Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 10 SEC Football Game
There was another shakeup in the SEC East last weekend, as South Carolina stormed back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to shock the previously-undefeated Missouri Tigers in double overtime. The door is now open for the Gamecocks, Florida and Georgia to get back in the division title mix during the final month of the season.
The Gators and Bulldogs will square off this Saturday on the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville in the annual football celebration known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Both teams are banged up, but both have had bye weeks to prepare for the rivalry.
Will Georgia running back Todd Gurley return from an ankle injury and lead his team to its third straight in over the Gators, or will Florida break the streak?
Our picks for that game and the rest of the SEC games this week are in this slide show.
2013 record: 65-11 (5-2 last week), 44-30-1 ATS (4-3 last week)
All lines courtesy: VegasInsider.com
Mississippi State at South Carolina (-13)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Despite a knee injury and a virus that prevented him from holding anything down leading up to the game, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw came off the bench late in the third quarter against Missouri and led his team back from a 17-point hole to topple Missouri on the road last weekend.
It was a championship moment for Shaw, but for his team to actually win the SEC East title, the Gamecocks are going to need a few more SEC wins and hope for some luck.
Shaw's status for this week is still up-in-the-air with that lingering virus, according to ESPN.com. Dylan Thompson will start in his place if Shaw can't go, but that won't be an issue this week against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs have squeaked by Bowling Green and Kentucky in their last two games, and while a couple of extra days will help preparation, it won't help the Bulldogs slow Gamecock running back Mike Davis.
Whether it's Shaw or Thompson taking the snaps, Davis is the focal point of the offense and will be on Saturday night against a Bulldog defense that's giving up 146.29 yards per game on the ground.
Davis will go north of 125 yards on the ground, Shaw's legacy will grow with another gutty performance and Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott will struggle against an improving Gamecock defense.
Prediction: South Carolina 28 - Mississippi State 14
Georgia (-2.5) vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET
He's back. At least according to reports.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley injured his ankle in the Bulldogs' win over LSU on Sept. 28, but he returned to practice this week, according to Seth Emerson of the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, and should play, which will provide a boost to a Georgia offense that has been riddled with injuries.
"He's like the motivation to keep us working," fullback Quayvon Hicks said. "He's like that clown [where] you may mess up on this play, but he's gonna put a smile on your face the next play and say, Don't worry about it. So not only having him out there as a running back, but having him out there as a leader."
The Bulldogs may be without safety Josh Harvey-Clemons and wide receiver Chris Conley, but should get wide receiver Michael Bennett back from a knee injury suffered versus Tennessee.
Meanwhile, Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy resumed throwing this week after a shoulder injury limited him over the last few weeks.
This one will come down to whether Florida can move the ball on Georgia's porous defense, and I don't see how that's possible. Georgia's major problem on defense is at the back end, but the linebacker Jordan Jenkins and the rest of the front seven should be able to force mistakes against a Gator team that has given up a conference-high 51 tackles for loss.
Murphy will get sacked five times and toss two picks. And Gurley will go over 150 rushing yards to close the door on the Gators in the second half.
Prediction: Georgia 27 - Florida 20
Auburn (-8) at Arkansas
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. ET
"Normal American football" will host hurry-up, no-huddle football this week, as Bret Bielema's Arkansas Razorbacks host Gus Malzahn's No. 11 Auburn Tigers in a game that gained intrigue during SEC Media Days in July when the two coaches were critical of each other's style while making the rounds at the Wynfrey.
We were reminded of the animosity this week, when Bielema admitted to the media that he contacted the SEC about discrepancies in the game film Auburn sent and what Arkansas saw from Auburn on television. The play in question, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com, is the swinging gate formation Auburn uses on some extra points.
Maybe Bielema should focus on the play before the swinging gate. You know, the one in which his team gave up a touchdown? Arkansas has given up 52 points in back-to-back games, and Auburn has things rolling with a punishing rushing attack that features Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant and quarterback Nick Marshall.
That's a problem, because Arkansas ranks 11th in the SEC in rush defense (172 YPG).
On the flip side, Arkansas doesn't pose much of a threat through the air which means it won't be able to feast on an Auburn pass defense that's giving up 265.5 yards per game through the air.
Auburn will mix up the options on the ground, wear down the Razorbacks and put the game away in the fourth quarter against a worn-down Hog defense.
Prediction: Auburn 38 - Arkansas 28
Tennessee vs. Missouri (-11.5)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. ET
In the latest episode of "As the SEC East Turns," Tennessee offensive lineman Antonio "Tiny" Richardson has guaranteed a victory over Missouri this week as long as his team can take it one play at at time (via Wes Rucker of 247Sports.com).
FULL Tiny quote: "Like I said, snap and clear. That's all we've got to do, and we'll beat Missouri. I promise you that."— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) October 27, 2013
He may not be right, but they'll have a chance.
Joshua Dobbs will start at quarterback for Tennessee after a thumb injury knocked Justin Worley out of the Alabama game. Dobbs looked pretty good in a tough spot against Alabama, throwing for 75 yards and rushing for 19. Dobbs has the arm to be successful in Butch Jones' offense, but also has the duality to mix in some more designed runs and option into the game plan.
Missouri has a tremendous pass rush, but Tennessee has given up just eight sacks this season and will neutralize the strength of the Tiger defense and help the Vols control the clock.
The problem for Tennessee is that it won't be able to stop a Missouri offense that won't make the same mistake twice. The Tigers got ultra-conservative in the second half against South Carolina and will take advantage of a Tennessee defense that's giving up 420.3 yards per game.
The Tigers will do just enough to get the job done thanks to a punishing running game behind Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Lucas. But this one will go down to the wire with Dobbs having the ball late with a chance to win.
Prediction: Missouri 35 - Tennessee 30
Alabama State at Kentucky (NL)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Kentucky's 1-6 record isn't ideal, but the Wildcats came within a tackle of toppling Mississippi State on the road last week and have played better this season than their record indicates.
That elusive second win will happen this weekend as the Wildcats host Alabama State on Saturday night in Lexington.
Head coach Mark Stoops plans on starting Jalen Whitlow at quarterback this week after he saw spot duty last week after spraining his ankle against Alabama last month according to Jennifer Smith of the Lexington Herald Leader.
Whitlow's presence will restore order to a Wildcat offense that hasn't topped the 400-yard mark since Week 2 and send it north of that mark against the Hornets this weekend.
Meanwhile, Kentucky will have to deal with former Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, who rushed only twice against the Wildcats in 2011 when he was a member of the Bulldogs. Crowell has 833 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season but has been nursing an ankle injury of his own.
Crowell will get his yards, but Kentucky will cruise in the second half.
Prediction: Kentucky 42 - Alabama State 17
UTEP at Texas A&M (-45.5)
Saturday, Nov. 2 at 9 p.m. ET
The SEC slate will come to a close on Saturday night with "Johnny-palooza," as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will put up video game numbers against a UTEP defense that has given up more than 460 total yards to New Mexico, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech and Rice.
The Miners will come in 1-6, losers of five straight and fresh off a 45-7 blowout loss to Rice.
Manziel will top 500 total yards—and may do so in three quarters. The real question is, can Texas A&M field a competitive defense?
The Aggies gave up just 329 yards last week to Vanderbilt and lived in the backfield, which was a welcomed change from the norm. They'll build off that performance this week versus UTEP, and get some much-needed defensive momentum heading into the stretch run in the SEC West.
Prediction: Texas A&M 56 - UTEP 16