Week 13 of the SEC football season is upon us, and as luck would have it, Week 13 is the final weekend of the regular season.
Anyway, the regular season is going out with a bang because it’s Rivalry Week. There are four ACC-SEC matchups. There is one intrastate SEC East matchup. There are two intrastate SEC West matchups, including what looks to be the best SEC game of the weekend. There also is the final game for one coach (well, unless his team wins to become bowl eligible) and potentially the final game for two others.
It’s a big weekend.
Missouri (5-6) at Arkansas (6-5)
Time/TV: Friday, 2:30 p.m., CBS
The line: Arkansas by 14
The buzz: Gary Pinkel’s coaching career will end unless the Tigers win and become bowl eligible. Arkansas’ defense has struggled, but can Mizzou’s punchless offense take advantage? Conversely, Missouri’s defense does its job every week, and Arkansas is going to have trouble consistently moving the ball.
The pick: Arkansas 24-13.
Clemson (11-0) at South Carolina (3-8)
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
The line: Clemson by 17
The buzz: The Gamecocks’ season has been a disaster, but it can be redeemed — well, at least some — by an upset of Clemson, which is No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings. But Tigers QB Deshaun Watson — who is a Heisman contender — should be able to carve up South Carolina’s weak defense. The Gamecocks, who lost to in-state FCS program The Citadel last week, have to get some big plays from WR Pharoh Cooper, who likely is playing his last college game.
The pick: Clemson 45-21
Georgia (8-3) at Georgia Tech (3-8)
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN2
The line: Georgia by 5
The buzz: Tech won in OT last season in Athens, so the Bulldogs have revenge on their minds. Georgia’s offense has been anything but a well-oiled machine this season, but Tech’s defense is mediocre, at best, and Sony Michel should be in line for a big day. Georgia’s defense has been steady, and the Bulldogs got a taste of what’s in store today when they played Georgia Southern last week. Georgia Southern, like Georgia Tech, uses the triple-option. Georgia did need to go to OT last week, though, for the win. Rumors about Bulldogs coach Mark Richt continue to swirl.
The pick: Georgia 27-20
Louisville (6-5) at Kentucky (5-6)
Time/TV: Noon, SEC Network
The line: Louisville by 4
The buzz: Kentucky has to win to become bowl eligible; the Wildcats faced the same scenario last season and lost 44-40 to the Cardinals. Louisville has won four in a row in the series. Louisville has played solid defense, mediocre offense. UK has to get its running game going, which means Stanley “Boom” Williams and Jojo Kemp have to produce. But Louisville is allowing just 121.2 rushing yards per game, which is second-best in the ACC.
The pick: Louisville 30-21.
Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (6-5)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS
The line: Alabama by 14
The buzz: The Iron Bowl is the nation’s most intense rivalry, but that doesn’t seem likely to help Auburn. The Tigers struggle to throw the ball with any consistency, and one-dimensional offenses generally don’t have much success against the Tide. Auburn’s defense doesn’t lend much hope, either; it’s hard to see the Tigers slowing Derick Henry.
The pick: Alabama 38-17.
Vanderbilt (4-7) at Tennessee (7-4)
Time/TV: 4 p.m., SEC Network
The line: Tennessee by 17
The buzz: The Vols are seeking their first five-game winning streak since 2007; coincidentally, they also are seeking their first eight-win season since ’07, when they won their final five games to finish 9-3. Tennessee has won 30 of the past 33 meetings in the in-state rivalry, and unless the Vols cough it up three or four times, it will be 31 of 34 afterward. Vandy’s defense will, as usual, give a valiant effort. But Vandy’s offense will, as usual, do nothing.
The pick: Tennessee 28-10.
Ole Miss (8-3) at Mississippi State (8-3)
Time/TV: 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
The line: Ole Miss by 1
The buzz: The Egg Bowl looks to be the SEC’s best game this week. Two hot quarterbacks will be going against two iffy defenses; one stat to tuck away is that the record number of points in an Egg Bowl is 75. Mississippi State struggles to run, which puts all the pressure on QB Dak Prescott, who generally has responded this season. The Bulldogs’ secondary has been shredded by good passing teams, and Ole Miss qualifies. Thing is, Ole Miss’ secondary has been shredded by good passing teams (and even mediocre ones), which means a big day looms for Prescott. This could end up being for a Sugar Bowl berth. If Florida loses to Florida State and Alabama, the winner of this likely finishes ahead of Florida in the final CFP rankings, which means a trip to New Orleans. Ole Miss enters the weekend still alive in the SEC West race. But Alabama must lose and Ole Miss must win for that to come about. The second part of that is feasible; the first is not.
The pick: Ole Miss 44-38.
Florida State (9-2) at Florida (10-1)
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
The line: FSU by 2
The buzz: Florida is headed to the SEC championship game, and the Gators want to go there on a up note, which means upsetting the Seminoles. Florida’s defense will be the best overall unit FSU has seen, but the Gators’ offense certainly shouldn’t scare the Seminoles’ defense. The key for Florida is improved offensive line play and stifling FSU TB Dalvin Cook. The Gators aren’t going to shut down Cook; they just can’t let him take over.
The pick: FSU 17-9.
Texas A&M (8-3) at LSU (7-3)
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
The line: LSU by 5.5
The buzz: So, is this the final home game for LSU coach Les Miles? It figures to be an emotional night for LSU, but does that mean the players come out flat or jacked up and ready to play? LSU’s offense is all about the run, and that’s bad news for A&M, which has had trouble stopping the run all season. Expect to see a lot of Leonard Fournette right up the gut until the Aggies prove they can stop it; that proof may not come. A&M needs a big game from QB Kyle Allen. LSU’s defense has been shaky of late, and if Allen gets going, running room will be there for RB Tra Carson.
The pick: Texas A&M 31-27.
(Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
(Feature photo by MARK KONEZNY/USA TODAY SPORTS)
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