The SEC Crystal Ball had another good week last week by going 9-1 to raise the season record to 32-11, good for a .744 winning percentage.
The picks get tougher as the football season heads into October and most — not all but most — of the cupcakes disappear from the schedule.
Let’s try to keep the Crystal Ball rolling this week:
Missouri at UCF - Missouri continues to look for its first SEC win, but the Tigers have been perfect out of the conference. Its most impressive win has been over Arizona State of the Pac-12 and now the Tigers take on UCF, a Conference USA team that is off to a good start with two wins in three games. The Knights who are led by quarterback Blake Bortles who has thrown for 668 yards and seven touchdowns. He will be challenged by a Missouri defense that is giving up 36 points a game against SEC teams but holding non-conference teams to 15 a game.
Missouri is averaging 349 yards of total offense with the bulk of that coming from quarterbacks James Franklin and Corbin Berkstresser, who have thrown for 804 yards and five touchdowns. They will be going against a UCF secondary that held Ohio State to just 155 passing yards. If Missouri needs to turn to the ground game Kendial Lawrence is the man they will go to for big yardage. Lawrence is averaging 72.8 yards per game. He will not find UCF too accommodating. The Knights are giving up 159 yards a game.
UCF will give the Tigers a battle, but in the end Missouri will find a way to keep its non-conference record perfect.
Prediction: Missouri 27, UCF 20
Towson at LSU - Here’s a cupcake lingering on an SEC schedule and unfortunately this will be a cake walk for the Tigers. After this scrimmage, LSU is facing seven consecutive SEC teams. Admittedly LSU is better than most of them but it is still going to be a tougher run. It will be a little easier after LSU wipes out Towson.
Prediction: LSU 58, Towson 0
South Carolina at Kentucky - Speaking of mismatches — South Carolina should have no trouble beating Kentucky, but that’s not saying as much for South Carolina as it is Kentucky. Most teams would have little trouble beating Kentucky. South Carolina is hitting its stride offensively behind Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore and defensively behind Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. Seven of the past 10 games between Kentucky and South Carolina have been decided by seven points or less. This one won’t be. Joker Phillips’ Wildcats have had a miserable season so far and the Gamecocks will add to it.
Prediction: South Carolina 41, Kentucky 7
Ole Miss at Alabama - Ole Miss started the season with three wins before running into Texas last week and now the Rebels get to go to Tuscaloosa to face the No. 1 team in the country. Alabama does not appear to have any weaknesses and Ole Miss, while improved from last year, just doesn’t have the talent or depth to pull off an upset. Alabama’s defense is just as tough as the one that helped Alabama to the national championship last season. Offensively quarterback AJ McCarron is at the top of his game, the running backs run as if they are allergic to falling down and the offensive line is protecting every phase of the game.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has seven touchdown passes and two rushing scores. His main target is Donte Moncrief, who is the fifth leading receiver in the SEC with 85.8 yards per game. Jeff Scott is the Rebels’ leading rusher at 89.3 yards per game, which is also fifth in the conference.
Ole Miss if 0-8 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation. It will be 0-9 after Saturday.
Prediction- Alabama 45, Ole Miss 10
Arkansas at Texas A&M - This should be one of the most interesting games of the weekend. Have the Razorbacks packed it in in the face of all of their troubles? Getting injured quarterback Tyler Wilson back didn’t produce a win against Rutgers. Can it stop the Aggies? The Razorbacks still have a lot of talent on hand, talent that had Arkansas high in the national rankings at the first of the season. The question is when will it stand up and get Arkansas back on track.
Texas A&M is still looking for its first SEC win and with this game at Kyle Field, the home of the 12th Man, this could be the Aggies best chance, although Ole Miss is seven days down the road. Texas A&M’s freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is seventh in the SEC in rushing and sixth in passing. Jonathan Stewart and Damontre Moore spark the Aggies defense that will try and contain Arkansas’ Wilson and Knile Davis and put A&M in the conference win column.
Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 21
Tennessee at Georgia - Georgia is ranked No. 5 in the country and should be expected to beat the Vols in Sanford Stadium. But that’s not necessarily the case since the Vols hold a 10-9-1 in games between these two teams when they play between the hedges in Athens.
This is a big game for Georgia in that the Bulldogs are beginning to get consideration as a contender to make the BCS National Championship Game. This should be the first real test of the season for Georgia and a chance for quarterback Aaron Murray to put to rest those rumors that Murray can’t seem to win the big games. Georgia has all the weapons necessary with Murray, three outstanding running backs in Tim Gurley, Keith Marshall and Ken Malcome and a defense led by linebacker Jarvis Jones and nose tackle John Jenkins. In addition, the Bulldogs are expected to have linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo back from suspensions and that will only make the Bulldogs defense even tougher and meaner.
It is also a big game for Tennessee, a team that has been trying to recapture the excitement after losing to Florida when the Vols fans were at a fever pitch. Tennessee’s big guns are quarterback Tyler Bray, a host of talented receivers led by Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Paterson and Rajion Neal, the Vols rushing threat. Tennessee’s defense will have to come through in a big way if the Vols are to pull an upset.
Prediction: Georgia 31, Tennessee 21