Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 14 SEC Football Game
It seems like only yesterday that Alabama was teeing it up against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, and now the top-ranked Crimson Tide will travel to No. 4 Auburn on Saturday afternoon for what could be the biggest Iron Bowl of all time.
For the first time in the rivalry's history, the meeting between the two intra-state foes will decide the SEC West division title, which should create an atmosphere for the ages on the Plains.
Meanwhile, No. 5 Missouri will host No. 21 Texas A&M in a game that the Tigers must win in order to claim the SEC East title.
Who will win these two rivalry-week showdowns and the rest of the games on the Week 14 SEC docket? Picks for rivalry week are in this slideshow.
2013 record: 87-15 (5-3 last week); 57-41-2 ATS (5-2-1 last week)
All lines courtesy: VegasInsider.com
Ole Miss (-3) at Mississippi State
Thursday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET
The Egg Bowl returns to its rightful home on Thanksgiving night this season, as Ole Miss looks to improve its bowl position against a Mississippi State team that needs a win to get to bowl eligibility.
The Rebels fell to Missouri at home last weekend, putting an end to some late-season momentum. The key for the Rebels is to exploit Mississippi State's rush defense. The Bulldogs gave up 225 yards on the ground last week in a 24-17 overtime win over Arkansas.
Granted, Arkansas' offense is a bit different than Ole Miss'. I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton have earned more carries from senior Jeff Scott, and if that trio gets going, it will open up the entire offense for quarterback Bo Wallace.
"I couldn't be any more confident in those guys," head coach Hugh Freeze said in quotes released by Ole Miss. "I really believe in them. They're solid backs that are making some explosive runs for us, gaining yards after contact and breaking some tackles."
Meanwhile, Mississippi State has issues at quarterback. Dak Prescott won't be back until a potential bowl game, and Tyler Russell has been dealing with a nagging shoulder injury that was aggravated in the Arkansas win. His status is up in the air, according to Bob Carskadon of HailState.com.
Mullen says Tyler Russell is "day-to-day" and "same as he was last week." Adds, "we'll see." Confirms no Prescott.— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) November 25, 2013
Williams wasn't bad in limited action against Arkansas—3-of-4 for 34 yards—but in this rivalry game, you have to go with the experienced quarterback. The Bulldogs will keep it close, but Dr. Bo and the Rebels will put it away in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Ole Miss 31 - Mississippi State 24
Arkansas at LSU (-24.5)
Friday, Nov. 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Will the real LSU please stand up?
After nearly a full season of looking remarkably inconsistent on defense, the Tigers put it all together last Saturday, shutting down Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. Will that momentum continue through the final week of the regular season?
The Tigers square off against an Arkansas team on Friday afternoon that's lost eight straight games and looks far from a competitive SEC team. They're averaging just 356.9 yards of offense per game, and they haven't been able to find a way to generate anything in the passing game.
On the other side, the Hogs are giving up 173 yards per game on the ground and and 235.3 through the air. Hello Cam Cameron.
The Tigers offensive coordinator will use a balanced attack to exploit the holes in that defense, running back Jeremy Hill will obliterate the 100-yard mark and quarterback Zach Mettenberger will go north of 300 yards through the air in a big win for the Tigers.
Yes, the battle for the golden boot has produced some crazy results over the last decade and a half, but it won't this season. LSU will roll.
Prediction: LSU 42 - Arkansas 17
Florida State (-27) at Florida
Saturday, Nov. 30 at noon ET
Florida closes out its season of tumult with a visit from No. 2 Florida State at high noon in "The Swamp" in Gainesville. The 4-7 Gators have lost six straight and are fresh off a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern—a mid-level FCS team.
Despite "Uncle Mo" leaving the building long ago, Florida defensive lineman Damien Jacobs thinks the Gators have a chance, according to David Jones of Florida Today.
Damien Jacobs: "I think we have like a five percent chance to win but its going to be a real emotional game." #Gators— David Jones (@DaveJonesUFbeat) November 26, 2013
Lloyd Christmas knows how he feels.
It looks like Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is going to play, but even if he doesn't, it's hard to create a scenario in which the Gators offense—which managed just 279 yards of offense against Georgia Southern—can create anything against the nation's fifth-best defense.
Seminoles make this a laugher in a hurry.
Prediction: Florida State 42 - Florida 7.
Wake Forest at Vanderbilt (-14)
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Guess who has the SEC's second-best record over the last 18 games? LSU? Georgia? Texas A&M?
Nope, it's Vanderbilt, which is 14-4 over its last 18 games and is looking to cap off its second straight perfect November with a win over Wake Forest. It would push the Commodores to their second straight eight-win regular season.
The Commodores will get it.
The Demon Deacons limp into this one with the ACC's worst offense, and against a defense like Vanderbilt, which has been able to consistently put teams in negative situations, they'll need a departure from the norm to be competitive in this one.
Vandy hasn't been winning pretty. At times, it's been downright ugly. The 'Dores haven't gained more than 337 yards in any of their last five contests, but they've gone 4-1 over that span. They'll do it again this weekend and polish off another solid regular season for head coach James Franklin in Nashville.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 23 - Wake Forest 10
Georgia (-3.5) at Georgia Tech
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's career came to a close last weekend against Kentucky when the senior tore his ACL. Georgia fans will get a glimpse of how the 2014 season will look on Saturday against Georgia Tech in "Clean, Old Fashioned Hate" as presumptive starter Hutson Mason will make his first career start.
Mason—a redshirt junior—has patiently waited for his opportunity, and now he's going to get it on the big stage against the intra-state rival Yellow Jackets.
"I can promise you that he is a lot more prepared than I was back in my day," head coach Mark Richt said on Monday in quotes released by Georgia. "I wasn't as mature as he is. In the spring, he's with the second-team offensive line and second-team offense vs. the number one defense, and you've got to try to have some success in that situation. That's not always easy to do, but he's been able to do that."
Don't expect Georgia's offense to change much with Mason taking the snaps. Head coach Mark Richt will establish the run with Todd Gurley and then use play-action to take some shots deep. The Yellow Jackets boast the ACC's second-worst defense (238.5 yards per game), and Mason will pick it apart in his first career start.
Prediction: Georgia 35 - Georgia Tech 21
Alabama (-10.5) at Auburn
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET
The unstoppable force will meet the immovable object on Saturday afternoon on the Plains, as No. 4 Auburn will unleash the SEC's best rushing attack on No. 1 Alabama and the SEC's best rush defense in the what is the biggest Iron Bowl of all time in terms of state pride and national ramifications.
Alabama is no stranger to hype, but this kind of hostility once the Crimson Tide steps foot in Jordan-Hare Stadium is a "once in a generation" type of atmosphere.
Expect Auburn to feed off that, come out hot, get that running game going and punch Alabama in the mouth early—just as it did against Georgia two weeks ago. If Auburn can get seven points instead of three a couple of times early, it can get Alabama off of its game and minimize the impact of Tide running back T.J. Yeldon.
That will happen to a point, but Auburn's defense won't be able to totally shut down Alabama as it id early against the Bulldogs. Auburn will put itself in position to a point where, if it gets a break or two, it will be able to spring the upset. But Alabama won't make those mistakes.
This will be a four quarter game, and Auburn will have a chance to win. But as is the case in most games, Alabama will get things going in the third quarter with Yeldon, make some defensive adjustments and pull away in the second half. 'Bama by two touchdowns in a game that will be much closer than the score indicates.
Prediction: Alabama 35 - Auburn 21
Clemson at South Carolina (-5)
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. ET
The legend of Jadeveon Clowney grew in this rivalry game last year, when the monster defensive end for the South Carolina Gamecocks notched 4.5 sacks in the 27-17 win at Clemson—the fourth straight in the series for the Gamecocks.
It'll grow even further in what will be the final game at Williams-Brice Stadium for the junior. Clowney will be introduced with the seniors, effectively sealing the deal that he'll be playing on Sundays next season. No. 4 Clemson has given up 27 sacks on the season—the third-worst mark in the ACC—and Clowney will cap off a disappointing season with another solid performance against the Tigers.
You'd think, with four straight wins over the Tigers, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier would be in full-on troll mode this week. He's not.
"We haven’t talked about it that much at all," Spurrier said in quotes released by South Carolina. "Our guys know what it is and if we are going to have a good game, we’ve got to go play, play the assignments, play with tremendous effort – things like that."
No. 10 South Carolina has been winning ugly this season, but a week of rest by running back Mike Davis should work wonders for his laundry list of nagging injuries.
He'll control the clock for the Gamecocks, keep the potent Clemson offense off the field and create some big passing lanes for quarterback Connor Shaw when he decides to stretch the field.
Davis will punch it in late to seal the deal for the Gamecocks.
Prediction: South Carolina 35 - Clemson 28
Tennessee (-4) at Kentucky
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. ET
Tennessee won't get to a bowl game in Year 1 of the Butch Jones era, but a win over Kentucky could still cap off a season in which the Vols notched a signature home win over No. 10 South Carolina. One signature win is more than former Vols' coach Derek Dooley can boast, so despite no bowl, there was still progress on Rocky Top.
"We couldn't get this senior class to a bowl game so we're trying to start a winning streak," running back Marlin Lane said in quotes released by Tennessee. "The seniors can be remembered as starting the winning streak that we're going to go on."
Expect senior running back Rajion Neal to have a big day against a Kentucky rush defense that's giving up 195.45 yards per game.
Kentucky is a mess. The defense is mediocre, the offense can't get things going and it has been a lost season in Lexington.
The Vols will end the season on a high note and get some positive momentum going into the offseason.
Prediction: Tennessee 27 - Kentucky 16
Texas A&M at Missouri (-4.5)
Saturday, Nov. 30 at 7:45 p.m. ET
Missouri has a chance to close out the SEC slate on rivalry weekend by sewing up the SEC East title at home versus the Texas A&M Aggies and quarterback Johnny Manziel.
They'll do it.
Manziel looked remarkably human last weekend against LSU when he completed just 16 of his 41 passes and threw two interceptions. LSU contained him with its athletic defensive ends and forced Manziel to scramble to his left, which caused some inconsistency.
"You have to contain him the best you can, and you have to score points on offense," Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said in quotes released by the university. "There is nothing magic about this."
Missouri has the players to repeat the feat. Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, Shane Ray and Markus Golden will rotate throughout the game and make life difficult for Manziel, who knows he has to take some chances to win games thanks to a mediocre defense.
A few of those chances will come back to haunt Manziel, as he'll put Missouri's offense in good field position and the Tigers will cash in.
Missouri will be the second team in as many wins to solve the Johnny Manziel riddle, and it will ride a wave of momentum into Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game.
Prediction: Missouri 42 - Texas A&M 35