Those in our Almost Perfect Picks department are a humble lot, and some weeks for good reason. Even with what former Auburn Coach Pat Dye called “50-50” hindsight, results often times are baffling.
Obviously, it is not an easy job to navigate the vagaries of Southeastern Conference football coaches and players in making weekly predictions.
Earlier this week, Alabama Coach Nick Saban claimed to “not have a crystal ball.” That had to raise the hackles of some in the coaching profession, well aware that he has three national championship crystal footballs in his time with the Crimson Tide, and perhaps one from his national championship days at LSU.
The APP doesn’t have a real crystal football, but has added a scale model to its predictions tool box and thus, like the Crimson Tide, looks for improvement this week. For the year, the APP is 28-6 just in predicting the winners (also known as straight up), 12-16 against the point spread as determined from our local newspaper, and 16-12 vs. the over/under (the predicted total points scored by both teams).
Here is this week’s effort:
LSU (2-0 overall, 2-0 SEC) at Syracuse (3-0), Noon EDT, 11 a.m. central, ESPN (LSU favored by 24 ½, over/under 46 ½) – This game is played in the Carrier Dome, which, of course, has no real grass. LSU Coach Les Miles long ago solved the problem of having a little stash of his favorite blend; we suspect there is a fanny pack under his jacket. They could play this game on any surface and the Tigers’ Leonard Fournette would be more than enough to take care of the Orangemen. LSU 38, Syracuse 10
Southern (2-1) at Georgia (3-0, 2-0), Noon EDT, 11 central, SEC Network (no line) – As is frequently the case in SEC football schedules, teams that play Alabama have either an open date or a game against a cupcake the week prior to playing the Crimson Tide. Even if the Bulldogs happen to be looking ahead, this is a shameful mismatch and UGA will run it up. Georgia 63, Southern 3
Central Florida (0-3) at South Carolina (1-2, 0-2), Noon EDT, 11 a.m. central, ESPNU (South Carolina favored by 15, o/u 44) – In recent years, Central Florida has had a pretty good football team. Ditto for South Carolina. Not this year, though the self-proclaimed Ball Coach should be able to have his Gamecocks end a two-game losing streak. South Carolina 24, Central Florida 14
Tennessee (2-1, 0-0) at Florida (3-0, 1-0), 3:30 EDT, 2:30 central, CBS (Tennessee favored by 1, o/u 48) – Thus far, the Vols seem to have not quite lived up to the pre-season hype, whereas Florida seems to be getting out of the Will Muschamp (speaking of not living up to preseason hype) problems under Jim McElwain, a former Nick Saban assistant. Florida 28, Tennessee 21
Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1) at Ole Miss (3-0, 1-0), 6 p.m. CDT, ESPNU (Mississippi favored by 24 ½, o/u 55) – This is the perfect game for the Ole Miss Rebels, coming off their epic win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa last week. Mississippi players may have had their heads in the clouds with their lofty ranking this week, but they’ll have prepared well enough for the Commodores. Ole Miss 38, Vanderbilt 10
Texas A&M (3-0, 0-0) vs. Arkansas (1-2, 0-0) at Arlington, Texas, 6 p.m. CDT, ESPN (Texas A&M favored by 7, o/u 58) – Both teams have been surprising this year because the Aggies finally seem to be able to tackle and the Razorbacks all of a sudden seem unable to tackle. Arkansas was a popular dark horse pick in the SEC and now A&M is being looked upon as a possible contender. This is A&M’s second game of the year in Texas, but not in College Station. Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 17
Mississippi State (2-1, 0-1) at Auburn (2-1, 0-1), 6:30 p.m. CDT, ESPN2 (Auburn favored by 1 ½, 58) – For some reason there is much dislike between these two, perhaps owing to rural envy. Both teams have a loss to LSU, the Bulldogs losing by 21-19 at home, Auburn losing by 45-21 in Baton Rouge. So how much is the home field worth? The Bulldogs have the league’s most experienced quarterback, while Auburn had benched Heisman Trophy hopeful Jeremy Johnson for a redshirt freshman quarterback. Mississippi State 30, Auburn 17
Missouri (3-0, 0-0) at Kentucky (2-1, 1-1), 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 central, SEC Network (Kentucky favored by 3, o/u 43 ½) – Well, these teams have one thing in common. In these days of high-octane offensive teams, last week both Missouri (9-6 winner over UConn) and Kentucky (14-9 loser to Florida) managed to score just 9 points. In recent years we have underrated Missouri. Not this week. Missouri 27, Kentucky 9
Louisiana-Monroe ((1-1) at Alabama (2-1, 0-1), 3 p.m. CDT, SEC Network (Alabama favored by 38, o/u 55) – Last week we thought Jacob Coker would be Bama’s starting quarterback, but he wasn’t. This week we think Coker will be back as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback. In the words of former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, “It don’t matter.” Saban wants to see an improved Tide after last week’s loss to Ole Miss. It will be difficult to tell if Bama is better than last week, but Alabama will be plenty good enough to win this game. Alabama 42, Monroe 10