PICKS: Auburn to defeat MSU, Alabama to cruise at home & other SEC picks

Dale Jones

Sports in Paradise
by Dale Jones

By Dale Jones

There are a certain times of the season when it is tough to prognosticate college football. The first week of the season, the last week of the season, and a couple of weeks during October. I got off to a rough start this season, thanks to a better showing than expected by Tennessee, Auburn running out of gas in the fourth quarter, and a horrible “no-call” late in Vandy-South Carolina game.

Still I went 10-15 for a .667 percentage to get thing started.

It is going to be fun to watch this season play out. Most of the nation’s top ranked teams won big and showed their strengths, but you almost have to give the nod to the Tide, considering they manhandled another “Top Ten” program.

There are some interesting SEC match-ups in week two, so let’s take a look at this-week’s picks.

Arkansas vs. Louisiana-Monroe
I like this Razorback team. They threw up 49 points on Saturday against Jacksonville State, running on cruise control. They will not be tested when they host the Warhawks. Arkansas 48 – Louisiana-Monroe 14

Tennessee vs. Georgia State
Knoxville will be stop number two of the Bill Curry Farewell Tour. The Vols looked surprisingly good last Saturday against NC State, and I’m anxious to know if they are for real. Unfortunately, even after this weekend, we still won’t know for sure. Tennessee 45 – Georgia State 9

Kentucky vs. Kent State
Earlier in the year, Kentucky and Kent State played 21 innings of baseball before Kent State pulled out the win. Can you imagine that many overtimes in a football game? Although Kent State has a respectable defense, especially against the run, I expect the Wildcats to bounce back after getting “bounced” by Louisville last Saturday. Kentucky should win, but I’m not convinced it will be by much. Kentucky 17 – Kent State 13

South Carolina vs. East Carolina
East Carolina does have an effective passing attack and certainly Spurrier’s Gamecocks should. They just didn’t show it against Vandy. With first game jitters in the past, I expect a much better game from South Carolina. If you like points, I think you will enjoy this contest. South Carolina 33 – East Carolina 27

Ole Miss vs. Texas-El Paso
Last week, at the half, the Rebels were trailing Central Florida, while UTEP was locked up with No. 4 Oklahoma 7-7. As it turned out, Ole Miss won big and UTEP lost big. Still, those things make you wonder what could happen in a face-to-face matchup. I want to believe that the Rebs are better than what we saw in the first half last week. If they play well at home on Saturday, they should get their second “W” of the season. Ole Miss 27 – Texas-El Paso 10

Vandy @ Northwestern
Both teams scored in every quarter of Northwestern’s loss to Syracuse last Saturday, so we know they can score points and will give up points. If Vandy get’s the pass interference call in the fourth quarter against South Carolina, they pull of the upset. I like the fact that Vandy held a Spurrier team to only 67 yards passing. I still like this team and believe they will win some games this season. Vandy 27 – Northwestern 24

Georgia @ Missouri
Missouri scored lots and cruised to a win in their practice game against Southeastern Louisiana last week. This week, the “Dawgs” come for a visit to officially welcome the Tigers to the SEC. Georgia has enough talent on both sides of the ball to find their way to the SEC Championship this year. Barring anything crazy, Georgia should win this one in fairly easy fashion. Georgia 35 – Missouri 17

LSU vs. Washington
Washington will obviously be more of a challenge than was North Texas, but I’m not sure that the Huskies are prepared for a visit to the “friendly confines” of Baton Rouge. LSU was a little sluggish in their opener, but expect to see them running on all cylinders come Saturday. LSU 38 – Washington 21

Alabama vs. Western Kentucky
After watching the Tide destroy No. 8 Michigan, rumor has it that the Hilltoppers tried to cancel their trip to Tuscaloosa. Nothing doing guys. This will be a fun day for the fans, and don’t be surprised if Saban puts in some of the cheerleaders by the fourth quarter. This game is going to be U-G-L-Y. Alabama 52 – Western Kentucky 6

Auburn @ Mississippi State
Auburn lost a very close game to No. 14 Clemson, and showed they have trouble defending the run. Mississippi State won huge against Jackson State, but…it was Jackson State. I expect Auburn to make some much needed corrections, and no doubt, the Bulldogs will be chompin’ at the bit to finally get over the hump and beat the Tigers. From a talent standpoint, Auburn has a slight edge and will likely correct their mistakes, but like the past two seasons, this one could go down to the very last play. Auburn 24 – Mississippi State 21

Other games to watch:
South Alabama 21 – Nicholls State 17
Florida State 55 – Savannah State 7
Texas 34 – New Mexico 21
Southern Cal 41 – Syracuse 17

Upset of the Week:
Florida at Texas A&M
To put it bluntly, the Gators looked horrible in their season opener against Bowling Green. Add to that the fact that they will be on the road, playing a very hungry Aggie team who’s players, coaches and fans feel that they have something to prove. Either Florida will fix all of their issues that they displayed last Saturday (and there were many issues) and pull out the win, or the Aggies are going to open up their SEC schedule in memorable fashion. Based on what I saw, I like A&M’s chances.
Texas A&M 31 – Florida 28

—Dale Jones is a syndicated sports columnist, member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association, The Football Writers Association of America, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Email Dale at sportsNparadise@gmail.com or on twitter @sportsNparadise.