Longtime SEC Banter readers will recall that a hallmark of this column is predicting scores. So, rather than devote this prominent space to comparing SEC storylines to classic 1980s films and Republican political heroes, let’s return to our roots. Let’s predict the outcome of each game in the nation’s finest football conference, SEC Banter style.
Here we go.
LSU at Alabama: This annual tussle has evolved into the SEC’s best modern-day rivalry which, by definition, makes it the undisputed best rivalry in the history of the universe.
The Tigers/Tide showdown is typically a heavyweight fight grudge match that leaves fans almost as exhausted as the players. Defense dominates and every point is preciously earned. I think the score a few years ago was 3-2.
Unfortunately, the rivalry lacks luster this year. While the Bayou Bengals have won five of the last six meetings in Tuscaloosa, an old high school football coach of mine used to say it’s not what you’ve done, it’s what you’ve done lately.
Lately, LSU has played itself out of the national title race and the Tigers don’t have much to play for but pride. LSU’s traditionally stingy defense is playing like a Big 12 unit, and for those of you unfamiliar with Big 12 defenses, that’s not good.
On the Bama side, if you caught last week’s “60 Minutes” profile of Nick Saban, you had a window into Saban’s “process” of coaching national championship teams. It works, and it will work again Saturday night in T-town.
The Tide will roll and send the Tigers to the bayou licking their paws. Approximately 100,000 Alabama fans will depart Bryant-Denny Stadium secure that their self-worth, measured exclusively by Alabama’s success in football, remains high. Bama 38, LSU 17.
Arkansas at Ole Miss: First-year Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema (remember that he met his wife at a Vegas casino and proposed to her on a cruise ship) has had a tremendous debut in the SEC. Tremendously horrendous.
The Hogs, 0-5 in the SEC, have a better chance at scoring in the Grove this Saturday than on the gridiron. Ole Miss 42, Arkansas 21.
Auburn at Tennessee: Auburn is the flavor of the month and Gus Malzahn is likely the conference’s coach of the year. Tennessee looked dreadful against Missouri last week but plays well in Knoxvegas. It’ll be closer than expected on the banks of the Tennessee River. Auburn 31, Tennessee 24.
Mississippi State at Texas A&M: A team with a maroon-and-white color scheme will win.
Vanderbilt at Florida: How far has Florida fallen when Vanderbilt’s visit to the Swamp makes Gator fans nervous? This game is early (noon), Florida is hungover from the cocktail party, and Will Muschamp looks like he might not be the man to lead one of the country’s major football programs.
I’m calling Vanderbilt in an upset. If it happens, I’ll come back next week and tell you how smart I am. If not, no one will remember that I picked Vanderbilt anyway, so it’s a win-win for SEC Banter. Vanderbilt 24, Florida 23.
Appalachian State at Georgia: The Dawgs host the Mountaineers in the only non-conference game of the week. This prediction isn’t quite as bold as Vandy over Florida. UGA 52, Appy State, 10.
Missouri at Kentucky: The SEC East’s first-place team travels to Lexington, Ky. to face the division’s last-place team. Missouri should have no problem with the Wildcats unless Tigers’ head coach Gary Pinkel honchoes too much of Kentucky’s finest spirit before kickoff. Come to think of it, even then the Tigers will be fine. Missouri 42, Kentucky 13.
South Carolina is the only SEC team with an open date on Saturday. The Gamecocks need Missouri to lose, meaning South Carolina will experience the pure misery of cheering for Kentucky football. Good luck!
Enjoy the first weekend of November in the SEC. Engage in some banter, cook some good food, pour a few tasty beverages, and take in fall in the South.
Meanwhile, something tells me I’m right on the money with that Mississippi State-Texas A&M prediction. Let me know if you agree.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.