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SEC Game Projections For 11/5/11

Time for our weekly round of SEC projections, prediction and prognostications.  Including our pick for what’s being called the biggest regular-season college football game ever.  Good thing we in the media don’t blow things out of proportion, no?

Vanderbilt at Florida
12:21pm on SEC Network

Why It Matters:  The Commodores and Gators both sit at 4-4 and could take a big step toward bowl eligibility with a win.

What Vegas Says:  Florida by 13.5 (opened at -10.5)

What We Say:  The scare Vandy put into Arkansas last week should be enough to properly motivate Will Muschamp’s team in this one.

Prediction:  Florida 27, Vanderbilt 17

New Mexico State at Georgia
12:30pm on CSS

Why It Matters:  It would only matter if Georgia somehow lost (due to a depleted backfield).

What Vegas Says:  Georgia by 34.5 (opened at -34.5)

What We Say:  NMSU’s kick returnin’ strength points at UGA’s biggest weakness, but the Dawgs — even without its top four tailbacks — should prove to be way to much for the Aggies from the WAC.

Prediction:  Georgia 31, New Mexico State 10

Ole Miss at Kentucky
3:30pm on ESPNU

Why It Matters:  It’s a matchup of two unpopular coaches fighting for their first conference win of the season.

What Vegas Says:  Ole Miss by 2 (opened at Pick)

What We Say:  These are the two worst rush defenses and two worst offenses in the SEC, but we’ll take the juco quarterback over the true freshman making his first start.

Prediction:  Ole Miss 24, Kentucky 17

Middle Tennessee State at Tennessee
7:00pm on FSN

Why It Matters:  Derek Dooley’s decision to start freshman Justin Worley at quarterback will draw criticism if the Vols struggle in the least.

What Vegas Says:  Tennessee by 21.5 (opened at -21)

What We Say:  If UT can’t run the ball… well, anyone remember the Vols’ overtime escape against UAB last year?

Prediction:  Tennessee 31, MTSU 14

South Carolina at Arkansas
7:15 on ESPN

Why It Matters:  Both Top 10 teams have dreams of reaching a BCS bowl game.

What Vegas Says:  Arkansas by 5.5 (opened at -5.5)

What We Say:  Carolina’s not the same without Marcus Lattimore and their highly-rated pass defense has been aided by games against some of the worst passing teams in the country.

Prediction:  Arkansas 30, South Carolina 20

Tennessee-Martin at Mississippi State
7:30pm on CSS

Why It Matters:  At 4-4 with Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss left to play, Mississippi State is still fighting for bowl eligibility.

What Vegas Says:  MSU by 33 (opened at -33.5)

What We Say:  MSU had better remember that the last time a pretty good OVC team ventured into the Magnolia State, Jacksonville State knocked off Ole Miss to open the 2010 season.

Prediction:  Mississippi State 31, UT-Martin 13

LSU at Alabama
8:00pm on CBS

Why It Matters:  Because it’s been billed as the biggest sporting event to ever be staged east of Saturn… or something like that.

What Vegas Says:  Alabama by 4.5 (opened at -4)

10 Extra Nuggets To Chew On:

1.  Les Miles has done a fantastic job this year, but if the game is tight late, do you trust him to manage the clock well?

2.  This could be a hidden key.  Alabama has averaged just four penalties per game in SEC contests while LSU has averaged seven.  Pay attention to who’s losing yardage due to yellow flags.

3.  These two teams — on paper and via the eyeball test — look incredibly similar.  But special teams may be one area where one team has a clear advantage over the other.  And that advantage goes to LSU.

4.  As noted above, Miles’ work this season has been worthy of applause, but the guy on the other sideline is the only coach since World War II to win national titles with two different schools.  Even though Miles beat him last year, we’ll take Nick Saban head-to-head against any coach in the country.

5.  Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson have been outstanding this season… much to the surprise to just about everyone (including those in purple and gold).  They also have experience on their side.  But AJ McCarron had to go out and win a game for his team when Tennessee managed to slow the Tide rushing attack two weeks ago.  Lee and Jefferson haven’t had to carry the Tigers.  In fact, LSU has attempted just 176 passes on the season which is 23 passes fewer than any other team in the league.  Alabama has put the ball up 228 times, the fourth-highest total in the conference.  We assume neither team will have tremendous ground success tonight, so the edge goes to the guy who’s used to winging it and that’s McCarron.  (Just as long as the first-year starter doesn’t have a major case of butterflies.)

6.  What’s great about this game is it’s not a conflict in styles.  It’s two teams with great defenses, who prefer to tenderize opponents in the first half, wear them down, and then run all over their bruised and battered bodies in the second half. 

7.  Both of these teams have total confidence that they will win tonight.  They’ve both played with that type of confidence all season.  So how will the squad that gets down early respond to taking a rare punch in the mouth?  Sometimes when you slug a bully in his nose, he backs down pretty quick.  Could one of these teams be shaken if its opponent has early success?

8.  As we pointed out yesterday right here, turnovers are just about everything when it comes to SEC football.  With every turn over you see tonight, know that the team with butterfingers has just severely damaged its chances of winning.  One turnover could be the difference.

9.  Here’s hoping for a game that lives up to the hype.  We all remember the days of overblown Super Bowls that ended in 20-, 30- and 40-point blowouts year after year.  Let’s pray that one of these teams doesn’t fumble the opening kickoff and allow the flood gates to open early.

10.  As big as this game is, the winner won’t be given a by for the rest of the month of November.  What will the psychological impact of a victory be on tonight’s winning team?  Will cockiness or boredom from playing lesser teams bring about a major upset in the weeks to come?  It’s possible.  We’re talking college football.  So it’ll be interesting to see how tonight’s winner handles the success moving forward.

What We Say:  LSU’s defense is strong and athletic, but Alabama’s defense is experienced, punishing and NFL-like in its build.

Prediction:  Alabama 20, LSU 17


Bob Baker
Bob Baker

Let's just hope the zebras let the players decide who is the best team!

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