Nearly Flawless SEC Predictions

True story. This week a Mississippi State fan said that Alabama would be exposed because the Crimson Tide has played such a weak schedule. This from the Bulldogs, whose three Southeastern Conference wins have come over teams with a combined 0-14 record and whose non-conference opponents are headed by Troy.



Neither Alabama nor Mississippi State can be particularly proud of the teams they have beaten as both squads have gone to 7-0, and it's not unreasonable to say that this will be the first test either has faced. Not unreasonable, but it's not the first time it was said about the Crimson Tide. Certainly Michigan, ranked eighth in the nation at the time, was expected to be a test. Last week we heard that Tennessee would be the first test for Bama.

Let's see. It was Alabama 41, Michigan 13 in the first one, Alabama 44, Tennessee 13 in the second one, and pretty much the same for five games in between for number one ranked Alabama. Mississippi State defeated Troy 30-24. But what says more about the difference between Bama and the Bulldogs is that State played AT Troy.

This week the Bulldogs are in Tuscaloosa at Bryant-Denny Stadium where the teams will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CDT with ESPN televising the game. It's homecoming for Alabama and some Bulldogs took offense at that, but Bama doesn't worry about having a cupcake for a homecoming opponent. The game is set by the alumni office, not the football coach. And by the way, it sucks to have a parade at 2 p.m. and the football game at 7:30 p.m., unless you happen to be selling beer on the strip.

The primary scenario put forth for Mississippi State defeating Alabama is that the Bulldogs are best in the nation in the turnover-takeaway battle at plus 17. The problem is, Alabama doesn't turn it over much, six lost fumbles in seven games against 20 takeaways by the Tide. Scenarios for Alabama winning are along the lines of running, passing, blocking, tackling. Stuff like that.

State has the league's leading rusher in LaDarius Perkins at about 103 yards per game. Alabama hasn't given up 100 yards rushing to any TEAM this season. Something tells us Eddie Lacy or T.J. Yeldon will have the more productive rushing day.

This is the biggest game in Mississippi State history. It's another game for Alabama, and the Crimson Tide rolls, 38-13.

By now you have deduced that our Nearly Flawless SEC Predictions are with us yet again.

While Bama and State battle for supremacy in the SEC Western Division, Georgia and Florida will meet in Jacksonville for the annual World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for what is almost certainly the Eastern Division championship. Although Georgia was humiliated by South Carolina 35-7 and South Carolina humiliated by Florida 44-11, most say disregard comparative scores, that the Gators will not beat the Bulldogs by 61 points. Well, then, how about 6 points? Or 7? Florida 28, Georgia 21

Over the years there have been a number of Alabama-Texas A&M connections, most important being Paul Bryant leaving College Station to return to his alma mater, Alabama, as head coach in 1958. Meanwhile the Aggies got Gene Stallings from the Alabama staff, Jackie Sherrill who had played at Alabama, and Dennis Francione, who slipped out of town under cover of darkness to head to Aggieland. That last, particularly, brought bad blood. But this week, all is forgiven. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may suffer a bad cramp running against Auburn. We don't know much about football gambling, but we do know that it's not good to be a double digit dog at home, as Auburn is this week. Texas A&M 35, Auburn 16

They are starting to get excited in Fayetteville. I don't mean as excited as, say, Bobby Petrino might have been on his motorcycle ride, but excited about winning two SEC games. Of course, they came over teams that are likely to go 0-for in conference play, Kentucky and Auburn. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has been somewhat impressive, but not winning much, its one SEC win in three tries also coming against winless Auburn. To be fair, the Razorbacks haven't had their main man most of the season. Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson is starting to light it up, now. Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 28

South Carolina had a tough three-game stretch, hosting Georgia, then going to LSU and Florida. If the Gamecocks had won two of those three, they could have been considered championship contenders. That didn't happen. But that doesn't mean Steve Spurrier won't be up for this week as South Carolina hosts Tennessee. Spurrier, a Tennessee native, has never had much for the Vols. South Carolina 35, Tennessee 14

This is an historic weekend. For the first time, Kentucky will travel North to play an SEC football game. It's by less than a degree, but Columbia, Mo., is our Northernmost outpost until the SEC takes in Idaho or somebody equally as unsuited to the conference as Missouri. What the Wilcats will find, however, is that not much has changed. When Kentucky plays football in the SEC, the Wildcats can only hope for revenge in basketball season. Even that might be difficult this year as Missouri is better in hoops than in football, too. But the Tigers are better than Kentucky in football. Missouri 31, Kentucky 14

Last week Vanderbilt had three turnovers and still won an SEC game, defeating Auburn, 17-13. This week the Commodores have to come down from their euphoria and prepare to play Massachusetts, which has something in common with Alabama. Both the Crimson Tide and UMass are among the relatively few number of college teams with a nickname that does not end in the letter "s." Vandy should have little trouble with the Minutemen. Vanderbilt 45, Massachusetts 13

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