Stuart McNair

Almost Perfect Picks Department predicts Alabama on Rivalry Weekend

It’s hard for our predictors to think about anything but Alabama this week

We were wandering back towards the Situation Room of the Almost Perfect Picks Department in the offices of and whistling “Turkey in the Straw.” One of the Nerds suggested, “Thinking about Thanksgiving, huh?”
“No,” we replied. “We were thinking that a live turkey could probably do about as well as some people we know in picking this week’s Southeastern Conference games.”
The Geek Gang admitted it is nervous about Saturday’s Alabama-Auburn game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but there also are some other games on Rivalry Weekend that will test their abilities, including one on Thanksgiving and one on Friday.
For the year the record for picking the winners is 80-21, but the predictions against the line (or point spread) have been only 36-50. Against the over-under prediction of points scored by both teams it’s 46-41.
The point spreads and the over-under numbers are taken from the morning newspaper. Here are the predictions:

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LSU (6-4 overall, 4-3 in SEC games) at Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3), 6:30 p.m. CST on ESPN (LSU leads the series 31-20-3) — LSU favored by 6 1/2 points, over-under 48 1/2 — Texas A&M seems to have been able to come up with two quarterbacks and Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin seems secure in College Station for another year. LSU Coach Ed Orgeron seems likely to lose the “interim” on his “interim head coach” title, but also lose the “head coach” part because he couldn’t find a quarterback or make Leonard Fournette play nice every week. With a nice bowl berth at stake, we look for the Aggies to break their three-game SEC losing streak and upset the Tigers. Texas A&M 24, LSU 17.
Arkansas (7-4, 3-4) at Missouri (3-8, 1-6), 1:30 p.m.CST on CBS (Missouri leads series 4-3) — Arkansas favored by 7 1/2, o-u 75) — Talk about your Black Friday. Arkansas has some good wins and some devastating losses, but Missouri has had nothing good going on this year. Both teams have good quarterbacks and not much in the way of defense, but the Hogs seem to have a more complete team. Arkansas 38, Missouri 21.
Georgia Tech (7-4) at Georgia (7-4, 4-4), Noon EST (11 a.m. central) on SEC Network (Georgia leads series 65-38-5) — Georgia favored by 4, o-u 48 — When Georgia got by Nicholls State by 2 points and Missouri by 1, there was a suspicion that Kirby Smart had a lot to learn about this head coaching business. But he got Maurice Smith from Alabama and thereby defeated Auburn and has three straight wins. Tech has the kind of offense that gave Smart problems as defensive coordinator at Alabama, so it might be tough. Georgia 27, Georgia Tech 24.
Kentucky (6-5, 4-4) at Louisville (9-2), Noon EST (11 a.m. central) on ESPN (Series tied 14-14) — Louisville favored by 26 1/2, o-u 75 — A few weeks ago this looked like it could be a rout of epic proportions, and the Cardinals are still healthy favorites. Louisville doesn’t have a quality win, but the Cardinals have the most quality in the nation at quarterback. Kentucky will fight the good fight, but won’t have enough. Louisville 42, Kentucky 24.
Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5) at Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5), 2:30 p.m. CST on SEC Network (Ole Miss leads series 63-43-6) — Mississippi favored by 7 1/2, o-u 69 — Who couldn’t get up for the Egg Bowl? Expect both offenses to do well, primarily because both defenses are subpar. It’s an interesting battle of two quarterbacks who seem to have bright futures, Shea Patterson who took over for the Rebels when star Chad Kelly was lost to injury, and Nick Fitzgerald for the Bulldogs. Mississippi needs the win to be bowl eligible, in what may be the last bowl game for awhile after the NCAA speaks. Ole Miss 38, Mississippi State 28.
Tennessee (8-3, 4-3) at Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5), 6:30 p.m. CST on SEC Network (Tennessee leads series 75-30-5) — Tennessee favored by 7, o-u 54 — What does Tennessee have to play for now that the Volunteers have been proclaimed the Champions of Life by Coach Butch Jones? And does Jalen Hurd get a participation trophy for being their for part of the season? Vanderbilt gets a little better every year and the Commodores can make it to a bowl game without relying on its Graduation Rate with this upset. Vanderbilt 24, Tennessee 21.
South Carolina (6-5, 3-5) at Clemson (10-1), 7:30 p.m. EST (6:30 central) on ESPN (Clemson leads series 67-42-4) — Clemson favored by 24, o-u 50) —Midway through the season, it looked like the Gamecocks had about as much chance of survival as this month’s turkeys, but Coach Will Muschamp has gotten about as much as could be asked from the mess left behind by the self-proclaimed Ball Coach, who quit on his team last season. South Carolina has wins in four of its last five games, losing only to his old Florida Gators, and would love to spoil Clemson’s national championship hopes. But that’s not happening to the Fighting Dabos. Clemson 35, South Carolina 10.
Florida (8-2, 6-2) at Florida State (8-3), 8 p.m. EST (8 central) on ABC (Florida leads series 34-24-2) — FSU favored by 7, o-u 45) — Alabama’s Nick Saban can never win Coach of the Year because it always goes to someone who overachieves, and Saban achieves what is expected — to be the best. And so Jim McElwain has stepped in at Florida to be the overachiever, winning this year’s SEC Eastern Division title and the opportunity to play Saban’s Alabama in the conference championship game. The Gators pulled the big upset against LSU in Baton Rouge and now face what was billed as a top team in the preseason in Tallahassee. Win against FSU and then beat Bama and Florida is in the College Football Playoff! That’s not going to happen, but the Gators are going to get close with this upset. Florida 21, Florida State 17.
Auburn (8-3, 5-2) at Alabama (11-0, 7-0), 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS (Alabama leads series 44-35-1) — Alabama favored by 17, o-u 47 1/2 — Everyone knows it would be an upset for Auburn to defeat No. 1 ranked Alabama, but everyone who follows the series knows that the Tigers have pulled the upset on more than one occasion. Want to see a team that will come out with more fierceness than any other? It’s Auburn in this game. Alabama comes into the game as healthy as could be expected in the 12th game of the year, while the Tigers may have some issues. But the primary issue is which team has the best players and the best coach. Alabama 31, Auburn 17.


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