PICKS: Alabama’s litmus test will not be such a test after all

Dale Jones

Sports in Paradise
by Dale Jones

Last week, the two newest members of the SEC were welcomed to the league as many expected – with a loss. Auburn and Arkansas both had major letdowns while Alabama and LSU took care of business as expected.
I had a good week going 11-4, putting me 21-9 on the season for a .700 correct percentage.

Occasionally I get a score exactly right, and last week I missed the Ole Miss game by just 1 point. My prediction was Mississippi 27 – UTEP 10 and the actual score was 28-10.

Will the Tide continue to roll this weekend? Will Auburn finally find a check mark in the “W” column? Let’s take a look.

South Alabama @ North Carolina State
Things are really about to heat up for the Jags as they hit the road to play North Carolina State followed by a trip next week to take on Mississippi State. It will be interesting to see if this program is making the strides they’ve been hoping for. The Wolfpack handled the Jags easily last year, and I doubt this go round will to be much different. N.C. State 28 – South Alabama 13

UAB @ South Carolina
Blazer fans were expecting more in the season opener against Troy, but didn’t have much to brag about after the dust had settled. Will a week off make a difference for UAB as they head into Williams-Brice Stadium for the Saturday evening contest? Look for a big game from Lattimore, and another loss for the Blazers. South Carolina 35 – UAB 17

Vandy @ Presbyterian
Finally, the Commodores will enjoy the thrill of victory. They better enjoy the feeling, because Georgia, Missouri and Florida are lined up and waiting. Vandy 27 – Presbyterian 7

Missouri vs. Arizona State
The Sun Devils come into this contest with the 17th ranked offense and 24th ranked defense, scoring 108 points collectively in their first two contests while giving up only 20. Last Saturday, it looked as if the Tigers were going to give the Georgia Bulldogs a run for their money, but it was all Dawgs in the second half. Missouri is a slight favorite and I believe they will represent their new conference well on Saturday. Missouri 24 – Arizona State 20

Mississippi State @ Troy
Troy beat the Bulldogs back in ’01, but their track record against SEC teams since then has been dismal. This will be the first time the Trojans have hosted an SEC foe at Memorial Stadium, but there is no way that Dan Mullen is going to allow this team to slip. Mississippi State has a favorable chance of being 5-0 when they face Tennessee and possibly 7-0 when they travel to Tuscaloosa in late October. Mississippi State 34 – Troy 24

Georgia vs. Florida Atlantic
The Owls travel to Sanford Stadium this week, followed by a trip to Tuscaloosa next weekend. I hope they use the money they make off of these two games wisely, because they are headed for a serious beat down. Georgia 49 – Florida Atlantic 10

LSU vs. Idaho
Idaho is 0-2 and has only scored a total of 16 points against Eastern Washington and Bowling Green. They will likely not cross the 50-yard line on Saturday. You know the old cliché that on any given Saturday, anybody can beat anybody? Yeah, well not this week Idaho. LSU 53 – Idaho 0.

Ole Miss vs. Texas
I like Hugh Freeze as a football coach. I like the style of offense that Ole Miss is playing. I like the fact that the Rebels are 2-0 for the first time in four seasons. I like the fact that Ole Miss is hosting a quality, non-conference team on a nationally televised stage in prime time. A win for Mississippi would be huge for recruiting. I just don’t like their chances. Texas 28 – Ole Miss 17

Auburn vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Based on what we have seen the past two weeks, I almost find it funny that Auburn opened the week in Vegas as a 17-point favorite. Do the odds makers know something that we don’t? Have they seen Auburn play this season? Did they watch Louisiana-Monroe open their season last week with a huge win over the No. 8 Razorbacks? Ultimately, however, it is the Sun Belt vs. the SEC, it is the Tiger’s home opener, and yes, I believe that Auburn will finally get their act together. But no, it won’t be by 17 points. Auburn 24 – Louisiana Monroe 21

Alabama vs. Arkansas
An Arkansas Razorback team “with” QB Tyler Wilson would make this an interesting contest. Without him, this won’t be a game. Alabama showed Saturday that they can be susceptible to a sack here and there, but they still shutout an opponent 35-0. Many had this game circled as Alabama’s litmus test for this 2012 season, but after the Razorbacks loss to Louisiana-Monroe and the possible loss of their field general, that no longer seems to be the case. Alabama 31 – Arkansas 14

Other Games to Watch:
Kentucky 16 – Western Kentucky 9
Texas A&M 24 – SMU 12
Southern Miss 18 – East Carolina 12
USC 27 – Stanford 21

Upset of the Week:
Tennessee vs. Florida
Before anyone starts sending me nasty emails telling me that a Florida win over Tennessee would not be an upset, I beg to differ. Tennessee has looked great on both sides of the ball in their first two games. The Gators struggled against Bowling Green and just squeaked by last Saturday against Texas A&M. Florida is ranked 83rd in offense, while Tennessee is ranked 15th. On top of that, the game is being played at Neyland Stadium and Vegas has the Vols as a 2 ½ point favorite. So yes, it would be considered an upset if Florida wins, and that is what is going to happen. Florida 31 – Tennessee 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.