Unbeatens Alabama and Ole Miss collide in Oxford. Unbeatens Texas A&M and Mississippi State collide in Starkville. Unbeaten Auburn hosts a 4-1 LSU squad. Up-and-down South Carolina faces improving Kentucky in Lexington and Tennessee hosts heated rival Florida in Knoxville.
Amazingly enough, five weeks into the 2014 football season InsideTennessee’s picks panelists boast matching 45-9 season records. Randy Moore went 6-2 last weekend to pull into a tie with Josh Woodward and Danny Parker, who went 5-3 each. Woodward has the best record versus the spread at 30-20-1. Parker is next at 27-23-1, followed by Moore at 26-24-1.
Here are this week’s IT staff picks, with year-to-date records in parenthesis:
JOSH WOODWARD (45-9, 30-20-1 vs. line)
Texas A&M at Miss. State (-2.5): Arkansas had every chance to beat Texas A&M last week and I like the Bulldogs chances against the Aggies this week. The home crowd for the Bulldogs will make it hard on A&M. I believe it will be close till the fourth quarter and State will beat the spread. 35-28 Bulldogs
Alabama (-6.5) at Ole Miss: This is being hyped as the game of the week, but I see Bama rolling on Ole Miss. I think Ole Miss has too many holes on offense to keep it close. I'm sure Freeze will pull out all the stops, but I think Bama is the better team. 42-31 Bama
Vanderbilt at Georgia (-33.5): Georgia has Todd Gurley and he to me is the best player in college football. Georgia rolls, but don't think they cover this line. 35-10 Bulldogs
LSU at Auburn (-7.5): The Gus Malzhan offense versus the John Chavis defense, should be a fun one to watch. I think LSU has too many problems on offense to win this one. 38-28 Auburn
South Carolina (-5) at Kentucky: I watched the Kentucky film against Florida, they are a much improved team and South Carolina is a hot mess. I'm not sure the Gamecocks will be focused when they get to Lexington. I could easily see Kentucky win this game, but I'm going with the favorite. 28-24 Gamecocks
Florida at Tennessee (-2.5): Both teams need this win in a bad way. The money has swung to Tennessee this week making everyone confident on a Big Orange win. Florida is talented and if Tennessee makes mistakes there could easily be a Gator win on Saturday. I think Tennessee will try to stop the Florida rushing attack and make Jeff Driskel beat them by throwing the football. If Tennessee can do this then they have a good chance of winning the ball game. On offense Tennessee has faced likely the best it will face all year in Oklahoma, so nothing about Florida's should scare them. If the Vols can continue to move the football as they did at Georgia then this could turn into a lopsided win for Tennessee. The key is not to give the Gators confidence early and give them that added pressure from playing behind. With the electric atmosphere that will be at Neyland Stadium on Saturday I don't see Tennessee losing this game. 33-23 Vols
DANNY PARKER (45-9, 27-23-1 vs. line)
Texas A&M at Miss. State (-2.5): What the Bulldogs did at LSU was the most impressive thing I've ever seen from a Mississippi State team. Bad matchup for State in slowing down a talented throw game. Still think the Bulldogs have too much. Mississippi State, 52-45.
Alabama (-6.5) at Ole Miss: Is this the toughest test of the season for Lane Kiffin's offense? Debatable. While the Rebels have looked lackluster in most games this season, they've won and have talent. In the end, Amari Cooper is just too much and should be in New York for the Heisman presentation. Alabama 20-9.
Vanderbilt at Georgia (-33.5): Give the ball to Todd Gurley and get out of the way. Don't try to be balanced or any of that mess. Feed the bear. Georgia, 48-6.
LSU at Auburn (-7.5): Does Brandon Harris have what it takes to lead the Bayou Bengals in hostile territory? While LSU has too much offensive talent to shut down, it depends on too many freshmen to outscore Gus Malzahn's group. Auburn, 30-17.
South Carolina (-5) at Kentucky: Three weeks ago I'd said this would be an exciting game to watch. Both were sloppy last week and are examples of how the Eastern Division is of no comparison to the Western side. Too many Gamecocks weapons on the outside. South Carolina, 25-16.
Stanford (-2) at Notre Dame: As long as officials give touchdowns to the Cardinal when it scores touchdowns, Stanford will be just fine. Having seen the Irish play Syracuse last week....yikes. Stanford, 28-17.
Florida at Tennessee (-2.5): If being a beat reporter covering college football has taught me anything, it's not to put too much stock into what a team did against a previous foe when trying to predict what happens next. If I make this pick from the media center in Athens, then I pick the Vols by three touchdowns. Tennessee had the better team last week. But, this isn't a series against Georgia. This is an entirely different roster and coaching staff. The speed element can be an equalizer but the team speed gap shrunk quite a bit from last November to now. Tennessee has the lowest ranked rush defense and next-to-lowest ranked rush offense in the SEC. A factor in that is the Orange & White facing four teams that went to bowls last fall and not Lamar or Old Dominion. Expecting a better game than much of Big Orange Country is expecting but Team 118 is a confident bunch and some of the green is trickling off the freshmen. Tennessee 31-23.
RANDY MOORE (45-9, 26-24-1 vs. line)
Texas A&M at Miss. State (-2.5): I don’t see either team stopping the other. Last team with the ball wins. Aggies, 45-41
Alabama (-6.5) at Ole Miss: I’m guessing Bo Wallace won’t look much better against the Tide this weekend than Florida’s Jeff Driskel did last weekend. Bama, 28-13
Vanderbilt at Georgia (-33.5): I think Tennessee exposed some UGA weaknesses last weekend that Vandy can exploit enough to keep this game mildly competitive. Dawgs, 38-10
LSU at Auburn (-7.5): John Chavis always has trouble with mobile quarterbacks, and they don’t come any more mobile than Auburn’s Nick Marshall. Auburn, 31-20
South Carolina (-5) at Kentucky: I don’t pick against Spurrier when his back is against the wall … like now. Gamecocks, 27-20
Stanford (-2) at Notre Dame: The Cardinal is No. 1 nationally in scoring defense, the Irish No. 4. First team to 20 points wins. Stanford, 20-14
Florida at Tennessee (-2.5): Fired-up crowd + fired-up team = Vols avenging nine years of frustration. Tennessee, 34-14