SEC Rivalry Week Presents Challenge

It is "Can't we all just get along" week in the Southeastern Conference with almost every team finishing regular season play against a traditional rival. Exceptions are Texas A&M at Missouri and Wake Forest at Vanderbilt. Most of these rivalries are not particularly friendly. There is no shortage of irony in Alabama playing Auburn for a sportsmanship trophy.

Our ‘Almost Perfect Picks' did very well on the Alabama game last week, as in right on the money with a prediction of Crimson Tide 49, Chattanooga 0. There were a couple of bumps, however, We tried for the upset, that a motivated Texas A&M with a Johnny Manziel who had never lost an SEC road game, would prevail at LSU. Nope. And somehow we failed to see Georgia Southern beating Florida.

We had to get our thinking caps on a little early this week. Television, which owns the SEC, needed games on Thursday and Friday, as well as college football's day of Saturday.

Ole Miss (7-4 overall, 3-4 SEC) at Mississippi State (5-6, 2-5) – For those who just couldn't wait for the annual battle for the Egg Bowl, it comes early again this year, Thanksgiving night. Conceding that in all rivalry games the teams have equal motivation to win, the Bulldogs need a win in order to get to a bowl game. Almost everyone thinks the Rebels have a big upper hand in the Magnolia State, but this could be close. Ole Miss 23, Mississippi State 17.

Arkansas (3-8, 0-7) at LSU (8-3, 4-3) – This is a Friday afternoon game, just what LSU fans hate, but it won't really matter. Brett Bielema didn't take the Razorbacks job because he saw it as an easy fix. Arkansas football was a train wreck and the mess hasn't been cleaned up yet. LSU will keep the Hogs winless in the SEC this year. LSU 45, Arkansas 10.

All other games involving SEC teams are Saturday.

Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7, 3-5) – No one would suggest that Florida Coach Will Muschamp is a character who has earned sympathy. His temper and whining are distasteful to most. But one can't help note the terrible injury luck the Gators have suffered this year. The misery in Gainesville will continue this week unless Jameis Winston has to play in legirons. FSU 38, Florida 14.

Wake Forest (4-7) at Vanderbilt (7-4, 4-4) – How did Vandy beat Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee and still manage to lose four SEC games? That's life in this conference, where every game can be a minefield. Most of the teams the Commodores have played are better than the Demon Deacons of the ACC. Vandy is playing its way into a decent bowl game. Vanderbilt 31, Wake Forest 14.

Georgia (7-4, 5-3) at Georgia Tech (7-4) – Just as Georgia seemed to be getting back to full strength after some very tough injuries to key players, the Bulldogs lost the most key player, quarterback Aaron Murray. With Murray, this looked like an easy win for Georgia. Without him it will still be a win, but much tougher. A word to the Bulldogs: bat down desperation passes. Georgia 27, Georgia Tech 24.

Tennessee (4-7, 1-6) at Kentucky (2-9, 0-7) – When these teams get together for basketball, it might be a decent game. There isn't much interest in a game in which neither team has a chance to make it to a bowl game. Both teams are coming off disheartening losses in miserable seasons. Tennessee 31, Kentucky 20.

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (9-2, 6-2) – The Gamecocks may have one eye on the scoreboard to see how Missouri is doing since a loss by the North Columbia team would send the South Columbia team to the SEC Championship Game. Although Dabo Swinney's Clemson team is ranked higher than South Carolina, it is difficult to pick against the self-proclaimed Ball Coach in this game. South Carolina 34, Clemson 28.

Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3) at Missouri (10-1, 6-1) – The job Gary Pinkel has done as head coach at Missouri this year has been more than a little surprising. As it turned out, the SEC Eastern Division wasn't too tough, but the Tigers did very well except for that fourth quarter fold against South Carolina. Missouri has a lot to play for – a berth in the SEC Championship Game. Texas A&M has lost every game it has played against a decent team. Can Johnny Manziel win one meaningful game? Texas A&M 42, Missouri 31.

Alabama (11-0, 7-0) at Auburn (10-1, 6-1) – This game is for a trip to the SEC Championship game and, for Bama, hopes still alive for a third consecutive national championship. Auburn has had an extraordinary turn-around and the attitude from that camp seems to be that the pressure is all on Alabama, that Auburn is "playing with house money" since the season has already been a success. There is zero question that Auburn would trade its 10 wins this season for this one. The national perspective seems to have shifted from Alabama the team to A.J. McCarron the quarterback, that with a typical McCarron big game performance that he could find himself in the lead for the Heisman Trophy. We look for it to be more than the McCarron show. Alabama has weapons galore on offense, defense, and special teams, and has Nick Saban on the sideline. Alabama 31, Auburn 17.

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