SEC schedule starts with Thursday game; Alabama at Texas A&M Saturday

It’s the seventh week of the season, and each week is more desperate for some SEC football teams. This week’s schedule has been affected by bizarre events. Alabama at Texas A&M looks like the biggest game.

The Almost Perfect Picks Department had to get an early start to the work week (which, by the way, is Sunday through Saturday every week during football season). That’s because it’s something like a boxing card in which they have the preliminary bout, “Chinachin Chuck vs. Punchy Paul,” before it gets to the big boys.


Alabama is definitely in the big boy category this week with perhaps the most important game on the schdule as the once-beaten Crimson Tide takes on undefeated Texas A&M on the road.


Before getting to the Saturday games, though, there is that preliminry game, Auburn playing at Kentucky.


Later in the week, in addition to Bama vs. Aggies, we’ll look at a game where a leading contender – Florida -- lost its quarterback before a critical game, and where a non-contender – South Carolina -- lost its coach.


For the year the APP is now 47-11 in picking SEC winners and 31-19 vs. the over/under (predicted number of points to be scored by both teams), but only 22-28 vs. the point spread (the number of points by which one team is favored to win).


Here are this week’s picks beginning with the preliminary game tonight in Lexington:


Auburn (3-2 overall, 0-2 in SEC games) at Kentucky (4-1, 2-1), 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time), televised on ESPN (Auburn favored by 2, over/under 51 1/2) – Although the Tigers had a week off, the coaching staff says it still hasn’t decided on a starting quarterback, Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremy Johnson or the other guy. Ordinarily AU would be expected to romp over the Wildcats, but we’re going with the upset. Kentucky 24, Auburn 21.


And now on to the main event, the Saturday SEC games:


Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1) at Memphis (5-0), 11 a.m. CDT, ABC (Rebels favored by 10 1/12, o/u 64 1/2) – This is not the cupcake the Rebels expected when the game was scheduled, but the Mercenaries have too many weapons for the best team in the ACC. Ole Miss 42, Memphis 17.


Louisiana Tech (4-2) at Mississippi State (4-2, 2-1), 11 a.m. CDT, SEC Network (MSU favored by 13, o/u 58) – Mississippi State is not as good as last year even with quarterback Dak Prescott, but the Bulldogs are plenty good enough for this game. State 28, Tech 14.


Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2) at South Carolina (2-4, 0-4), 4 p.m. EDT (3 central), SEC Network (South Carolina favored by 3 – down from 8 --, o/u 45 1/2) – If the self-proclaimed Ball Coach is, as he put it, a liability to South Carolina when he quit his team in mid-season, why aren’t the Gamecocks more of a favorite against Vandy? They should be. South Carolina 27, Vandy 13.


Florida (6-0, 4-0) at LSU (5-0, 3-0), 6 p.m. CDT, ESPN (LSU favored by 9 1/2 – up from 7 1/2 --, o/u 47 1/2) – Are those four leaf clovers rather than grass blades LSU Coach Les Myles has been chomping on? Last week getting a home game instead of a road game and this week getting a Florida team that has been very good with Will Grier at quarterback? But the Gators haven’t been prolific scorers in road games, and Leonard Fournette and company were probably going to trounce them anyway and start looking ahead to Bama in two weeks. LSU 34, Florida 17.


Missouri (4-2, 1-2) at Georgia (4-2, 2-2), 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 central), SEC Network (Bulldogs favored by 16, o/u 45 1/2) – Georgia has been disappointing the last couple of weeks and the injury to Nick Chubb is a tremendous loss. Still, the Bulldogs have plenty of good players and this doesn’t look anything like the Mizzou squad that won the last two SEC East titles. Georgia still has a chance to get to Atlanta. Georgia 34, Missouri 14.


Alabama (5-1, 2-1) at Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0), 2:30 p.m. CDT, CBS (Alabama favored by 4, o/u 52 1/2) – Every year is different and last year’s team is not like this year’s team. Still, Alabama defeated Texas A&M by 59 points last year in Tuscaloosa. The emotion of the Aggies will be sky high,  and A&M has improved somewhat on defense under John Chavis, but Bama looks like a team that is getting better. Alabama 38, Texas A&M 28.

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