The first of a series of grudge matches to determine the SEC West happens today. Auburn welcomes Arkansas, and the visiting Razorbacks are all but out of the race with a loss.
As for the rest of the league, well, this week may be a little one-sided. Call it a hunch, but it really appears that several of today’s SEC games (talking about you, Vandy, and you too, Ole Miss) are going to be blowouts.
(Last week’s guesses: 5-2 straight up, 4-3 against the spread.)
All times Eastern
Vanderbilt at Georgia
12:21 p.m. at Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
* TV/Radio: WDSI/107.9 FM and 1310 AM
* Breakdown: Each team enters after an overwhelming win last week. The Commodores can’t stop A.J. Green — not that there’s anything uncommon about that — and he has the entire Bulldogs program thinking the first five games were a mirage. Now that he’s back after NCAA exile, Georgia may get hot and sprint toward the Music City Bowl.
* Line: Georgia minus 15
* Pick: Georgia, 42-13
Arkansas at Auburn
3:30 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
* TV: CBS (WDEF)
* Breakdown: Ryan Mallett vs. Cam Newton ... Think there will be any NFL scouts in the stands today? If the over/under on NFL teams with reps there is 25, give me the over and pay me Tuesday. As for the game, the matchups lean toward Arkansas, the intangibles toward Auburn. I’m a big believer in intangibles, but the matchups get the edge today.
* Line: Auburn minus 3 1/2
* Pick: Arkansas, 34-30
South Carolina at Kentucky
6 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
* TV: ESPN2
* Breakdown: This feels like a springboard game. A big South Carolina win could lift it toward huge things in the second half of the season. It also feels like what some gamblers call a “too good” game. In other words, how does a red-hot team that just spanked top-ranked Alabama rate as only a 4 1/2-point pick over a 3-3 Kentucky team? Well, those feelings are a wash, and when in doubt, go with Steve Spurrier — especially against a Kentucky program (research alert) that is 0-17 against the Ol’ Ball Coach.
* Line: South Carolina minus 4 1/2
* Pick: South Carolina, 37-21
Mississippi State at Florida
7 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
* TV: ESPNU
* Breakdown: OK, I’ve waited through the first half of the season before bringing this up, but the wait ends now. Yes, former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen leaving for Mississippi State has hurt the Gators. But if Florida could have Mullen back or Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who left Florida after a run-in with the law and being passed by John Brantley on the depth chart, who would Gator Nation choose? Newton in a millisecond. As for today, the Gators are reeling, but there’s no way they lose three straight, and with Jeff Demps back the offense has to be better.
* Line: Florida minus 7 1/2
* Pick: Florida, 30-20
McNeese State at LSU
7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
* TV: Fox Sports South
* Breakdown: LSU coach Les Miles was borderline giddy in talking with the media this week, and why not? He’s riding a hot streak of Lady Luck unseen since Rain Man started counting cards for Charlie Babbitt. The streak keeps rolling this week and luck has nothing to do with it. And look at it this way, Miles haters (research alert, part II): If LSU wins today, it would be the Tigers’ first 7-0 start since 1973.
* Line: None
* Pick: LSU, 50-9
Mississippi at Alabama
9 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
* TV/Radio: ESPN2/97.3 and 99.3 FM
* Breakdown: Yea, yeah, yeah, Alabama wins big. The Tide are angry, take it out on Ole Miss; you get the idea. Let’s talk about the real issue — the new Rebel Black Bear mascot. Seriously? It’s been weeks that they have bounced around replacements for Colonel Reb, and this is their final answer? What exactly is a Rebel Black Bear? A bear that doesn’t conform to the rest of the sloth? A bear that hangs out after hours, wears leather jackets and smokes cigarettes? A bear that doesn’t, well, you know, go No. 2 in the woods? For the love of everything decent, we need to know.
* Line: Alabama minus 20 1/2
* Pick: Alabama, 40-14
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...