Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley
One spot in the SEC Championship Game was sewn up last weekend, when Georgia topped Auburn to claim the SEC East title.
Alabama can't follow suit this weekend, as the Crimson Tide—along with six other SEC schools—host teams from outside the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in Week 12.
If you needed proof that television networks will at some point mandate a nine-game SEC schedule, this is it.
Nevertheless, there still is plenty of intrigue out there in the SEC. Tennessee is looking to keep its faint bowl hopes alive vs. Vanderbilt, while Ole Miss will look to do the same vs. LSU.
Here are the SEC picks for Week 12.
2012 Record: 75-17 (41-42 ATS)
All lines courtesy: VegasInsider.com
Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Will the real Arkansas Razorbacks please stand up?
We've been waiting on the team that was supposed to be a Top-10 team to show up all season. With 12 weeks in the books, maybe that team just doesn't exist.
After starting the season 7-0, Mississippi State has lost three straight in blowout fashion and is in desperate need of a win to close out the season on a high note.
One of the biggest reasons Arkansas has been such a disappointment is the fact that the defense has been atrocious, giving up 410.8 yards per game and an SEC worst 291.1 through the air.
Bulldog quarterback Tyler Russell isn't going to be in the forefront of the Heisman discussion, but he has thrown 17 touchdowns and only four picks and it takes a lot to get him rattled.
Dan Mullen's crew will get the win, but it may not be the prettiest game in football history.
Score Prediction: Mississippi State 31 - Arkansas 21
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Man, what a week to be the Western Carolina Catamounts.
Heading into Tuscaloosa at the end of the season wouldn't be a lot of fun under normal circumstances, but now they catch the Crimson Tide the week after they dropped their first game in more than a calendar year.
Head coach Nick Saban will get his starters out of the game in a hurry and rest up for the Iron Bowl and the SEC Championship Game, because if anyone knows that there is still hope after a loss in November, it's Saban and the Crimson Tide.
Score Prediction: Alabama 42 - Western Carolina 3
Florida LB Jelani Jenkins
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. ET
If Florida learned anything from last weekend's 27-20 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, it's that you can't take anything for granted.
Even without quarterback Jeff Driskel, who was ruled out for this game with a sprained ankle that he suffered in the win over the Ragin Cajuns, the Gators should cruise in this one.
It's too late to try to develop a competent passing game to compliment running back Mike Gillislee and the stingy Gator defense, but backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett was neck-and-neck with Driskel for the top spot on the depth chart entering the season.
Florida's offense is ugly, one-dimensional and inconsistent. However, it works, and that won't change on Saturday.
Score Prediction: Florida 35 - Jacksonville State 7
South Carolina QB Connor Shaw
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. ET
South Carolina's tune-up for its intra-state showdown with Clemson next week will feature another team from the palmetto state—the Wofford Terriers.
Gamecock Connor Shaw returned to practice on Tuesday after missing Monday with a foot injury. The junior signal-caller should be ready to go on Saturday.
The question is, how much should he play?
South Carolina's defense is solid, but the passing offense is average at best, averaging 232.2 yards per game—seventh-best in the SEC.
That defense should be able to shut down the Tigers next week, but just in case the Gamecocks get into a shootout, they might want to work on that passing game this week.
This one has blowout written all over it.
Score Prediction: South Carolina 55 - Wofford 3
Georgia LB Jarvis Jones
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m. ET
This is the perfect out-of-conference matchup for Georgia at the perfect time.
With the rivalry game next week vs. Georgia Tech looming, scheduling another triple-option team the week before is a stroke of genius by the Georgia athletic department and will certainly help the Bulldogs prepare for the Yellow Jackets.
I'm not sure how much work they'll need, though.
The defense has given up 10 points over the last two weeks, and finally looks like the top-tier team that we had been waiting to see all season.
When healthy, linebacker Jarvis Jones is one of the top players in college football, and he has proved it over the last few weeks.
Georgia will keep the momentum going with a solid win over the Golden Eagles.
Score Prediction: Georgia 55 - Georgia Southern 10
Auburn QB Jonathan Wallace
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. ET
Auburn better enjoy this one, because wins are few and far between on the Plains in 2012.
The season has been nothing short of a total disaster for the Tigers, and with the beatdown by Alabama looming, Auburn will get one last chance to taste success on Saturday vs. Alabama A&M.
There really is nothing for Auburn to play for other than pride at this point.
The Tigers are looking at a coaching/scheme change in the not-too-distant future, so while getting game experience may be useful for the younger players, it may not be relevant depending on what changes are made in the coming weeks.
Auburn will cruise in this one and send its seniors out on a high note in their last home game.
Score Prediction: Auburn 42 - Alabama A&M 13
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Don't look now, but LSU finally developed an offense.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger finally looked like a functional quarterback vs. Alabama two weeks ago, and followed that up with a 273-yard, two-touchdown performance vs. a Mississippi State defense that features studs Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay.
Once may be an anomaly, but twice is a trend and that's a good sign for the Tigers as they look to build some momentum towards the end of the season and beyond.
Nobody expected Ole Miss to be on the doorstep of bowl eligibility this season, but that's where the Rebels find themselves. Quarterback Bo Wallace has been the perfect signal-caller to execute first-year head coach Hugh Freeze's offense, and has helped raise the expectation level in Oxford.
Unfortunately, last weekend's loss to Vanderbilt was the Rebels' last best shot at getting to the six-win plateau.
LSU wins big.
Score Prediction: LSU 38 - Ole Miss 13
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin won't let freshmen speak to the media, which means that the first time we hear from redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel may be when he accepts the Heisman Trophy in New York City.
Until then, he will do his talking on the field; and the Heisman campaign will get a boost this weekend when Sam Houston State out of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rolls into College Station.
The Aggies are in the hunt for an at-large bid to a BCS bowl now, and that fact won't be lost on Sumlin and his staff.
Aggies roll and look crisp doing it.
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 55 - Sam Houston State 20
Missouri QB James Franklin
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. ET
Missouri's dramatic quadruple overtime win over Tennessee in Knoxville last week not only cranked up the heat on Vols head coach Derek Dooley's already hot seat, but it vaulted the Tigers to within one win of bowl eligibility.
Texas A&M looks like it probably will be a loss next week, so their best shot at getting to six wins is this week against a surprisingly potent Syracuse offense.
The Orange boast the nation's No. 24 offense, averaging 469.8 yards per game. Quarterback Ryan Nassib is a future pro, so the Missouri defense better be prepared and the offense better get ready for a shootout.
That means quarterback James Franklin needs to take care of the football.
Franklin will have a big say through the air and on the ground, and Missouri will become bowl eligible.
Score Prediction: Missouri 41 - Syracuse 35
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. ET
No, that point spread isn't a typo. Vanderbilt is a favorite over Tennessee.
If that isn't an indictment of the Derek Dooley regime, I'm not sure what is.
The reason is simple—Tennessee's switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense under its first-year defensive coordinator has been nothing short of a disaster. The Vols rank last in the SEC in total defense, having given up 480.2 yards per game. That's 44.7 yards per game fewer than 13th-place Auburn.
That bodes well for Vanderbilt, which has discovered a three-headed monster at running back with Zac Stacy, Brian Kimbrow and Wesley Tate. Vanderbilt has been playing well and has an eight-win season in its sights.
If quarterback Jordan Rodgers can take care of the football, this one will get ugly.
He will, and it will.
Score Prediction: Vanderbilt 38 - Tennessee 21
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips
Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET
It's been a tumultuous season in Lexington, but Joker Phillips will get one more taste of victory this week vs. Samford before his time as Kentucky's head coach comes to a close.
The injury to quarterback Maxwell Smith in September threw Kentucky's season into a tailspin, and it was something that the Wildcats were simply unable to recover from.
Redshirt freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles will continue to get work and prepare for the future at Kentucky, which has already jumped into coaching search mode.
The Wildcats will get a win and send its seniors and coaching staff out on a high note in their last home game.
Score Prediction: Kentucky 31 - Samford 14