SEC CRYSTAL BALL

South Carolina, LSU get big wins; Florida rolls

Ben Cook

September 20, 2012 at 11:42 pm.

Marcus Lattimore could be a hard man for the Missouri defense to catch on Saturday. (Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE)

The SEC Crystal Ball had a much better week last week going 9-3, moving the season record to 23-10, good for a .697 winning percentage. It’s not great, but it is better. And after a dismal week last week, I’ll take it. Hopefully this week will be even better.

Southeastern Conference play heats up this weekend with four conference games. Although Auburn and LSU is normally a headline game, South Carolina and Missouri take the cake this week due to the Tigers’ (of Lee County, Ala.) 1-2 record.

Missouri is still looking for that first SEC conference victory and South Carolina is not an easy place to get it. The Gamecocks do come into the game with quarterback Connor Shaw still battling a balky shoulder, but he will start against the Tigers. Even if Shaw does not play a full game, Carolina has strong backup help in Dylan Thompson. Either way, the South Carolina defense and the presence of Marcus Lattimore running the football has helped make the Gamecocks one of the favorites in the East.

Missouri’s talented quarterback James Franklin has been battling a sore elbow but is expected to play against the Gamecocks. At least Missouri coach Gary Pinkel hopes he will. Chances are it is not going to make a difference.

Prediction: South Carolina 27, Missouri 21

An improved Vanderbilt team ventures between the hedges to take on the Georgia. Over the years, that has often proved to be tougher than expected for the Bulldogs. Vanderbilt went with a new quarterback last week in Austyn Carta-Samuels, and he was successful in leading a convincing 58-0 win over Presbyterian. Georgia’s defense will be slightly more of a challenge. Vanderbilt will be a challenge for Georgia, but not enough to lead to an upset.

Prediction: Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 14

Kentucky’s season is trying to come apart at the seams and Florida’s is picking up steam. Florida almost always hammers Kentucky and this week will be no different. The Gators are back tied for the lead in the SEC East with a 3-0 conference record behind quarterback Jeff Driskel. Will Muschamp’s team will not ease off the throttle against a wounded Wildcats team.

Prediction: Florida 38, Kentucky 7

Auburn is another SEC team trying to prove something this week. Unfortunately, LSU is not the opponent that a team who needs a win needs to see across the field. Auburn was shaken by having to go to overtime to beat Louisiana-Monroe last week, but the Tigers could have started looking ahead to the LSU game when they had a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter against ULM. Still, good football teams take care of the business at hand and Auburn hung on for the win.

LSU is, obviously, one of the top teams in the nation. Les Miles’ team could be bidding its time until it gets a shot at No. 1-ranked Alabama in November. The Hat will guard against his team becoming bored or complacent as they continue to work its way through the schedule. The Tigers—those from the Bayou, that is—will prevail without working up too much of a sweat.

Prediction: LSU 28, Auburn 10

The rest of the SEC schedule shapes up like this:

Ole Miss 31, Tulane 17

Alabama 45, Florida Atlantic 0

Arkansas 20, Rutgers 17

Mississippi State 35, South Alabama 10

Texas A&M 41, South Carolina State 0

Tennessee 37, Akron 21

 

 

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