This is one of those weeks where there are some very important Southeastern Conference games and a handful of games in which SEC teams are playing overmatched opponents. Of course, we’ve thought there were mismatches that turned out to be very good games.
Alabama is involved in the biggest of the games, the second-ranked Crimson Tide playing host to No. 11 Ole Miss in the SEC opener for both. Also in the Western Division is Auburn, coming off an atrocious showing (but overtime victory) over Jacksonville State playing at LSU, which is coming off an emotional and important win at Mississippi State.
Ordinarily, we don’t put as much stock in home field advantage as some do. We’re more interested in best players and best coaches. But this week it looks like the home teams in the SEC are also the best teams.
The Almost Perfect Picks department had a tough time of it last week as there were several games that were closer than expected and a couple of upsets, including Kentucky over South Carolina in Columbia and Toledo over Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Here is how we see this week’s games:
Nevada (1-1) at Texas A&M (2-0), 11 a.m. CDT on SEC Network (A&M favored by 34, over/under – total points predicted to be scored by both teams – 65) – There’s this sneaking suspicion that Texas A&M is going to be one of the best teams in the SEC West, which means one of the best teams in the nation, as new Aggies Defensive Coordinator John Chavis is trying to get the A&M defense up to the level of the offense. Both should be fine this week. Texas A&M 56, Nevada 10.
UConn (2-0) at Missouri (2-0), 11 a.m. CDT on ESPN (Missouri favored by 21, o/u 39) – Once upon a time Missouri would have been able to handle UConn in basketball and wouldn’t even have considered playing the team with one of the best nicknames in sports – the UConn Huskies – in football. It’s closer in football, but still an easy win for a team with one of the most mundane names in sports – the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou 31, UConn 17.
Auburn (2-0) at LSU (1-0, 1-0 SEC), 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS (LSU favored by 7 1/2, o/u 50) – In this battle of Tigers (proving our contention of it being so unimaginative) , Auburn has to prove that it is still a legitimate contender after last week’s national embarrassment at home against Jacksonville State. LSU didn’t get to play the first week and had a battle at Mississippi State last week has to be ready to play another tough team. Auburn gave up 438 yards last week, and Jacksonville State didn’t have a runner like Leonard Fournette. LSU 31, Auburn 20.
Northwestern State (0-2) at Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1 SEC), 3 p.m. CDT on SEC Network (no line) – This is the kind of non-conference game you expect to get in Starkville. The Bulldogs are probably licking their, uh, wounds, after the tough home loss to LSU last week. They’ll try to take it out on NSU. Mississippi State 27, Northwestern State 6.
Austin Peay (0-2) at Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC), 3 p.m. CDT on SEC Network Alternate (no line) – Among the cobwebs of the Almost Perfect Picks memory is that Austin Peay is in Clarksville, Tenn., and that it is fairly close to Nashville, home of the Commodores. Unfortunately, Austin Peay may be very, very close to Vandy in football ability. But we’re going with the SEC home team. Vanderbilt 20, Austin Peay 10.
South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) at Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC), 6 p.m. EDT, 5 central, on ESPN ((Georgia favored by 16 1/2, o/u 54) – The self-proclaimed Ball Coach was thought to be considering retirement after last year. He’ll keep his shirt on this week, and we think he would be making a mistake to bet it against the Bulldogs. South Carolina lost to Kentucky last week and may be out of the SEC East race before it has really gotten started. Georgia 38, South Carolina 17.
Texas Tech (2-0) at Arkansas (1-1), 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN2 (Arkansas favored by 11 1/2, o/u 67) – This sounds better than it should be. Can Arkansas bounce back after being pounded by (snicker) Toledo? Will Texas Tech ever get back to its gun-slinging offense? So many questions, and so few who really care. Arkansas 30, Texas Tech 20.
Western Carolina (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1), 7 p.m. EDT, 6 central, on ESPNU (no line) – The Volunteers were so close to a monumental victory over an Oklahoma team that has a better name than it has a team. But think how long it has been since Tennessee has lived up to its reputation? This will be a nice bounce-back game. Tennessee 42, Western Carolina 10.
Florida (2-0) at Kentucky (2-0, 1-0 SEC), 6 p.m. CDT on SEC Network (Florida favored by 3, o/u 52 1/2) – Will there be anyone playing in this game who was born the last time Kentucky defeated Florida? The Gators are going to get back under Coach Jim McElwain, but it will take some time. So years from now the old-timers will be talking about the 2015 Wildcats beating Florida in football and UK leading the SEC East. Kentucky 26, Florida 22.
Ole Miss (2-0) at Alabama (2-0), 8:15 p.m. CDT on ESPN (Alabama favored by 6 1/2, o/u 51 1/2) – Give Alabama more credit than Mississippi for trying to prepare for SEC competition. The Crimson Tide opened with an impressive 35-17 win over a good Wisconsin team and last week stymied the spread offense of Middle Tennessee. The Rebels creamed a couple of creampuffs and Ole Miss leads the nation in scoring at 74 1/2 points per game. Alabama 24, Ole Miss 14.