Week 8 Record (3-3) | Overall Record (48-22)
Welcome back to SEC Football Predictions. It has been a long road to 50 wins in this 2015 season and after a .500 performance in Week 8, it is apparent that we are not meeting the high expectations at traditional powerhouse SEC Football Predictions.
All that changes this week as Halloween is upon us. As is custom when Halloween falls on a Saturday, some team will inevitably run out of the tunnel in some form of black jersey or helmet to the screams and howls of pleasure-riddled fans starved for variation.
Grab your mask and join me as we trick or treat through Week 9 of SEC Football Predictions.
All Times Eastern | Utilizing AP Rankings until the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings are released in October.
SEC Football Predictions | Week 9
Saturday, October 31, 2015 BOO
No. 19 Ole Miss (6-2, 3-1 SEC) at Auburn (4-3, 1-3 SEC)
Noon ET | ESPN
Quick word of wisdom: Alabama fans will begrudgingly cheer for Auburn as they open the day’s conference slate by hosting Ole Miss. ‘Bama fans excited about the Game of the Century trilogy taking place in Tuscaloosa against LSU next week need not forget that the Tide could win by 54 points in every game from here on out and still be left out of the SEC Championship Game and the College Football Playoff. If Ole Miss wins out, they still hold the tiebreaker in the West.
Now that we’ve sucker-punched every Alabama fan in the mouth in the first paragraph of the first game prediction, let’s actually talk about the Ole Miss-Auburn game. It is so tempting to take Auburn because they are… well… really it has nothing to do with anything positive Auburn has done all year. It has much more to do with Ole Miss and their ability to look absolutely pedestrian following a big win. Last week’s dominating victory over A&M was shocking, yet this is a team that posted 43 points in a win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. After that win, the Rebels looked as if they had mistook the calendar to read January and had ridden off into the off-season sunset.
The caveat in all of this is superman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who is ready to face Auburn again after last year’s heart breaking end to his season. Treadwell could very well name his number of catches and touchdowns in this one and no one would doubt for a second that he’d live up to it.
Laquon Treadwell broke his leg in last year’s game and it was the difference in the loss to Auburn that ended the wide receiver’s season as well as any hopes the Rebels had at the College Football Playoff (invented by Larry Culpepper). This season Treadwell will break his own school record for receptions in a single game (14, set just two weeks prior at Memphis). He will also score three touchdowns while amassing 240 yards receiving in a performance that will have even Auburn fans applauding the effort.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 42, Auburn 20
South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) at Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Texas A&M crashed and burned in 2014 after a fast start and a top-5 ranking. 2015 is beginning to take similar shape for the Aggies as they are coming off two consecutive losses following an undefeated first half of the season and a top-8 ranking.
The 2014 game that started all the early season buzz for the Aggies came in a season-opening thrashing of a South Carolina team that some had picked to win the East. A quarterback named Kenny Hill threw for a mile of yards and looked like the next Johnny Football, even earning a nickname that is as forgotten as the quarterback himself. Hill announced in May that he would transfer to TCU and, as far as anyone knows, he is still in Fort Worth hanging out with a program that hasn’t lost a game since just after the Alamo.
There seems to be some extra energy in South Carolina as the team tries to make the best of a wild season. A&M appears to have the same off-the-field issues that have plagued them since their 2012 arrival to the SEC. The off-the-field problems can only be isolated to off the field so long before it bleeds into on-the-field performance and Saturday night’s dud in Oxford proved that.
The 12th Man may be more like 11.5 for this early kickoff in College Station. The home field holds no advantage for A&M and South Carolina enjoys the road trip away from the chaos of floods and retiring legendary coaches on the way to a big conference road win.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 23, Texas A&M 17
Georgia (5-2, 3-2 SEC) vs. No. 11 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC)
3:300 PM ET | CBS | Jacksonville, FL
Big game word of wisdom: LSU may do more to decide the SEC East than any other team in that division. With the Tigers’ victory over the Gators two weeks ago in Baton Rouge, new life was awarded to Georgia after they lost to Tennessee in Knoxville on October 3. So now the winner of this game basically punches their ticket to Atlanta.
Mark Richt and Georgia love losing to Florida. Well, that’s what the scoreboard of recent history tells us, anyway. In Will Muschamp’s final year as Gators coach last year, Florida was atrocious on offense. They couldn’t pass and the run was a joke. That is until Mark Richt and his giving heart showed up to Jacksonville and asked his defense to politely allow Florida to run for over 400 yards. In one game. Georgia never knew what hit them and Florida never looked back. They didn’t have time to look back what with all the running they were doing.
With all of that being said, Jim McElwain has this Florida team looking about as good as anyone in the SEC in his first season. The true test for McElwain will come Saturday when victory over a rival and an SEC East championship is on the line.
The Gators appeared to crumble against Tennessee, but found a way to win when they had no business winning. Don’t be surprised if this game isn’t similar.
PREDICTION: Florida 38, Georgia 33
UT Martin (4-2) at Arkansas (3-4, 2-2 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Did you know that legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summit attended and played at UT Martin? Yep. Sure did.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 42, UT Martin 7
Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-2) at #18 Houston(7-0)
7:00 PM ET | ESPN2
Quick word of wisdom: The Commodores scored 10 points last week, but luckily they were playing Missouri and when you play Missouri in 2015, all you need is to score seven or more points in any way or fashion and victory is yours. Vandy added three points and won 10-3.
Unfortunately for the Dores, they go on the road to face an offense that throws points around like they were growing on trees. On the other hand, it is unfortunate for Houston that they face a team with a pretty ripe defense. Derek Mason is getting his sea legs under him as a head coach, but his defensive prowess needs no introduction. This is the guy that had two consecutive years as defensive coordinator at Stanford where his scheme made Oregon’s offensive players appear ineligible to advance the football more than one yard forward in any given play.
This game will be entertaining. It will have zero bearing on anything that will happen in December or January, but it’s college football and we like drama. The rest is gravy.
Oh, and don’t look now, Vandy fan…. but you’re two games from bowl eligibility if you win this one. Just an FYI.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 21, Houston 20
Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) at Kentucky (4-3, 2-2 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Tennessee doesn’t lose to Kentucky often. In fact, they lost to the Wildcats in 2011 and right after Reagan was reelected for his second term. As president. Not Governor of California. Come on, people. Have some respect for ye old Wildcats.
The Cats have been better this year, but as they usually do, they lost to Florida to end any hopes of removing that monkey off their backs and then took a beating from Mississippi State at home last week to solidify their standing as non-SEC East champions one more season. If that doesn’t make Kentucky fans long for basketball season even more, this game will.
Kentucky is improving each year under Mark Stoops, but any large success will quickly be followed by a huge payday at another school for Mr. Stoops.
No word on whether or not Tennessee will bring in James Dobson, as reported in last week’s predictions. In all seriousness, Butch Jones and the Vols deserve applause after a valiant effort in Tuscaloosa Saturday. That is the way that series was meant to be played and it looks like Alabama-Tennessee will once again leave little to no fingernails on an annual basis.
No moral victories for Tennessee this week. The Vols take care of business in dominant fashion in Lexington as they prepare for a strong November finish.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 50, Kentucky 14
Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at EricFromSpringfield–at– gmail–dot– com