I went 8-0 last week as Tennessee came through at the end against a stubborn Vandy team. That puts me at 71-14 or 83.5% in straight-up picks for the year. This week is "rivalry" week around college football and in the SEC so it should make for some interesting games and picks.
Friday, November 25th
#3 Arkansas Razorbacks (10-1, 6-1) at #1 LSU Tigers (11-0, 7-0), 2:30 PM EST, CBS
This game not only pits two of the top three teams in the Nation (and the Conference) but it also pits the league's number one offense against one of the top two defenses. In seven home games Arkansas is averaging 494 yards per game. Away from home, they are averaging almost 100 less at 408 yards per game. In terms of defense, LSU is giving up just 187 yards per game at home.
I think this game comes down to the Arkansas offensive line against the LSU defensive line and I see a big advantage here for the Tigers. Arkansas rushed for less than 100 yards in just three games this year. In one of those (ran for just 17 yards) they got bombed by Alabama by 24 and in the other two (Texas A&M and Vanderbilt) they won by a combined total of 7 points. If Arkansas wants a shot in this game they need to protect Tyler Wilson and give him time to throw and they have to establish a running game that will make sure that the LSU defense stays honest and respects both the pass and the run.
I see this as being a very close game in the first half but I think LSU pulls this one out in the second half as their athleticism and speed on defense turns out to be too much for Arkansas and their OL.
LSU 30 Arkansas 24
Saturday, November 26th
#13 Georgia Bulldogs (9-2, 7-1) at #23 Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3), Noon EST, ESPN
The guys over at DawgSportsdropped some interesting information this week. At Grant Field, Mark Richt has won more games than Georgia Tech's last 7 (yes 7) coaches combined. In fact, Richt is 5-0 in games played at Georgia Tech. This game pits strength versus strength as Georgia has the #2 ranked rushing defense in the Nation allowing just 81.27 yards per game. Since the second game of the season, Georgia has allowed just two teams to rush for over 100 yards against them and one of those teams (New Mexico State) got beat 63-16. On the other hand, Georgia Tech is the #2 ranked rushing offense in the Nation gaining 323.55 yards per game.
I like the match-up of Georgia's defense against Georgia Tech's offense in this game. This is Todd Grantham's second year against Paul Johnson and what we've seen this year from Grantham is that he's really good at making in game adjustments and the team is really buying into what he is coaching. Georgia has a solid, but unspectacular, defensive line. But they have two fantastic linebackers in Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree that are play makers. Georgia also has a really solid secondary and both Shawn Williams and Baccari Rambo are good and physical against the run. I don't think Georgia will completely shut down the Tech offense but I think they will play good assignment football, control their gaps and contain the run enough for Georgia to come out on top.
The wildcards in this game for Georgia is their RB and kicking situations. Isaiah Crowell and Carlton Thomas are both question marks and I'm not sure Georgia can go into this game without both guys. They just can't have Boo Malcome and Brandon Harton running the ball and putting it on the ground. Georgia has to have some semblance of a running game to keep Tech's defense honest and to help Aaron Murray make plays off of play-action. In terms of kicking, Blair Walsh has struggled mightily this year but might have found himself against Kentucky last week when he went 4 of 4 in Georgia's 19-10 win.
Georgia 31 Georgia Tech 17
Tennessee (5-6, 1-6) at Kentucky (4-7, 1-6), 12:21 PM EST, SEC Network
Tennessee needs this game to get bowl eligible and Kentucky needs this game for...well they don't really need this game and I'm pretty sure they will play like that. Kentucky's defense had a decent game against Georgia last week but Georgia pulled way back on offense without their RBs and after they realized that Kentucky's offense simply couldn't score against them. Tennessee's defense is not as good as Georgia's but it's good enough to beat Kentucky. Vols roll in this one.
Tennessee 27 Kentucky 13
Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1, 6-1) at Auburn Tigers (7-4, 4-3), 3:30 PM EST, CBS
After the way that Georgia just ran over Auburn two weeks ago it's really tough to think Auburn can be competitive in this game. But it is a rivalry game so anything can happen. That being said, I just don't see the Auburn offense being able to move the ball against the Bama defense and I think that's going to be the key to this game. This is another game I can see being close at half (kind of like Bama/Tennessee) with Bama pulling away in the second half. The longer Bama let's Auburn stick around the more the confidence could grow in this young team so it's best for Bama to put them away early like Georgia did. Auburn has proved that it's more than willing to roll over and play dead at times this year.
Alabama 28 Auburn 10
Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-6) at Wake Forest (6-5, 5-3), 3:30 PM EST, ESPNU
Generally speaking, when you hear that Vandy is playing Wake Forest it induces a coma like state that puts you right to sleep. This year it's been a bit different. Wake actually has the leading receiver in the ACC as Chris Givens has 70 receptions and Vandy has been pretty good since Jordan Rodgers took over at the helm of their club. Since I started doing my bowl projections two weeks ago I said Vandy would make a bowl. I still see them doing that but they have to win this game to do so. Vandy is yet to win a road game (although they've come real close in their last two at Florida and Tennessee) so this is going to be a real challenge for them to win at Wake. The good news for Vandy is that Wake is in a down turn as they have lost four of their last six. Three of those games have come against ranked teams but Notre Dame and Clemson have certainly proved to be beatable ranked teams. Look for this one to come down to the buzzer as has been the case with four of Vandy's last six games.
Vanderbilt 28 Wake Forest 27
FSU Seminoles (7-4, 5-4) at Florida Gators (6-5, 3-5), 7:00 PM EST, ESPN2
You would have laughed at me at the beginning of the year if I told you that this might be the least interesting game of the weekend in the SEC outside of Miss State/Ole Miss. Well, that might just be true. It's probably more interesting than Vandy/Wake but there is more on the line in that game than in this one. Both of these two teams have underperformed this year and both are coming off of really poor performances last week. The good news for FSU is that Florida seems to be getting worse every week that the season goes on. I'm holding my breath here and picking the Seminoles. If you are a gambler, stay away from this game.
FSU 24 Florida 20
Ole Miss Rebels (2-9, 0-7) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-6, 1-6), 7 PM EST, ESPNU
Can you think of a better way for Houston Nutt to go out then to beat Dan Mullen and the bizarro Bulldogs? That would be nice for Rebels fans but this is an Ole Miss team that has not won since October 1st. They also lost to Louisiana Tech two weeks ago by 20 points. This is going to be an ugly, ugly game but expect Mississippi State to win and become bowl eligible.
Mississippi State 27 Ole Miss 20
17 Clemson Tigers (9-2, 6-2) at 12 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2, 6-2), 7:45 PM EST, ESPN
Up until last week I had this one penciled in for the Clemson Tigers. Then Clemson got their ass kicked by NC State. Yes, NC State. Clemson has now lost two out of their last three with both of the losses coming on the road. Clemson now goes on the road to try and win for the first time (on the road) since October 15th when they squeaked past a horrible Maryland team by 11 points. I think this one comes down to the trenches and I think that game favors the Gamecocks. Clemson is 11th in the ACC in rushing defense giving up 184 yards per game. The Gamecocks are third in the SEC in rushing yards per game and since Connor Shaw has taken over they have continued their commitment to the run. South Carolina's two games with their most rushes have actually came after Lattimore went down to injury (over 50 rushing plays against both Florida and Tennessee). Like any game with Connor Shaw at QB, this isn't going to be a thing of beauty but I think South Carolina out physicals Clemson and wins this game.
South Carolina 28 Clemson 17