IT Picks the SEC

The final week of the SEC's regular season is loaded with in-state rivalry games - Mississippi State at Ole Miss, Auburn at Alabama, Florida at Florida State, Georgia Tech at Georgia and South Carolina at Clemson.

Because emotion plays such a big role in these contests, won-lost records and season-long tendencies mean very little. Often as not, the team that wins is the one that manages its emotions the best.

That makes this a particularly challenging week for analysts Jeffery Stewart and Randy Moore. They will be looking to improve on last week, when each went 2-2 picking the SEC outcomes. Heading into the final regular-season weekend, Jeffery stands 56-15, Randy 58-13.

Here are their projections for this week:


LSU AT ARKANSAS (FRIDAY IN LITTLE ROCK): A bigger game for Les Miles than it is Bobby Petrino, although each coach is vested in the first year of a big contract so job security isn't the issue, but after winning a national title to lose five SEC games the next season is a dramatic drop off. LSU can prevent that minor calamity, cure some ills and build momentum for the 2009 campaign. Playing a raw but talented rookie quarterback is wrought with risks, but there are no acceptable alternatives. Tough call but the Tigers' pride and better overall talent will carry the day. LSU 28, Arkansas 21.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT OLE MISS (FRIDAY): This is a personal favorite because the Egg Bowl angle is rife with comic potential. For instance: they put that rotten egg smell into this game to warn you how bad it's going to stink. The Rebels are having a rebound season under Houston Nutt while the Bulldogs are home for the holidays again after a rare bowl appearance last season. Ole Miss should win this one in Oxford as State has been more road kill than road warrior. Ole Miss 24, Mississippi State 10.

AUBURN AT ALABAMA: And then there was one. Bama reaches the end of the regular season road at home against arch rival Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl. Irony of ironies is that it was just four years ago that the situation was reversed with Auburn going into the game 11-0 en route to a perfect 14-0 season. Alabama was 6-6 that year. Auburn is 5-6 this year but has a five-game winning streak in this series. Auburn won that 2004 contest 21-13. Who am I to argue with a spin of the karmic wheel? Alabama 21, Auburn 13

FLORIDA AT FLORIDA STATE: The Gators are the unstoppable force and the Seminoles are unfathomable farce parading around in garnet and gold uniforms that no longer evoke fear in foes, but rather serve as a reminder of how mighty FSU once was. Much like Tennessee the Noles who challenged the Vols for the 1998 crown have seen better days. But they won't see any better opponent than their hated rivals in Gainesville. However the Gators can't help but to peek toward next week when they meet the Crimson Tide in Atlanta for the SEC title. However that won't be enough put the Seminoles on top or even make it close. Florida 34, Florida State 14.

GEORGIA TECH AT GEORGIA: The Bulldogs have won seven in a row in this series and had an off week to prepare for the option the Yellowjackets run. Add an excellent passing attack with a strong running game and UGA comes out top dog in this rivalry. Georgia 27. Georgia Tech 24.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT CLEMSON: The Gamecocks invade Death Valley looking for their eighth win of the season. The Tigers are looking for a new football coach and that's all the distraction the Ol' Ball Coach needs to exploit an advantage. South Carolina 23, Clemson 21.

VANDERBILT AT WAKE FOREST: SEC bowl ties will give the Commodores their first post season game since 1982, but it won't do anything to help them avoid another losing season as in 6-7 with a bowl defeat. Wake Forest 24, Vanderbilt 17.

KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE: The Vols have won the last 23 straight against the Wildcats. A few have been close. Most haven't. Phillip Fulmer coaches his last game at Tennessee where he stands 151-52 and 15-0 against Kentucky. I look for a grateful Big Orange nation to close ranks and for the Vols to send Coach Fulmer out in the style to which he's accustomed. Tennessee 27, Kentucky 16.


LSU AT ARKANSAS (FRIDAY IN LITTLE ROCK): The Tigers are coming off a lousy showing in a 31-13 loss to Ole Miss, while the Razorbacks are coming off a lousy showing in a 31-28 loss to Mississippi State. Ultimately, I think LSU is less lousy than Arkansas. LSU 27, Arkansas 17

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT OLE MISS (FRIDAY): Houston Nutt is the hottest thing in the Magnolia State since Eli Manning. He'll be even hotter after winning this game to finish 8-4. Ole Miss 24, Mississippi State 13

AUBURN AT ALABAMA: Since taking the Tiger reins Tommy Tuberville has owned the Tide. Now it appears the lease is about to be broken. Alabama 27, Auburn 10

FLORIDA AT FLORIDA STATE: The Dead Sea was just a little sick when Bobby Bowden began coaching. Maybe this game will help convince him he's been at the dance a bit too long. Florida 49, FSU 21

GEORGIA TECH AT GEORGIA: Mark Richt's Bulldogs scored 215 points in SEC competition this fall while surrendering 214. Still, the Dawgs went 6-2 in league play and stand 9-2 overall. How's that for being resourceful? Georgia 27, Georgia Tech 20

SOUTH CAROLINA AT CLEMSON: The Gamecocks' Steve Spurrier hasn't had the year he'd hoped for but, unlike Tommy Bowden, he got to stick around till the end of it. South Carolina 24, Clemson 17

VANDERBILT AT WAKE FOREST: Both teams are 6-5 and both are coming off disappointing losses last weekend (the Commodores fell 20-10 to Tennessee, the Demon Deacons fell 24-21 to Boston College). I'm going with the home-field advantage. Wake Forest 20, Vanderbilt 17

KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE: Vanderbilt beat Kentucky in Lexington seven days before losing to Tennessee in Nashville. I know comparing scores is dangerous but ... Tennessee 17, Kentucky 13

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