Stuart McNair

Almost Perfect Picks Department has some tough predictions, some not so tough

In Week 4, there are four compelling SEC games

It’s a week of the Haves and the Have-Nots in Southeastern Conference football this week. Now we’ll see if the Almost Perfect Picks Department at will Have the right stuff in figuring out those Haves – teams that Have challenging games.

Alabama is not one of them. The No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide will be hosting Kent State, Bama Coach Nick Saban’s alma mater, at 11 a.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. SEC Network will televise the game.

The other Have Nots in Week 4 are Mississippi State (playing at Foxborogh Stadium) against UMass and Missouri hosting Delaware State.

The Haves are those four very interesting SEC games – Georgia at Ole Miss, Florida at Tennessee, LSU at Auburn, and Texas A&M vs. Arkansas in Arlington, Texas.

In between are South Carolina at Kentucky and Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky, both of which might be competitive, but which are hardly compelling.

But we have asked the APP Department to respect all the games and to analyze games against the likes of Delaware State just as they would Louisiana State.

Through three weeks, the APP is 30-5 in selecting winners, but only 14-17 against the point spread (also known as the line), and 20-11 vs. the over-under (total points to be scored by both teams).

This week’s point spreads and over-under numbers are taken from the morning newspaper.

Here are this week’s predictions:

Georgia (3-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) at Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1), 11 a.m. CDT on ESPN – Ole Miss favored by 7, over-under 62 – This will be the third time this season Ole Miss has faced a freshman quarterback, and the first two haven’t been good, losses to Florida State and Alabama – both games in which the Rebels had big leads. But Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly is too good for his team to be 1-3, assuming the Rebels came out of the loss to Bama in decent shape physically and emotionally. Ole Miss 31, Georgia 17.

Florida (3-0, 1-0) at Tennessee (3-0, 0-0), 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central) on CBS – Tennessee favored by 6 1/2, o-u 43 1/2 – Just when everyone was getting excited about former Alabama walk-on Luke Del Rio at Florida, along comes Austin Appleby. Appleby, once at Purdue, is taking over for the injured Del Rio. That leaves it up to the Florida defense to get it done against a Tennessee with a lot of talent, but not a great offensive line. The Gators have won 11 in a row. U-T was the preseason favorite to win the SEC East. The pressure is on the Vols, but it’s the better team. Tennessee 21, Florida 17.

Mississippi State (1-2, 1-1) vs. UMass (1-2) at Foxborough, 3:30 EDT (2:30 central) on ESPN3 – State favored by 21 1/2, o-u 45 – When UMass was preparing to play Florida in the season-opener for the Gators, we were pretty sure the Minutemen would provide little opposition. That’s still the case, though the UMass defense isn’t bad. What is bad is its offense. Of course, we also thought Mississippi State had a cupcake when it opened with South Alabama. Mississippi State 31, UMass 7.

Delaware State (0-2) at Missouri (1-2, 0-1), 3 p.m. CDT on SEC Network – There is no line on this game – SEC teams can find cupcakes, and Missouri has a beauty. Delaware State (do you know their coach, their nickname, or what state they come from?)  is not good at anything. The Tigers need to enjoy this since Missouri is on the road for its next two games, at LSU and Florida. And they will. Missouri 63, Delaware State 0.

Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1) at Western Kentucky (2-1), 3:30 p.m. CDT on CBS Sports Network (not the same as CBS) – Western Kentucky favored by 7 1/2, o-u 51 1/2 – This is something you don’t see often: Vanderbilt coming up against an opponent in which the Commodores have an all-time winning record. Well, yes, Vandy will point out, there is that 21-20-1 record against Auburn. But this week the Commodores take on the Hilltoppers (in Bowling Green) and Vandy has an all-time record of 3 wins, only one loss…but that one loss was last season. Western Kentucky wasn’t bad against Alabama, and the Commodores were pretty good against South Carolina and MTSU. WKU 28, VU 21.

LSU (2-1, 1-0) at Auburn (1-2, 0-1), 5 p.m. CDT on ESPN – LSU favored by 3, o-u 46 1/2 – Most of the attention this week has been on the coaches, primarily because the fans at LSU want more, not Les, and the fans at Auburn have jumped off the malfunctioning Gus Bus. Texas A&M had a good day running against Auburn last week, and the Aggies don’t have anyone like Leonard Fournette – who ran over (and even under in one memorable dash) the Tigers for 228 yards and three TDs last year. AU is opening the season with a five-game home stand, but likely comes out of it with a losing record. LSU 24, Auburn 17.

South Carolina (2-1, 1-1) at Kentucky (1-2, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 central) on SEC Network – Kentucky favored by 2, o-u 56 1/2 – One would expect Will Muschamp to have a good defense, and South Carolina has done well, but the Gamecocks have been anemic on offense. Kentucky’s defense might be just what South Carolina needs, and the Wildcats will have to over its turnovers tendency to have a chance. South Carolina 24, Kentucky 10.

Arkansas (3-0, 0-0) vs. Texas A&M (3-0, 1-0) at Arlington, 8 p.m. CDT on ESPN – Texas A&M favored by 6 1/2, o-u 49 -- This could be the game that identifies Alabama’s top challenger in the SEC West. Both teams have good out-of-conference wins (Aggies over UCLA, Hogs over TCU), and both are playing at a high level. One of the top stories in the SEC has to be the improvement of the A&M defense under John Chavis. Texas A&M 30, Arkansas 27.

Kent State (1-2) at Alabama (3-0, 1-0), 11 a.m. CDT on SEC Network – Alabama favored by 44, o-u 50 – Will Nick Saban want to take it easy on his alma mater. The only other time the teams played, in 2011, Alabama won by 48-7. Saban said he wants his team to start fast and finish strong, and if they do it won’t be merciful. Tide 52, Kent State 6.

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