Alabama-Mississippi State highlights SEC schedule

The InsideTennessee staff predicts this week's SEC slate.

Drama abounds in this week's SEC schedule, including a game that almost wasn't played after Missouri's team stood in solidarity with protestors who wanted the ouster of university president Tim Wolfe. Wolfe eventually stepped down, and with that as a backdrop to the college football weekend, the SEC lines up for one of its most important weekends.

LSU hopes to rebound after taking a beating by the Tide in Tuscaloosa, while 'Bama wants to continue its assault on the rest of the league (minus those pesky Rebels in Oxford). Georgia and Auburn match up in perhaps the toughest game of the week to predict, while Tennessee and Texas A&M enjoy relative byes against cupcakes.

Managing editor held onto his lead last week, while publisher Josh Woodward and beat writer Cory Gunkel claw their way slowly back into the hunt with the season winding down. Who does the InsideTennessee like this week? Find out below.

DANNY PARKER'S PICKS (69-15)

North Texas vs. Tennessee

Facing one of the worst teams in the country should mean ample rest for a team beaten up after facing one of the tougher schedules around. If it was me, half a dozen or so key players wouldn't see the field — or at least not beyond a single quarter. As I said in my video prediction, hoping to see freshman quarterback Quinten Dormady run the offense and put the ball in the air. Assistant coach Robert Gillespie said he wouldn't have any issues starting John Kelly if something happened to Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Kelly ran well in Lexington and his physical style reminds me of Travis Henry. Elsewhere, we should see Cortez McDowell spell Jalen Reeves-Maybin and for Evan Berry to rotate in sooner at safety. Fully expect the Volunteers to put this one away early and run clock late. Tennessee 56-7.

Georgia vs. Auburn

Not sure what to make of each of these teams. Was thinking Georgia had an excellent chance to win-out and get to 9-3. Then, Auburn played so well last week versus Texas A&M, I wonder if it has found its groove. It's no coincidence that both have had issues at quarterback and issues offensively this year. Guessing the Tigers find a way to run it on the Bulldogs and pull it out late. Auburn, 31-30

Florida vs. South Carolina

It's too bad Steve Spurrier can't help out the Gamecocks staff this week. He seemed to have his old school's number in some years where he shouldn't. This will be a back-and-forth game in the early going, which will shock many because people wrote off South Carolina after Spurrier quit. Too much overall talent for the Gators in the end in spite of the issues on the O-line and at quarterback. Florida, 20-17.

Alabama vs. Mississippi State

The most talented team in the SEC versus one of the leagues's hottest teams. Expecting a better game then some realize. Jacob Coker should be able to create some splash plays for the Tide to go with a solid ground performance. Alabama, 26-13.

Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

Johnny McCrary is the worst starting SEC quarterback of my generation, owning a 6-12 touchdown to interception ratio. Can the Commodores overcome being so inept at a spot of such great importance? The Wildcats aren't that much better and it may be time to give Drew Barker an opportunity. The Kentucky skill players should be able to make just enough plays if the staff can find a way to get them the football. Kentucky 13-9.

Western Carolina vs. Texas A&M

Tough sledding for the mighty Catamounts regardless of who the Aggies quarterback is. Texas A&M, 52-7.

Arkansas vs. LSU

Two of the nation's best run defenses against two the more talented ground attacks. Old school football with NFL-bound talent at running back for both. If you can't stand Big 12 football, tune into this one. Could the passing game be the difference? Brandon Allen is flat slingin' it right now and Brandon Harris isn't on his level, although the Louisiana State wide receiver corps is one talented bunch. Gonna go ahead and roll the dice with my pick. Arkansas, 27-23.

BYU vs. Missouri

Gosh. How the might have fallen. Not sure what the heck is going on up there. People that supposedly come from family's worth $20 million claiming issues with privilege? Lies about the KKK being on campus? Not sure how the Tigers overcome all of this with a well-coached Cougars squad coming to town. Would say Mizzou would play with considerable passion but somehow seriously doubt that roster is unified. BYU, 13-10.

CORY GUNKEL'S PICKS (65-19)

North Texas vs. Tennessee

If you have children, I advise you not to bring them to this game. It could be offensive. North Texas is perhaps the worst team in the FBS. The Mean Green (despite having the best nickname) average just 17 points a game and are 1-8 on the year, including a 66-7 smackdown at the ands of FCS Portland State. Tennessee should win this game by at least 40 points, and Vol fans should also be able to get a nice glimpse of the future before halftime with Josh Dobbs handing over the offensive reigns to Quinten Dormady as Butch Jones empties the bench. This is the type of game Jones will use to put young players' identity on game film, and you should see plenty of stat-padding and clock-running as we all try to get through this noon matchup that could be the worst in the country. The spread right now is Tennessee -41 1/2 and probably should be higher. That's how bad North Texas is and how much more talented the Vols are in this one. There's really not much to even say. Vols roll. Tennessee 67, North Texas 3

Georgia vs. Auburn

I thought these teams were supposed to be struggling? Both are coming off convincing wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M, respectively, which makes this game almost impossible to choose. Georgia's defense is still one of the best in the SEC (No. 4 total), while the Tigers' offense finally seemed to find its footing against a struggling Aggies outfit. Despite juggling QBs, UGA will be able to score on the worst D in the league. Georgia 34, Auburn 21

Florida vs. South Carolina

South Carolina almost revived its season Saturday with a 17-point comeback win over Tennessee, but interim coach Shawn Elliott's squad fumbled away the potential game-tying drive in the final minute. Right before, Florida survived an upset bid by Vanderbilt to clinch the SEC Eastern Division title under first-year coach Jim McElwain. Can the 'Cocks score on Florida? Yes. Can they score more than once? Maybe not. Florida 21, South Carolina 10

Alabama vs. Mississippi State

CLANGACLANGACLANGACLANGACLANGACLANGA. You know that sound means one thing and one thing only — Saturday night in Starkville. The Bulldogs have defied every expectation this season en route to a 7-2 record. Alabama is Alabama. There could be a slight letdown on the road after a physical game against LSU. But there won't be. Alabama 31, Mississippi State 21

Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

Vandy's defense almost single-handedly beat Florida. That will be enough to stomp out this floundering Kentucky squad. The Wildcats are doing the thing where they start the year great and end it spiraling into despair. You've seen it before. The Commodores will help them continue that trend. Vanderbilt 17, Kentucky 10

Western Carolina vs. Texas A&M

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Texas A&M 56, Western Carolina 3

Arkansas vs. LSU

This is the matchup you want to see, not just on the field between the big boys in the SEC's two most impressive trenches that don't play for Alabama, and on the sidelines between the grass-chomping Les Miles and donut-chomping Bret Bielema. Arkansas is riding high after one of the craziest wins of the season, while the Bayou Bengals look to pick up the pieces after being stomped by 'Bama. Leonard Fournette will NOT be stopped twice in a row. It's not physically possible. I asked the Sports Science guy. LSU 27, Arkansas 17

BYU vs. Missouri

As mentioned above, this game was close to not being played. Just days after Missouri players pledged not to play in solidarity with a student on hunger strike until the president resigned, the Tigers are suiting up. Tim Wolfe stepped down as president over the University of Missouri campus, and the players and coaches have resumed team activities — one of which will be playing BYU Saturday. One of two things can possibly happen: The team rallies around itsself to bring some goodwill to a university undergoing a current of calamity, or the pressure and outside factors are too much. Missouri's defense might be the best in the SEC when it's all said and done, but can the offense actually score on a defense not named Mississippi State? Yes, but not enough times. BYU 20, Missouri 7

JOSH WOODWARD'S PICKS (67-16):

North Texas vs. Tennessee

Each week on the games that should be a blowout, I just give a score. This is one of those games. Vols should cruise in this one. Need to get some more young players time on the field, especially quarterback. 49-10 Volunteers

Georgia vs. Auburn

This has the names of a big game, but this season it is a second tier ballgame. I think both teams have good talent, just haven't played that well. I look for Georgia to pull this one out in a close one. 28-24 Bulldogs

Florida vs. South Carolina

Florida locked up the SEC East last weekend. I look for them to let off some steam against the Gamecocks. Could be an upset here. 17-14 Gators

Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Do the Bulldogs have what it takes this year to beat Alabama? I think they can keep it close. Should be a game late into the fourth quarter. 35-24 Alabama

Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

Toughest pick of the week. That Vanderbilt defense is really good, but that offense is horrible. Kentucky's defense is so bad that Vanderbilt could scores some points. It could come down to a defensive score. 17-13 Kentucky

Western Carolina vs. Texas A&M

The Aggies have a tough one in Western Carolina. They better not overlook them. 48-35 Aggies

Arkansas vs. LSU

How does LSU bounce back after that Bama loss? I say by playing at home helps. If this game was on the road, I would go with Arkansas. Should be a close game. 28-27 LSU

BYU vs. Missouri

Has all the media attention at Missouri been a distraction to the football team? I say yes, and BYU could blow out the Tigers. 35-10 BYU


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