Pasquali’s Pix: Vols, Mocs to collect 17-point victories

Crimson Tide photos / LSU first-year football coach Brian Kelly and Alabama’s Nick Saban visit prior to last Saturday night’s 32-31 win in overtime by the Tigers.

Former Tennessee football coach Johnny Majors was fond of saying, "They remember what you do in November," and he was pretty stout in the calendar's 11th month.

From the 1985 SEC championship run by the Volunteers until the memorable 34-29 loss in 1990 to Ricky Watters, Raghib Ismail and that loaded Notre Dame team, Majors racked up 21 consecutive November triumphs. Sure, many of those wins transpired with ease against Memphis State, Ole Miss, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but two of those Vols teams in that stretch reached the Sugar and Cotton bowls.

Alabama's Nick Saban and Georgia's Kirby Smart have nice records in every month these days, but LSU first-year coach Brian Kelly collected his 17th straight November win with last Saturday night's 32-31 overtime topping of Saban's Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge. Kelly notched the first 16 of those while at Notre Dame, including the 47-40, double-overtime downing of Clemson two years ago.

"You've got to have good players," Kelly said Wednesday of his stellar streak. "I think it's really about starting this process with an eye towards being your best in November, so January, February, March and all those months have to be measured. It's a long year, so you've got to be careful in the way you train.

"You've got to take a 365-day view of this with the idea that you want your team peaking in November and December. I think that's how I've tried to do it."

To make it 18 straight, Kelly must guide his Tigers to victory Saturday at Arkansas, which went 9-4 last season but is 5-4 this year and suddenly scrambling for bowl eligibility with tests remaining against LSU, Ole Miss and at Missouri. To make things trickier for the Razorbacks, starting quarterback KJ Jefferson is dealing with a bruised clavicle.

Should LSU win this weekend and Alabama prevail at Ole Miss, the Tigers would win the Southeastern Conference's Western Division in Kelly's first year.

Making for a November to remember.

"We've entered a new part of how we think," Kelly said. "This team needs to now handle success, and that means preparing the right way, avoiding distractions and really working on what they've been good at, which is the day-to-day preparation and being better at all the details."


You can't be No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings this season unless you play in the SEC East.

Tennessee and Georgia have occupied the top spot so far, and the division overall no longer seems to be playing second fiddle to the SEC West. The 12 matchups between East and West teams have yielded a 6-6 split with the Georgia-Mississippi State and Arkansas-Missouri pairings yet to take place.

"It's a challenging division that only continues to get better," South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. "Obviously Georgia is Georgia right now, and Tennessee is having a phenomenal year. You see Florida improving each week. Missouri just beat us, and Clark (Lea) has a good team at Vanderbilt that gets better each week.

"Kentucky has been so consistent for so long, and I feel we're getting better and that we're not going anywhere, either. It's a challenging division that's only getting tougher."


Smart was asked Wednesday about his reaction to this week's No. 1 CFP ranking.

It was not an unsurprising response.

"No reaction," Smart said. "I didn't even see it, to be honest with you. We work pretty late on Tuesdays."

Pasquali's Pix

Missouri at Tennessee: The Vols are seeking their first undefeated season in Neyland Stadium since 2007. Vols 33, Tigers 16.

LSU at Arkansas: Jayden Daniels is the only Bowl Subdivision quarterback with more than 1,700 passing yards and more than 600 rushing yards this season. Tigers 29, Razorbacks 24.

Vanderbilt at Kentucky: The SEC losing streak for the Commodores is at 26 and counting. Wildcats 30, Commodores 17.

Samford at UTC: Ailym Ford needs 47 yards to become the first Mocs running back to produce three 1,000-yard seasons. Mocs 30, Bulldogs 13.

Alabama at Ole Miss: This is the first Alabama-Ole Miss game since 1964 in which both teams are ranked in the top 10 of a major poll. Crimson Tide 30, Rebels 27.

Miami at Georgia Tech: At 4-5, the Yellow Jackets have already attained their most wins in a single season since 2018. Yellow Jackets 27, Hurricanes 24.

South Carolina at Florida: The Gators are averaging 5.9 yards per carry and have gone three straight games without a turnover. Gators 31, Gamecocks 20.

Georgia at Mississippi State: Georgia's average score of 40-11 this season is even more impressive with Tennessee in the rearview mirror. East Bulldogs 34, West Bulldogs 13.

Texas A&M at Auburn: It's the biggest financial discrepancy in SEC history, with Jimbo Fisher earning $9 million and Carnell Williams $400,000. Aggies 33, Tigers 30.

Other picks:

Memphis 31, Tulsa 19

USC 52, Colorado 16

Ohio State 45, Indiana 18

Duke 34, Virginia Tech 27

Clemson 28, Louisville 25

Michigan 49, Nebraska 22

Penn State 27, Maryland 14

N.C. State 30, Boston College 3

Notre Dame 26, Navy 10

MTSU 43, Charlotte 21

Oregon 38, Washington 23

TCU 37, Texas 34

Utah 35, Stanford 12

North Carolina 20, Wake Forest 17

Florida State 41, Syracuse 20

UCLA 42, Arizona 31

Last week:

Winners — 15

Dabos — 10

Pasquali is 196-54 overall (78.4%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at