Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 6 SEC Football Game
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Can you believe that we're already hitting Week 6 of the college football season? It seems like only yesterday, teams around the South were playing spring games and every program was a national title contender.
The first week in October doesn't boast two big-time Top 25 matchups like last week, but does feature several games of intrigue.
After its thrilling 44-41 win over LSU, Georgia will head across the state line to take on rival Tennessee, while Ole Miss will make its second trip to the state of Alabama in as many weeks, as the Rebels will take on Auburn.
Who'll win these matchups and the rest of the games on the SEC schedule?
Picks are in this slide show.
2013 Record: 44-5 (7-1 last week), 29-18-1 ATS (4-2-1 last week)
All lines courtesy: VegasInsider.com
Georgia State at Alabama (-55.5)
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Saturday, Oct. 5 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Despite being 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, Alabama is going to be relatively quiet during the month of October thanks to a schedule that features Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.
This is the ultimate tune-up game for the Crimson Tide.
T.J. Yeldon? Go take a seat. AJ McCarron? Make a few throws and then grab a clip board. This is a Georgia State team in its first season in FBS in the Sun Belt that's 0-4 with losses to Samford, Jacksonville State and a blowout at the hands of Chattanooga.
Backups will be in early as head coach Nick Saban will get those reserves at running back some valuable experience and Blake Sims some valuable snaps, while the defense will flirt with another shutout but fall short thanks to a garbage touchdown late.
Alabama will play dial-a-score, but it won't dial up one big enough to cover the spread.
Prediction: Alabama 49 - Georgia State 7
Georgia (-10.5) at Tennessee
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Fresh off that big win over LSU, Georgia will hit the road to play rival Tennessee in raucous Neyland Stadium. The Bulldogs should be on upset alert right? RIGHT?!?!?
Not a chance.
This isn't a trap game, it's not going to be a let down for Georgia and it will get out of hand in the fourth quarter.
Georgia has issues on defense, and it showed against LSU. But it did hold the Tigers to just 2.1 yards per carry last week, which was mighty impressive considering the work Jeremy Hill has done of late for Les Miles' crew. Georgia's secondary has issues, sure. But Tennessee can't pass.
The Vols rank last in the SEC in total offense (369.4 YPG) and passing offense (154.0 YPG). Since being benched following the Oregon game, quarterback Justin Worley has thrown five of his six interceptions. Do you think his confidence is shot and he's looking over his shoulder a bit?
Whether Bulldog running back Todd Gurley plays or not doesn't really matter. Keith Marshall is fully capable of shouldering the load, quarterback Aaron Murray picks that defense apart and head coach Mark Richt's crew cruises to an easy victory over the reeling Vols.
Prediction: Georgia 45 - Tennessee 17
Arkansas at Florida (-11)
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET
Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease took quarterback Tyler Murphy and several other Gators on a nature walk prior to his first career start, according to Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post. Apparently it settled the nerves.
Murphy was marvelously efficient against Kentucky, completing 15-of-18 passes, tossing a touchdown and adding 36 rushing yards and a score on the ground. The game plan was conservative, as is normally the case for the Gators. Considering it was Murphy's first start and on the road, that makes sense.
But this week at home against Arkansas, expect to see a more dynamic offense from Murphy and the Gators. Driskel's injury forced the offensive staff to re-assess its approach, and that approach should include more spread elements from former head coach Urban Meyer's offense to adapt to Murphy's elusiveness on the ground.
Meanwhile, Arkansas' tough running game featuring Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams—both of whom are averaging more than 90 yards per game on the ground—will get tested this weekend against a Florida rush defense that's giving up just 53.5 yards per game.
Murphy has a big day through the air and on the ground, running back Matt Jones goes north of 100 and Florida cruises to an easy win in "The Swamp."
Prediction: Florida 31 - Arkansas 14
LSU (-9.5) at Mississippi State
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET
Can LSU rebound from it's heartbreaking loss last week at Georgia? Against this Mississippi State team, you bet.
Yes, there were major defensive issues last week against the Bulldogs, but quarterback Aaron Murray was on fire and sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a hot quarterback who didn't make many bad decisions.
LSU knows it can compete in shootouts but should focus on getting back to the basics against the Bulldogs. Running back Jeremy Hill didn't get going until the second half last week, and the Tiger running game still managed only 2.1 yards per carry against a Georgia defense that's far from elite. Mississippi State has been stout against the run so far this season giving up just 120.3 yards per game, but Hill is the best running back they've seen thus far.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has a bit of a quarterback controversy.
Tyler Russell will likely start after missing the last three games with a concussion. Dak Prescott has been at the helm in his stead and led the Bulldogs over the 400-yard mark in every game. He's a legitimate dual threat weapon that can run the offense Mullen was hired to run in Starkville. Mullen needs to ride the hot hand and try to get this team to a bowl game, and Prescott is the hot hand. If that makes senior Tyler Russell the "Wally Pipp" of the SEC, so be it.
Whoever takes the majority of the snaps, he's going to have his work cut out for him going against an LSU defense that's out to make a statement after last weekend's debacle.
Hill will go north of 150 yards, score two touchdowns and LSU will put it away in the second half.
Prediction: LSU 31 - Mississippi State 13
Ole Miss (-2.5) at Auburn
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Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET
Talk about a tough game to pick. Before Ole Miss' debacle last weekend in Tuscaloosa, this game looked like a Rebel blowout. Now? Not so much.
Ole Miss' dynamic offense wasn't even one-dimensional against Alabama, it was no-dimensional. Auburn's defense isn't Alabama's, but the Tigers have been successful making and implementing adjustments in the second half this season. With two weeks to prepare for the Rebels, they shouldn't have to wait 30 minutes to adjust this week.
Offensively, Auburn has been solid this season and quarterback Nick Marshall has looked more and more comfortable in each of Auburn's four games. He'll get some help this week, as home-run back Corey Grant is expected to be back at 100 percent according to Joel A. Erickson of AL.com. That's a big addition, because Grant's threat on the edge makes those holes between the tackles a bit bigger for Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne.
Marshall will make a few mistakes, but so will Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace in a game that has all the makings of a shootout. I've been back-and-forth on this one, but Auburn will get the job done on a late field goal by Cody Parkey.
Prediction: Auburn 31 - Ole Miss 30
Missouri at Vanderbilt (-1.5)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Missouri is off to a hot start, after breezing through the non-conference slate at 4-0. Can that continue into SEC play? We'll find out this weekend as the upstart Tigers hit the road to take on a Vanderbilt team that's sitting at 3-2 and in desperate need of a win for bowl positioning.
The Tigers have been successful this season thanks to a diverse offense that features quarterback James Franklin; running backs Russell Hansbrough, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy; and wide receivers Dorial Green-Beckham and L'Damian Washington. Franklin looks like he's back to his 2011 form, completing 67.9 percent of his passes and throwing nine touchdowns so far this season.
Vanderbilt has to get off to a hot start. In both of their SEC games, the 'Dores have dug themselves double-digit deficits in the first quarter. Against an offense like Missouri, that's not a good idea.
This one has all the makings of a shootout, in which case it comes down to the ability of quarterbacks to not make mistakes. Franklin is more reliable than Vandy's Austyn Carta-Samuels, so give me the Tigers in a close one.
Prediction: Missouri 38 - Vanderbilt 35
Kentucky at South Carolina (-21)
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw has been practicing this week, and it looks like he'll be good to go on Saturday night.
"Connor Shaw should be ready to play Saturday night," Spurrier said on Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference.
Is he playing mind games, or will Dylan Thompson be at the helm? In reality, it doesn't matter.
The foundation of South Carolina's offense is running back Mike Davis, no matter who's taking the snaps, and considering Kentucky is giving up 200.8 yards per game on the ground, expect the sophomore sensation from Lithonia, Ga. to have a big night. He's rushed for 508 yards in four games this season and leads the SEC with 127 yards per game.
Could he flirt with 200 rushing yards? No doubt.
It's a game with either a backup quarterback or a banged up starter, so head coach Steve Spurrier will do his best to keep things simple and let Davis do the work—especially with wide receiver Shaq Roland suspended.
Kentucky is spinning its wheels and can't settle on a quarterback, according to Jennifer Smith of KentuckySports.com. Max Smith and Jalen Whitlow have rotated in and out, and now each of them will see Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney—who Spurrier called out this week—coming at them.
This one will get ugly.
South Carolina 35 - Kentucky 10
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.