Stuart McNair

It’s always something in trying to predict SEC football

Alabama should win, but faces difficult challenge at Arkansas

As if they didn’t have enough to worry about, we heard one of the nerds in the Almost Perfect Picks Department at suggesting another category to predict this weekend. As we heard it, he wanted to know the over-under on number of television viewers who would notice if one of the announcers in the Vanderbilt at Kentucky game dropped a dirty word bomb.

One of the reasons that kickoff times (and tipoff times in basketball) are all over the place is because of the insistence of televising every SEC game, even if there is little to zero interest. Speaking of Vanderbilt at Kentucky, we’ll give that matchup some thought in basketball season. The APP has to give it some thought for Saturday’s game, though.

One thing the geek group doesn’t have to worry about is non-conference opponents like South Alabama and Southern Miss, to cite a couple who took it to Southeastern Conference teams this year.

Big news this weekend, of course, is the devastation of Hurricane Matthew which battered the Caribbean and the Bahamas before slamming the Southeast coast, resulting in the postponement (at best) of LSU’s scheduled game at Florida and the rescheduling of the Georgia game at South Carolina until Sunday.

This is Week 6 of college football, and now there are only five games this weekend involving SEC teams with no games against non-conference teams. In addition to the Florida-LSU postponement, Ole Miss and Missouri have open dates.

Incidentally, the proposal to monitor viewership of the Vandy-Kentucky game was killed when no one cared.

For the season, the APP Department has been right on the winner 44 times, wrong only 8. But against the point spreads (or lines) it has dropped to 17-29. The APP continues to do okay on the over-under, now 26-20.

Here are this week’s challenges with the point spreads and over-under taken from a random morning newspaper:

Auburn (3-2 overall, 1-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (2-2, 1-1), 11 a.m. CDT on ESPN – Auburn favored by 3 points, over-under (number of points to be scored by both teams combined) 54 ½ -- Series: AU leads, 61-26-2 – This could look like a gang fight between gangs of goons. Auburn isn’t playing Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremy Johnson at quarterback and the Bulldogs have sent Dak Prescott to the Dallas Cowboys. Our hunch is not only is Auburn better than Mississippi State, the Tigers – who have played a tough schedule, albeit all in Auburn, are better than most think. Auburn 28, Mississippi State 10.

Tennessee (5-0, 2-0) at Texas A&M (5-0, 3-0), 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS – Texas A&M favored by 7, o-u 57 -- Series:?UT leads, 2-0 – Everyone has circled this as a trap game for Tennessee coming after big games against Florida and Georgia (both wins) and hosting Alabama next Saturday. But even if it wasn’t, Texas A&M has been the sleeper surprise of the year in the SEC. Tennessee has been somewhat lucky and could easily have been 3-2 instead of 5-0 this year. The Aggies are lucky to have picked up Trevor Knight to solidify A&M at the quarterback spot. Home field and return of defensive end Myles Garrett make the difference for the Aggies. Texas A&M 31, Tennessee 28.

Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2) at Kentucky (2-3, 1-2), 4 p.m. EDT (3 central) on SEC Network – Kentucky favored by 3 ½, o-u 51 ½ -- Series: Tied, 42-42-4, and can anything be more perfect than the historic bottom feeders of the SEC being tied all-time? – The only team that has sabotaged the best efforts of the APP Department more than Vanderbilt is Kentucky, and there was quite the brouhaha in the Situation Room. Things got more physical than they are likely to be in Lexington. Teams that play Alabama often have problems the next week, but usually those teams aren’t playing Vandy. Kentucky 15, Vanderbilt 10.

Georgia (3-2, 1-2) at South Carolina (2-3, 1-3), 2:30 p.m. EDT (1:30 central) SUNDAY on SEC Network – Georgia favored by 7, o-u 40 ½ -- Series:?UGA leads, 48-18-2 – This is a game where weather could be a factor. Two former Nick Saban assistants, Kirby Smart at Georgia and Will Muschamp at South Carolina, will be going against one another and neither has the players that Saban does. So what do they have? Georgia will get star running back Nick Chubb back. South Carolina has been better on defense than it was under the self-proclaimed Ball Coach, who quit on his team in the middle of last season. Georgia 17, South Carolina 7.

Alabama (5-0, 2-0) at Arkansas (4-1, 0-1), 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN – Alabama favored by 14, o-u 49 -- Series: Alabama leads, 19-7 – Arkansas has played against Alabama in six seasons in which the Crimson Tide won the national championship. For the most part, those games haven’t been close, and Bama has won all six. This Alabama team hasn’t won the national championship this year, though the Crimson Tide is ranked No. 1, but it does seem to be more the complete team than the Razorbacks. Arkansas seems a big less the model expected of Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema in both offensive and defensive lines, but have picked up good quarterback play. But Alabama has picked up good QB play, too, and good running back play and gets ArDarius Stewart back and the defense is nasty and on-and-on. The APP Department never goes against Alabama and isn’t going to start now. Alabama 31, Arkansas 16.

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