Our predictions continue to be nearly flawless, although our weekly upset specials have been about as special as “Joker Phillips Appreciation Day” in Lexington. Last week we thought the mighty Vanderbilt Commodores would defeat the Wildcats, but who would have dreamed a 40-0 pasting that sent Cats Coach Phillips packing.
It was amusing to read a letter from the prominent booster of a Southeastern Conference institution pointing out that his school’s coach had a $7.5 million buyout after December 1, but that it wasn’t as much as the buyout Alabama has to pay if The University wants to get rid of Nick Saban. Like that subject comes up a lot.
While the hot seat proved to be just that for Joker Phillips at Kentucky and may for a few others around the SEC, the coaches who will be in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday are having “coach of the year” type seasons. Saban has his Crimson Tide 9-0 overall and 6-0 in SEC games and ranked first in the nation. Kevin Sumlin is in his first year as coach at Texas A&M, and the Aggies are 7-2 overall and 4-2 in SEC games. Texas A&M is ranked 14th in one poll, 15th in another.
The teams will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday with CBS televising the game.
Everyone is aware that Texas A&M has the league’s best offense, led by super freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, and that Bama has the best defense in the SEC.
Alabama has been No. 1 in the nation since the first game of the season. Texas A&M is playing its 12th game in history against the nation’s number one team and is 1-10 in such games. Bama is 21-6 against the Associated Press top 25 over the past four and a half seasons.
Because of Hurricane Isaac forcing postponement of Texas A&M’s first game, the Aggies are playing for the 10th consecutive week, and third straight SEC road game. A&M is coming off an easy win over Mississippi State. Bama is coming off its most difficult game of the year, a 21-17 win over LSU in Baton Rouge in which Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron directed a miracle drive to victory.
A number of men who played football for Coach Paul Bryant at Texas A&M will be on hand for Saturday’s game. They include Gene Stallings, who later was a national championship coach at Bama, and John David Crow, Bryant’s only Heisman Trophy winner and a former Bama assistant coach. Stallings also coached at Texas A&M where he turned in the only win by the Aggies over Alabama in the 1968 Cotton Bowl.
Alabama 42, Texas A&M 21.
Georgia (8-1 overall, 6-1 SEC) is at Auburn (2-7, 0-6) with a chance to wrap up the a share of the SEC Eastern Division championship and the berth in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 in Atlanta. Standing in the way of the Bulldogs are the Auburn Tigers, all of whom are expected to be kept under guard and out of trouble again this week. It was revealed this week that Auburn has hired a security firm to make sure the players are in their rooms for their 11 a.m. daily curfew. The Tigers have a recent rash of problem players, but they won’t be a problem for UGA. Georgia 38, Auburn 10.
Should Georgia lose to Auburn, Florida (8-1, 7-1) would win the SEC Eastern Division and head to Atlanta. Bama has played in seven SEC Championship Games and all of them have been against the Gators (who have finished their SEC schedule at 7-1). Florida is hosting the kind of team that most SEC teams play early in the year. Florida 42, Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3) 14.
LSU (7-2, 3-2) is coming off an emotional loss to Alabama, while Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2) is coming off two straight beatdown losses (to Bama and Texas A&M) as the Tigers and Bulldogs meet in Baton Rouge. Teams that have a loss to Alabama almost always struggle the next week, and Coach Les Miles will be pressed to have his team emotionally ready. LSU certainly will be more physically ready than the Bulldogs. LSU 30, Mississippi State 14.
Speaking of coaches on the hot seat, we don’t hear much down here in SEC country about what’s going on with Gary Pinkel at Missouri (4-5, 1-5), but there is little doubt that Tennessee (4-5, 0-5) Coach Derek Dooley feels a little burn on the back of his Orange trousers. The Vols host the Tigers in what many are saying is the first of three consecutive games Tennessee must win (the others are Vandy and Kentucky) to keep his job. So far, so good. Tennessee 35, Missouri 24.
Vanderbilt (5-4, 3-3) is coming off its big win at Kentucky, while Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3) was unexpectedly trounced at Georgia last week (37-10). On the whole, the Commodores have probably been a little bit disappointing, while the Rebels have been surprisingly competitive under new Coach Hugh Freeze. In Oxford, Vandy may be looking ahead to a chance to get a Tennessee coach fired. There is no way Mississippi is looking forward to its next game, at LSU. Our upset special: Vanderbilt 24, Ole Miss 21.
Imagine the excitement if Bobby Petrino was coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-5, 2-3) against Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2) in Columbia Saturday. But Petrino got a little too hot in the off-season and John L. Smith is all but certain to exit. Nevertheless, both teams have quarterbacks who are capable of being very, very good or not so good, which could make it entertaining. South Carolina 35, Arkansas 21.
Kentucky (1-9, 0-7) is open this week. Notice we resisted the cheap shot of something like Bye 21, Kentucky 7.