Weekly ‘Weakly SEC Football Predictions’ | 2014, Week 9

By Eric Taylor -

Week 8 Results (5-1) | Overall Record (45-13)

Lane Engine No. 9: The Lane Train is back on track, thanks to Engine No. 9 — AKA Amari Cooper. Those boarding need to form a single line, and please hold on to all loose articles such as hats and glasses, as they may get tossed to and fro from the ride. The management at FBSchedules[dot]com nor those inside the Weaklies ivory tower will be held liable for lost items. I’ve been saying everything is fine and dandy in Tuscaloosa, have I not? Please, keep reading. No need to look back at past articles. It’s all about how I can get better today and all that stuff.

Defining Domination: I’m not saying Alabama was dominant against Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa Saturday afternoon, but Barrett Sallee is reporting (well, not really) that former A&M Athletics Director Bill Byrne is planning a press conference to apologize to Alabama for stealing Dennis Franchione in 2002. In turn, Paul Bryant, Jr. and a couple of rich ‘Bama guys plan on holding a press conference to apologize for allowing Franchione to get on the plane to College Station. Again, this is all hearsay, so you didn’t hear it from me if they ask. Blame it on Barrett Sallee or just say Deadspin didn’t report it correctly. It works for ESPN when they lose a scoop.

I wrote just last week that you are never as bad as you think you are, but you are never as good either. The scary thing for Mississippi State, LSU and Auburn is that Alabama is one team that could be impossible to beat if Nick Saban just goes with his Secretariat philosophy that worked so well Saturday and just “lets them run.”

The Tide did not just jump out to a big lead on a string of big plays; the textbook beating was the very definition of domination that included scoring drives of 11-plays (twice), 10-plays (two) and 9-plays (once).

Fool’s Gold: The question now is whose gold is more fool — Alabama or LSU? Les’ Tigers, who allowed Kentucky to score three points Saturday, appeared to get each and every cylinder firing in one Death Valley night. By all cylinders, of course, we mean all but the quarterback cylinder. Everybody knows that Les Miles don’t need no quarterback [hashtag double negative]. It’s a good thing, too, what with Anthony Jennings slinging the ball 120 yards around the thick Tiger Stadium air, whether they needed it or not. To be fair, he only had to throw the ball 14 times, and that was probably just to keep his arm from freezing up. The Tigers rushed for 301 yards and probably could have run for 672 yards had they run the ball those extra 14 plays.

But What If…: Imagine, if you will, Nos. 1 (Mississippi State), 3 (Ole Miss) and 4 (Alabama) playing out the season and all ending the regular season with one loss. It’s not hard to imagine that those three teams would stay in the Top Four in one order or another. A tie-breaker of some kind would be necessary. Although I’ve read the new SEC division tie-breaker rules seven times, I’m not sure I understand what will happen in the event of a three-way tie, but I do know that a coin toss may determine who is going to Atlanta.

Will the College Football Committee allow three SEC teams into the CFP? Cecil Hurt, long-time Alabama beat writer of the Tuscaloosa News, told Jay Barker on WJOX’s The Opening Drive Tuesday morning that he feels confident the committee will make a point to put four conference champions in the Playoff. He added that the committee would not have gone out of their way to say they would give conference champions preference if they weren’t setting the stage to place these four champions that just so happen to be geographically spread out across the country.

But what if the West dominates the remainder of the season only to watch Georgia win the SEC? Ohhhhh, football, why I oughtta… [shakes fist]

Week 8′s Weakly Comparison

Weakest Two
1. LSU 41, Kentucky 3 (Predicted Kentucky 21, LSU 12 and wrote, “This will be an upset… if LSU wins”).
2. I pretty much nailed the rest. See Awesome Two below.

Awesome Two
1. Ole Miss 35, Tennessee 3 (Predicted Ole Miss 34, A&M 9)
2. Georgia 45, Arkansas 32 (Predicted Georgia 37, Arkansas 20)

Week 9 Predictions

It’s the fourth Saturday in October, which could mean only thing — it’s time for the Third Saturday In October rivalry to renew in Knoxville Saturday night. No matter how far Tennessee has fallen since about 2005, Alabama fans enjoy beating the Vols and the fact that Tennessee is “down” lately dulls Bama fans’ joy. Take it from a survivor of the Mike DuBose (who, by they way, has one less SEC championship at Alabama than Nick Saban) & Mike Shula era, Tennessee fan counted every win over the ‘Tide in the “down” years.

It’s also LSU-Ole Miss week. Oh, how disappointed I will be if Billy Cannon and Archie Manning don’t throw out the first pitch.

Keep reading. I predict who wins NCAA football games in the Southeastern Conference.

All Times Eastern | Utilizing AP Poll until College Football Playoff Selection Committee poll is released on October 28.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

UAB (4-3) at Arkansas (3-4, 4-4 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network

Run it until they stop you: If Arkansas were one of those teams that lives on the passing game and lighting up the scoreboard, I’d be worried about this game with the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham. It’s getting to that time of the year where really good coaches earn the seven-figure salaries. Bret Bielema has a style of play that works out versus teams outside the conference. Arkansas can line up and run over just about anyone outside the Top 25. Can UAB absorb the pain from the running game and get enough big plays and turnovers on defense to pull the upset? It’s possible. The reason coaches earn the money this time of year is because many teams have an identity at this point, and if they are suffering through a tough losing streak — even when very competitive versus better teams — they begin to believe they can’t win. See Florida last year versus Georgia Southern, or any team whose coach is at the end of a lame-duck season. Bielema has this team on the right path, and he’s proven that he can run a Big Ten, Wisconsin-style offense in Fayetteville. There may be little energy early on from the Razorbacks, but look for the Hogs to win yet another out-of-conference game.
FINAL SCORE: Arkansas 23, UAB 13 

#1 Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at  Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC)
3:30 ET | CBS

“Competitive” Series: Since 2000, this game has been the fifth-closest series, with an 11-point average margin of victory in favor of Mississippi State. The problem for Kentucky is they’ve lost 9 of those 14 games. On top of that, the Bulldogs have won the last five and, oh yeah, Mississippi State is the No. 1 team in the country.

Kentucky has a really good offense, but I don’t see them keeping up with State in this one.  Kentucky did beat No. 1 LSU in 2007, and we’ve talked about it more than once during these Weaklies —  this season reeks of ’07 at times, and if the Wildcats can muster an upset, it would be dang near stankin’.

Marking Their Unfamiliar Territory: The Bulldogs spent their first week as the No. 1 team with an open date. State has never played as the No. 1 team, and they are on their second week atop the polls. Can the Bulldogs make the No. 1 spot their own territory, or will they be tight and tired from carrying a bigger target on their back than they’ve ever seen?  

I don’t see this week being the issue. It may be a little closer than some would expect early in the game, but Dak Prescott is cool under this success-driven pressure, as if he’s been doing it for four years. The problem will be the constant grind of surviving road games and advancing to the next week. I don’t know how State will handle a road environment as the team to beat. We’ll find out Saturday on CBS. There’s a certain road trip to Tuscaloosa looming in about a month, as well as that whole Egg Bowl in Oxford on November 29, so taking it one game at a time could not be more important to a team than this one. These ‘Dogs live to see another week at No. 1.
FINAL SCORE: Mississippi State 37, Kentucky 28

Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4 SEC) at Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC)
4:00 PM ET |  SEC Network

Misery: Vandy is a team that is playing Missouri on Saturday, but has been facing Misery on a daily basis since before the opening kickoff of the season, when the game versus Temple was delayed almost two hours because of awful weather — the game wasn’t scheduled to kick off until after 8:o0 p.m. local time, to begin with. Then Temple commenced to whipping the ‘Dores with their own anchors, and it has been Misery every minute of the day since.
FINAL SCORE: Missouri 27, Vanderbilt 3

#3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) at #24 LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC)
7:15pm ET | ESPN

Billy Ball: My wish to see Billy Cannon and Archie Manning throw out the first pitch in Baton Rouge Saturday night may come partially true. It does appear Billy Cannon will bring out the game ball. He probably won’t deliver it by running it on to the field in similar fashion as he did his punt return in 1958, being that he’s in his 70s, but I’m sure someone will be witty and say something like, “Well, there’s Billy Cannon. Looks great doesn’t he? Yeah. I think he could still run that punt back as fast as he did that Halloween night.”  

Lucky Number Seven: Ole Miss’ defense has given up seven touchdowns and allows just over 10 points per game. To put those seven touchdowns in perspective, Alabama scored its seventh touchdown of the A&M game in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Ole Miss has allowed seven in seven games. That’s stupid. If LSU wants to win, they better run every running back on the roster at the defense and do it over and over and over in hopes of keeping the Rebels’ defense on the field and the Tigers’ off of it. Time of possession and keeping Bo on the sidelines will do LSU more good than a great game through the air from Anthony Jennings.

Killing Death Valley: Ole Miss has won 24 times at Tiger Stadium, which is second only to Alabama’s 26. Alabama held an unbeaten streak inside Tiger Stadium from 1969 until 2000 so that’s a very impressive number of wins from the Rebels.

Miles going Les: Expect this to be the absolutely craziest game of the season. Miles will make a really dumb call, but will have the play look genius with :43 left to give LSU a 17-13 lead. Ole Miss will get the ball back and then…… I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll just have to watch.
FINAL SCORE: LSU 17, Ole Miss 13

South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC) at #5 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
7:30pm ET | SEC Network

Spoiler Alert: South Carolina is not that good, so they shouldn’t beat Auburn. One of South Carolina’s two conference wins came against Georgia. Not injured Georgia, but Georgia with Todd Gurley. South Carolina will do some damage if you go in believing you are playing a team as mediocre and bleh as their record. Be on the lookout for South Carolina to continue to cause more head scratches per capita than any other team in the history of ever.

From championship contention to very little attentions: South Carolina was favored to be undefeated at this point of the season and in prime position to be one of the four college football playoff participants. Hope remains for one-loss Auburn in the SEC West, but South Carolina is all but done in the East. This game will also have a fantastic finish, with the home team getting the advantage.
FINAL SCORE: Auburn 39, South Carolina 33

#4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) at Tennessee (3-4, 0-3 SEC)
7:30pm ET | ESPN2

When Will Both Teams Be Good Simultaneously Again?: This has been a series of streaks since the 1970s, with 2002-2004 and 2005-2007 being the only periods where the teams rotated wins for three years. It was only a few years ago that Tennessee was the prohibitive favorite coming into this game, and now the tables have turned. 

Favored to Win By A Winger Song: Alabama is favored to win by 17. For Kip Winger, that’s old enough for him. Lucky for Kipper, the To Catch A Predator series did not exist when he was flashing that smile and curly locks at the MTV camera. So, yeah. Alabama is favored by 17, but based on current upward trends for Butch Jones and the Vols, this should be the last double-digit point spread in this series for a few years.

Breaking 10: Alabama has won five straight in Tuscaloosa and three straight in Knoxville by an average score of 38.5-10.7. That 10 number for the Vols is significant, because they have failed to score anything but 10 points in this series since 2010…and…

Passing Julio: Barring successful use of a new quadruple-coverage technique to shut him down, junior wide receiver Amari Cooper will pass Julio Jones for second place in all-time receiving yards at Alabama. With 2,644 receiving yards, Cooper needs only nine yards to tie and 10 to surpass Jones and put himself in position to take over DJ Hall’s top spot by the end of the season. If Cooper can grab 13-passes, he’ll tie Julio for second place in receptions at 179.

But, Tennessee’s Pass Defense Tho…: Although Tennessee has struggled on offense at times this season, the pass defense is highly rated. The Vols are ranked second in the SEC (LSU is first) and sixth nationally in pass defense. This stat can be misleading, but not completely inaccurate. The run defense is ranked at ninth in the SEC, so that can skew the numbers if teams can run all over you and don’t have to pass. Ninth place (159.6 yards per game) is not exactly an immovable force, but if your offense can do anything at all, giving up 160 yards of rushing per game with 166 yards passing means you should win more than you lose. The “but” of that statement is the if the offense can do anything. The “but” of that “but” (Huh huh huh, I said “but”) is that Tennessee’s offense is ranked dead last in the SEC in total offensive yards per play with 4.4 YPP. That’s less than Vanderbilt and Florida, two teams who have been better off punting on first down just to avoid going backwards on offense.

Turnover Turnaround: Tennessee has forced multiple turnovers in four of the last five games. Forcing two or more turnovers Saturday night inside Neyland Stadium will help the Vols find themselves within striking distance in the fourth quarter. I don’t think this is the year the score will remain close. 2015 is Tennessee’s breakout year under Butch.

Advantages of not filing the Weakly predictions until Friday: Based on every report coming out of Knoxville on Thursday, all signs are pointing to Justin Worley not playing on Saturday. I had Alabama winning 48-0 before this bit of news, but now I really think they’ll win 48-0, so this section was worthless.
FINAL SCORE: Alabama 48, Tennessee 0

Open Date: Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M

Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at Eric.Taylor –at– stadiumjourney –dot– com.

Comments (4)

Old Miss comes back to earth. They caught Bama at the right time. Not so lucky against LSU.
LSU 33-Old miss 17.

Haha. Wow. Dude, I have finally just lost all respect for your “Weekly Weakly” picks. You consistently pick against Ole Miss, and then say, “Well, I guess I was wrong on that one”. And then you pick against them again. You also seriously think South Carolina is going to put up 33 at Auburn? This is a joke, right? How you’re a writer for FBSchedules.com is a mystery to me. Eric Taylor, you can go suck on a tree.

I know better than to suck on trees in the South. There’s a high probability that it’s infected with poison from one of my people. You might want to check my predictions. 5-0 and kind of nailed the Ole Miss and South Carolina games. I did call Ole Miss the greatest team ever for about three weeks.