Almost Perfect Picks Keeps It Rolling
Alabama defeating Texas A&M by 49-42 was technically a win for our picking prowess, but we expected the game to be a Crimson Tide romp, not a nail-biter. We also expected Auburn to rout Mississippi State, but the Tigers needed a miracle finish to get past the Bulldogs in what may have been the battle for last place in the SEC West...or which may propel Auburn to a bowl berth.
We had the most doubts about our picks of South Carolina over Vanderbilt and Ole Miss over Texas, but both those came through.
There are a handful of difficult picks this week, the last one in which a majority of SEC teams are playing out-of-conference games. We could see Arkansas having a tough time against Rutgers, Missouri in a struggle against Indiana, and Mississippi State meeting its match in Troy. And the two conference games, Auburn at LSU and Tennessee at Florida, might be tussles.
Well, they could be.
Vanderbilt at UMass: Is this a money game for the Commodores? Why would an SEC team play a game at Amherst? This one starts early, 11 a.m. CDT, and should be over pretty soon after that. The Commodores will improve to 2-2 and the Minutemen remain winless at 0-4. Vanderbilt 42, U-Mass 10.
North Texas at Georgia: The Mean Green seemed like a possible bracket buster type program just a few years ago, but it just hasn't happened. This is another step in the wrong direction as Georgia comes off an off week and may be looking ahead to LSU. It won't matter. Georgia 55, North Texas 14.
Arkansas at Rutgers: The natives of Piscataway, N.J., and surrounding areas may not have heard many seemingly normal human beings calling to each other with "Sooiiieee!" and wearing replica pig snouts. But the real wonderment in this game will be how each team tries to play down to the level of the other. Some say Rutgers is favored. We say "Sooiiieee"! Arkansas 27, Rutgers 24.
SMU at Texas A&M: It's easy to understand how anyone could expect this to be a rout. SMU has been playing Zombie football ever since receiving the NCAA death penalty, while the Aggies have zoomed up the ladder of football respectability since joining the SEC. One thing to watch, though, is how poorly teams play the week after playing Bama. Texas A&M 49, SMU 24.
Troy at Mississippi State: It's not that Mississippi State will play poorly because it is the week after the Bulldogs lost to Auburn. It's that the Bulldogs are likely to play poorly every week. Troy plays a demanding schedule and has had a smattering of luck against SEC teams in Mississippi. "Almost Perfect Picks" should know better, but we're going against our better judgment and picking the Bulldogs. Mississippi State 31, Troy 28.
Missouri at Indiana: Another SEC team (quick quiz: which one is in the SEC?) is on the road. For various reasons, we don't give much thought to Missouri, but we will give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt against the Big 10. Missouri 42, Indiana 38.
Tennessee at Florida: Before Steve Spurrier took Phil Fulmer's manhood, this was a nice little rivalry. The Vols are having a long, long football hangover that wasn't helped much by the pounding from Oregon last week. UT's defense should be just what the doctored ordered for the anemic Gators offense. Florida 35, Tennessee 16.
Auburn at LSU: "Tigers" is about the least original name in sports. There are three of them just in the SEC! But the ones in Baton Rouge are of a different stripe. There is some real hate between Auburn and LSU, which will keep the home team focused and not looking ahead to the important game against Georgia the following week. LSU 42, Auburn 17.
Colorado State at Alabama: It's a homecoming of sorts for former Alabama Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain, who is now the head coach at Colorado State, but it's going to feel more like a homecoming game for Alabama and its fans. The Rams are coming off a win over Cal Poly, but Colorado State lost to Colorado and Tulsa, so they ain't seen nothing yet.
This, of course, is a money game for Colorado State, but the Rams have to pay, too. Expect Nick Saban to show McElwain some mercy – about the same mercy he showed his alma mater when Bama beat Kent State 48-7 a couple of years ago. Alabama 48, Colorado State 7.
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