two games by a combined 69 points and need this game against Vanderbilt to become bowl-eligible. The problem for Wake Forest is that while they’re reeling, the Commodores are rolling. James Franklin’s squad is riding a five-game winning streak and find themselves within reach of a good bowl game. Wake’s offense is pretty pedestrian against ACC competition, and it likely will not get better against the likes of a good defense like Vandy’s. Don’t concede the Coach of the Year to Kevin Sumlin just yet, Franklin’s done an incredible job with a lot less up in Nashville.
Vanderbilt 27 Wake Forest 10
Auburn (3-8, 0-7) @ #2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) 2:30 p.m.
While UF-FSU may be the most intriguing rivalry game of the weekend, this may be the most lopsided. Auburn is one of the worst teams in the BCS conferences while I, along with many other people, believe that Alabama is the best. The Crimson Tide are more disciplined, talented, and better coached. I am typically not one to question a coach’s ethical code, but if Bama is rolling by 30+, I can’t see Nick Saban pulling back the reins too much against his rival.
Auburn 7 Alabama 52
Missouri (5-6, 2-5) @ #9 Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2) 6:00 p.m.
Texas A&M (-16.5)
The matchup between the two new kids at school is quite the interesting marquee. Missouri has been matched up three times with the #7 team in the country (Georgia, South Carolina, Florida) and once with the #1 team (Alabama). They were pummeled by all but Florida and what was once a season filled with optimism has turned to one where the Tigers are clawing for bowl eligibility. The Aggies are sitting pretty in their first season with an upset over #1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and with an act from God (an Auburn victory over Alabama and an Arkansas victory over LSU), they could be playing for an SEC title. Mizzou has been plagued by injuries and the Aggies have been blessed by the graces of Johnny Football, you do the math.
Missouri 20 Texas A&M 38
12 South Carolina (9-2) @ 11 Clemson (10-1) 6:00 p.m.
What looked to be a future of Clowney vs. Nkemdiche has now turned in a point of humor out of Columbia at the Tiger expense. This battle in the low-country exhibits anything but southern hospitality. The Battle of the Palmetto State has been won by the Gamecocks three years running which leaves a sour taste in the mouths of everyone in the orange and purple. Clemson holds the all-time series lead 65-40-4 with Charlie Whitehurst (Clemson, 2002-05) being the only quarterback in the series to go 4-0 in his career against his rival. The speed of Clemson is incredible, Clowney is hurting, and the loss of Lattimore is killing the Gamecock offense. With all that said, I can rarely bet against the South Carolina defense, I’ve got the Cocks taking this one.
South Carolina 24 Clemson 20
Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3) @ Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) 6:00 p.m.
This is the one that the Magnolia State waits all year for. The businessmen in Oxford and the plowmen in Starkville each mark their calendars for this November date on the dirt. We’ve seen the billboards, we’ve seen the shirts, and we’ve all seen the message boards, but now it’s time to play football. The Bulldogs have a chance to get to ten wins with an Egg Bowl Victory to go along with a bowl win. Ole Miss on the other hand is looking to crack bowl eligibility and earn a trip to Memphis. The Rebels have played their best ball against top competition like LSU and A&M, only to fall short by a combined nine points. On the flip side, Mississippi State has played their worst against the better part of their schedule, beating three teams from the Sun Belt, one FCS team, and four SEC teams with a combined two wins in conference (both by Arkansas). Their three losses (Alabama, Texas A&M, and LSU) came by a combined 76 points. Ole Miss lost to all three teams as well, but by a combined total of 28. Ole Miss has yet to finish a fourth quarter this season aside from Arkansas, but I think Freeze knows the importance of this game and gets the job done. Sorry Dan, but this is our state again.
Mississippi State 27 Ole Miss 35