A bold prediction for each SEC Week 4 game
After a nice Week 2, it was a brutal Week 3 in the bold predictions department. Yes, LSU took down Mississippi State, and yes, AJ Swann led Vanderbilt to a nice win. We had a few other details close — Luther Burden and Raheim Sanders — but on the whole, we’re coming into Week 4 hungry to prove ourselves. So here we go — another week of dialing up some long-shot magic with a bold prediction for every SEC game.
Stetson Bennett has a career day
Not only is Kent State a massive underdog against Georgia, but the Golden Flashes’ pass defense has been awful. In 3 games, they allowed 884 passing yards and 8 touchdowns, with no interceptions to Kent State’s credit. Bennett’s career high for passing touchdowns is 5. He’ll tie it here and eclipse 300 yards by early in the 2nd half. Bulldogs win, 49-6.
Missouri upsets Auburn
Auburn is a touchdown favorite in a point spread that raises the question of whether anybody’s actually watched these teams play. Yes, Missouri has been forgettably ragged. But Auburn is about one pick-6 from a dumpster fire. TJ Finley is out, and the hot seat is much hotter on the Plains than it is in Columbia. Missouri leads early and hangs on to win by 6, and Bryan Harsin won’t last the season.
State goes for 50, Rogers passing for 400
Mississippi State bogged down last week, with an ugly 16 points against LSU. The good news is that Bowling Green gave up 59 to an FCS team 2 weeks ago, and it is allowing 536 yards per game (that’s 129th of 131 FBS teams). Mike Leach’s teams generally fare well when they have something to prove, and this certainly feels like one of those occasions. Off a 214-yard passing game at LSU, put Will Rogers down for 400 yards, and State to roll, 57-7.
Florida leads early, Hooker has to save Vols
Tennessee is a solid favorite this week against Florida, but there’s a general underrating of the Gators following some early offensive identity issues. They don’t match up badly with UT, and given the recent history of the series, the Vols will probably be on their heels a bit. This feels like a game where the Gators lead early, but the Vols get a chance to win late, and Hendon Hooker delivers with a touchdown drive to remember. 31-28 Vols, but it won’t be easy or pretty.
Tulsa does it in the air, but Ole Miss wins on the ground
For what feels like a first in the Lane Kiffin era, the Rebels will play a team Saturday that’s likely to outpass them. Tulsa QB Davis Brin has thrown for 1,206 yards in 3 games. The Rebels’ pass defense has been excellent, holding opponents to 5.2 yards per pass, allowing just 1 passing touchdown and nabbing 3 interceptions. Ole MIss will control this one on the ground. Tulsa outpasses the Rebels, but led by 100 rushing yards each for Zach Evans and Quinshon Judkins, Ole Miss takes the easy 41-14 win.
Arkansas delivers a big road win courtesy of Raheim Sanders
Yet again, a team that has struggled badly on offense finds itself a mild home favorite. Yes, A&M’s defense is legitimate. But Arkansas’s offense has acquitted itself well this year. Raheim Sanders is a dark-horse candidate for SEC Player of the Year, and after his 150-yard, 2-TD performance, he’ll be the SEC Offensive Player of the Week. The Hogs grind out a big road victory, 24-21.
Levis throws for 400 and UK rolls
Kentucky has been in grind-it-out mode this year, but the forthcoming return of excellent running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. will have the Wildcats looking to tune up the passing game ahead of SEC play. The good news is that Northern Illinois — as Vanderbilt saw a week ago — is pretty dire at defending the pass (it is 127th in pass defense efficiency, despite playing Tulsa, Vandy and Eastern Illinois). Levis leads a get-right effort for the UK offense, passing for 400 yards, with touchdowns to Dane Key and Barion Brown in a 42-14 win.
Tide special teams outscore Vandy
Vanderbilt is happy with frosh QB AJ Swann, but heading into Alabama will be like a drive into a fire in an asbestos car for Swann. The Tide rebounded nicely after the Texas game with a 56-point win. That win included a pair of special teams scores. Let’s call it a 2nd straight week where the Tide manages to outscore the opponent purely off special teams. After surviving the Texas scare, Alabama will flex on Vandy to open conference play. We’ll take a blocked kick return as part of a 52-6 win.
Shutout for LSU
Lost in the tumult of the Tigers offense’s ragged beginning, their defense held Mississippi State to 289 yards and 16 points. How will that manifest itself in Week 4? How about a shutout of New Mexico, averaging just 286 yards per game itself (122nd in the nation)? The Tigers continue rehabilitating their season with a 38-0 victory.
Rattler passes for 400
Yes, there are many predictions for big days from SEC passers. Add Rattler to the list, as Carolina faces Charlotte, currently 128th in FBS in passing yards per game allowed and dead last in FBS in opposing passer rating. That’s despite having played William and Mary, Maryland and Georgia State. Carolina’s season — on offense — will go as far as Rattler carries them. Says here he has a 400-yard passing day (which would be his 1st), and Carolina wins 49-14.