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Almost Perfect Picks Department likes Alabama to defeat Texas A&M

Alabama vs. Texas A&M headlines week of interesting SEC selections

Former Alabama (and Texas A&M) Coach Gene Stallings used to talk about players who had “their dobbers down,” or sometimes up. The Geek Gang in the Almost Perfect Picks Department at would have chins scraping the floor it they had chins.

The nerds have had back-to-back disappointing weeks predicting the scores of Southeastern Conference games, but at least they are talking a good game. “We’ll be back,” one of them murmured. That’s about as wild as it gets in that part of the building.

This is a tough week to try to rebound. While Alabama vs. Texas A&M is the big game, and a difficult one to predict, there is also Arkansas at Auburn, Ole Miss at LSU, and Mississippi State at Kentucky, all close calls.

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For the year the APP is 53-10 in picking SEC winners, but only 20-35 against the points spread (or line), and 30-27 vs. the over-under (number of points to be scored by the combined teams).

Florida (5-1 overall, 3-1 in SEC), Georgia (4-3, 2-3), and Tennessee (5-2, 2-2) are open this week.

Point spreads and over-under are provided by a random morning newspaper. Here are this week’s selections:

UMass (1-6) at South Carolina (2-4, 1-4 SEC), Noon EDT (11 a.m. central) on SEC Network (Series: first meeting) – South Carolina favored by 20 points, over-under 46 – South Carolina sees an opportunity to make UMass the worst team in the SEC. After all, the Minutemen have already lost to Florida and Mississippi State as part of the league’s early season cupcakes. UMass played the Gators and Bulldogs pretty well (considering), and may give the Gamecocks a battle. South Carolina 28, UMass 10.

Middle Tennessee (4-2) at Missouri (2-4, 0-3), 3 p.m. CDT on SEC Network (Series: Missouri leads 1-0) – Mizzou favored by 6 ½, o-u 71 1/2 – Can Missouri quarterback Drew Lock find his groove again? He had better, because Middle Tennessee has a very effective passer in Brent Stockstill. MTSU put up a lot of yards against Vanderbilt (the Commodores are pretty good on defense) and Western Kentucky. Missouri doesn’t have much defense, so this could be an offensive shootout. Mizzou 45, MTSU 38.

Arkansas (5-2, 1-2) at Auburn (4-2, 2-1), 5 p.m. CDT on ESPN (Series: Auburn leads 13-11-1) – Auburn favored by 10, o-u 55 ½ -- As recently as a week or so ago, this was shaping up as a close game, but word from Auburn is the Tigers expect to romp the Razorbacks. Arkansas is playing about as expected, but Auburn has been a little better than expected because of its win over LSU. Auburn wants to run, but Sean White passing will be the difference. Auburn 35, Arkansas 24.

Tennessee State (5-1) at Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-3), 6:30 p.m. CDT on ESPNU (Series: Vanderbilt leads 1-0) – The line and o-u for this game are appropriate to the interest outside of the Nashville area, which is to say nonexistent – Vandy comes into the game on a high after upsetting Georgia in Athens last week, spoiling the Bulldogs homecoming, but the Commodores don’t do it with offense. In fact, Vanderbilt is last statistically in offense…in the nation. Vandy does have a good running back in Ralph Webb, and the Vandy defense is pretty good, so look for a win, but a close win. Vanderbilt 24, Tennessee State 21.

Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2) at Kentucky (3-3, 2-2), 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 central) on SEC Network (Series: Mississippi State leads 22-21) – Bulldogs favored by 2 1/2, o-u 53 1/2 – South Alabama didn’t storm the field when the Jaguars defeated Mississippi State, but BYU did. The Bulldogs have also lost a close game to LSU and been drubbed by Auburn. Kentucky looked like a well-coached team in losing to Alabama, and – believe it or not – the Wildcats still have a path to the SEC . Our upset special: Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 21.

Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) at LSU (4-2, 2-1), 8 p.m. CDT on ESPN (Series: LSU leads 59-41-4) – LSU favored by 5 ½, o-u 60 ½ -- Ole Miss has lost three games and is still ranked in the nation’s top 25. They’ll probably fall out if they go to 3-4. At LSU, the Tigers seem to be energized following the firing of Les Miles and elevation of Ed Orgeron to interim coach. Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze doesn’t have to worry about the record affecting his job. The NCAA may take care of that. Orgeron is working to get the “interim” removed from his title. Leonard Fournette is back, and he’ll make the difference in this one not being close. LSU 38, Ole Miss 24.

Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0) at Alabama (7-0, 4-0), 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS (Series: Alabama leads 6-2) – Alabama favored by 18 1/2, o-u 58 ½ -- This is Alabama’s third consecutive game against a ranked team, but this one is in Bryant-Denny Stadium, not on the road. National conversation has it that the Tide is “unbeatable,” something that should make the Bama nation shudder. The Aggies look quite a bit different than in recent years with a fine running back in Trayveon Williams and a steady quarterback in Trevor Knight. In a position-by-position match-up, the edge would go to Alabama. Throw in Nick Saban as coach, and Bama is way better than A&M. But not nearly three TDs better. Alabama 34, Texas A&M 24.

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