The Crystal Ball went 5-1 last week to improve the season record to 51-17, which is a .750 winning percentage. The games get tough as the season winds down and a few selective teams scramble for championships and bowl games.
Here is how this week should go:
Kentucky at Missouri- This is a game that will demand a winner because that’s what the rules say, but when you get down to it neither team is in a position to be favored. Kentucky has shown some signs of life lately and Missouri does have the luxury of playing at home, so flip a coin to decide how to pick this one. Missouri can get back to .500 with a win here, so that could be motivation enough for Gary Pinkel’s team.
Prediction: Missouri 35, Kentucky 31
Tennessee at South Carolina- South Carolina has struggled the past two games—both losses—and the offense has been sporadic at best. Quarterback Connor Shaw was pulled at halftime last week in the loss to Florida, but Steve Spurrier has said that barring injury Shaw would stay under center the entire way against Tennessee. The Gamecocks will need to get a strong game from Shaw and hopefully Marcus Lattimore, who has not been a factor in the past two games. Tennessee can usually count on a few big plays from its passing game, but can the Vols get enough to hang with a team that is hoping to get back to the ways that had them ranked in the Top 10 before their recent slide?
Prediction: South Carolina 38, Tennessee 14
Ole Miss at Arkansas- Ole Miss had a good start to the season, but the Rebels have struggled as the schedule has gotten tougher. Arkansas had a horrible start to its season, but the Razorbacks have righted the ship and at looking more like the team that was ranked before the season. Tyler Wilson still hopes to salvage the season for the Razorbacks and pull out a bowl game and he is also playing for his NFL draft status as well. This is a strong rivalry and Ole Miss could really make its season with a win over the Razorbacks. A big game from quarterback Bo Wallace could make the difference. This could be a possible upset, but I can’t go that far just yet.
Prediction: Arkansas 28, Ole Miss 24
Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)- The Word’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (I know Georgia president Michael Adams hates this) is a bitter rivalry with season records not always the best indicator as to how the game will go. Still, it’s hard not to think Florida, the No. 3 team in the nation according to the Associated Press, will not continue to roll against the Bulldogs. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray gives the Bulldogs a punchers’ chance, but the Gators’ defense should be more than up to the task.
Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 14
Texas A&M at Auburn- The Aggies are trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss to LSU while Auburn is trying to bounce back from … well, disappointing losses to six teams, most recently Vanderbilt. Texas A&M brings freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel in to furnish a boost to the offense, while Auburn is still looking for someone to step up and furnish a little offense. Auburn’s defense has played good football at times this season and they will be tested by Manziel, receiver Ryan Swope and running back Christine Michael, but the Ti gers do not have the horses to match match up with the Aggies.
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Auburn 10
Massachusetts at Vanderbilt- The Commodores can take a big step toward becoming bowl eligible by beating a winless Massachusetts team. Vanderbilt’s win over Auburn last week was a good step toward that goal, and a win over UMass would even the Commodores’ record at 4-4. Zac Stacy became Vanderbilt’s career rushing leader last week and he looks to build on that record over the next five games. He should wind up with a mark that will be untouchable … at least until the next great back comes along.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 31, UMass 14
Mississippi State at Alabama- It is hard to imagine that this would be a battle of two undefeated and ranked teams but that is what will take place at Bryant-Denny Stadium when No. 13 visits No. 1 Alabama. Critics will tell you that neither team has really been tested this season, so Saturday could answer a lot of unasked questions about both teams. On p
aper, Alabama would appear to have a big edge with stars like AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy, Amari Cooper, Barrett Jones, Nico Johnson, Dee Milliner and Robert Lester. Mississippi State has weapons of its own in Tyler Russell, LaDarius Perkins, Chad Bumphis, Arceto Clark, Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay. The Bulldogs are not used to being in this rarified air this late in the season but Alabama is right at home with its ranking. Alabama and Mississippi State have played 96 times and Alabama has a 74-18-3 record in the series. The Tide has beaten Mississippi State four straight times and has outscored the Bulldogs 117-27 in those games.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 17