Stuart McNair

Almost Perfect Picks Department likes Alabama to win in a rout

Week 5 has at least one key SEC game, and several interesting contests

We have noticed disturbing activity around the Operations Center of the Almost Perfect Picks Department at this week. There have been some long faces, a lot of sulking by the nerds. Also finger-pointing.

We could hear muffled voices: “You could do better flipping a coin!” “Oh, yeah? Well, you could do better with a dart board and your sister throwing the dart!”

After a so-so performance last week, the APP geeks have been urged to get it together for the fifth week of Southeastern Conference football predictions, and we believe they will be rock solid.

Through four weeks, the APP is 36-8 in selecting winning SEC teams, but against the point spread (also known as the line) it is only 16-23 and vs. the over-under (combined number of points by both teams) is 22-17.

Mississippi State has an open date this week, the first SEC team to have a bye in 2016.

Here are this week’s predictions with the point spread and the over-under numbers provided by the newspaper on a random morning:

Alcorn State (1-2 record) at Arkansas (3-1 overall, 0-1 in SEC), 11 a.m. CDT on SEC Network Alternate – There is no line on the game – What, you ask, is Arkansas doing playing Alcorn State in the fifth week of the season, the week when most teams are getting into the meat of the conference schedules? Just look ahead a week. Arkansas is getting ready for Alabama. Arkansas 49, Alcorn State 0.

Florida (1-1, 3-1) at Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-1), 11 a.m. CDT, SEC Network – Florida is favored by 10 points and the over-under is 41 – Was it Tennessee or was it Florida? Last week the Gators fell apart in Knoxville in the second half, but that’s not likely to happen as Coach Jim McElwain takes his Florida team halfway across the state to meet the Commodores. Last year the 9-7 Florida win came down to a late field goal. Look for the Gators to start fast. Florida 24, Vanderbilt 10.

Louisiana-Monroe (1-2) at Auburn (2-2, 1-1), 2:30 p.m. CDT on SEC Network Alternate – Auburn favored by 33, o/u 56 – Auburn’s opening five games were all in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but included some tough teams – Oregon, Texas A&M, and LSU. The wacky win over LSU last week makes the Tigers a sure thing to come out with a winning record before going on the road. Auburn will get some touchdowns this week. Auburn 41, ULM 10.

Tennessee (4-0, 1-0) at Georgia (3-1, 1-1), 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central) on CBS – Tennessee favored by 3 ½, o-u 54 – With Tennessee having dispatched Florida last week, the Vols can just about wrap up the SEC East with a win in Athens. While UT was dismantling Florida with its great comeback, Georgia was on the wrong end of a 45-14 beating by what may be the SEC’s second best team, Ole Miss. The Bulldogs meet another veteran quarterback in Joshua Dobbs this week. Tennessee 28, Georgia 14.

Texas A&M (4-0, 2-0) at South Carolina (2-2, 1-2), 4 p.m. EDT (3 p.m. central) on SEC Network – A&M favored by 18, o-u 48 ½ -- They laughed in the preseason when we suggested Texas A&M would be more solid at quarterback than in the harem-scarem days of Johnny Football or Kenny Hill Trill, but Trevor Knight is getting the job done. The Aggies have a nice resume with wins over UCLA, Auburn on the road, and Arkansas last week in Arlington. We also said the A&M defense would be better, and it has been. The self-proclaimed Ball Coach, who quit on South Carolina mid-season last year, didn’t leave much for Will Muschamp. Texas A&M 34, South Carolina 14.

Memphis (3-0) at Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1), 6 p.m. CDT, ESPNU – Ole Miss favored by 14 ½, o-u 65 ½ -- Last year with Paxton Lynch at quarterback, Memphis was a 37-24 winner over the Rebels. Lynch is gone, but the Tigers have been putting up points, albeit against weak opposition. Meanwhile, Ole Miss is by far the nation’s best two-loss team in great part because of Chad Kelly. Just a hunch that this might be tougher than most think. Ole Miss 42, Memphis 31.

Missouri (2-2, 0-1) at LSU (2-2, 1-1), 6:30 p.m. CDT on SEC Network – LSU favored by 13, o-u 51 – Both teams have new coaches this year, Barry Odom having taken over in traditional fashion at the end of last season for Missouri, LSU making Ed Orgeron interim coach after firing Les Miles following the debacle at Auburn last week. Also out the door at LSU is offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and Orgeron is a defensive coach. Additionally, we don’t know if Leonard Fournette wants to play this week. Drew Lock has been excellent for Mizzou at quarterback, but LSU has much better talent than its record suggests. LSU 31, Missouri 14.

Kentucky (2-2, 1-1) at Alabama (4-0, 1-0), 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN – Alabama favored by 35 ½, o-u 57 ½ -- Does Alabama go into this game with one of its weapons unarmed – or, rather, unlegged? With the loss of the backup quarterback, Bama may be reluctant to have freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts running. He’s the Tide’s second-leading rusher and top man, Damien Harris, may not be ready to go, or may be at less than 100 per cent with an  ankle injury. No matter. This is football, not basketball. Alabama 52, Kentucky 10.


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