We still are not fully into Southeastern Conference football, but we’re getting closer and there are some important games in this third week of the season. Although our games may be getting overlooked nationally with games like Ohio State at Oklahoma, Michigan State at Notre Dame, and Southern Cal at Stanford, what happens in the SEC this week could have a major bearing on both the league title and the national picture at the end of the season.
It has taken tough coaching – some ass-chewings, actually -- this week to make our band of geeks focus on the present task. It matters not at all that the nerds were a perfect 12-0 last week. They needed to have those calculators out of their belt holsters and their pocket protectors loaded with new pens (a variety of ink colors) and pencils as they worked out this week’s Almost Perfect Picks.
Through two weeks, the APP is 21-4 in selecting winners, 10-11 against the line (also known as the point spread, or spread, regarding the number of points by which a team is expected to win or lose), and 14-7 vs. the over-under (the combined number of points to be scored in the game).
Here are Week Three’s SEC selections with the point spread and over-under courtesy of the local newspaper on a random day this week:
Ohio (1-1) at Tennessee (2-0), Noon EDT (11 a.m. central) on SEC Network – Tennessee favored by 27 ½ points, over-under 56 ½ -- MAC alert! MAC alert! It would be nice to know if the MAC will be providing the officials for this game, but the odds are against that since the league is short a crew this week after last week’s Central Michigan win at Oklahoma State. It’s time for Tennessee to show something – an offensive line that can block and receivers who can get open. The Vols don’t need to be looking ahead to next week’s Florida game. Tennessee 39, Ohio 14.
Vanderbilt (1-1) at Georgia Tech (2-0), 12:30 p.m. EDT (11:30 a.m. central) on ACC Network – Georgia Tech favored by 7 ½, o-u 43 – This should be a hard ticket – a hard ticket to sell, that is. There’s nothing to be excited about except perhaps that Vanderbilt can defeat a Georgia Tech team that hasn’t had its usual success in the running game. This week’s upset special, Vanderbilt 17, Georgia Tech 14.
East Carolina (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1, 1-1 SEC), 4 p.m. EDT (3 central) on SEC Network – South Carolina favored by 3, o-u 50 – This was not a great game that new Gamecocks Coach Will Muschamp inherited. For many years, East Carolina has been competitive with teams in North and South Carolina, and this is no exception. It will be tough, but, South Carolina 20, East Carolina 17.
New Mexico State (1-1) at Kentucky (0-2, 0-1 SEC), 4 p.m. EDT (3 central) on SEC Alternate – Kentucky favored by 19 ½, o-u 64 – It’s a little surprising to see Kentucky such a favorite, particularly since New Mexico State had a huge upset win over New Mexico. It could be an unusual weekend, Mark Stoops winning on the same day Bob Stoops loses. Kentucky 42, New Mexico State 24.
Mississippi State (1-1, 1-0 SEC) at LSU (1-1), 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN2 – LSU favored by 14, o-u 44 – No one really cares that Mississippi State opened the season losing to South Alabama. Most eyes are on what is happening at LSU where one of the nation’s most talented squads looks like anything but a contender. Leonard Fournette is thought to be over his leg and ankle problems, and if he is the Tigers may get back on track, quarterback or not. LSU 24, Bulldogs 14.
Texas A&M (2-0) at Auburn (1-1), 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN – Auburn favored by 3 ½, o-u 51 ½ -- Generally speaking, Texas A&M players are smart (Johnny Manziel is an exception). They won’t be fooled no matter how many Auburn quarterbacks are doing pirouettes. What the Aggies may not recognize, though, is that the Tigers seem to be playing good defense, notably holding Clemson to 19 points. On a hunch that A&M gets better quarterback play, Aggies 27, Tigers 24.
North Texas (1-1) at Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC), 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 central) on ESPNU – Florida favored by 36 ½, o-u 49 ½ -- After awhile we get tired of hearing, “But we play Florida State at the end of the season!” The Gators are the poster child for opening the season with easy games. Even peeking ahead to the Tennessee game, Florida has no problem here. Gators 49, Mean Green 10.
Georgia (2-0) at Missouri (1-1), 6:30 p.m. CDT on SEC Network – Georgia favored by 6, o-u 55 ½ -- Before Georgia’s 26-24 romp over Nicholls last week, this looked like a sure win for the Bulldogs. With Nick Chubb healthy and Missouri surprisingly porous on defense, it may not matter who plays quarterback for the Bulldogs. Georgia 24, Missouri 17.
Texas State (1-0) at Arkansas (2-0), 6:30 p.m. CDT on SEC Network Alternate – Arkansas favored by 31, o-u 60 – The main problem Arkansas might have with Texas State, has to do with two other Texas teams – the TCU team the Razorbacks defeated in double overtime in Fort Worth last week and the Texas A&M team that is the first SEC battle for the Hogs inArlington next week. Plus, the Bobcats can score. Arkansas 45, Texas State 21.
Alabama (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-1), 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS – Alabama favored by 10 ½, o-u 54 ½ -- There are a lot of ways to look at this game in Oxford, but no one seems to focus on anything except that two of the Rebels’ 10 all-time victories against the Crimson Tide have come in the last two seasons. That should have nothing to do with this game. On the Alabama side, one should note that the Tide will have a freshman quarterback starting his first SEC road game. On the Ole Miss side, one might note that the Rebels’ defense has had to stay on the field a lot in its first two games. We look for Hurts to be just fine and for the Tide to wear down Mississippi. Of course, we thought that the last two years, too. Alabama 34, Ole Miss 17.