Each week, I'll try to convince myself I could give it all up and pick games for a living. And, each week, I'll learn that such a decision would eventually lead to me living in a storm drain in front of a bus station.
Last week: 4-3 (.571)
Season: 30-25-1 (.535)
LSU (-3.5) at Texas A&M
Florida and, believe it or not, Ole Miss provided the defensive blueprint to keep Johnny Manziel from setting yet another record. The Gators and Rebels used a controlled pass rush, meaning no defensive ends up the field, spies, and in the case of Florida, excellent downfield coverage.
Ole Miss, who forced Manziel into his worst passing performance of the season, lacked the secondary talent to shut down deep passes and spies with enough speed and discipline to keep him from gaining huge chunks of rushing yards. However, LSU's defensive talent lines up with or exceeds what Florida has, which means Manziel's ability to drive everyone associated with LSU insane (frustration insane; they are already insane) should be somewhat limited.
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Which means, as always with LSU, it will come down to how much they can get out of their offense without it destroying the success of their defense. Fortunately for LSU, Texas A&M's defense sits on the backside of the meaty part of the curve (72nd in total yards, 107th in passing), but, the Aggies are a semi-intriguing 35th against the run.
Florida and Ole Miss were able to run with decent success, particularly in the second half for Florida, so expect LSU to use the only formula it knows. RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN METTENBERGER INT RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN.
LSU to cover.
Auburn at Vanderbilt (-7)
This is Auburn's seventh game of the season and FIFTH time to appear in the JP slot, including the last three weekends. I'm not sure who I feel more sorry for, Auburn fans or Dave Neal and Andre W- nope, not even close, Dave Neal and Andre Ware.
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I'd have to consult my archives, which will be difficult since I have no archives, but I'm pretty sure that even Ole Miss during the David Cutcliffe years never experienced a JP streak like this. Now, we had a streak with Vanderbilt in which we played them at JP time from '98 to '06, but never this much JP in one season.
In JP's defense, this is the most JP game of the week, as Georgia and Kentucky will contain too much blood for such a soul-numbingly early kickoff time. And expect it to be a scrappy game, yet still filled with incompetence because Auburn and Vanderbilt. If Auburn loses this one, they're looking at 0-8 in the league, wrestling away the most recent 0-8 title from Houston Nutt (they finish with Texas A&M, Georgia, and at Alabama), so I'm looking for a super-tight fitted hat and very aggressive towel-waving from Trooper Taylor.
While literally EVERYTHING points to a Vandy win, there is no faith that they can win and cover. However, Auburn can win, lose, and cover. Auburn and the points.
South Carolina at Florida (-3.5)
Here's our chance to find out if Connor Shaw is mediocre-ish quarterback who doesn't make many mistakes or something a little more than that. Marcus Lattimore at least won't start (allegedly), and might not play, which means unless Spurrier wants to rely on an offensive line that had problems blocking a team with similar talent in LSU, Shaw will get the chance to throw it around a little bit.
Vanderbilt had some success last week throwing it, but again, that may be related to Jordan Rodgers Brett Favreing it up and Florida defensive backs making bad plays. If South Carolina can move the ball, keeping its defense off the field for great lengths of time, which LSU couldn't do against Florida and wore down in the fourth quarter (37 minutes on the field), they can keep it close and perhaps find a way to win it. That means they'll have to get something out of the running game and Shaw can't make any bad mistakes like he did against LSU.
In belief that Spurrier won't spend the first half calling terrible plays, South Carolina and the points.
Georgia (-27.5) at Kentucky
It really is one of the great blights on humanity that Auburn and Kentucky aren't playing this year. A game that bad deserves under the lights, PRIME TIME JP treatment. Nothing is going on the second week of December, so let's make this happen, SEC people who determined that a player in the grips of a suplex does not meet the definition of defenseless player.
Georgia to cover.
Middle Tennessee State at Mississippi State (-19.5)
Oh, to have video of Dan Mullen passing out from jubilation when he learned that Middle Tennessee State was on his schedule and that MTSU team would be coached defensively by Tyrone Nix. That would be some good YouTubin'. The hardest part of this week for Mullen and his offensive staff was deciding which plays to put into the game plan because THEY ALL WORK AGAINST TYRONE NIX.
In State's last three games against Nix's defense, they've scored 41, 31, and 31 points (well, to be fair to Nix, I believe 7 of those belong to the arm of Jevan Snead). So, if Tyler Russell wants to set school records, here's a great chance to get a jump on those. State to cover.
Alabama (-20) at Tennessee
Cleveland Browns owner and prominent Tennessee donor Jimmy Haslam decides this week is a great week to send out rumors he's interested in Nick Saban coaching the Browns? PAAAAWWWWLLLL.
Everyone knows Saban won't leave for Cleveland because Mike Slive would never agree to go with him (Auburn PAAAAWWWWLLLL). All I know is that the first question that needs to be asked by a writer after this game is about the Cleveland Browns job. Shoot dice, draw straws, pick a number, whatever. SOMEONE STEP UP AND DO IT. And whoever that person is, start drinking ASAP and Godspeed.
Alabama to cover.
*Doubling your paycheck IFFY at best