SEC Weekend Primer
By Jeremy Hillman
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This is going to be a weekend filled with intense rivalry matchups, where anything can happen.
After a day of thanks and turkey, a slew of big-time SEC football games are on tap for this Friday and Saturday. This is going to be a weekend filled with intense rivalry matchups, where anything can happen.
Last season, I finished the season 81-14 picking SEC games straight up and finished 49-36 in games I picked against the spread. I will keep track of how I fare in 2012 and post results each week:
Week 12 Straight Up Picks: 10-1
Week 12 Against The Spread: 3-1
Total Season Straight Up Picks: 82-17
Total Season Against The Spread: 51-37
Here is my preview and prediction for each week 13 SEC football game:
LSU at Arkansas (Friday Nov. 33rd, 2:30, CBS)
Predicted Game MVP: LSU DL Sam Montgomery
The matchup: After a loss to Mississippi State last weekend, a bowl game is out of the question for the Razorbacks. Meanwhile, LSU will be playing for its 10th win of the season and a potential BCS bowl invite. Arkansas will look to throw often with QB Tyler Wilson and star wide out Cobi Hamilton connecting on several nice plays. However, the Tiger defense, led by dominating DL Sam Montgomery and LB Kevin Minter, will be too much for the Razorbacks to put up too many points. The LSU offense will score plenty against an Arkansas defense that ranks last in the conference in total defense. This one will be a home loss for John L. Smith’s last game as head coach for the Hogs.
Predicted Score: LSU 31 Arkansas 17 (line: LSU -12)
Georgia Tech at Georgia (Noon, ESPN)
Predicted Game MVP: Georgia QB Aaron Murray
The matchup: Georgia cannot afford to overlook Georgia Tech before the SEC title game matchup with Alabama. Their shot at a national title game appearance depends on it. The Tech offense can be dangerous, ranking third in the nation in rushing yards with 325 rush yards per game, and will attempt to run, run again and then run some more in the game on Saturday. The Georgia defense has plenty of defensive stars that are playing well as a unit in recent weeks, after a slow defensive start to the season due primarily to suspensions and injuries. Look for the Bulldog defenders to slow down the Georgia Tech run game just enough to allow the Georgia offense, featuring talented QB Aaron Murray and dynamic RB Todd Gurley, to put plenty of points on the scoreboard. Georgia wins an important home game and maintains its national title hopes.
Predicted Score: Georgia 31 Georgia Tech 20 (line: Georgia -14)
Kentucky at Tennessee (12:21, SEC Network)
Predicted Game MVP: Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
The matchup: The game of fired coaches. Kentucky and Tennessee have had disappointing seasons, let go their head coaches, and are looking at rebuilding for the future. That being said, Tennessee is a better football team than Kentucky if they are focused to play. The passing game, led by QB Tyler Bray and WR Justin Hunter, will be too much for the Wildcat’s defense to handle. Kentucky will get a few things going on offense, but will ultimately lose its 10th game of the year.
Predicted Score: Tennessee 34 Kentucky 14 (line: Tennessee -13)
Florida at Florida State (3:30, ABC)
Predicted Game MVP: Florida State DE Tank Carradine
The matchup: This may be the best game of the day. It will be a high scoring Florida State offense against a very good Florida defense. FSU ranks second in the ACC in total offensive yards with 493 per game, and Florida is second in the SEC in total defense, allowing just 291 yards per game. Look for the Seminoles to rack up less yards and points than they are accustomed to this season, as the Gator defenders once again keep Florida in the game. However, the Florida offense has struggled mightily this season, especially in recent weeks, and will have trouble scoring against a good FSU defense. Making matters worse, Gator QB Jeff Driskel is banged up and it is unsure how effective he will be. It will be an entertaining and hard-fought game, but the Seminoles will benefit from a home crowd, and have the better offensive production, and come out on top in this rivalry matchup.
Predicted Score: Florida State 20 Florida 17 (line: FSU -8)
Vanderbilt at Wake Forest (3:30, ESPNU)
Predicted Game MVP: Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
The matchup: Vanderbilt, yes Vanderbilt, is looking for its eighth win of the season this Saturday. Commodores coach James Franklin has turned things around in Nashville and has his team believing they can beat anyone they play. Meanwhile, Wake Forest will be fired up for a home game that could give them their sixth win and bowl eligibility. Vanderbilt is the better team in this game, but the Deacons have plenty to play for in front of their home crowd. Look for a close battle early, with Vanderbilt scoring late to pull away and ice the game.
Predicted Score: Vanderbilt 28 Wake Forest 16 (line: Vanderbilt -11)
Auburn at Alabama (3:30, CBS)
Predicted Game MVP: Alabama RB Eddie Lacey
Bottom Line: Alabama was happy to see Oregon and Kansas State lose last weekend, as that put the Tide right back into the national championship picture. In contrast, Auburn has struggled through one of the very worst seasons in Tiger football history, and fans are ready for the season to end. The Alabama home crowd will be loud and thrilled at the potential beating of their rival. Auburn won’t be able to move the ball consistently against a very strong Bama defense, and the Tide offense should be able to move the ball on the ground and through the air against a porous Tiger defense. It will be a lopsided affair that is most likely never even close.
Predicted Score: Alabama 41 Auburn 13 (line: Alabama -32)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (7:00, ESPNU)
Predicted Game MVP: Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell
Bottom Line: The Egg Bowl has a lot on the line this season. Mississippi State is playing for its ninth victory of the season, which would most likely give them a top 25 ranking and a spot in a significant bowl. Ole Miss is playing for its sixth win and is looking to qualify for a bowl game. Not to mention the in-state rivalry angle. The Bulldogs and QB Tyler Russell, who has an impressive 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions on the season, will attempt to throw the ball on a Rebel defense that allows almost 250 passing yards per game. On the other side, Ole Miss will look to run the ball with RB Jeff Scott and dynamic QB Bo Wallace, looking to expose a Bulldog defense that has allowed 160 yards per game on the ground. In the end, turnovers will decide this close game and the Bulldogs lead the conference in turnover ratio with a ridiculous +16 ratio on the season. Look for that trend to continue as Mississippi State continues that trend and literally takes the ball and the game away from the Rebels.
Predicted Score: Miss State 27 Ole Miss 24 (line: Ole Miss -1)
South Carolina at Clemson (7:00)
Predicted Game MVP: Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Bottom Line: All you need to know about this one is that Dabo Swinney and his players are pumped up to play the rival Gamecocks after three straight losses in the series. Steve Spurrier's press conference quotes will only add additional motivation.
Predicted Score: Clemson 30 South Carolina 24 (line Clemson -4)
Missouri at Texas A&M (7:00, ESPN2)
Predicted Game MVP: Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Bottom Line: This is the first matchup for Missouri and Texas A&M as members of the SEC. It has been a much better first season in the conference for the Aggies than the Tigers. Texas A&M is looking for its 10th win of the season on Saturday, while Missouri is looking for bowl eligibility and its 6\sixth win on the year. Heisman favorite Johnny Manziel will need another big game, as the Mizzou defense is strong, led by linebacker Will Ebner. The problem for the Tigers is they struggle to score points on offense and won’t be able to keep pace on the scoreboard. Texas A&M will win and could get some consideration for a BCS bowl game.
Predicted Score: Texas A&M 38 Missouri 17 (line: Texas A&M -22)