Rivalry week highlights intriguing schedule

The InsideTennessee staff predicts this week's slate of SEC games.

It's rivalry week. Need we say more? 

Prepare yourself for some Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. Watch as two teams separated by a few miles play for a golden egg. Take part in the nameless in-state rivalry between two Tennessee teams that don't like each other even more than they let on. 

Stick around for an Iron Bowl that lacks in matchup drama but drips in venom. That's what rivalry week is all about, anyway. You hate them. They hate you. Better not lose. To the games: 

CORY GUNKEL'S PICKS (78-24)

Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee

Tennessee fans pretend this isn't a rivalry game, but it's obvious how much joy they get in watching the Vols dominate a usually-outmatched Vandy outfit year after year. This game has been played over 100 times over the course of history, serving as one of the longest rivalries in the SEC between two completely different programs who hate each other almost equally. This matchup might be a repeat of last week, with Butch Jones' team controlling most of the game on the ground while bleeding clock and owning time of possession. Vanderbilt has two quarterbacks, both not very good at the moment, so the Commodores will rely on a stout defensive effort to keep them in the game. Anything goes during rivalry week, and Ralph Webb is as underrated a running back as they come, but Vandy's offense is anemic on the borderline of non-existent. The 'Dores are dead last in the NCAA in scoring a game, averaging just 14 per contest. One Jalen Hurd touchdown might be enough to end things early. Tennessee 20, Vanderbilt 3

Missouri vs. Arkansas

The newest of the fabricated SEC rivalries since the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, this one is special because it will mark the final game of Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel. Arkansas is hoping to rebound after one of the toughest losses of the season, a last-second field goal miss at Mississippi State, and the Hogs will do just that. The Tigers' defense is legit, and Kentrell Brothers is by far the most productive defensive player in the country, but Missouri's offense doesn't have much of a pulse, and the Brandon Allen-Alex Collins will overcome the Tigers in the end. Arkansas 28, Missouri 10

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

How disappointing have these two schools been? Georgia was supposed to contend for the East, and Georgia Tech was supposed to challenge Clemson for the SEC. Now the two will meet in Atlanta to try and salvage the season. It's hard to call a potential 9-3 season disappointing, but after a close scare against a good Georgia Southern team, many UGA fans are sick to their stomach this week even before eating leftovers. Even without Nick Chubb, the Dawgs have plenty of talent to stomp out the Yellow Jackets on the road. Georgia 24, Georgia Tech 21

Louisville vs. Kentucky

One of the more underrated bitter rivalries in college football of late. Louisville, winners of four of its last five, continues rolling over a struggling Kentucky team. Louisville 28, Kentucky 21

Clemson vs. South Carolina

This is going to be a bloodbath of epic proportions. Clemson is the No. 1 team in the country. South Carolina just lost to The Citadel. They hate each other more than you hate your mother-in-law. You do the math. Clemson 51, South Carolina 10

Alabama vs. Auburn

The Iron Bowl doesn’t have any of the pomp of the last couple of matchups with Auburn struggling so much. This one is always fun, but ‘Bama might take Aubie out in a stretcher. Alabama 38, Auburn 17

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

Low key the most intriguing game on the SEC schedule this weekend. The home team has won the Egg Bowl the past six years, and with so little separating these two teams, I'll go with the trend in Dak Prescott's final home game of his illustrious careers. Mississippi State 31, Ole Miss 28

Florida State vs. Florida

Florida should have lost to FAU last week, a defeat that would have relegated the bottom three teams in the SEC East to Conference USA and brought up Marshall, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky. Florida State is absolutely on a tear right now, and Dalvin Cook will be able to slice up Florida's run defense similar to what Tennessee did against the Gators in September. The SEC East champ will go into the title game with a black eye. Florida State 28, Florida 13

Texas A&M vs. LSU

This one could be for Les Miles' job, although a win might not do much to put him in the good graces of LSU fans, boosters and the administration who has left him out to dry while his fate hangs in the balance. It's crazy to think the Tigers, who were No. 2 in the College Football Playoff just a few short weeks ago, might be the "worst" team in the SEC West at 8-4 with a loss. But Les won't go down like that. LSU finds a way against a surging Aggie outfit. LSU 19, Texas A&M 17

DANNY PARKER'S PICKS (80-22)

Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee

Expecting this to be another ugly one and some of the misinformed will say bad things about HOW Tennessee won the game to get to 8-4. Suggest use the "ignore" button. The Commodores do play quality defense. Just a tremendous struggle for the No. 120-ranked offense to find the end zone. Aaron Medley needs to have a solid game. Likely to be tough sledding in the box for Jalen Hurd but Alvin Kamara may ave 100 yards receiving. The Volunteers secure their best record since 2007. Tennessee, 20-7.

Missouri vs. Arkansas

It seems virtually impossible that the Tigers can score with the Razorbacks, even if Brandon Allen isn't at his best. That would mean Mizzou home for the holidays and coach Gary Pinkel's last game ever on the sideline. If it is, here's to hoping coach Pinkel punches that lymphoma flat in the face and he spends several years enjoying his new marriage and grand-children. Arkansas, 24-6.

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

Wrote weeks ago about how I expected Georgia to get to 9-3. Didn't think it would struggle with Georgia Southern but it pulled the "W." A victory in this rivalry should shut up a few people calling for Mark Richt's head but the Bulldogs lost to Alabama, Florida and Tennessee. The boosters hate losing the big-time matchups. Don't get too cute. Hit everybody on defense. Offensively, give it to Sony Michel early and often. Georgia, 27-26.

Louisville vs. Kentucky

The Wildcats must win to get bowl eligible and get those extra winter practices. That would be big-time for the Blue Nation. Can't quite see it happening. Louisville, 34-17.

Clemson vs. South Carolina

The Gamecocks must rise to the occasion to gain some respect back and win what's essentially their bowl game. A victory would provide a major shakeup in the College Football Playoff as well. After the questionable penalty last week erased a game-wining touchdown versus The Citadel, not sure there's enough energy to pull off the upset. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson hasn't had quite the year I thought he might but he's still dynamic and talented. Clemson, 28-7.

Alabama vs. Auburn

It's not the same mutual talent level in the Iron Bowl we've seen some in recent years and neither team has a fantastic quarterback. Still, expecting the Tide to roll up the Tigers en route to the SEC championship game to face their former offensive coordinator. Would love to watch this one with a die hard Tennessee fan to see who they pull for when Lane Kiffin's offense is up against Will Muschamp's defense. Alabama, 35-7.

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

Gigantic Egg Bowl. The winner could find itself as part of the New Year's 12. Extremely tough one to predict, especially after the Bulldogs took down a hot Arkansas squad. Both teams are playing solid football this November. Starting to think this will be Dan Mullen's last appearance in this rivalry. Coin toss on the winner. Ole Miss, 37-34.

Florida State vs. Florida

What a big game! If the Gators, win out and look impressive, they can be in the CFP. The coaching staff down there has done one heck of a job. Paint me impressed. However, if they play like they did last week, this one goes to the 'Noles. The nation's No. 8 rush defense must slow down the No. 3-ranked runner in Dalvin Cook. That matchup is where the game within the game lies. Another coin toss. Poor kicking game figures to cost the Gators. Florida State, 20-12.

Texas A&M vs. LSU

Almost sad for coach Les Miles for what's going on down in Baton Rouge. Then again, he's going to make more than my family tree's lifetime to NOT coach. Congrats, Les! Nice contract, fella! Game-wise, no idea which way the Tigers' emotions are going to go. A case can be made that these are now the two worst teams in the SEC West, which sounds far worse than it really is. Wonder what's in John Chavis' head going into this one. Louisiana State, 30-20.

JOSH WOODWARD'S PICKS (79-23):

Vanderbilt vs. Tennesseei

This Vanderbilt defense is likely the best Tennessee has faced all year. They are really playing well. The key to the game is Josh Dobbs not making any mistakes in the passing game. If the Vols can keep from turning the ball over then they will win. Any turnovers and it could be a really tight game. With Tennessee, the ground game is key. Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara need to get the ball at least 25 touches in this game. On defense, it shouldn't be a problem keeping Vanderbilt out of the end zone. Tennessee just has to keep everything in front of them. In the end, it should be a good game with the Vols coming out on top. 20-7 Tennessee

Missouri vs. Arkansas

Arkansas is coming of that shootout loss to Mississippi State where Brandon Allen threw seven TD passes. I think they will roll over Missouri at home. 38-14 Hawgs

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

At the first of the season I thought this could be a game that decided the playoff picture, but both teams have had a rough season. I look for Georgia to get the win in a close but high-scoring game. 48-44 Bulldogs

Louisville vs. Kentucky

Kentucky has looked bad the past few games, and it continues this weekend. 38-17 Louisville

Clemson vs. South Carolina

Can South Carolina play the playoff spoiler? I wish. They just don't have the horses to slow down this Clemson offense. Could be a good game early with Clemson pulling away in the second half. 47-10 Tigers

Alabama vs. Auburn

Does Auburn have any magic at home against their bitter rival? Probably not. Alabama is playing like the best team in the country and will likely get the easy win at Auburn. 31-14 Tide

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

Has the potential to be the best game of the weekend. I really like how Ole Miss is playing on defense, so if Dak Prescott has a good game then he should be talked about in the Heisman race. I think it comes down to defense and Ole Miss is better on D. 35-28 Rebels

Florida State vs. Florida

This game could really mess up the bowl picture for Tennessee. A Florida State win could move Tennessee out of a Florida bowl game. A Florida win will likely put them on a New Year's Day bowl. I do like the Florida State in this one. 24-17 FSU

Texas A&M vs. LSU

What the heck is going on in Baton Rouge with all this Les Miles getting fired talk? His record is the same as Nick Saban when Saban was at LSU. I'm sorry, but who is going to walk into that job with those crazy expectations? I see LSU winning this one. 28-20 Tigers.


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