I was listening to an interview with legendary Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer the other day and it reminded me of a time when there was a discussion of an upcoming game in which the Sooners were solid underdogs against a powerful Nebraska team in a game that was being played in Lincoln.
I told my friends that I knew three people who thought Oklahoma would win the game: I thought so, Barry Switzer thought so, and Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne probably thought so. Oklahoma won the game.
That is not to be read as an endorsement of the accuracy as our weekly installment of the Almost Perfect Picks of Southeastern Conference games continues this year. Not to brag, but we have been about 90 per cent over the past few years on so-called “straight up” results, which is to say picking the winning team. Even against the betting line and the over-under (the number of points both teams will score) we have had a high percentage.
We don’t have a Las Vegas connection, so the lines and over/under we use are from the newspaper.
Also, we caution that we don’t bet on football, even though we study it year-round, and we recommend that no one bet on it, and certainly not using the Almost Perfect Picks as a guide. Even with past success, we suspect those things even out.
There’s also the little caveat that when it comes to the Alabama game of the week, we always think the Crimson Tide is going to win. Of course, in that regard we usually are correct.
In this opening week of college football, all 14 SEC teams are in action, including two Thursday night, which is why we have taken about 24 hours less than usual to come to these conclusions.
South Carolina vs. North Carolina (SC 2 point favorite, over/under 63 ½) in Charlotte, 5 p.m. CDT, ESPN – Steve Spurrier self-proclaims himself as “The Ball Coach,” not “The Old Ball Coach.” The old Steve Spurrier would have a team that would destroy a terrible defensive team like the Tarheels (the addition of former Auburn Coach Gene Chizik as UNC defensive coordinator nothwithstanding), but it won’t be easy. Still the Gamecocks uphold the honor of the SEC. South Carolina 30, North Carolina 21.
Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt (WKU 2 point favorite, over/under 64 ½), 7 p.m. CDT, SEC Network – Picking Vanderbilt to win is almost always picking an upset, and watching the Commodores last year makes it hard to imagine that Vandy can beat anyone. Living dangerously, though, we’re picking Vanderbilt 24, Western Kentucky 21.
Louisiana-Monroe at Georgia (UGA 35 favorite, o/u 53), 11 a.m. CDT, SEC Network – A few years ago Arkansas and Auburn had Louisiana-Monroe as cupcake early games and the Razorbacks were beaten, the Tigers taken to overtime before winning. Not this time. Georgia 49, La-Monroe 6.
U-T-Martin at Ole Miss (no line for this horrible game foist upon the Mississippi fans), 11 a.m. CDT, SEC Network (alternate channel) – One reason Ole Miss often gets off to a good start is the Rebels have made a habit of having the worst possible non-conference opponents. This isn’t the weakest of the year in the SEC, but it’s close to Alabama vs. Charleston Southern. Ole Miss 49, U-T-Martin 0.
Louisville vs. Auburn (AU 10 ½ favorite, o/u 58 1/2) at GeorgiaDome in Atlanta, 2:30 CDT, CBS – Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino is very good, but Louisville lost 10 men to the NFL draft after last season, and the Cardinals were only 9-4 with that talent. Auburn is a media darling this year and looks the part after Saturday. Auburn 49, Louisville 13.
UTEP at Arkansas (The other UA favored by 33, o/u 49 ½), 2:30 p.m. CDT, ESPNU – No one questions that Bret Bielema has the Razorbacks headed in the right direction, and they will be calling the Hogs after this one. Arkansas 42, UTEP 10.
Bowling Green vs. Tennessee (Vols favored by 20 ½, o/u 60 ½) at Titans Stadium in Nashville, 3 p.m. CDT, SEC Network – The only thing Tennessee needs to worry about is looking ahead to Oklahoma, but even if there is that distraction it won’t affect the outcome here. Tennessee 35, Bowling Green 14.
Southeast Missouri at Missouri (no line), 3 p.m. CDT, SEC Network (alternate channel) – All those who think the state university should play its cupcake games against in-state little sisters should have to sit through this one. Missouri 42, SEMO 14.
Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (Aggies favored by 3, o/u 66) at NRG Stadium in Houston, 6 p.m. CDT, ESPN – Much has been made of this game featuring a team from the SEC Western Division against a team from the Pac-12 South, considered the nation’s two toughest divisions. A&M made one of the best moves of the off season in adding John Chavis as defensive coordinator, but it will be the offense that makes the difference. Texas A&M 39, Arizona State 28.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Kentucky (Wildcats favored by 17, o/u 61), 6 p.m. CDT, ESPNU – Quite a few football people think Kentucky is making progress, and it may look like it after this game. Kentucky 45, LaLa 20.
New Mexico State at Florida (Florida 37 favorite, 57 ½ o/u), 6:30 CDT, SEC Network – Former Alabama Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain has taken over the train wreck left by new Auburn Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp, and McElwain gets off to a good start. Florida 49, New Mexico State 17.
McNeese State at LSU (no line), 6:30 p.m. CDT, SEC Network (alternate) – It’s not likely that the prospect of losing to McNeese State is what had LSU Coach Les Miles under the weather this week. The Tigers provide a payday for a state sister school. LSU 38, McNeese State 17.
Mississippi State at Southern Miss (MSU 21-point favorite, 56 ½ o/u), 9 p.m. CDT, Fox Sports 1 – The Bulldogs aren’t getting much respect after having been ranked first in the nation last year until losing to Alabama. MSU has what many consider to be the SEC’s best quarterback, and the Bulldogs will have enough to punish the Golden Eagles. MSU 48, USM 21)
Alabama vs. Wisconsin (Alabama 10 ½ favorite, 51 ½ o/u), AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, 7 p.m. CDT, ABC – Earlier this week I was asked to pick the score of this game, and so I am going to have to stick with that prediction. But the more I see, the more I think this is the kind of game that could get ugly in Bama’s favor. Still, a deal’s a deal. Alabama 27, Wisconsin 13.