Ranking the SEC’s Week 11 games from toughest (Tennessee) to easiest (Texas A&M)
Week 11 has many SEC fans excited, especially for the highly anticipated matchup between Georgia and Auburn. The “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” will live up to the billing, with Georgia squeaking out a narrow victory on the road.
Mississippi State will do what no one else has done since 2015 — beat Alabama in conference play. LSU and Arkansas keep fans’ attention for 60 minutes. Missouri gets up on Tennessee early and stays on top. Vanderbilt falls down quickly to Kentucky and never recovers.
Like Week 10, no team has a bye in Week 11. For all of the SEC teams in action this week, here are projections for margins of victory, ranked from losses/narrow wins to the biggest blowout.
Opponent: at Missouri
Bovada line: +11
Prediction: Tennessee loses by 21
Why: This game will be the last nail in the coffin for Butch Jones. Tennessee has upped its average a little bit, but the Volunteers are scoring only 12.4 points per game in conference play — worst of all Power 5 teams. This loss will cripple their chances of making a bowl.
Opponent: at South Carolina
Bovada line: +7 1/2
Prediction: Florida loses by 17
Why: The Gators lost 45-16 to Missouri in Week 10, giving the Tigers their first conference win of the season. Florida gave up, and will continue to wilt for the rest of 2017. Don’t expect the Gators to go on the road and beat the Gamecocks.
Opponent: vs. Kentucky
Bovada line: -2 1/2
Prediction: Vanderbilt loses by 14
Why: Vanderbilt ended fans’ misery momentarily, beating Western Kentucky 31-17 in Week 10. Jumping back into conference play won’t be great for the Commodores. For the second consecutive season, Derek Mason’s team will fall to the Wildcats.
Opponent: at LSU
Bovada line: +17
Prediction: Arkansas loses by 10
Why: Ten of the last 12 games in this series have been decided by 17 points or less. Regardless who starts at quarterback for the Razorbacks, Arkansas will find a way to keep this game close. In the end, LSU’s talent will take over.
Opponent: vs. Georgia
Bovada line: +3
Prediction: Auburn loses by 7
Why: Auburn picked up a big win against Texas A&M last week and now faces the ominous task of taking down Georgia. The Bulldogs are giving up only 89 rushing yards per game this season, good for fifth in the country. The Tigers will have a tough time running the ball with that kind of opposition.
Even at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers won’t be able to pull off the mild upset. Auburn has gotten the short end of the stick this season, having to play three of the top 5 teams in the country — Alabama, Clemson and Georgia.
Opponent: at Mississippi State
Bovada line: -14
Prediction: Alabama loses by 3
Why: Nick Saban is an almost perfect 9-1 against Mississippi State since he took over at Alabama in 2007. The only loss Saban suffered came in 2007 — his first season. His record is going to be slightly more blemished after Saturday.
The Crimson Tide’s closest win of the season came on the road at Texas A&M. They really played bad in the second half and were fortunate to escape with a win. This time, Alabama doesn’t survive in a rowdy road environment.
8. Mississippi State
Opponent: vs. Alabama
Bovada line: +14
Prediction: Mississippi State wins by 3
Why: Since arriving in 2009, Dan Mullen hasn’t beaten Saban. That is about to change because of the Bulldogs’ effort on both sides of the ball. Mississippi State is giving up only 18 points per game, which ranks top 15 nationally.
The offense also is a strength with Nick Fitzgerald leading the unit to 33.9 points per game. Davis Wade Stadium will be rocking on Saturday night. After seven straight failures, Mullen finally gets the better of Saban.
Opponent: at Auburn
Bovada line: -3
Prediction: Georgia wins by 7
Why: Georgia has fought off every opponent through 10 weeks of football and now faces its toughest conference challenge before Atlanta. Once again, Kirby Smart will rely on his defense to stifle a talented offense. Mel Tucker’s unit will come up big again.
Opponent: vs. Arkansas
Bovada line: -17
Prediction: LSU wins by 10
Why: LSU gave Alabama a game last week, but the Tigers’ offense couldn’t muster enough points to beat the Crimson Tide. In year’s past, LSU has had lapses against Arkansas after losing to Alabama. A letdown did not occur in 2016 with Ed Orgeron as the interim coach.
Instead of coming out flat, the Tigers crushed the Razorbacks 38-10. In 2017, the Tigers will be fired up once again. Orgeron will move to 1-0 versus Arkansas as official head coach.
Opponent: at Vanderbilt
Bovada line: +2 1/2
Prediction: Kentucky wins by 14
Why: Even though this game is on the road, Kentucky will take care of business. Vanderbilt hasn’t won a conference game in 2017, giving up an average of 320.20 rushing yards. The home team has won the last four games in this series. That streak ends on Saturday.
4. South Carolina
Opponent: vs. Florida
Bovada line: -7 1/2
Prediction: South Carolina wins by 17
Why: In Week 11, South Carolina gets a much easier opponent after sticking tough with Georgia in Week 10. On the road, the Gators got lucky against Kentucky and were crushed by Missouri. The home team wins this matchup, and Will Muschamp beats his former team after losing 20-7 last season.
Opponent: vs. Tennessee
Bovada line: -11
Prediction: Missouri wins by 21
Why: The Tigers are coming off a big 45-16 win over Florida. Now, they face another declining SEC East foe with a similar weakness — a lack of offense. Barry Odom’s squad will avenge last season’s 63-37 throttling on the road. The Tigers’ offense won’t be stopped by a dejected Volunteers defense.
2. Ole Miss
Opponent: vs. Louisiana
Bovada line: -17 1/2
Prediction: Ole Miss wins by 22
Why: Ole Miss pulled out a tough road win at Kentucky in Week 10. Even without Shea Patterson and having a bowl ban in 2017, the Rebels are still competing. In two full games without Patterson, Ole Miss has scored 37 points each time. Matt Luke’s team adds another notch to the win column.
1. Texas A&M
Opponent: vs. New Mexico
Bovada line: -19
Prediction: Texas A&M wins by 24
Why: Last season, the Aggies beat New Mexico State 52-10. New Mexico won’t fare much better. The Aggies roll on Saturday night.
Week 10 in review: Last week in this spot, we chose Arkansas to crush Coastal Carolina. Instead, the Razorbacks won by a mere point. Projected by us to lose, Missouri had the easiest day and beat Florida by 29 points. … Mississippi State, our pick for biggest blowout win, beat UMass by 11 points. We had doubts about South Carolina and LSU keeping their games close, but both teams proved us wrong and lost by only 14 points.