Even though this is essentially the last week for the picks of the week, you'll not be receiving the usual 2300 words on six football games. I can already sense the disappointment. I have two reasons for this: One, it's a holiday and no one goes online during the holiday other than to check the steady failure of a fantasy football team (I spent a good 20 minutes today thinking how not thankful I was for the bums on both of my teams.). And two, I just had a gravy burp and don't want a piece of the 24,000 calories I consumed today ending up on my keyboard. So on to a rather hurried edition of the picks...
Last week: 5-1
Season: 75-14 (.843)
Alabama at Auburn
It's Chris Todd's turn to meet the buzzsaw that is the Alabama defense. We've seen this defense destroy every quarterback it has faced with the exception of, and strangely enough, Jonathan Crompton. Somehow Crompton was able to avoid a 40% completion rate and multiple interceptions, and if he had a kicker on his team, we might still be talking about the performance he pulled out of the air. Unfortunately for Auburn, I don't see the jelly-armed Todd having any such success. Alabama loves to play tight, man-to-man pass defense, which requires a quarterback with a strong arm and/or a great ability to throw a deep ball to burn that coverage. Todd has neither of those abilities in his portfolio.
Oh, and there's the whole thing about Auburn's defense sucking. Just a minor detail. I expect Alabama will slowly and methodically pound Auburn's defense into submission, which will end with the Tigers in a Figure Four (a Ric Flair specialty) and eventually tapping out. If I could remember the moves from Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton, I'd mention them here as well.
Clemson at South Carolina
I can't imagine how pleased ACC officials are that Clemson will be taking part in their illustrious conference championship game. Clemson, one of maybe three schools in the ACC that has a large, caring fanbase, should send attendance in the championship game close to 40,000, up from 11,000 or so every time Boston College and/or Virginia Tech are involved. I have no idea who Clemson will be playing (I can't even name the divisions in the ACC or the teams that are in the separate divisions), but I'm sure it will be every bit as exciting as you're imagining it to be right now.
As for this game, I don't have a damn clue. I know nothing of Clemson, other than they always lose to teams as good or better than them and usually find a way to lose a couple of games to team worse than them. And South Carolina, who the hell knows what's going on there? Are they totally done or do they have a little left in the tank? They put up a pretty good fight against Florida before finally crumbling in the last quarter, but I would not be surprised if they rolled over and officially died on Saturday. Based on a total lack of information, Clemson's tendency to lose games they shouldn't and a belief that South Carolina is better at home against a Clemson team that I think is terrible, I'll take the Gamecocks.
Ole Miss at Mississippi State
I think we can all agree the Egg Bowl trophy is secondary to the prestigious Awww-Shit Trophy (although, technically there's not a physical trophy, but it lives in spirit). Two of the favorites to win that trophy, Jevan Snead and Tyson Lee figure to play prominent roles in this game. Snead holds a one pick lead over Lee and Joe Cox, but as of late he's been reduced to a Trent Dilfer and isn't required to throw as much as he once was. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen says that Lee will play (even though he did not play the entire second half at Arkansas), but I don't expect him to throw more than 10 passes. So, it's going to be a battle and a tight one at that. If I had to wager on it, I'd pick Lee to tie Snead because I think State will have to throw more than they really want, and I assume they'd prefer Lee to throw those passes rather than Chris Relf.
As for the actual game, State should have some success running the ball, but in order to win they'll have to get something out of the passing game. And I have no official stats, but I'm pretty sure every time this season I've written that sentence State has gotten nothing out of their passing game (that's not to be confused with every game they've played so far). I look for the Ole Miss offense to keep plowing along, nothing spectacular (except for Dexter McCluster) and rack up 400-ish yards of offense and score enough to win. It should be a standard, gross Ole Miss/State game in which one team is better, but can't put the other away. As much fun as another 45-0 game would be, State plays much harder under Mullen and is at least 250,000% more competent on offense than last year.
Florida State at Florida
This game narrowly edges out Clemson/South Carolina as the single most unwatchable game of the weekend. Florida State is a bumbling, inconsistent but consistently bad 6-5 ACC team. Unless you are a fan of Florida State, there is no part of you that should have any desire to see this team play. Florida is a good, offensively choppy and generally boring team to watch. Again, unless you are a Florida fan, there is not a compelling reason to watch more than 18 seconds of this game. I would strongly advise everyone to take a nap during this time. Your body and mind will thank you. Florida wins.
Arkansas at LSU
Is it too much to ask the sports gods for another Les Miles coaching decision that blows up in his face? This has been one of the most glorious weeks I can remember in quite some time. LSU fans are out for blood, Miles can't give them any acceptable answers and LSU fans finally feel the pain of their fall-into-a-win-ass-backwards not working. If another major act of buffoonery happened again, I don't think he'd make it out of the stadium.
Interestingly enough, this is Arkansas' fourth road game of the year (they played Texas A&M in Dallas) and the previous three were all loses (Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama). And Ryan Mallett hasn't been so great on the road. 36-96, 638 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT. His completion percentage is awful, but he hasn't made the killer turnovers to totally wipe out any chance they had to win those games. If Arkansas is going to beat LSU, he'll need to really pick up his completion percentage to something near the 60% mark. But unfortunately for Arkansas, he's only done that twice in SEC play (Auburn and South Carolina) and broken 50% only four times in SEC games. If this game were in Arkansas, maybe I'd take the Hogs, but it's not and I don't want anything to do with them on the road.
Tennessee at Kentucky
A battle for one of the lower-tier SEC bowls. What the hell, let's take Rich Brooks and AN EIGHT WIN SEASON FOR THE WILDCATS.
Georgia at Georgia Tech
One of the other favorites to win the Awww-Shit Trophy, Joe Cox, could sneak in and steal the trophy from Tyson Lee or Jevan Snead. I really like his chances because I think Georgia will spend the majority of this game playing from behind. I would thoroughly enjoy Cox obliterating the competition by throwing something like four interceptions. What a great end to a career and season that would be. I like Tech to win.