Original Article Published on SEC Sports Report
ATLANTA, Ga— The SEC currently has nine teams that are bowl eligible. If my predictions hold for this weekend, that number will not change.
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, the SEC still has two undefeated teams in Florida and Alabama. Outside of an act of God, both teams should remain undefeated before facing off in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 5.
Last week, my predictions were consistent with a 6-1 record. I should have seen the Tennessee loss coming with the armed robbery story, but I thought the Volunteers had too much momentum. Amazing how a selfish act by three men can negatively affect an entire team and thousands of fans. Hopefully, it will serve as a lesson to others not to make foolish choices.
On the season, I'm 82 percent accurate in SEC predictions with a 69-15 record. When I finish above 85 percent, I will break records at ESPN.
Here are my picks for Saturday.
SEC Game of the Week: LSU vs. Ole Miss in Oxford
There is no bigger SEC game this week than the Magnolia Bowl. Banged up from the Alabama game, LSU will be without running back Charles Scott but should see a start from injured quarterback Jordan Jefferson. The LSU defense will have to play lights out to keep their team in the game.
Ole Miss is gaining speed and continuing their history of finishing out the season strong. Running back Dexter McCluster will give the Tigers fits with his speed and ability to make big plays. Head coach Houston Nutt has learned to get the ball to this playmaker because he wins games.
The Rebels will be helped by a home field advantage and motivated by improved bowl opportunities if they win.
Rebels win 24-16.
SEC East Matchup: Georgia vs. Kentucky in Athens
This is my sleeper game for the week. The Dawgs could look ahead to the Georgia Tech game, which would be tragic given this team's performance this season. The Georgia Bulldogs will have to lean on the run game more without wide receiver A.J. Green in the lineup. Georgia fought back last week to beat Auburn, and it should help their confidence going forward.
Kentucky has enough talent to pull the upset in this game. The Cats would be helped if Randall Cobb can play, but their defense will give Joe Cox problems. Either way, the Cats will be chasing the Dawgs all day.
Dawgs win 28-24.
SEC East Matchup: Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt in Knoxville
The dust is still settling in Rocky Top from the recent off-the-field problems with four Vol football players. Tennessee was on a roll, and things were looking bright for head coach Lane Kiffin, and then adversity struck. Next, the Vols got hammered 42-17 by Ole Miss in a game where Tennessee should have won despite the suspensions.
This week, Kiffin is challenged with a number of injuries to his players and the negative attention brought by others.
Vandy has been struggling all season with injuries and SEC losses (0-7). The Dores have not won an SEC game this season, nor have they posted many points offensively to give their fans hope. I will be at Neyland Stadium to see this game up close.
I’m believing the Vols will win 27-14.
SEC West Matchup: Arkansas vs. Miss State in Little Rock
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is looking like the best quarterback in the SEC this season. He could hit a Coke can from 40 yards away. The Hawgs have really come together as a team, and this weekend will be one chance to show off their firepower.
Miss State must win their final two games to be bowl eligible. It is a long shot, but bigger miracles have happened. Miss State has played well on the road (3-1) this season. The Bulldogs beat Vandy and Kentucky away from home, so going to Little Rock to play the Hawgs is another upset opportunity.
The classic matchup to watch will be the Hawgs offense against the State defense, which has a bunch of interceptions already this season. It should be fun to watch.
Hawgs win 35-24.
No. 1 Florida vs. Florida International in the Swamp
The Gators own the state of Florida this year. Florida International has taken a beating from SEC teams all season, and this game will be no different.
Gators romp 54-9.
No. 2 Alabama vs. Chattanooga in Tuscaloosa
Bama is rolling, and it’s better to stay out of their way. The Mocs are going to get run over; the only question is whether they score a point. I don’t see it.
Bama continues rolling toward the SEC Championship 56-0.
I enjoyed my time last week in Athens and was surprised by the friendliness of the Georgia and Auburn fans in such a big rivalry. It was definitely a stark contrast to my visit to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama-LSU game. This weekend, I’m headed to Knoxville to see the big T, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Until next time, I will see you on the ball field.
Jay Holgate is a SEC sports analyst, freelance writer, and life coach based in Atlanta, Georgia. He can be heard around the South on sports radio.