Original Story Published on SEC Sports Report
ATLANTA, GA— It’s another rainy day in Georgia and as we approach Week Nine, there are a number of life-changing outcomes that will be decided on Saturday. For certain SEC Coaches, life takes a new path after this weekend.
Here are the main story lines: If Georgia gets beaten by more than 10 points in this rivalry game, it seals the deal on some big changes in the UGA coaching staff at the end of the season.
However, if Auburn gets waxed, Coach Chizik is in trouble and the honeymoon will officially be over. Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s reputation is on the line, too. If the Gamecocks win in Knoxville, Kiffin is back to sleeping in the dog house, because it will indicate he overlooked or didn’t spend enough time on this matchup.
I’m at 51-11 for my SEC picks, which is a respectable 82 percent.
My Picks for Saturday
SEC Upset Game of the Week: No. 21 South Carolina vs. Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville
The oddsmakers have liked the Vols all week by 5.5 points, highlighting the improved play. However, I know this game comes down to expectations.
The Vols believe they beat the No.1 team in the nation (Alabama) last week. They also believe they are better than South Carolina. The team is better, but the overconfidence may be premature—we will see Saturday night.
The Gamecocks were flat against Vandy, but they always are. This Gamecock team is young, but they will fight until the end, which has won some games this year. This will be another defensive fight with flashes of offense. Field goal kickers better bring their A game. Gamecocks pull the upset on the road, 16-13.
SEC East Top Tier: No.1 Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville
It’s almost impossible to figure a way in which the Bulldogs can upset the Gators. I’m going against the grain and I believe this will be a close game. The Bulldogs have plenty to play for, including “respect."
The Dawgs have had two weeks to prepare and they are too talented to get walked over. Tebow and company haven’t looked real sharp since the concussion. The Gators defense can keep them in this game. Gators win 21-17.
SEC West Game: Auburn vs. No.24 Ole Miss on the Plains
This game will be determined early; probably first quarter. Auburn needs to score early or their confidence is out the window. I haven’t seen much by this coaching staff to make me believe the Tigers are going to win.
Auburn’s last two performances were bad on both sides of the ball. Coach Chizik needs to make it competitive or the fan base is gone. Ole Miss showed what they are capable of doing last week with a big win over West opponent Arkansas. Ole Miss is playing for a better bowl game at this point. Rebels break the Tigers' heart in this one, 28-14.
SEC East vs. SEC West: Kentucky vs. Miss State in Lexington
Kentucky plays better at home and coach Brooks sees this game as a must-win if they are to be bowl eligible at the end of the season. Miss State is playing better and will give the Cats a fight. Kentucky by a whisker, 28-24.
SEC vs. Conference USA: LSU vs. Tulane in Baton Rouge
LSU is preparing for the SEC West showdown next weekend with rival Alabama. Tulane is 2-5 in Conference USA, so look for the score to get up there. Tigers win 35-6.
SEC vs. ACC: Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Tech in Nashville
It’s very difficult for me to pick an ACC school over an SEC school. The truth is, the Yellow Jackets are rolling and Vandy is struggling with little offense. A lot of smart guys on the field and this one goes to Tech 35-10.
SEC vs. MAC: Arkansas vs. Eastern Michigan in Fayetteville
Arkansas will light it up at home as they prepare for the Gamecocks next week. Hawgs win 35-7.
Jay Holgate is an SEC analyst, freelance writer, and executive coach. He can be heard around the South on sports radio.