Week 12 Record (7-3) | Overall Record (71-30)
Welcome back to SEC Football Predictions, where the final weekend of regular season college football has walked right in without asking. At least no SEC teams lost to FCS schools or were taken to overtime by smaller schools from the same state. Or maybe they did. Did we or did we not try to tell South Carolina to watch themselves. And Georgia. We tried to warn them as well. Lucky for Georgia, and Florida for that matter, they pulled out the upset victory over Georgia Southern and Florida Atlantic, respectively.
FAU had already strung together two wins this season, so Florida should be proud of their improbable victory and should be careful not to bask in the glory of the overtime win as they prepare for Florida State and the SEC Championship Game.
Enough talking about the “whatever” week 12 action. Let’s gather ’round a huge bird stuffed full of dressing and be thankful for the Rivalry Week edition of SEC Football Predictions.
In all seriousness, I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving. It is a pleasure to have you join us each week as I run through this exercise in futility some call predictions. As you know, it’s mostly just for fun and an opportunity to digest all the action that will take place on Saturday. I’ll be in Atlanta next week for the SEC Championship game. Tweet me (handle at the bottom of post) if you are there and say hello. I’d love to meet some of you folks who are crazy enough to read SEC Football Predictions each week.
All Times Eastern | Utilizing College Football Playoff rankings.
SEC Football Predictions | Week 13
Friday, November 27, 2015
Missouri (5-6, 1-6) at Arkansas (6-5, 4-3)
2:30pm ET | CBS
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: Both teams come into this newly minted annual rivalry (but much more genuine and historic than the manufactured LSU-Arkansas boot rivalry) limping quite a bit following Week 12 losses. Missouri’s limp may more closely resemble an exhausted stumble or crawl, even.
All the good fortune and success of the 2013 and 2014 SEC East championship seasons left Columbia and traveled south to Gainesville for 2015. The attrition continued two weeks ago when longtime head coach Gary Pinkel announced his retirement effective at the end of the season.
Arkansas was the hottest team in the SEC outside of Tuscaloosa before putting up 50 points against Mississippi State and somehow still coming up with a loss. The Hogs are the better team and also the home team in Friday’s game against against the SEC East team situated further west than all but two SEC West schools.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 28, Missouri 10
Saturday, November 28th, 2015
Georgia (8-3, 5-3 SEC) at Georgia Tech (3-8)
Noon ET | ESPN2
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have completely opposite records, but I’m not sure that matters. Okay, you busted me. I was trying to find a way of saying, “Throw out the records for this one,” without being annoyingly cliched, but y’all have been coming by here for two seasons now so “annoying” is something you’ve learned to accept.
So, yeah, throw out the records. Georgia may have beaten the best team in the state of Georgia in overtime last weekend (Georgia Southern), but I’m not sure they will be able to stave off the distractions that eventually get the best of teams that are playing in games that don’t hold a ton of implications. The Bulldogs lost this one in overtime last year in Athens and they may catch the same Georgia Tech that found enough magic earlier this season to beat Florida State on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown on the last play of the game (Kick Six be danged).
Sorry Bulldog fans, but you may have to put up with trash talk from your Yellow Jacket family for one more Christmas.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 35, Georgia 31
Louisville (6-5) at Kentucky (5-6, 2-6 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: I’m not sure there is a better remedy for games between mediocre teams with mediocre records than the fuel of good ole hate. Especially when it’s between two teams in the same state. This is one of five in-state-hate games in the conference today. If we’re being 100 percent accurate, we should call this a cross-commonwealth rivalry.
With that being said, it’s still two teams that have left much to be desired on the field in 2015. Kentucky beat a team called Charlotte last week, but they haven’t seen too many wins since early October.
Expect an entertaining game for state bragging rights, with the Churchill Downs part of the Commonwealth coming out on top of the Keeneland section.
PREDICTION: Louisville 44, Kentucky 38
#1 Clemson (11-0, 8-0) at South Carolina (3-8, 1-7 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: Blessings of thanksgiving still permeate the air as we waste no time getting into the hate at a steady clip with three rivalry games kicking off at noon in the SEC on Saturday.
This game will have the energy and excitement of a rivalry game and everyone will be chattering about a potential upset at halftime. At the end of the day, Clemson will finish off their sixth undefeated season and first since Danny Ford and the Tigers brought home the national crown in 1981.
PREDICTION: Clemson 35, South Carolina 17
#2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) at Auburn (6-5, 2-5 SEC)
3:30pm ET | CBS
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: Nick Saban has won 10 or more games at Alabama in eight consecutive seasons. Some of you know this coach. He’s the one that will be leaving Alabama any minute because he jumps from job-to-job. The other coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, never did that in his time at Alabama. A time when coaches could give as many scholarships as they had players to accept them. Competition is much tougher now (check the scores from last week’s “cupcake” games), yet Saban has succeeded at a greater clip than Bryant.
Yes. Saban is the greatest coach in Alabama history.
If Alabama loses Saturday in the Iron Bowl to Auburn, then, well, Nick Saban is a bum and the game has passed him by. Funny how we make long-term judgments and decisions through the filter of our very short attention spans.
I guess we should talk about said Iron Bowl. Ole Miss will be paying close attention to this game… Sorry, they won’t be watching this game because they will be 100 percent focused on Mississippi State and the Egg Bowl. Whatever. Ole Miss can win the West with an Alabama loss and a victory over Mississippi State later in the day. Not that Alabama needs reason to pay attention to Auburn and not look ahead, the fact that they have so much on the line should keep them focused enough to come out and dominate, just as they have done the entire season since the Ole Miss loss (less the Tennessee game that required a late fourth quarter touchdown to win).
The crazy thing about all of this is that Ole Miss would be playing for the West on Saturday night had they been able to stop Arkansas on 4th-and-20 in overtime. Also, if Alabama wins the next two games, the loser of the Ole Miss-Alabama game has gone on to win the SEC Championship and play in the College Football Playoff the past two years.
The most intense rivalry in all of sport took a hit when Auburn came out very flat to begin the 2015 season and has yet to show any upward trajectory. If Les Miles’ and Mark Richt’s jobs are in danger, then it would be wise of Gus Malzahn to not do any major alterations or improvements to his home in Auburn. A bad performance by his Tigers Saturday afternoon and the Gus Bus navigation system will be programmed for a one way trip far away from Auburn.
Expect hell-fire and brimstone early on, but Heisman Trophy front-runner Derek Henry and the Tide should salt away the West for the second consecutive season and give Nick Saban an opportunity to win two consecutive SEC Championship Games since joining Alabama. I’ll write that one more time for those who doubt the depth of the SEC — Nick Saban has never won two consecutive SEC Championships in his time at Alabama.
PREDICTION: Alabama 49, Auburn 14
Vanderbilt (4-7, 2-5 SEC) at Tennessee (7-4, 4-3 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: Tennessee ended a two-year losing streak to Vanderbilt last year in Nashville and hopes to begin another run of dominance over their “smarter” little brother in middle Tennessee. Vanderbilt is playing much better football under Derek Mason recently and Mason suddenly has more job security than coaches in the league with multiple SEC Championships and a national title.
Vanderbilt’s equalizer is the very dominant and consistent defense anchored down by Coach Mason. Tennessee has a powerful run game that will need to match the intensity displayed against Alabama’s defense to win this game at Neyland Stadium. The Vols have the ability to win this game big, but the Commodores defense will be stellar until the offense’s inability to stay on the field more than three to five plays per drive will wear down the defense.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 20, Vanderbilt 10
#22 Ole Miss (8-3, 5-2) at Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3 SEC)
7:15pm ET | ESPN2
Quick word of wisdom: Not to bring it up again, but for those who skipped straight to this game, it’s pretty crazy how Ole Miss is a stop on 4th-and-20 in overtime against Arkansas from controlling its own destiny in the West. Instead, Arkansas threw a lateral behind their heads and gained 25 yards for a first down before scoring a touchdown, being stopped on the two-point conversion, getting a second chance because of a roughing the passer penalty, then converting the two points on said second chance and winning the game. If Alabama loses in the Iron Bowl, this game becomes pretty huge for the Rebels. If Alabama wins, well, it’s the Egg Bowl and that should be enough. It won’t be enough as Mississippi State gets revenge for the loss in Oxford last year. Dak Prescott on Senior Night at Davis Wade Stadium will be monumental for the Bulldogs.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 35, Ole Miss 27
#14 Florida State (9-2) at #8 Florida (10-1, 7-1)
7:30pm ET | ESPN
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: The Gators have been playing with fire in more than a few games this season. The unique pressures of maintaining a successful season when you weren’t expected to be great under a first year coach and then adding the sudden season-long suspension of freshman quarterback Will Grier right when things were looking great in Gainseville will eventually take a toll. One bad game against a team you should beat happens to the best of teams. Two bad games that required an injured kicker to win the game (vs. Vanderbilt) and overtime to beat a team that had two wins coming in (FAU) is not an aberration. These games were played at home and nearly turned a successful season into a disaster.
Credit to the Gators and new head coach Jim McElwain for winning two games that they would have lost the previous two seasons. However, the smoke and mirrors of this great season is about to be shattered and burned the next two weeks. It starts with a loss at home to Florida State and then continues with a beating in Atlanta at the SEC Championship. The question won’t be how well McElwain did in his first season as coach, it will be how well can he pick his team up after suffering its worst luck at the conclusion of the season.
PREDICTION: Florida State 28, Florida 17
Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC) at #15 LSU (7-3, 4-3)
7:30pm ET | SEC Network
Rivalry Week word of wisdom: Les Miles will more than likely know his fate as coach as will all of the college football world by the time this one kicks off in Baton Rouge Saturday night. If Miles is given the thumbs down from those in charge, expect the Tigers to go out and destroy the Aggies at night in Death Valley.
We can also expect to see Leonard Fournette return to awesome status as Texas A&M’s defensive line has been voted Best Ushers in college football. They have held the door wide open for a slew of running backs in the SEC this season. The Aggies will open that door for Fournette Saturday night before the Tigers fittingly carry their coach off the field.
It’s a sad day for all of us if Les Miles is leaving the SEC. We can hold out hope that Les just moves west to the SEC East and takes the Missouri job. If so, we will all be wide open hand palm clapping vigorously all offseason.
PREDICTION: LSU 42, Texas A&M 17
Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at EricFromSpringfield–at– gmail–dot– com.