This won’t be the full “SEC Wednesdays” feature I have planned, but I thought I’d start off with comments and predictions of the coming week so I’ll have more to talk about when Wednesday gets here.
Central Florida @ South Carolina
South Carolina’s season hasn’t been pretty so far, but it’s been better than that of Central Florida, who has lost to both FIU and Furman (as well as Stanford) to start the year. Despite this, the Gamecocks are only favored by 15. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they didn’t win easily in their only win, only scoring 17 in that contest with a maximum output of 22 points in the loss to Kentucky.
Still, I think this is by far the worst opponent the Gamecocks have faced and expect them to win something like 31-10.
LSU @ Syracuse
This is also a tough one. Not that I think LSU will be sweating out the fourth quarter like they did in the game in Starkville, but 24 points is a large spread to expect a road team to beat, especially when it will be 11 a.m. Central at kickoff.
Even the 2007 LSU team that won the BCS championship struggled at Tulane early, and that was a short trip with a relatively friendly crowd. Also, Tulane was a losing team of the CUSA that year. Syracuse isn’t guaranteed a bowl berth out of the ACC this year, but I still think we can assume they’re a good bit better than Tulane was in 2007. LSU still eventually won that game 34-9, but the Tigers were more pass-oriented with Matt Flynn under center (he threw for 258 despite the slow start). I’d expect something similar to score I picked for South Carolina above even if things go well, so I would take the points. I could be wrong though. I would have taken the points for the Auburn game as well.
Southern @ Georgia
ULM @ Alabama
I don’t think it’s even worth discussing whether Georgia will beat Southern or Alabama will beat ULM (despite what happened in 2007). I don’t have a line for Georgia, but I know Alabama is favored by 38. The Warhawks lost to Georgia by “only” 37, so I’m not sure I see Alabama beating ULM by 38. I’d take the points.
Tennessee @ Florida
I usually lean against favored road teams. The line is only 1.5 though, so it’s essentially a pick ’em. The Gators did a good job to win by 5 at Kentucky, but I have to guess Tennessee would have won by more than that given the Vols defeat of Bowling Green by 29. Florida also didn’t play great at home against East Carolina, winning by only 7.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Arlington, TX)
Texas A&M is favored by 7.5 on a neutral field against Arkansas. Arky kept it close last year, but I’m not seeing the same fight they had last season. A&M has done significantly better, including comfortably beating Arizona St. on another neutral field. I would take the Aggies minus the points.
Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss
Vandy has done well in this series in recent years, but I don’t see them doing so well against this Ole Miss team on the road. I don’t know that Vandy is much better than the Fresno St. team the Rebels beat by 52, so I’d take Ole Miss minus the 25.
Mississippi St. @ Auburn
LSU just beat both of these teams, and obviously the Bulldogs did better against the Fighting Tigers, but maybe the location (and it being LSU’s first game) had something to do with it. This is a very good line. I would pick Auburn by 3. That puts them just over the line of 2.5.
Missouri @ Kentucky
The Wildcats are favored in this one. Might have something to do with the Tigers’ underwhelming performances against Arkansas St. and Connecticut, but after the last couple of years I’m not underestimating Missouri in conference play. As I mentioned, Florida won by five in Lexington, and I don’t see the Gators knocking it out of the ballpark against the likes of East Carolina. I’ll take Mizzou and the points. I also think they’re the more likely victor even though they haven’t beaten the Wildcats for 29 straight years like the Gators have.
I am not really an expert at Twitter and as you might guess, I’m not a huge fan of the character limit. If you want to read my tweets, my handle (I also don’t like the whole nomenclature of Twitter) is @TheBayouBlogger.
I had an interesting exchange with Chris Low (@ClowESPN) about Bear Bryant today. Low mentioned the Bear visited the Mississippi St. locker room to congratulate the Bulldogs after they ended a long Tide winning streak in 1980. I mentioned a story I liked after another rare Alabama loss. I guess there was a weekly local football show, and the homer announcer said something like, “Well coach, I guess the Lord just wasn’t on our side in that one.” Bryant uttered in a low tone: “The Lord expects you to block and tackle.”
Low is probably my favorite writer for ESPN. He’s certainly better than anyone they typically put on TV to cover college football.