SEC Football: Picks for Every Week 10 Game
Well here we are again.
Alabama at LSU for the lead in the SEC West, in a game with major national title implications.
Whether you want to call it the "Game of the Century Part 3," "Football-mageddon" or just the "Alabama/LSU Game," it is the biggest game of the 2012 regular season for the second straight season.
Can LSU force Alabama into mistakes? Will Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger find success against the stout Crimson Tide defense?
Predictions for that game and every other SEC game this week are in this slideshow.
2012 Record: 63-14 (32-36 ATS)
All lines courtesy of VegasInsider.com.
Missouri at Florida (-17)
Saturday, Nov. 3 at noon ET
Florida will try to rebound from last week's heart-breaking loss to Georgia in Jacksonville by hosting Missouri in the SEC finale for the Gators.
It's an important game for head coach Will Muschamp and crew, because a win will force Georgia to win out to play for the SEC title, and could go a long way toward securing an at-large bid in a BCS bowl game for Florida.
This is the game in which quarterback Jeff Driskel has to emerge as a passing threat.
For the most part, Florida was one-dimensional by choice for the first two months of the season, using Mike Gillislee and that punishing running game to wear down opposing defenses.
That jumped up to bite the Gators last week against Georgia, when the Bulldogs shut it down and forced Driskel and the Gators into six turnovers.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin will start this week for the Tigers, but his return won't make much of a difference for Gary Pinkel's crew. Florida's defense is fast, physical and will force Franklin into mistakes, much like Georgia's and South Carolina's did.
Gators will roll.
Score Prediction: Florida 35 - Missouri 7
Texas A&M (-7) at Mississippi State
Saturday, Nov. 3 at noon ET
Last weekend's 38-7 loss at Alabama isn't an indicator of where Mississippi State is as a program. How it responds this week vs. Texas A&M and next week at LSU will be.
It won't be a pretty sight.
The Aggies are coming off a 63-21 thrashing of Auburn on the Plains, and they will look to keep the train rolling this week against a Bulldog team that they match up well with.
Mississippi State has protected quarterback Tyler Russell well, but last week vs. the Crimson Tide, Russell was pressured more than he has been all season.
The biggest strength of the Texas A&M defense is its pass rush. Defensive end Damontre Moore leads the SEC with 10.5 sacks.
Moore will disrupt the Bulldogs enough to allow Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel and the potent Aggie offense to outscore the Bulldogs in the renewed "Snow Bowl" rivalry.
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 38 - Mississippi State 28
Vanderbilt (-7) at Kentucky
Saturday, Nov. 3 at noon ET
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy hurt his ankle last weekend vs. UMass, but Wesley Tate and Brian Kimbrow filled in nicely for the star running back for the Commodores. That success will be big this weekend if Stacy isn't 100 percent, because Kentucky can sneak up on you if you're not careful.
Okay, no it can't.
This is a big game for Vanderbilt, which needs two wins in its final four games to make a bowl game for the second straight season.
Kentucky has packed it in and is ripe for the picking, so expect the Commodore ground game and quarterback Jordan Rodgers to have a big game.
Score Prediction: Vanderbilt 28 - Kentucky 13
Troy at Tennessee (-18.5)
Saturday, Nov. 3 at noon ET
Tennessee hasn't hit rock bottom, but it's pretty darn close after losing four straight and five of its last six.
However, thanks to a rather forgiving November schedule that starts when Troy makes the visit to Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon, there is hope.
The Vols will likely get star runner Rajion Neal back from an ankle injury that has prevented him from playing in the last two games. Neal stabilized the Vols' running game early in the season, rushing for 500 yards and five touchdowns in six games.
He is a big reason why the Vols have improved their rushing attack to 158.75 yards per game, up from 90.08 last season.
Troy can move the football, and considering the Vols defense is horrendous (453.4 YPG), that won't change this weekend. Nevertheless, Derek Dooley and company will find enough offense to outscore the Trojans.
Score Prediction: Tennessee 38 - Troy 31
Tulsa at Arkansas (-7.5)
Saturday, Nov. 3 at 12:21 p.m. ET
We found out last weekend that the real Arkansas is closer to the one that we saw in the first month of the season, as opposed to the team that had posted back-to-back wins over Auburn and Kentucky.
Las Vegas apparently agrees. The Hogs are only giving a touchdown and a hook to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Dennis Johnson emerged as a legitimate weapon at running back last weekend with 161 yards and a touchdown. However, quarterback Tyler Wilson struggled and Arkansas' defense played like the Arkansas defense of September in a 30-27 loss to Ole Miss in Little Rock.
If Arkansas is going to make a bowl game, it's going to fall on Wilson's shoulders. He will have to light up the Tulsa pass defense, which ranks 98th in the nation, giving up an average of 261.6 passing yards per game.
Wilson's arm will get Arkansas its fourth win of the season, but the Hogs will still have some work to do to make it to the postseason.
Score Prediction: Arkansas 45 - Tulsa 31
New Mexico State at Auburn (-22.5)
Saturday, Nov. 3 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Auburn will start its third quarterback of the season on Saturday afternoon, when true freshman Jonathan Wallace will take the snaps in place of an injured Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier.
Wallace showed flashes of brilliance last week against Texas A&M, completing six of nine passes for 122 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed for 71 yards.
Granted, some of that work was against the second-string Aggie defense. However, if Auburn can get solid quarterback play against air, that's a major step forward.
Auburn needs a win no matter who it's against. Catching a New Mexico State defense that is giving up 460.9 yards per game will get the Tigers going in the right direction.
Score Prediction: Auburn 35 - New Mexico State 10
Ole Miss at Georgia (-14)
Saturday, Nov. 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Georgia's defense was MIA for the majority of the season, but it didn't miss the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party last weekend, forcing six turnovers in its 17-9 win over Florida in Jacksonville.
The return of a healthy Jarvis Jones at linebacker and the spark that safety Shawn Williams' comments gave the previously soft Georgia defense worked wonders in its biggest game of the season, and that will have to continue this week vs. a tricky Ole Miss offense that can sneak up on the Bulldogs if they're not careful.
Quarterback Bo Wallace and running back Jeff Scott have provided a dynamic one-two punch in the Rebel running game, and wide receiver Donte Moncrief is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the country, catching 39 passes for 540 yards and five touchdowns.
The Rebel offense will be tested, but the Georgia offense will finally get its running game and passing game clicking at the same time, while quarterback Aaron Murray will limit his mistakes in a hard-fought win. The Bulldogs will let their guard down in the fourth quarter and allow a few garbage scores.
Score Prediction: Georgia 35 - Ole Miss 28
Alabama (-9.5) at LSU
Saturday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. ET
The Saturday SEC slate will come to a close on Saturday night with the prime time, national network television broadcast of the "Game of the Century, Part 3."
Alabama will roll into Baton Rouge as 9.5-point favorites over LSU in Death Valley.
LSU a two-score underdog in a night game? Talk about a slap in the face.
The reason for the disrespect is that LSU has been unable to stretch the field in the passing game under first-year starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger ranks ninth in the SEC with 177.4 passing yards per game, 12th in passing efficiency with a rating of 124.4 and 11th in touchdown passes with seven—one fewer than Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith, who has only played in four games.
To the Tigers' credit, they have stayed in the national title hunt by using an ultra-conservative, ground-and-pound approach; but head coach Les Miles may have to revert back to the "Mad Hatter" style that made him so successful in his early years at LSU.
Alabama hasn't been tested this year due in large part to a rather easy early-season schedule, but that doesn't change the fact that it looks like a top-tier team should look against lesser competition.
The Tigers will open it up a bit, which will force Alabama to do so as well, and this game will be much more visually appealing than last season's 9-6 overtime battle in Tuscaloosa.
LSU will get a little creative and make this a four-quarter battle, but Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron will have his Heisman moment in the fourth quarter and lead his team to a hard-fought win in the bayou.
Score Prediction: Alabama 24 - LSU 21