All 12 SEC teams are in action this week with
two teams dipping out of conference and ten teams going head to head.
While the SEC championship match has been decided - Florida and Alabama - there
are major bowl implications for every other team playing this week, with the
exception of Vanderbilt.
Here's a closer look at this week's games ...
Louisiana Tech at LSU: Louisiana
Tech comes in with a disappointing 3-6 record, which includes losses to Auburn,
Navy, and Boise State, but has played better than its record. LSU lost a
shot at the SEC West Division championship with a controversial loss to Alabama
last weekend, and along the way, lost some key players to injury.
Louisiana Tech likely will play similar to what it did against Auburn, hanging
tough in the first half before losing by 24. LSU 38 - Louisiana Tech 14
Troy at Arkansas: What many
expected to be an automatic win for Arkansas may be a bit more of a challenge
against a 7-2 Troy team. Troy's losses have been to Florida (56-6)
following a season opening loss at Bowling Green. None of its wins are
particularly notable. Arkansas was impressive in a win last week over South
Carolina and likely will cause problems for Troy, especially on offense.
Throw in an improving defense, and the Razorbacks should become bowl eligible on
Saturday. Arkansas 42 - Troy 21
Alabama at Mississippi State: Alabama
has begun to show some areas of vulnerability in a two-point win over Tennessee
two weeks ago followed by a controversial win over LSU, again, courtesy of SEC
officiating. Mississippi State has had two weeks to prepare for Alabama
and is coming off a road win over Kentucky. Mississippi State, while still
lacking in talent, has improved greatly over the course of the season and should
have a respectable showing against the Tide. Alabama will have to guard
against a letdown after winning the division last week. This one has all
the makings of a game that could be closer than it should be. Alabama
24 - Mississippi State 17
Kentucky at Vanderbilt: Coming in
at 2-8, Vanderbilt has had a difficult season and by all accounts, a 5-4
Kentucky team should become bowl eligible with a win against the Commodores.
However, there's been many years where the underdog has knocked off the favorite
and kept the other team from going to a bowl. But with a road trip to
Georgia and a home finale against Tennessee, it may be now or never for the
Wildcats. Injuries have hurt the Wildcats, particularly in the loss to
Mississippi State, but after having an easy out-of-conference opponent last
week, Kentucky may be healed up enough to take care of business on Saturday.
Either way, this should be another close game between the two rivals. Kentucky
24 - Vanderbilt 21
Auburn at Georgia: Georgia hasn't
beat Auburn four times in a row since the 1950s, but could pull off the feat
with a win here. After losing three straight, Auburn is now bowl eligible
with wins over Ole Miss and Furman. Georgia is still searching for its
sixth win - but the forecast for that happening and finishing 6-6 after a season
closing loss to Georgia Tech looks more realistic next week against Kentucky.
With a win, Auburn could easily emerge from now being a Peach Bowl favorite to a
Cotton Bowl favorite and finish 8-4 after a season ending loss to Alabama after
a bye week next week. Georgia's defense should be challenged against a
good Auburn offense while Auburn will have to be careful not to let the Dogs get
loose in the secondary. Look for Auburn to put an end to a three-game
losing streak to Georgia in yet another close game. Auburn 31 - Georgia
Florida at South Carolina: As
expected, South Carolina's second half of the season downward spiral continued
last week in Fayetteville. At 6-4, South Carolina's stock is dropping
quickly and a bid to the Music City Bowl appears most likely unless they can
pull off a win in the season finale against Clemson at home in two weeks.
Florida continues to be rather unimpressive, yet effective, as they dispatched
Vanderbilt last week. Florida will have to guard against a letdown to keep
its national championship hopes alive, and might not have time to recover from a
loss here, even if it can beat Alabama in the conference championship game.
Expect former head Gator Steve Spurrier to pull out all the stops for a win, but
for it to fall short. Florida 28 - South Carolina 21
Tennessee at Ole Miss: This is a
game that if judged solely on how the two teams are playing, Tennessee has the
edge. Ole Miss is coming off a lethargic, yet effective win over Northern
Arizona, where objectives were achieved by winning by a considerable margin,
staying relatively injury free, and getting some young players experience. Meanwhile,
Tennessee is rolling - a big win over Memphis and standing toe-to-toe with
Alabama in a two point loss. Match-ups also favor Tennessee - solid
running game against a defense that has often struggled to stop the run - and
talented receivers against a secondary that has some holes and one of its key contributors (Fon Ingram) questionable for the game. On offense, Ole Miss' passing
game has been inconsistent and there's little doubt Tennessee's strategy will be
to keep Jevan Snead off balance, which, frankly, has been easy to do with a
struggling offensive line. Either team would be bowl eligible with a win.
The storyline is Ed Orgeron's return to Ole Miss - and his former players want a
win while the staff is brushing off any impact Orgeron would have on the game.
Further going against the Rebels is history - Tennessee has won 12 straight
dating back to 1984. Ole Miss is talented enough to win the game, but will have
to show the emotion it had against Arkansas three weeks ago to win. Take
the Rebels based on home field advantage, but don't be surprised if Tennessee
pulls out the win. Ole Miss 28 - Tennessee 27
Last week: 8-0
Ole Miss picks: 7-2
SEC East: Florida (1), Tennessee (2), South
Carolina and Georgia (tied for 3), Kentucky (5), and Vanderbilt (6)
SEC West: Alabama (1), LSU (2), Auburn (3), Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Miss. State
(tied for 4)