In the early part of the season there are many games involving Southeastern Conference teams against opponents that are known primarily for their location in a state. North This, Central That, etc.
There are some cupcakes ahead in the next to the last week of the season, such as Alabama hosting Charleston Southern, but this week there are key games on the line – including Bama at Mississippi State.
The Almost Perfect Picks Department has to guard against a letdown following last week’s slate of big Southeastern Conference games and also against looking ahead to some easy selections next week.
This week is tough with some teams fighting for bowl opportunities, and perhaps even some coaches trying to cool down their hot seats.
For the year, the APP now is 66-18 in picking SEC winners and 47-28 against the over/under (predicted total points by both teams), but only 34-41 vs. the spread, also known as the line (the number of points by which a team is favored).
Our picks include the newspaper lines and over/under.
This week’s games:
North Texas (1-8) at Tennessee (5-4 overall, 3-3 SEC), Noon EST (11 a.m. central time) on SEC Network (Tennessee favored by 41 1/2 points, over/under 65) – Tennessee normally has a light November schedule and the Vols have had easy sledding to the brink of bowl eligibility since falling to Alabama in mid-October. This one is particularly easy against a team whose coach has already been fired. Tennessee 49, North Texas 10.
Georgia (6-3, 43-3) at Auburn (5-4, 2-4), 11 a.m. CST on CBS (Auburn favored by 2, o/u 50 1/2) – Auburn may have settled its quarterback situation, but it’s not clear if Georgia has. The Bulldogs have had rough going since being bruised by Bama and then losing Nick Chubb. Auburn 24, Georgia 17.
Florida (8-1, 6-1) at South Carolina (3-6, 1-6), Noon EST (11 central) on ESPN (Florida favored by 8, o/u 46 1/2) – Florida has already clinched the SEC Eastern Division championship, but the Gators need to show a little more than was the case in Florida’s 9-7 win over Vanderbilt. South Carolina has been without the self-proclaimed Ball Coach who quit on them as they were with him. Florida 28, South Carolina 13.
Kentucky (4-5, 2-5) at Vanderbilt (3-6, 1-4), 3 p.m.CST on SEC Network (Vandy favored by 3, o/u 39) – Vandy has a mathematical chance to be bowl eligible, but Kentucky has a realistic chance. The Wildcats, though, must get back on track as in the early season good play. Kentucky 20, Vanderbilt 17.
Western Carolina (6-3) at Texas A&M (6-3, 3-3), 6 p.m. CST on ESPNU (no line) – The APP feasts on games like this. The Aggies have been in a funk since falling to Alabama in College Station earlier this year, but it’s time to get out of it. Texas A&M 49, Western Carolina 21.
Arkansas (5-4, 3-2) at LSU (7-1, 4-1), 6:15 p.m. CST on ESPN ((LSU favored by 8, o/u 56) – Arkansas should be on Cloud Nine after its miracle lateral play for a comeback and victory over Ole Miss last week. LSU faces the same problem as many teams that lose to Alabama in that the Tigers have to put that game behind them, heal some bruises, listen to their coach (well, maybe not that), and rebound to a possible nice bowl trip down the road to New Orleans. LSU 27, Arkansas 17.
BYU (7-2) vs. Missouri (4-5, 1-5) in Kansas City, 6:30 p.m. CST on SEC Network (BYU favored by 4 1/2, no o/u listed) – It has been a crazy week in Columbia, so the Tigers are probably happy to be getting out of town and headed to Arrowhead Stadium. There is nothing to suggest Missouri can win as they look at their fifth consecutive loss. BYU 31, Missouri 10.
Alabama (8-1, 5-1) at Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2), 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS (Alabama favored by 7 1/2, o/u 50) – Alabama has an all-time record of 79-18-3 against Mississippi State and the Tide has won seven in a row against the Bulldogs, including last year when State came to Tuscaloosa ranked No. 1 in the nation. But the games are usually tougher than the record indicates. Bama Coach Nick Saban says his team seems to have gotten over the big win over LSU and practiced well this week. The Tide will have to be at its best against State quarterback Dak Prescott. Alabama 35, Mississippi State 24.