SEC Football Predictions | Week 8
Week 7 Record (4-2) | Overall Record (39-26)
Welcome to the Week 8 edition of SEC Football Predictions. Here we are at the midway point of the season and Week 8 will help us begin to untangle this web we have woven the first half of the season. That much is true, at least, for the SEC West. The SEC East may be a car full of mess the entire drive to Atlanta and we may not know who represents the Eastern Division until one battered and beaten team exits the vehicle limping as they enter the Georgia Dome.
We have yet another Top-10 match-up to discuss in this, the Week 8 edition of SEC Football Predictions. We’ve made our pit stop at the halfway point of our drive to Atlanta. Watch your step as you board the vehicle. Please strap in and prepare for a bumpy and emotional ride filled with tears of joy, tears of pain, and a pinch of confusion and disbelief.
All Times Eastern | Utilizing AP Rankings until the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings are released in October.
SEC Football Predictions | Week 8 | October 22, 2016
UMass (1-6) at South Carolina (2-4, 1-4)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: UMass continues to make its bid to join the SEC as they play their third SEC game of the season. The Minutemen are 0-2 in SEC play thus far after losing to Florida and Mississippi State. Losing three conference games is a prerequisite to winning the SEC East, so the Minutemen would be a natural fit.
As far as South Carolina is concerned, they want to survive 2016 without anything going horribly off the rails. Defeating UMass will not turn the season around, but it will prevent the season from going off the rails. It’s little steps like these that will help Will Muschamp build a winner in Columbia. Keeping the train on the rails is important for momentum on the field looking ahead and 2017 as well as building and maintaining a solid recruiting base.
The Minutemen will not beat the ‘Cocks.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 34, UMass 13
#6 Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC) at #1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET | CBS
Big game word of wisdom: Alabama and Texas A&M have been billed as big games the previous three years and Alabama has ruined the Aggies short-term hopes of beating the ‘Tide as well as the long-term hopes of winning the West in each of those seasons. After A&M’s 2012 upset in Tuscaloosa, the Aggies have been viewed as a team than can threaten the ‘Tide, only to fall far short on most of those occasions.
The difference between the 2016 edition of the Aggies and the previous three Texas A&M teams that lost to Alabama is that this team has a stable quarterback that can make dynamic plays. Trevor Knight may not be as flashy as Johnny Manziel, but Knight’s ability to be dynamic without being a distraction has value that transcends the football field.
Kevin Sumlin was a hot commodity in 2012 after the Aggies’ breakout first season in the SEC, but his stock began to drop as the uncontrollable antics of Johnny Football reflected poorly on Sumlin’s leadership. The stink of Johnny Football’s overstayed welcome lingered as every quarterback seemed to transfer before the Music City Bowl last season and Kevin Sumlin’s stock had all but plummeted.
Knight’s ability to lead this team as a first-year transfer player from Oklahoma is nothing, if not impressive. Knight has not only increased his stock, but he has lifted Kevin Sumlin from the hot seat and placed him back on the throne as king of College Station. Knight’s positive presence has been contagious and a win over Alabama will put A&M on the inside track to Atlanta.
To shamelessly plug something I wrote earlier in the week, I drilled deeper into Trevor Knight’s 2016 passing stats to show that, based on the first six games, it doesn’t appear he has the magic arm to win this game.
The thing about Nick Saban and Alabama is that nothing warms their heart more than playing a team fueled on hope and destiny as they find their identity, only to be beaten into submission with reckless abandon by the Tide’s defense with any crumbs of dignity and respect left for Lane Kiffin’s offense to enjoy. To add insult to injury, the defense will outscore the opposing offense and when this team that was once filled with love and hope believes they just got Alabama’s best effort, they can hear Saban and his players talking to the media. The hope returns for a fleeting moment as they confusingly look back at the scoreboard to confirm that they did, indeed, lose. The confusion is justified. There are hints of disappointment in Nick Saban’s tone and four members of the defense have taken a knee and huddled together to sing hymns of sorrow of pain to represent what they feel was a terrible performance.
This week’s team of hope and destiny is Texas A&M. The most contested prop bet in Vegas will be who will show more anger and disappointment in Alabama’s win — Nick Saban or Kevin Sumlin?
PREDICTION: Alabama 44, Texas A&M 21
Middle Tennessee (4-2) at Missouri (2-4, 0-3 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: The SEC’s slogan is “Is Just Means More.” That cannot be legitimately applied on a game-per-game basis. Actually, this game would have fit perfectly under the slogan the ACC, nearly used before the SEC released its campaign, “It Just Means Less.” I don’t mean to be rude. I’m just trying to set the tone for what this game means. It does not mean more, therefore, it must mean less.
PREDICTION: Missouri 31, MTSU 21
#17 Arkansas (5-2, 1-2) at #21 Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC)
6:00 PM ET | ESPN
Quick word of wisdom: The first thing everyone has noticed about this game is Auburn being a 10-point favorite to win. The Tigers are playing much better, but Arkansas is not playing too shabby either. The Hogs defeated Ole Miss last week to earn the title of “One Of The Best Two-Loss Teams In The Country.” The Vegas line is not meant to be an exact predictor of how the game will play out. It’s a starting point to get as many people on both sides to put down money on the game.
Auburn’s defense has been the strength in 2016 and the running game has only improved each week. Quarterback play with sophomore Sean White has left much to be desired, but he’s still growing into the position and seems to be ready to make the leap from serviceable to effective.
I still stand with my statement earlier in the season that the Hogs are the second best team in the SEC West, even with their two losses. The two losses were to Alabama and Texas A&M. The same undefeated Alabama and undefeated Texas A&M that are playing as the No’s. 1 and 6 team in the country this weekend. Austin Allen is tough and can handle the physicality of Auburn’s defense and that will be the difference on Saturday night.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 31, Auburn 21
Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2 SEC) at Kentucky (3-3, 2-2 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | SEC Network
Quick word of wisdom: Here we are again. We are nearing the end of October and Kentucky is tied for second place in the SEC East. The two wins came against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, but Saturday night in Lexington should be a great opportunity to get their third conference win and build a ton of momentum heading into the final the month of the season. A couple losses by Florida and a good run by the Wildcats and we could somehow see them in Atlanta. It’s not likely, but nothing is completely out of the realm of possibility in the SEC East.
Mississippi State has historically been a thorn in the side of Kentucky. Even in the Bulldogs’ worst seasons, they tend to always match up well with the Wildcats. Despite that fact, UK should make enough plays against a Mississippi State team that has yet to find a consistent identity at this point of the season.
PREDICTION: Kentucky 35, Mississippi State 30
Tennessee State (5-1) at Vanderbilt (3-4, 1-3 SEC)
7:30 PM ET | ESPNU
Quick word of wisdom: Congrats to Vandy on the huge win over Georgia last weekend when me as well as everyone everyone in the nation believed they would lose badly to the Bulldogs. The Commodores now have an opportunity to win two consecutive games and can began to ask what if. Imagine if Vandy hangs on to defeat South Carolina and finds a way to get in the end zone to beat Kentucky.
Vandy will win the football game, but one of the greatest musical events in the Music City is the TSU Aristocrats of Bands. Vandy’s band would probably sit out of halftime if they were promised a good seat for the entire 20-minute intermission.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 45, Tennessee State 14
#23 Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2 SEC) at #25 LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC)
9:00 PM ET | ESPN
Quick word of wisdom: Two of the hottest trending teams in the SEC continues to be Auburn and LSU. LSU lost to Auburn and cost Les Miles his job. Ed Orgeron took over at head coach and the Bengal Tigers have been playing loose and effective. The win for Auburn gave the team new life and the two are on a path to successful seasons if they continue to get better.
Ole Miss lost to Arkansas last week in Fayetteville and they may feel the season is over. I don’t see Ole Miss falling apart for this one. Ole Miss seems to play best in this series when the least is expected of them. LSU has caught Ole Miss more than once just as they were feeling good about themselves, but before they knew it, the game was over and Ole Miss would steal a win. This will be a great game and you can flip a coin to figure out the winner. Your guess will be as good or better than mine.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 28, LSU 27
Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at Eric–at– TaylorCreativeGroup–dot– net. Eric is also President and Founder of Taylor Creative Group. For more college football coverage from Eric, visit PuntOnThirdDown-dot-com for the POTD Blog and POTD Podcast. Be sure to Like the Facebook page Facebook.com/EricTaylorWritesStuff for the latest on the 2016 SEC Football Predictions and all POTD Blogs and Podcasts.