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SEC Banter: Predicting Saturday's SEC slate
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Nothing riles up readers like predicting SEC football games. While incendiary insults about the academic rigor of an SEC school go largely ignored, I hear from you most often when I wrongly predict your SEC team will lose.

Readers demand that I own up to faulty prognostications. Some say I should “eat crow.” Still others politely request that I shove a [edited for decency.]

I’ve heard you, folks, so before boldly predicting Saturday’s showdowns in college football’s finest conference, I’m here to own up to my incorrect predictions this season.

Those predictions — often in error, but never in doubt — have been frequent.

I predicted a Texas A&M “lopsided loss to the Gamecocks” in week one. I was right about “lopsided,” as A&M won 52-28.

This call deserves a big fat red “X” and an obnoxious buzzer sound like they have on “Family Feud.”

“It’s safe to say UGA gets the W” over South Carolina I penned in week three, encouraging readers to bet their kids’ college savings on a Georgia victory. South Carolina won 38-35. As punishment for this call I will be banished to the Georgia Dome for a Falcons game.

In week six I took Texas A&M over Mississippi State. Nice one there, Banter, as MSU dominated, 48-31. I will voluntarily refrain from playing golf for at least two days.

I stridently said Alabama would “roll, and roll big” over Ole Miss in early October. The Rebels turned back the Tide, 23-17.

Perhaps I deserve a week-long ban from listening to Eddie Money, Hall & Oates, and Foreigner.

Last week I was positive that Kentucky would “give LSU all it can handle.” The Tigers ate up the Wildcats, 41-3. A full day of watching Barack Obama speeches for me.

Finally, I had UGA on upset alert last Saturday in Little Rock. The Dawgs hog-tied Arkansas, 45-32. The ultimate punishment: no Bloody Marys, pimento cheese, or bacon-wrapped anything for me this Saturday.

So I’ve been mistaken on a few predictions but, hey, everyone except my wife makes mistakes. The trick is owning up to them.

Bill Murray made literally years’ worth of mistakes in the 1993 classic, “Groundhog Day.” He was stuck living the same frigid day in Punxsutawney, Pa. until he embraced it and lived the day mistake-free.

Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short were full of mistakes in 1986’s “¡Three Amigos!” Some claim the movie itself was their main mistake, but it’s an SEC Banter favorite. The Amigos mistakenly believed they were in a pretend fight with El Guapo only to redeem themselves and defeat him in the end.

Finally, the Aussie band Men at Work sang about mistakes in their 1983 hit, “It’s a Mistake.” Though the song pondered the mistake of nuclear war, the more serious mistake here in the South is not watching SEC football, which brings us to Saturday’s key matchups. 

No. 1 Mississippi State at Kentucky: The Wildcats return to their old Kentucky home hoping to rebound from an uninspired loss last week. Vegas says the top-ranked Bulldogs win by 14, but SEC Banter (the much more reliable predictor, as shown above) calls for a close MSU win. State 31, Kentucky 27.

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU: Ole Miss is enjoying its best run since JFK was president but returned some of its allotted tickets to LSU. Then we’ve got Les Miles pleading with LSU fans to stay the entire game and make noise.

What’s going on here? This is Saturday night in Death Valley! ESPN’s College GameDay is in town. Pungent scents of jambalaya, bourbon, gumbo, and bourbon will waft through the bayou air.

Ole Miss wins on a last second field goal, 20-17.

South Carolina at No. 5 Auburn: South Carolina’s star has faded faster than those two dudes who “starred” in 1989’s “Weekend at Bernie’s” and, incredibly, the sequel a few years later. The Gamecocks haven’t beaten Auburn since 1933, which sounds awful unless you (a) count that time in dog years, or (b) consider that the teams have met just 7 times since then.

Auburn hands the reeling Gamecocks another conference loss, 38-17.

No. 4 Alabama at Tennessee a/k/a Return of Lane Kiffin: This tilt between historic, hated rivals is overshadowed by former UT head coach and current Bama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville. It’s been five years since he bolted from Rocky Top but Vols fans are still seething.

A candidate for Tennessee’s state legislature compared his opponent to Kiffin in negative political ads. Some barber named Rusty -- I am not making this up -- claims that Kiffin skipped town without paying for his $14 haircut.

Kiffin will be welcomed in Knoxville like a hippie at a Charlie Daniels concert. He won’t be able to get out of dodge fast enough after Alabama throttles Tennessee, 42-20.

Enjoy the last SEC Saturday of October and we’ll see how my predictions pan out. In the meantime, I’m predicting severe anxiety attacks as I attempt to survive Saturday without Bloody Marys, pimento cheese, or bacon-wrapped anything.

Wish me luck!

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