SEC football: Bold predictions for Week 12
Much of the SEC will enjoy Cupcake Week, but doesn’t that make it opportunity week here in the land of bold predictions? Lots of people thought Alabama might be upset sometime this season, but who called The Citadel over ‘Bama? Well, we’re not doing that, either. But we do see some opportunities to shock the world. Here’s a bold prediction for each SEC Week 12 game:
Tua is done in the first quarter
Sure, Nick Saban doesn’t get the Internet or read the newspaper, but you don’t have to be a media type or overzealous fan to realize that playing a slightly hobbled Tua Tagovailoa against The Citadel is crazy talk. He’ll make his token appearance, but it’ll be like Aaron Rodgers in an NFL preseason game. Give him a couple of drives, then sit him down … before the second quarter.
Paul Petrino will be the most successful Petrino this week
Couldn’t resist the obvious non-bold prediction. Idaho pulls off the difficult task of going from a bowl game in 2016 to being an FCS team in 2018. Idaho is terrible and Florida will carve them up, but at least Paul still has his job, unlike brother Bobby. For a legitimate prediction: Feleipe Franks will have a fine game against a secondary that has given up 22 touchdowns and made only 3 interceptions against FCS competition. Mark him down for 250 and 4 scores before he departs for the afternoon.
Kentucky trails at half, Benny rallies the troops
Kentucky’s offense has been offensive, especially in the first half. Kentucky hasn’t topped seven first-half points since September. That said, running back Benny Snell has too much pride to lose in what will likely be his final home game. Kentucky — when they’re not falling on their face against UT — plays tough football late and wins ugly. They’ll do both, trailing at the half and winning by 10.
State pitches a shutout
Arkansas has surprised throughout the year, but this is one game where they just don’t match up well. Playing in Starkville against a State team that has been clicking on offense could go very, very not well. How not well? We’re calling for a shutout for a Mississippi State defense that can look pretty darn rugged.
Tennessee has finally managed to shift its improved play into wins and losses with Ws over Auburn and Kentucky. But Missouri is a different kind of challenge. The Tigers offense is light years better than the slumping AU and UK groups that Tennessee’s defense held down. UT’s offense won’t have the horses to keep up in a shootout. This feels like a 41-27 kind of game, and Missouri wins it.
Liberty stays free for a half
Auburn has been the most disappointing team in the SEC. They’ll continue that on Saturday. No, Liberty is not very good and won’t keep up with the Tigers for a full game. But for a half? Remember, Liberty averages 304 passing yards per game. And granted, many of those came against Little Sisters of the Poor, but watch the UT-Auburn tape again and see that Auburn has real problems with the pass. Auburn will win comfortably — say, by 24 — but they’ll have a ballgame on their hands for a half.
Fields between the Hedges
Look, we can’t get enough Justin Fields. And head coach Kirby Smart has kept the youngster on the sideline for virtually the whole season. But we’re sticking with this. We did this last year several times with another freshman QB. You may have heard of him. Something Tagovailoa. So once again, we’ll say THIS is the game in which Fields gets to show more than a flash of his skill set. And it may not be … but the game is coming. UGA by 45.
It’s a Mond’s World
Some people think UAB has a puncher’s shot at Texas A&M. We’re not those people. UAB is 9-1, and they’ve owned UT-San Antonio and UTEP and Rice, etc., etc. They needed overtime to beat Southern Miss and beat North Texas by one score. They’re not beating A&M. But they do have a fairly tough run defense, and head coach Jimbo Fisher will involve Kellen Mond in a 300-plus-yard passing game that A&M wins by 28.
LSU can pick the score, Brossette goes for 200
This game has the potential to be more lopsided than Alabama-Citadel. Rice is an ugly 1-9 (not that there’s a pretty 1-9), and LSU will be able to do literally whatever they want. We’re going to assume that’ll include a healthy dose of Nick Brossette, who we’ve got for 200 rushing yards. LSU by 45.
300 for Jake
South Carolina has to be thinking ahead to next week’s showdown with Clemson. Which is why they use this game to let Jake Bentley do his thing. Chattanooga is not a meaningful threat, given that their offense was held to nine points by Mercer and 10 by Furman and Wofford in the team’s last five games. So Bentley will throw for 300 yards as USC wins by 38.
Not Miss-ing an upset
Faithful readers will have noticed that we haven’t picked an upset this week. Unfortunately, there are only two SEC games that are expected to be competitive … but here’s the upset. The Rebels have enough of an offense to outlast Vandy. Jordan Ta’amu will lead a two-minute drive to score the winning touchdown in the game’s final seconds and officially give Vandy nothing to play for next week except for hatred of UT.