Stuart McNair

Almost Perfect Picks Department expects cigar smoke in Knoxville

In Week 7 of SEC football, light schedule includes important games

It’s not often we hear the name “Connecticut” when chatting with the crew in the Almost Perfect Picks Department at, but we wandered into their break room (just across from the situation room) this week to remind them that we had an early deadline because Mississippi State is playing on Friday.

The Bulldogs are not playing Connecticut, but rather BYU on Friday night.

We did, however, eavesdrop on the conversation among the nerds. Connecticut is a type of cigar, and in the Third Week in October there is some preparation being made for the Alabama tradition of lighting up a “stick” if the Crimson Tide can beat Tennessee.

That's an upgrade from what we think the Geek Gang is usually smoking when it makes some of its picks.

Through the first half of the regular season, the APP is 49-8 in picking straight up winners, but 20-30 against the point spread (line) and 27-24 vs. the over-under (combined points by both teams).

This week’s SEC schedule has Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas A&M taking the weekend off.

With point spreads and over-under taken from a random morning newspaper this week, here are the APP selections:


Mississippi State (2-3, 1-2 SEC) at BYU (3-3), 9:15 p.m. CDT on ESPN (Series: tied, 1-1 -- BYU favored by 7 points, over-under 57 -- If Dak Prescott could play – after all, BYU is playing with 26-year-old quarterback Taysom Hill – the Bulldogs might be the favorite in this game. But because BYU also has one of the most prolific running backs in the nation in Jamaal Williams, the Cougars at home may be too much to handle. It’s a huge surprise that BYU, with former Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer as offensive coordinator, has been particularly effective on the ground, with Hill also a running threat. The Bulldogs have been pretty good on defense against the run, but remember Mississippi State’s losses include one to South Alabama. BYU 42, Mississippi State 31.


Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3) at Georgia (4-2, 2-2), Noon EDT (11 a.m. central) on SEC Network (Georgia leads series 55-19-2) – Georgia favored by 14, o-u 42 1/2 – No one will be watching this game in order to fill out a “Coach of the Year” ballot. Kirby Smart has shown in his first year why an athletics director at a school wanting to be successful in football should not hire a head coach who needs on the job training (see Mike DuBose). Derek Mason does a decent job of defense at Vanderbilt, but the Commodores can’t score, even with a fine runner like Ralph Webb. The Bulldogs may have some quarterback problems, but Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are offense aplenty in this game. Georgia 28, Vandy 10.

Missouri (2-3, 0-2) at Florida (4-1, 2-1), 4 p.m. EDT (3 p.m. central) on SEC Network (Missouri leads series 3-2) – Florida favored by 14, o-u 50 1/2 – Hurricane Niccole is roaring in the Atlantic, but you can bet your last dollar that Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley, in his final days of employment, will find a way to have the Gators play this group of Tigers. Missouri is nothing like LSU and Florida needs SEC wins for its outside chance to slide into the SEC Championship Game. Drew Lock has played well at quarterback and the defense has been good for Missouri. But Florida gets Luke Del Rio back at quarterback and has an overall better team. Florida 28, Missouri 17.

Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1) at Arkansas (4-2, 0-2), 6 p.m. CDT on ESPN (Arkansas leads series 34-27-1) – Mississippi favored by 8, o-u 66 1/2 – There is an adage that a team that plays Alabama has a very difficult time in its next game. That’s because most teams put so much into getting ready (emotionally as well as physically and mentally) and then get so discouraged and beat up by the Crimson Tide that it’s difficult to recover. Arkansas was the latest victim of the Tide. There won’t be any Arkansas miracles like last year’s 53-52 Razorbacks win that was critical to Bama’s national championship, and there won’t be any big brother coming out of the stands to help anyone. What it will be is a quarterback battle, with Chad Kelly of the Rebels probably having a few more advantages than Austin Allen for the Hogs. Ole Miss 45, Arkansas 31.

Southern Miss (4-2) at LSU (3-2, 2-1), 6:30 p.m. CDT on SEC Network (Series tied 1-1) – LSU favored by 26, o-u 57 – Leonard Fournette seems to have the slowest healing ankle in football and even with Florida giving him a week off last Saturday, the LSU star may not play again this week. Of course, LSU under Interim Coach Ed Orgeron shouldn’t need Fournette against a Golden Eagles team that hasn’t done much since beating Kentucky in the first game of the season. This is the tune-up for LSU’s tough stretch run. LSU 42, Southern Miss 17.

Alabama (6-0. 3-0) at Tennessee (5-1, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central) on CBS (Alabama leads series 53-37-8) – Alabama favored by 13, o-u 57 – About the only thing disconcerting about No. 1 Alabama is that good opposing quarterbacks – Chad Kelly, Austin Allen – have been lighting up the Crimson Tide. Now comes another good one, Joshua Dobbs. If Bama wants to light up, the pass defense needs to tighten up. The Vols have an offensive line that has been sub-par and now may be a little more undermanned after last week’s marathon loss at Texas A&M. Bama has a lot of weapons on offense and Jalen Hurts is over any freshman jitters, but even for the Tide it’s hard to fathom being nearly a two touchdown favorite on the road against a top ten team. Alabama 38, Tennessee 28.

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