Stuart McNair

Almost Perfect Picks Department likes Alabama again this week

Not many upsets expected in SEC this week

When it comes to talk of college football bowls, it has to start with Alabama, which has played in more bowl games and won more bowl games than any team in history, and has a flock of records that go along with that success. This is the time of year when bowl projections can begin, and bowls are important to the Southeastern Conference, both in terms of success and in terms of cash to the already bursting SEC coffers.

Last year the SEC had 10 teams in bowl games, including all seven from the Western Division, and delivered nine wins, a record for any conference.

To date, six SEC teams are bowl eligible -- Alabama 9-0, Auburn 7-2, Texas A&M 7-2, Florida 6-2, Tennessee 6-3, and Arkansas 6-3.

Four teams need one win to be bowl eligible and get their first opportunities this weekend. Three of them will need upsets. The four are LSU 5-3, Kentucky 5-4, Georgia 5-4, South Carolina 5-4.

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The Almost Perfect Picks Department has been overwhelmed by the information it has to digest in making its picks each week, and now it has the addition of what the incentive to reach a bowl game might mean for some teams. No wonder one of the nerds was reported blubbering on his spreadsheet.

For the year, the APP is 68-16 in picking the winners, but only 29-44 against the line and 38-36 vs. the over-under.

Here are this week’s selections. The point spread and the over-under were taken from the newspaper.

South Carolina (5-4 overall, 3-4 SEC) at Florida (6-2, 4-2), Noon EST (11 a.m. central) on CBS (Series: Florida leads 25-8-3) – Florida favored by 11 1/2 points, over-under 37 1/2 – South Carolina has won three straight games and has a hot commodity in freshman quarterback Jake Bentley, while Florida is coming off a disheartening loss at the hands of Arkansas in which the Gators could muster almost no offense. USC Coach Will Muschamp recruited a large number of the Florida players, which should give the Gamecocks confidence. Still, the Gators, playing their final home game, should be good enough on defense. Florida 24, South Carolina 9.

Kentucky (5-4, 4-3) at Tennessee (6-3, 2-3), Noon EST (11 a.m. central) on SEC Network (Series: UT leads 78-24-9) – Tennessee favored by 13 1/2, o-u 60 1/2 – Tennessee has been the SEC’s most underachieving team this year, and the Vols are now without their top runner. Kentucky let one get away last week against Georgia, but the Wildcats – like Tennessee – still have hope of sneaking into the SEC Championship Game. This doesn’t look easy for the Vols. Tennessee 20, Kentucky 17.

Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4) at Missouri (2-7, 0-5), 2:30 CST on SEC Network (Series: Vandy leads 4-3-1) – Missouri favored by 3 1/2, o-u 53 – In this week’s SEC Statistics, Vanderbilt is last in the league in offense and Missouri is last in defense. The Commodores did knock off Georgia on the road, while the Tigers lost on the final play of the game to the Bulldogs in Columbia. Vanderbilt almost knocked off Auburn at Auburn last week and gets the upset win this week. Vanderbilt 21, Missouri 17.

Auburn (7-2, 5-1) at Georgia (5-4, 3-4), 3:30 EST (2:30 central) on CBS (Series: Georgia leads 56-55-8) – Auburn favored by 10 1/2, o-u 48 1/2 – Last week Auburn struggled to even its all-time record against Vanderbilt and the Tigers will have to play better than they did against the Commodores to even their all-time record against Georgia. The questions are at running back. Will Georgia give the likes of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel a chance? Is Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway healthy? In the end, Auburn’s defense makes the difference. Auburn 28, Georgia 17.

LSU (5-3, 3-2) at Arkansas (6-3, 2-3), 6 p.m. CST on ESPN (Series: LSU leads 37-22-2) – LSU favored by 7, o-u 45 1/2 – These team have very good resumes insofar as the teams they have lost to: both to Alabama and Auburn, and Arkansas to Texas A&M, LSU to Wisconsin. The Razorbacks are coming off a nice upset win over Florida (31-10), while the Tigers are coming off a disheartening 10-0 loss to Alabama. Teams that have a tough game against the Crimson Tide have a history of the hangover lasting another week. Auburn ran through Arkansas like the Tigers were Georgia Southern, and Leonard Fournette bounces back from his personal Bama nightmare with a big game. LSU 31, Arkansas 13.

Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4) at Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2), 6:30 CST on SEC Network (Series: A&M leads 6-2) – Texas A&M favored by 10, o-u 55 – Before last week, all the attention would have been on the quarterbacks, but now Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight and Mississippi’s Chad Kelly are getting nothing but medical attention, both suffering season-ending injuries last Saturday. Ole Miss has been a disappointment this year, while Texas A&M had perhaps the most disappointing loss of the season in the nation in falling to Mississippi State last week. A&M’s new quarterback, Jake Hubenak, is a better passer than Knight, but the Aggies will need tailback Trayveon Williams to return to early season form an exploit a bad Rebels run defense (last in the SEC). A&M needs to tackle someone. Texas A&M 35, Ole Miss 24.

Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3) at Alabama (9-0, 6-0), 11 a.m. CST on ESPN (Series: Alabama leads 78-18-3) – Alabama favored by 30, o-u 55 1/2 – Mississippi State’s win over Texas A&M last week may have been a help to Alabama in preparation this week as Bama coaches could harp on how good the Bulldogs must be to have beaten the Aggies. On the other side, the State players may have had a tough time coming down from the clouds after their win over the nation’s No. 4 team. The Bulldogs have a good dual threat quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, but not really much more. State will find out there’s a big difference between No. 1 and No. 4. Alabama 42, Mississippi State 6.


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