SEC Football: Week 13 Previews and Predictions Against the Spread
In many ways it seems like a blink of an eye, but here we are heading into the last weekend of the 2011 SEC football season.
It has been a crazy season with surprises and disappointments every week.
With so much on the line, including the SEC championships, national championships and bowl positioning, the craziness should continue in Week 13.
As I do each week, I will preview each SEC game and make a score prediction against the spread.
I will also be held accountable for my picks by posting updated results each and every week (I include my Week 12 results below).
Record Straight-Up Week 9: 7-1
Record Straight-Up Season: 77-10
Record Against the Spread Week 9: 3-1
Record Against the Spread Season: 46-33
Click through the slide show to see my previews and predictions for each SEC game in Week 13...
Arkansas Razorbacks at LSU Tigers
The Game: November 25, 2:30 PM ET (CBS)
The Preview: Many believe this could be a close game. However, even though the Razorbacks have been a thorn in the Tigers side in recent years, LSU will take care of business on Friday.
In my eyes, it will be much like the Arkansas-Alabama game earlier this season. The tough Tiger defense will disrupt the dangerous Arkansas passing game with a heavy pass rush and tight pass coverage, and the Razorbacks will not have an effective running game to fall back on.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and wideout Jarius Wright are too good to be held down all game long, and will connect on at least two big pass plays. However, the Razorbacks will struggle in the red zone and come away with more field goals than touchdowns.
For LSU, the offense will be a steady diet of running backs and scrambling quarterback Jordan Jefferson, with an occasional play-action pass to dynamic receivers Rueben Randle and Russell Sheppard.
In the end, the Arkansas defense won't be able to contain the Tiger offense as well as the Tiger defense can contain Arkansas.
The Prediction: LSU 31, Arkansas 16 (line: LSU -12.5)
Georgia Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Game: 12:00 PM ET, November 26 (ESPN)
The Preview: The Yellow Jackets are a dangerous team when they are on, and the Bulldogs cannot afford to overlook their rival and get caught looking towards the SEC title game.
For Georgia to be most effective, they will need at least one of their talented running backs to be healthy for this game. Backs Crowell and Thomas are nursing injuries and will be game-time decisions.
If Georgia has an effective run game against Tech, star quarterback Aaron Murray should have plenty of time in the pocket and be able to connect with his talented wideouts throughout the game. However, if the Bulldog running game falters, the Yellow Jackets will pressure Murray, and it could be trouble for the road team.
The Georgia defense has been stellar lately and should be able to slow down the Georgia Tech offense and keep them from scoring too many points. Linebacker Jarvis Jones will be making plays all over the field.
If Georgia has the services of any of its top backs, look for them to win pulling away.
The Prediction: Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 14 (line: Georgia -6)
Tennessee Volunteers at Kentucky Wildcats
The Game: 12:21 PM ET, November 26 (SEC Network)
The Preview: This one will be the passing of Tyler Bray, who is back from injury, against the big-play Kentucky defense.
The Wildcat defense has star players Danny Trevathan at linebacker and Winston Guy Jr. at safety, and has the ability to make plays against the run and pass.
However, Bray will be connecting with star wideout Da'Rick Rogers all day long and should be able to generate enough yards and points to stay ahead on the scoreboard.
The Kentucky offense has struggled all season to find consistency, and while new starting quarterback Max Smith will make a few plays, the Wildcats won't be able to score often enough against a capable Tennessee defense on Saturday.
The Prediction: Tennessee 30, Kentucky 13 (line: Tennessee -7.5)
Vanderbilt Commodores at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Game: 3:30 PM ET, November 26 (ESPNU)
The Preview: Vanderbilt needs this win to qualify for a bowl game. Wake Forest already has six wins, but would love a win over an SEC program.
It should be a close and hard-fought battle between two good, but not great, teams.
The Vanderbilt offense will feed the ball to running back Zac Stacey and try and grind out yards and points.
They will then need to use their solid defense, led by linebacker Chris Marve, to shut down the capable Demon Deacons offense.
Look for the Commodores to edge Wake Forest and go bowling under first-year coach James Franklin.
The Prediction: Vanderbilt 20, Wake Forest 17 (line: Vanderbilt -1.5)
Alabama Crimson Tide at Auburn Tigers
The Game: 3:30 PM ET, November 26 (CBS)
The Preview: Alabama is favored by three touchdowns on Saturday.
The Tide will rely on Heisman candidate running back Trent Richardson to move the Alabama offense.
The Crimson Tide defense is one of the best in the nation and will try and shut down Auburn's running attack, led by star running back Mike Dyer.
While this could be a lopsided affair, it is an intense rivalry, and anything can happen.
Look for 'Bama to win but for the Tigers to play one of their best games of the season and have a shot at the upset.
The Prediction: Alabama 31, Auburn 20 (line: Alabama -21)
Florida State Seminoles at Florida Gators
The Game: 7:00 PM ET, November 26 (ESPN2)
The Preview: Both programs need this win. It will be a feisty and chippy battle between the Gators and the Seminoles.
Florida will try and utilize speed on offense with Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps out of the backfield, and will depend on healing quarterback John Brantley to avoid turnovers and generate passing offense.
The Gator defense has athletes but will need to tackle better and put more pressure on the opposing quarterback in order to contain the Florida State offensive attack.
The home field and home crowd will be the difference in a very tight ballgame with plenty of intensity and sloppy play.
The Prediction: Florida 28, Florida State 27 (line: FSU -2)
Ole Miss Rebels at Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Game: 7:00 PM ET, November 26 (ESPNU)
The Preview: It has been a terribly disappointing season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but they can at least qualify for a bowl game with a win over rival Ole Miss.
The Rebels have had a train wreck of a season and would relish a win over the Bulldogs.
It will be a typical rivalry game with high emotions before, during and after the game.
State will pound running back Vick Ballard at the Ole Miss defense, which has allowed 222 rush yards a game (last in the SEC).
On the other side, Ole Miss will use backs Brandon Bolden and Jeff Scott to grind out yards against a Bulldog defense that allows over 160 rush yards per contest.
In the end, like the averages suggest, Mississippi State will run for more than the Rebels and win another Egg Bowl.
The Prediction: Mississippi State 29, Ole Miss 10 (line: Mississippi State -17)
Clemson Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks
The Game: 7:45 PM ET, November 26 (ESPN)
The Preview: This game will be about which team best overcomes the disappointment of recent loses that kicked them out of the national championship or conference championship picture.
South Carolina will try to get the ball to stud wideout Alshon Jeffery for big plays, something they have struggled to do this season. Without injured star running back Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks will depend on Brandon Wilds to generate a running threat.
Clemson, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, has a dangerous offense and effective defense. Their problem has been focus and consistent play.
If Clemson comes out focused, look for a fast and prolific Clemson team to be too much for the Gamecocks.
The Prediction: Clemson 27, South Carolina 20 (line: South Carolina -4)