IT Picks SEC

Six games are on this weekend's SEC football slate, and five of them project to be intriguing match-ups.

Alabama travels to Starkville to face Mississippi State, coached by former Tide player Sylvester Croom. Arkansas sends its overwhelming running attack against Tennessee's underwhelming run defense. Auburn and Georgia collide at Athens in a battle of top-20 teams. Florida plays at South Carolina, led by former Gator player and coach Steve Spurrier. Kentucky tries to keep its fading SEC East title hopes alive at Vanderbilt. The only mundane match-up on this weekend's slate finds LSU hosting Louisiana Tech. experts Randy Moore and Jeffery Stewart posted matching 7-0 records on last week's SEC Picks. Jeffery stands 62-14 for the year, Randy 59-17. Can they continue their peerless predicting this week? Probably not, but here goes:


ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Bulldog boss Sylvester Croom helped Nick Saban get the Bama job by beating Mike Shula last year in Tuscaloosa and getting him fired. The Tide could be flat after its heartbreaking 41-34 loss to LSU last weekend but it still should have enough offense to win. Alabama 27, Mississippi State 20

ARKANSAS AT TENNESSEE: In baseball, slow-footed home teams sometimes water down the base paths to neutralize fleet-footed visiting teams. With Darren McFadden and Felix Jones coming to town, I'd have Shield-Watkins Field looking like the Florida Everglades. Arkansas 38, Tennessee 27

  AUBURN AT GEORGIA: The Tigers are in second place in the SEC West and the Dawgs are in second place in the SEC East, so this game is huge to both sides. Georgia shocked Florida a couple of weeks ago but Auburn may be playing the best football in the league over the past month. Auburn 24, Georgia 20

  FLORIDA AT SOUTH CAROLINA: Steve Spurrier beat his former school in 2005 and would've done so in '06 if not for a blocked field goal in the final seconds. I'm going with The Ol' Ball Coach over logic. South Carolina 31, Florida 27

  KENTUCKY AT VANDERBILT: The Wildcats have dropped three of their last four games after a 5-0 start. Following an open date, the Big Blue should get back on track against a Commodore squad that was beat up by Florida last weekend. Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 27

LOUISIANA TECH AT LSU: The Tigers have been winning a lot of games on fourth-quarter rallies. This one will be over by the end of the first quarter. LSU 52-7


ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Very interesting contest. The Crimson Tide arrives straight off a crushing loss to LSU, while the Bulldogs enter off an open date which was preceded by their upset win at Kentucky. That could translate to an emotionally drained Bama against a well rested, confident Mississippi State. Add the fact the Bulldogs haven't allowed the Tide an offensive touchdown the last two years and were victorious in Tuscaloosa in 2006, and Saturday in Starkville looks like a dog day afternoon. Not so fast as the fast talking Lee Corso might say. Mississippi State's SEC success has been limited to the road. The Bulldogs won at Bama last season as well as at Auburn and Kentucky this year, but they are an impressive 1-11 straight-up in their last 12 SEC games played at home. That streak includes losses this fall to LSU and Tennessee by a combined 60 points. Alabama 24, Mississippi State 17.

ARKANSAS AT TENNESSEE: At first glance this one looks to be as simple as the SEC's No. 1 offense (Arkansas) vs. the SEC's No. 11 defense (Tennessee). However predominate run teams like Georgia and Mississippi State haven't fared nearly as well against the Vols as pass-first teams like Cal and Bama. The Vols are 5-0 in Neyland Stadium and enjoy an edge in intangibles, having lost to Arkansas in ‘06 and still contending for 2007 SEC title. With that said, Arkansas has a ton of momentum and Tennessee's suspect tackling will be tested as never before. Arkansas 34, Tennessee 31.

AUBURN AT GEORGIA: Auburn won road games at Florida and at Arkansas before losing on the game's final play at LSU. The Tigers lost an embarrassing, 37-15, decision at home to Georgia last year. Given the Dawgs' lack of consistency between the hedges in 2007 this one has all the earmarks of pay back. Auburn 27, Georgia 17.

FLORIDA AT SOUTH CAROLINA: Is the quality of genius strained or is the Ol' Ball Coach simply losing his grip while gaining membership in AARP? Nah, Coach still have plenty on the ball but he doesn't have the ball players to light up the scoreboard and his injury-riddled defense is running on fumes. This will be the 11th straight week the Gamecocks have played without a break and the grind has taken its toll on a team that was thin to begin with. Florida 37, South Carolina 24.

KENTUCKY AT VANDERBILT: The Wildcats have run their own gridiron gauntlet with consecutive games against South Carolina, LSU and Florida. That led to a giant letdown and upset to Mississippi State. However Kentucky has had a week to lick its wounds and rest its legs, and they have won five of the last six against the Dores. Part of the Wildcats' success against Vandy is, no doubt, due to catching the Dores between games at Florida and Tennessee. Who am I to argue with that type of success? Kentucky 30, Vandy 21.

LOUISIANA TECH AT LSU: In a week of too-close-to-call contests this is almost too easy to bother, but it might be the only one I hit so without further ado I do. LSU 44, Louisiana Tech 0.    

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