SEC Predictions: Week 3

The staff at InsideTennessee, joined by The Drive co-host Russell Smith, predict this week's SEC schedule.

Everyone was hit with a taste of the upset life after all four pickers last week fell victim to Arkansas' defeat to Toledo in Little Rock. It almost happened twice before Auburn scratched out the win in overtime over Jacksonville State. This week, two enormous divisional games highlight a pretty mild slate. Alabama and Ole Miss square off in Tuscaloosa for the Game of the Century of the Week, while in much more subtle fashion, Kentucky and Florida meet up in an attempt to start off the Eastern Division race in the driver's seat.

Managing editor Danny Parker continues to lead the pack at 22-2, with reporter Cory Gunkel trying to nip at his heels at 20-4. Publisher Josh Woodward is one game back of Gunkel at 19-5, but there isn't much room to make up ground in a schedule that includes two SEC teams playing cupcake games and a couple of snoozers.

Danny Parker's Picks (22-2):

Western Carolina vs. Tennessee:

How early and often will we see more members of the 2015 signing class? It's a clear sign that Tennessee football still isn't all the way back (pay attention "August Fever" sufferers) when the next step is turning to several first-year players. The passing game must be stressed so that rhythm is there when the plane to Gainesville takes off. Watch the video for more. Tennessee, 45-0.

UConn vs. Missouri:

Didn't realize they still played football in Storrs. Thought they just concentrated on layups off the glass all fall. Who knew? Anywho, should be a step down from Arkansas State the week before, so the Tigers should win easy. Missouri, 34-7.

Nevada vs. Texas A&M:

Points...and lots of them. Kevin Sumlin has offensive skill that would make EA Sports blush. Nevada has a more solid program than some give them credit for but it won't be enough. Texas A&M, 52-17.

Auburn vs. LSU:

The injury bug hit Auburn's defense hard. That won't make things easier in slowing down Louisiana State's ground attack. Should be one heck of an atmosphere given all the media hype handed to the people on The Plains all offseason. Again, Jeremy Johnson is no Cameron Newton and there's a reason why a converted defensive back kept him on the bench last year. LSU, 20-13.

Northwestern State vs. Mississippi State:

What I wouldn't give to be on the field for this one. Perhaps I can skip the game in Knoxville, head to Starkvegas, trade two spare keys that I don't know what they go to, a plastic cup from a Nashville Sounds game and three used AAA batteries for a ticket on the 50. If that's not enough I'll throw in four blue paper towels from the dispenser next to the gas pumps. Mississippi State, 41-0.

Austin Peay vs. Vanderbilt:

Expectations are for the biggest country music stars to fill up the skyboxes high above Dudley Field to see these two go at it. Derek Mason may want to leave a pair of tickets for Elvis as well. It's going to be worth the price of admission. Now that Mason found that piece of paper he purchased at Hogwarts it's on. Put the women and children to bed and....OK. That's enough. Vanderbilt, 18-4.

South Carolina vs. Georgia:

With no viable quarterback in Columbia, things could nasty in a hurry for the Gamecocks. With no viable quarterback in Athens, just hand the football to the running backs way, way more often. Georgia, 34-9.

Texas Tech vs. Arkansas:

How the Razorbacks lost last week I'll never know. Between the running game and having passing targets like future NFL Pro Bowler Hunter Henry, there should have been enough talent to put up way more than 12 points. Dumbfounding. Assuming the Hogs will bounce back this week but who knows? Arkansas, 27-23.

Florida vs. Kentucky:

One of the more intriguing matchups of the Eastern Division clashes on the 2015 slate. That's weird to say considering Cory Gunkel didn't exist the last time Kentucky won in this series. Tough one to pick. Have gone back and forth on it for weeks. If the Wildcats passing attack is shut down by what may be the best secondary in the nation, can they run it enough to win? If they do run it on Florida, will they even need that many points to outscore a Gators offense still trying to find itself? The Big Blue win at South Carolina should wake up some of that fan base and create a solid atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky, 14-13.

Ole Miss vs. Alabama:

Are the Rebels too beaten up after taking on Strawberry Plains Used Goods and Halls Market? Possibly. The key for Hugh Freeze's bunch will be loading the box and making Jacob Coker beat them with his right arm and Tyler Bray speed. Expecting an ugly game similar to 2014 with both defenses laying some absolute licks. Alabama, 16-12.

Cory Gunkel's Picks (20-4):

Western Carolina vs. Tennessee:

This is Tennessee's chance to lick its wounds, play a ton of young players and show the world it can throw the ball downfield. The Vols need to enter this game without an Oklahoma hangover and pound Western Carolina into the sand to assuage fan fears of a downward spiral and prove this team is as good as its billing. Expect to see lots of freshmen and sophomores after halftime and possibly a nice Quinten Dormady touchdown pass after starter Josh Dobbs leads the Vols to a big halftime lead. Tennessee, 48-7

UConn vs. Missouri:

This is absolutely shocking, but UConn has yet to go three-and-out this season. That's despite hanging on for victories against Villanova and Army. Mizzou will come into this game tested after a solid non-conference tilt with perennial Sun Belt champion Arkansas State and should dispatch of the Huskies just in time for them to start focusing on basketball season. Missouri, 35-21

Nevada vs. Texas A&M:

If you're a gambling man, take Texas A&M and the over. This game will feature fireworks and a rowdy rout by the Aggies at home. Texas A&M is quickly developing into an SEC West contender, and this little tune-up will work nicely for Kevin Sumlin's team before they hit SEC play on the road against Arkansas. Texas A&M, 48-7.

Auburn vs. LSU:

LSU survived a furious fourth quarter rally from Mississippi State to earn a key SEC West victory over the Bulldogs on the road. On that same day, Auburn survived a monumental upset bid from Jacksonville State at home. The blue and orange Tigers named Peyton Barber their starting running back heading into this game, which is probably the only smart thing Auburn has done since almost losing to Jacksonville State. The Bayou Bengals will enter a raucous atmosphere, but that defense will eat Jeremy Johnson alive. LSU, 27-17.

Northwestern State vs. Mississippi State:

This game will basically mirror what Tennessee is trying to do against Western Carolina. Play everyone, score early and often and pray you can keep the stadium from falling asleep as you go up by a ton. The Junction might be more full at halftime than Davis Wade. Mississippi State, 51-3

Austin Peay vs. Vanderbilt:

This is your chance, Vandy. Austin Peay is a hapless FCS school coming off a blowout loss to Southern Miss. The Commodores can score points on offense against this bunch and snag a win at home. Hopefully Austin Peay doesn't take over the stadium like Georgia did last week. Vanderbilt 30, Austin Peay 3

South Carolina vs. Georgia:

Despite shaky quarterback play, Georgia is off to a fast start already and Nick Chubb and company will keep it going against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. The Head Ball Coach might get sent to an early retirement this season after Connor Mitch went down with a significant injury, ushering in the Perry Orth era, coming off a loss to SEC East rival Kentucky. Perry Orth sounds like Richie Rich's best friend. Georgia, 31-17

Texas Tech vs. Arkansas:

Oh boy. Bret Bielema mouthed off about Ohio State's schedule and then got popped in the mouth by Toledo. Arkansas doesn't have much time to rebound, either, with Texas Tech's Air Raid offense looming in the distance. The honeymoon phase is over for #Bert, who absolutely has to win this game. Arkansas, 24-20

Florida vs. Kentucky:

This one is very, very interesting. Florida boasts a crazy good defense but hasn't played anyone close to as talented as Kentucky is on the year. The Gators had to chip away at East Carolina before ending the Pirates, and UK is riding some positive mo from dominating South Carolina for much of the game last week. The Wildcats haven't beaten Florida since Reagan was president. That won't change this season. Florida, 28-21

Ole Miss vs. Alabama:

The main event. This one is going to be so good. Ole Miss is putting up video game numbers right now to complement one of the best defenses in the conference. But Alabama has an even better D and is led by Emperor Nick Saban, who is 18-2 in revenge games as an SEC head coach. The Tide won't lose twice to Pastor Freeze. Alabama, 24-21

Josh Woodward's Picks (19-5):

Western Carolina vs. Tennessee:

Time for Tennessee to get that bad taste out of its mouth and Western Carolina has volunteered to be the steak dinner for Saturday night. Shouldn't be much of a contest. The young guys need to get in this game. I would like to see Quinten Dormady get a few snaps. The big one is next week. 48-7 Vols

UConn vs. Missouri:

Both teams come in with a lot of confidence. I think it will be a close game until the fourth quarter when Missouri can start pounding the football. 38-24 Tigers

Nevada vs. Texas A&M:

This one should be ugly. 59-20 Aggies

Auburn vs. LSU:

Auburn has looked worse than projected and LSU has looked better. If Auburn gets the same play from quarterback they have in the first two games, this game could be ugly. Until Auburn fixes the QB problem I can't pick them in these big games. 28-20 LSU

Northwestern State vs. Mississippi State:

Man, I feel sorry for Northwestern State. It will be a beatdown in Starkvegas. 52-10 Bulldogs

Austin Peay vs. Vanderbilt:

Can Vandy pick up the win of the season against the Governors? I think they can, but it will likely be close. 10-7 Commodores

South Carolina vs. Georgia:

Georgia looks like it can cruise through the SEC East this season. They shouldn't have a problem Saturday. I think this could be Spurrier's final season. 48-14 Dawgs

Texas Tech vs. Arkansas:

Man, this is a tough pick for me. Arkansas is a hot mess after its loss to Toledo last weekend. I think they can bounce back this week, but that loss has me thinking that Arkansas has a leadership problem. This game will tell us a lot about the Hogs. 33-24 Arkansas

Florida vs. Kentucky:

Game of the week for me in the SEC. I like this Kentucky team and not sold on this Florida team. Florida does get all their secondary back this week so they will be improved on defense. The offense still is lacking in Gainesville. I like Kentucky at home in this one, but if it was at Florida I would pick the Gators. I just think it will be that close. 28-24 Wildcats

Ole Miss vs. Alabama:

For two weeks we have seen Ole Miss drop 70-plus points on its opponents. If they score half that many on Alabama, they will win. Look for Alabama to control the clock and run the football more on offense. Also, Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly will get a whale of a first road test in Tuscaloosa. I see it being a fairly close game. 31-24 Crimson Tide

Russell Smith's Picks (Co-Host of The Drive on 94.3):

Western Carolina vs. Tennessee:

What exactly is a Catamount? My co-host Richard Daugherty and I debated this on our show this week. The general consensus is that it is some sort of mountain lion-like animal. It is almost certain to be road kill after it gets run over by an angry Tennessee team Saturday in Neyland Stadium. I'll take the Vols 48-3.

UConn vs. Missouri:

Missouri has an uncanny ability to play to the level of their opponent. But unless Geno Auriemma is moonlighting as coach of the UConn football team this week, the Huskies are destined for failure. I'll take the gamer Maty Mauk and Mizzou 27-14.

Nevada vs. Texas A&M:

A&M could be this year's Ole Miss. The Aggies finally have a defense thanks to VFL John Chavis. Combine that with Kevin Sumlin's prolific offense and it could equal a long night for the Wolf Pack. Colin Kapernick doesn't have any eligibility left does he? Meh...it probably wouldn't matter anyway. I'll take A&M 49-14.

Auburn vs. LSU:

This could be the game of the week. Both teams have issues that will prevent them from winning the West. LSU gets a slight edge for playing at home, but Auburn is lucky it's not a night game. I'll go out on a limb here and predict Les Miles does something incredibly stupid, and manages to win anyway. LSU 21 Auburn 17.

Northwestern State vs. Mississippi State:

Poor Mississippi State...The Bulldogs looked like they were going to pull off the epic comeback last week against LSU. But Dan Mullen managed to out-Les Miles Les Miles with some horrendous clock management. The Tigers escaped victorious, leaving the Bulldogs and their fans royally pissed off. Northwestern State gets to feel Mississippi State's wrath. But I'm sure they'll collect a nice check for their troubles. Mississippi State 52 Northwestern State 6.

Austin Peay vs. Vanderbilt:

Vandy has shown a stunning ability to...ahh who cares. Vandy 7 AP 6

South Carolina vs. Georgia:

Georgia is a 16-point favorite, which is way too big a line in this game. For one, the Bulldogs aren't very good at quarterback. And secondly, Steve Spurrier loves beating Georgia...especially in Athens. Georgia will win the game. But they won't cover. Dawgs 20, Gamecocks 16

Texas Tech vs. Arkansas:

Just when you think Arkansas is poised to become a national power, they completely poop the bed and lose at home to Toledo. Doesn't matter though...Kliff Kingsbury is the Kim Kardashian of coaching. All good looks, no substance. Arkansistan 34 Tech 21.

Florida vs. Kentucky:

As shaky as Florida looks, Kentucky is still Kentucky. Sure they had a big win at South Carolina last week. But the Mildcats have had these delusions of grandeur before. They'll still lose to Florida because that's what they do. Gators 27 UK 17.

Ole Miss vs. Alabama:

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly could be the next rock star college QB. Check out his rap song and tell me he doesn't make Johnny Manziel seem modest. He'll be singing the blues on Saturday though. Alabama's defense is a tad stiffer than UT Martin or Fresno State. Bama 21 Ole Miss 13.


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