In case you haven’t noticed, we are approaching the sixth game of the football year – the halfway point of regular season play. The paradox of getting deeper into play is that we have more information on teams, and yet it becomes more difficult to predict outcomes.
Nevertheless, the Almost Perfect Picks Department knows that it must soldier on. Most are just interested in which team wins and which team loses, and the APP has been decent in that department, 42-10. Some, though, have a deeper interest in outcomes, and that has been more difficult. In almost every game, one team is favored by a number of points (from time-to-time a game is considered even, or “pick it”) – the line -- and there is also a prediction on how many combined points will be scored by both teams – the over/under. The APP is 20-24 against the line and 27-17 on the over/under.
Most of the study time of the APP each week is on the Alabama game, this week against Arkansas in Tuscaloosa. There was a kink thrown into research this week, though, when the torrential rains in the Carolinas resulted in LSU’s scheduled game at South Carolina had to be moved to Baton Rouge.
A rule of thumb is that the home field is worth three points. The move of the game from Columbia to LSU changed the Tigers from a 13-point favorite to a 19-point favorite.
This is a relatively light schedule, only six games involving Southeastern Conference teams this week, and the two Mississippi schools taking on out-of-conference cupcakes.
Here are this week’s games:
New Mexico State (0-4) at Ole Miss (4-1 overall, 2-1 in SEC games), 11 a.m. CDT, SEC Network (Mississippi favored by 43 ½ points, over/under 69 points) – The APP is wracking its collective brain trying to think of the nickname of New Mexico State. Rebels 49, Gay Caballeros 7
South Carolina (2-3, 0-3) at LSU (4-0, 2-0), 2:30 p.m. CDT, ESPN (LSU favored by 19, o/u 50) – The APP doesn’t have quite the same opinion of the self-proclaimed Ball Coach as he has for himself (no one could), but nevertheless one has to feel pain for the Gamecocks. The state is suffering from last week’s weather, and it doesn’t help the South Carolina football team to have to play what should have been a home game in Baton Rouge. LSU 35, South Carolina 17
Troy (1-3) at Mississippi State (3-2, 1-2), 3 p.m. CDT, SEC Network (Mississippi State favored by 30 ½, o/u 55 ½) – Once upon a time, Troy would have been all the Bulldogs could handle. In fact, the all-time record against the Trojans is 3-1. Now, though, Troy is just another on the weakest non-conference schedule this side of Oxford. Mississippi State 34, Troy 10
Georgia (4-1, 2-1) at Tennessee (2-3, 0-2), 3:30 p.m. EDT, 2:30 central time, CBS (Georgia favored by 3, o/u 55 ½) – Remember back in August when the word from Knoxville was that the Vols might go undefeated this year if UT could get past Alabama in Tuscaloosa? Things haven’t gone as expected, and now Tennessee is a desperate underdog in Neyland Stadium against a Georgia team that is in a must-win situation after having lost at home to Bama last week. The Vols rank behind only Auburn in defense. And next week Tennessee has that Tuscaloosa game. Georgia 38, Tennessee 13
Florida (5-0, 3-0) at Missouri (4-1, 1-1), 6:30 p.m. CDT, SEC Network (Florida favored by 5 ½, o/u 39 ½) – The Gators under Coach Jim McElwain have caught the attention of the nation with an undefeated record, including a romp over the Ole Miss team that defeated Alabama. Missouri, meanwhile, plods along as it has ever since it joined the SEC, flying under the radar. There’s a temptation to think the Tigers can make a step towards another SEC East title with a home win, but Florida seems to be this year’s team of destiny and the Gators have momentum. Florida 18, Missouri 17
Arkansas (2-3, 1-1) at Alabama (4-1, 1-1), 6 p.m. CDT, ESPN (Alabama favored by 16, o/u 51) – Everyone expects this game to be the football equivalent of a boxing bare knuckles fist fight, perhaps because of Bama’s close escape in a 14-13 win at Fayetteville last year. But it’s hard to forget this: Toledo 16, Arkansas 12. Jacob Coker surely gained some confidence in leading Alabama to a romp over Georgia last week, and this week he is going up against the SEC’s worst pass defense team. Alabama 31, Arkansas 17