Tennessee @ Georgia (favored)
MO: The long season continues for the Volunteers. They're currently at 2-3, with their most impressive victory being a 35-3 win over UAB. They were supposed to match that big win last week against Northern Illinois, but they could manage a 13-9 squeaker win. Meanwhile, Georgia finds itself back in the top ten after South Florida's loss opened up a spot. Georgia hasn't played since their 41-30 loss to Alabama, so you know that head coach Mark Richt has been all over his team to perform better this week – and it can't really get much worse than being down 31-0 at halftime, can it? I like the Dawgs to come out strong and not look back, winning by a comfortable 24-point margin that should need no anti-jinx. But, just in case:
Georgia's Anti-Jinx: Georgia's bad day starts when the band accidentally and inexplicably forms a giant "T" during the pregame show instead of the trademark "G". Georgia's tendency for picking up penalties reaches new heights, and after five personal fouls in the first quarter, the SEC is forced to invoke a little-known 45-yard penalty for "Being a Big Meaniehead", which would be enforced three times over the course of the game. Peyton Manning solves the UT QB crisis by discovering that he somehow has half a season of eligibility left and suits up for UT (since he's not doing the Colts a whole heck of a lot of good these days) breaking record after record against the Georgia secondary, half of whom are literally stuck in the legendary hedges. They will not be able to be removed until the gardening crew comes back to stadium sometime between 8:00 and 11:30 this Tuesday, and by then it will be far too late. UT 126, Georgia 7.
South Carolina @ Kentucky (pick'em)
JW: This is a tough game to pick, because both teams seem so evenly matched, and there's no clear favorite. South Carolina has had a somewhat disappointing season so far, but rebounded a bit with the win over Ole Miss last week. Kentucky, on the other hand, is still a relative unknown, their only SEC game being a close loss to Alabama. Since I'm leaning towards the Wildcats in a close, 6-point victory in Lexington, I'll provide all you Wildcats fans with a solid anti-jinx:
UK's Anti-Jinx: Look, Chris Smelley is the best QB to hit the SEC since, well, ever. He just hasn't been able to come out of his shell. Unfortunately for UK, this is the game that happens. Smelley will throw at least 7 TD passes in the first half alone - in fact, only one of his passes will not be for a TD, and it will be a 97-yarder stopped at the 1 yard line only because the receiver accidentally stepped out of bounds while attempting to cartwheel into the end zone. USC 136, UK 2.
Oklahoma St. @ Missouri (favored)
MO: The match-up hailed as "That Other Big 12 Game This Week" is shaping up to be a good one, but let me ask a quick question: Oklahoma State? Really? Ok, maybe that counts as two questions, but seriously, they haven't beaten anyone but Texas A&M this season, and even that win puts them in the same category as Arkansas St. I'm not sold on the Cowboys' 5-0 record or their ranking, and think they'll be exposed against what is possibly one of the best teams in the country. Missouri just put up 52 points against Nebraska and actually *lowered* their season average in points scored. That's simply amazing, and I don't think that Oklahoma St. can stop that kind of offense - they'll lose by 17.
Missouri's Anti-Jinx: The Cowboys' mascot (hands down the creepiest mascot in the FBS, by the way) locks the Tigers in their locker room and invites Nebraska, who's on a bye week, to don their fabled black shirts and play in their place. The Cornhuskers, still ticked off from have the score run up on them last week, oblige and fool the refs into thinking that they're actually Missouri and lay down for the Cowboys until the REAL Missouri team is able to free themselves from their locker room and triumphantly return to the field in the fourth quarter. Their high-powered offense makes a run a re-taking the lead, but ultimately come up just short when Jeremy Maclin literally trips over the five-yard line and falls at the 1-yard just three seconds after time expires. OSU 78, Missouri 74.
Notre Dame @ North Carolina (favored)
JW: Now here's a team that needs a true anti-jinx. North Carolina is favored over Notre Dame in a FOOTBALL game? The Tar Heels haven't seen the top 25 in seven years (which, if you're not a Vanderbilt fan, apparently is a lot), but have broken in at 22, while Notre Dame is still trying to prove that they are, in fact, legit again. I'm not convinced ND is the real deal quite yet, and I see NC's offense doing to the Irish what Michigan State was able to do a few weeks ago, and the Tar Heels will keep the mojo going with a 14-point victory.
UNC's Anti-Jinx: Look, it's Notre Dame. The history. The championships. The coaches. The NBC contract. UNC doesn't deserve to be on the same field as ND, and they know it. In fact, 75% of UNC's starting lineup will be so scared of this game, they'll miss the first half because they'll be too busy cowering under the benches in their locker room. During the first half, a mixture of the backups, cheerleaders, and band will have to sub in for the Tar Heels, and as you can imagine the result won't be pretty. After spotting Notre Dame with a 70-point lead at the half, the starters will stagger onto the field for the second half only to meekly roll over and give up more points than the patchwork of players allowed in the first half. Final score? ND 156, UNC 16.
Arkansas @ Auburn (favored)
MO: Look, we all saw how good a team Auburn is last week, especially when they run the ball consistently. The problem (for Auburn at least – I was thrilled to see this) was that they simply abandoned a rush-centered scheme; this week Auburn rectified that problem by firing their offensive co-ordinator. There are some rumblings that the problem may actually lie with the head coach in this situation, but I think those talks will die down after this week as I fully expect the Tigers to come out with a vengeance and roll all over an Arkansas team that has struggled for any modicum of success all season. This will end up as an easy 27-point win for Auburn, and I think that there's only one thing that can prevent them from winning.
Auburns Anti-Jinx: Tony Franklin is re-hired as the Auburn offensive co-ordinator. Arkansas 4, Auburn 0.
Texas @ Oklahoma (favored)
The Red River Rivalry is back to its true form, and it almost seems unfair to have to pick a winner and an anti-jinx for what is sure to be an exciting game. Both teams are looking down the road at the possibility of losing to an SEC team in the national championship game (it's the dream of all non-SEC teams these days), and a win in this game could solidify their place at the top of the rankings for the foreseeable future. The problem for the Longhorns, of course, is that Oklahoma has looked downright scary in its first five wins, outscoring opponents 248-69. Yikes. Now, Texas is no slouch, and Colt McCoy is a great QB, but I see the Sooners pulling out a 10-point win in the Cotton Bowl this weekend.
OU's Anti-Jinx: OU's great start has come at the expense of some fairly weak teams, and once their up against a legit team like Texas, the wheels are going to fall off. Sam Bradford's first three pass attempts will be intercepted and returned for touchdowns, and DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown will combine for five lost fumbles, three of which will occur on the goal line. It's ironic that the Sooners have outscored opponents 103-3 in the first quarter, because that will be the final score in this one, except with Texas scoring the 103.
LSU (favored) @ Florida
MO: LSU roars into Gainesville this week to face a Florida team in a huge game that actually isn't even as big as it could be. After all, LSU is looking up at Alabama in the West, and Florida is looking up at Georgia AND Vanderbilt in the East. Still, it's a great match-up of teams that have been in the top ten through most of the season, and I think it's going to be the best game of the day. Florida has shown they're vulnerable at home against good teams, as seen in their loss in the Swamp to Ole Miss just two weeks ago. LSU is hungry for a big win after beating Mississippi St. by just 10 points two weeks ago. The Tigers are rested, they're showing a lot of intensity and aggression going into the game, and I like their chances. They might not get a chance to "take out" Tim Tebow as they've proposed, but as the final horn sounds, I think they'll get what really matters – the win, this time by 6.
LSU's Anti-Jinx: Florida comes out hungry to make the defensive line eat their words and sends the entire starting line to locker with injuries by the first quarter. Tebow takes advantage of this by running all over the field, scoring more touchdowns in the first half than he has so far this season. By the end of the game, Florida's dominance is so impressive that Superman himself flies down in the middle of the fourth quarter (in his trademark Tim Tebow pajamas, of course) to shake Tim's hand on the sideline and hand him this year's Heisman Trophy and a contract to play for the 2009 St. Louis Rams as the first pick in the Draft, despite not even being halfway into the season. Tebow 140, LSU10.
Vanderbilt (favored) @ Mississippi St.
Well, here we are folks. The Commodores are 5-0 and ranked #13 in the country. We've beaten two ranked teams in the process, and sit atop the SEC East, in control of our own destiny. We've had College GameDay pay us a visit, we've won numerous player of the week awards, and Bobby Johnson is certainly on the short list for SEC Coach of the Year (pending the rest of the season, of course). It's a strange, great time to be a Commodore fan, but I'm sure we all have some sort of lingering doubt in the back of our minds that this could all fall apart at a moment's notice. I share in that concern, but I also see this as a completely different team than the one that's broken our hearts so many times in the past. So now we head to Starkville to face a Mississippi State team that, despite its 1-4 record, is a pretty stout team, particularly on defense. With Georgia on the horizon, this is being billed as a classic "trap game," and for good reason. The Bulldogs played Auburn close in a 3-2 loss, and only lost to LSU by 10 points. But, let's also keep in mind, they got blown out by Georgia Tech and lost to Louisiana Tech to open the season. The Bulldogs appear to be a much stronger team at home, and unfortunately that's where the Commodores get them. With all that in mind, I still have confidence in the 'Dores. We've come too far this season to get tripped up now in a game we should fairly easily win. It'll be a dogfight, but I think our defense and special teams keep State's relatively inept offense in check for all four quarters, and we'll get the points we need to win, no matter who our QB is. I see a 14-point Commodore victory here, giving us bowl eligibility for the first time in over two decades. Having actually said the B-word out loud of course necessitates a MASSIVE anti-jinx, which I am more than happy to provide.
VU's Anti-Jinx: Sylvester Croom has had a diabolical plan this whole season. See, he KNEW Vanderbilt was going to start strong and would come into Starkville undefeated. In fact, he planned for this all along. The losses to Louisiana Tech and Georgia Tech? On purpose. See, Croom has a bizarre, deep-seated hatred of everything Vanderbilt (something having to do with poor service he received at the Pancake Pantry years ago), and he decided early this season that nothing would be sweeter than pounding Vanderbilt, knocking them off their Cinderella pedestal, and then rolling after that win to six straight victories, laughing all the way to the bank (and a bowl). Yeah, he's that diabolical. MS State has hidden its true talents on offense, and the team you'll see take the field on Saturday will be more like last year's New England Patriots (save for the Super Bowl) than this year's Mississippi State. The Vanderbilt defense won't know what hit them, as pass after pass from Tyson Lee will sail into the waiting arms of receivers. Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson will be sacked approximately 10 times in the first half, and D.J. Moore will find a way to average negative 20 yards on his kick returns. In fact, Mississippi State will be up by such a wide margin at halftime, the SEC officiating crew will discover a little-known "mercy rule" and call the game for the Bulldogs before the Commodores are even able to take the field for the second half. At a press conference after the game, Bobby Johnson will announce that Vanderbilt was so demoralized by this loss, that they will officially forfeit the rest of the season. Sylvester Croom will twirl his new handlebar moustache, cackling maniacally as he surveys the end of another Commodore dream.
And with that, the anti-jinx is firmly in place. Go 'Dores!