Each week, I'll try to convince myself I could give it all up and pick games for a living. And, each week, I'll learn that such a decision would eventually lead to me living in a storm drain in front of a bus station.
Last Week: 2-5 (.285)
Season: 36-32-1 (.521)
Missouri at Florida (-17)
Missouri Athletic Department Employee #1: "Whoa, we're gonna win an SEC game! We've got to try to sqeeze some money out of this accomplishment!"
Athletic Department Employee #2: "What about a t-shirt? People love t-shirts."
Employee #1: "That they do. What about something like 'Caged the Cats' since they're the Cats, which is short for Wildcats and we defeated them by more or less caging them, and alliteration is always fun and catchy."
Employee #2: "That is good. And, OH, I GOT IT. What if, and this is a little out there, what if we made the word 'Caged' pretty big AND put like a chain-link fence graphic treatment IN THE WORD to really drive home the point that we 'Caged the Cats'"?
Employee #1: "PRINT IT."
Employee #2: "Should we wait until the game is over so we can include the score?"
Employee #1: "Just put some x's where the score should be. We'll add the score after we print them."
Employee #2: "Is that possible?"
Employee #1: "I'm sure it is. We'll worry about that later. We've got to ride this wave of SEC-win momentum!"
Really looking forward to "Gulped down the Gators" with an alligator tail hanging out of a tiger's mouth if Missouri can pull this one off. Florida to cover.
Vanderbilt (-7) at Kentucky
How is this not the JP game? It will have a naturally dead atmosphere, one REALLY bad football team, and a coach in trouble that needs 3 1/2 hours of non-critical announcers ignoring all evidence against the coach and offering their support for another year of his employment.
It's the game JP was created to televise. Though I supposed the Tulsa/Arkansas game offers the same features, but Vandy/Kentucky is a conference game in which one of the teams is just two losses away from achieving 0-8 glory. Such history and failure must be documented. The people with the JP game are in need of some soul-searching, because from where I sit and judge, they've lost their bad game compass.
Vandy to cover.
Texas A&M (-7) at Mississippi State
Mississippi State will have the same problem teams not named LSU and Florida had when playing Texas A&M. They don't have anyone on defense, or collection of anyones, who can keep Johnny Manziel from running out of the pocket, which is where he has killed the lesser defenses he's faced.
Against non-LSU and Florida teams, he's run for 124, 78, 104, 129, 181, and 90 yards, and 12 touchdowns (and that's with coming out early against Arkansas, South Carolina State, and Auburn). Ole Miss is the one non-LSU/Florida defense that gave him some trouble, mostly in passing (17-26, 191 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs) and sacked him 4 or 5 times, but the Rebels didn't have the talent to keep him from keeping drives alive through his tiny, speedy legs.
State should give him similar problems, but not enough to keep the A&M offense from scoring away, especially after the State defense struggled against a Troy offense (572 total yards, with 4 turnovers) that, while they don't run the same offense as A&M, uses the same pace and similar concepts.
Barring turnovers or a freak snowstorm, State should move and score as well, but they don't appear to be the machine A&M is. They're a deep threat at receiver and a little more Tyler Russell accuracy away from being a very good passing team, but, alas, those two things probably won't develop by Saturday. A&M to cover.
Troy at Tennessee (-18.5)
An 18.5-point spread implies that the Tennessee defense will have to stop Troy either 3 or 4 times (or hope Troy stops itself) and have its offense score when Troy does not. The offense scoring shouldn't be too difficult, but the defense part no not a chance. Troy and the points.
Tulsa at Arkansas (-8)
Two straight weeks of sweet JP action for Arkansas and a second straight week of no cover. Tulsa does offense very well, which doesn't match up well for Arkansas, as they do not do defense very well. Tulsa and the points.
New Mexico State at Auburn (-22)
DID YOU KNOW: New Mexico State, of 1-7, 0-4 in the WAC fame, ranks 70 spots ahead of Auburn in passing offense (41st; Auburn is 111th) and 26 spots ahead in total offense (94th; Auburn is last at 120th). However, the Aggies only hold a 20-spot lead in scoring offense (99th to 119th) and Auburn leads by 15 spots in rushing offense (98th to 113th).
So, do not watch this game. New Mexico State and the points.
Ole Miss at Georgia (-14)
If history teaches us things, and allegedly it does, we have no idea which Georgia team will show up on Saturday. Is it focused, motivated Georgia, knowing they have to beat Ole Miss and Auburn and they're in Atlanta? Or will it be the Georgia that enjoys keeping inferior teams hanging around until the very last stages of the game?
If Georgia comes out ready to destroy Ole Miss, then coast through the second half and the Auburn game, there isn't much Ole Miss can do. Georgia has more of everything and should be able to go until they decide to tap the breaks on what could be a thrashing and a half.
But, this is a Mark Richt team, and convincing 18-22-year olds that Ole Miss can be feisty after defeating your rival in an emotionally charged and physical game could prove to be difficult. Ole Miss has very little chance of actually winning the game, but the ability to ruin the cover is the issue at hand here.
I'm falling on the side of Georgia and its fans will be all like, "UGH, you mean we have to play ANOTHER game? Like a week after our last one? This is terrible. I'm not getting there until AT LEAST the second quarter. I hope we're doing another blackout. Those are fun."
Ole Miss and the points.
Alabama (-9.5) at LSU
Much like last season's regular season version, both teams will rely heavily on the hammer and rock fight strategy that turns into whose defense will crack the slightest to allow one more field goal. In last year's November battering ram-off, LSU used Jordan Jefferson running the option to give the Alabama defense problems, which LSU went to when its ground game couldn't get going.
However, Alabama fixed that problem in time for the national championship game and crushed THE EXACT SAME GAME PLAN from LSU. This year, LSU doesn't have many wrinkles they can throw at Alabama, other than maybe some Spencer Ware Wildcat-ish plays. Zach Mettenberger can't run and his accuracy and awareness are so unreliable that he's earned negative trust from the LSU coaches.
This means that LSU's chance at winning rests solely on its running game, which is going up against the best rushing defense in the country. OH THE DRAMA. This could all change if Mettenberger is able to complete passes and HAHAHA NO NEVER MIND. Alabama to squeeze the life out of LSU first and cover.
*Paycheck doubling IFFY at best