Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah (81) runs the ball against Mississippi State’s defense at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday. (Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports)
After a 7-1 performance in Week 3, Daily Post staff correspondent Andrew Hall is now 29-4 in predicting SEC football games this season. Here are his thoughts for this weekend:
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin is undoubtedly frustrated with his team’s 1-2 start, but the Commodores’ calling card during his tenure has been winning against inferior opponents. In other words, Vandy may not upset many teams, but this team beats everyone that it should beat. UMass falls into that category thanks to its 0-3 start, with a 45-point loss to Wisconsin and a 30-point loss to Kansas State bookending an embarrassing setback to FCS Maine.
Our pick: Vanderbilt by 28.
at No. 9 Georgia
Georgia opened the season with back-to-back games against top-10 opponents from the state of South Carolina. After a 1-1 start, Mark Richt’s squad enjoyed a welcomed week off. This game will be only marginally challenging and will serve as a tune-up for next week’s clash with LSU. Don’t expect an Akron-style near-upset in this game.
Our pick: Georgia by 35.
Arkansas at Rutgers
Arkansas can match its win total from 2012 with a win against Rutgers this weekend. That’s quite an accomplishment for a team that has survived so much turmoil over the past 18 months. Wins against the likes of Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford and Southern Miss are hardly a cause for celebration, but Arkansas has something special in its running back duo of Alex Collins (70 carries, 418 yards) and Jonathan Williams (51 carries, 393 yards). The running game will make the difference here.
Our pick: Arkansas by 7.
at No. 19 Florida
At one point last Saturday, Tennessee clung to a seven-point lead over the nation’s second-ranked team. Shortly after that moment, Oregon scored 59 points in just over 33 minutes of game play and things turned very dark for the Volunteers. Fortunately for the Vols, the Florida Gators have not scored 59 points over their last three games (dating back to last season) combined. So, the score won’t get too out of hand. That being said, Florida is too talented on defense to lose this football game. The Gators win an ugly one.
Our pick: Florida by 10.
at No. 10 Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel accounted for 562 yards of offense and five touchdowns on Saturday against top-ranked Alabama. What kind of damage can we expect against a Southern Methodist team that ranks 105th in scoring defense? I don’t know that Johnny Football tops his production from last week (he may not play the entire game), but he’ll do enough to stay atop the Heisman leaderboard.
Our pick: Texas A&M by 31.
at No. 1 Alabama
Colorado State is a pretty bad football team as the Rams rank outside of the top-half of the country in both scoring offense (29.3 points per game) and scoring defense (also 29.3 points per game). Now combine those shortcomings with the hostile environment that calls Tuscaloosa home, a team like Alabama that is supposed to be the best in the land and a coach like Nick Saban who feels embarrassed about what happened the week before. This will be bad for the Rams.
Our pick: Alabama by 38.
Troy at Mississippi State
7:30 p.m./Fox Sports Net
Mississippi State is 1-2 with five games remaining on its schedule against top-25 opponents (LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama, Ole Miss). In light of that, every game is a “must win” if the Bulldogs want to play in a Bowl for a fourth consecutive year. Dan Mullen’s team improves to .500 this week.
Our pick: Mississippi State by 17.
Auburn at No. 6 LSU
Auburn took advantage of Mississippi State’s lackadaisical prevent defense last week and snuck away with a win against the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, LSU has looked extremely impressive in its three games to date. On paper, this game should go LSU’s way. The game is at home, LSU has an edge in experience and the Bayou Bengals have more depth than the striped cats from Auburn. For some reason, however, this game is always a little closer than it should be. Even last year, a disaster of an Auburn team played LSU to a two-point game. LSU will struggle against the level of athletes that Auburn will bring to town — a significant improvement relative to LSU’s competition to date.
Our pick: LSU by 7.
Missouri at Indiana
8 p.m./Big Ten Network
The upstart Indiana Hoosiers have quietly put up some of the nation’s best offensive numbers in this still young season, ranking sixth in the nation with 50 points per game. This could cause problems for a Missouri team that is not known for its defense. Throw in a home crowd and the desire to knock off an SEC opponent, and this has the trappings of an upset.
Our pick: Indiana by 7.