SEC Update: Texas A&M vs LSU, Missouri vs Ole Miss should be tasty treats Saturday
By Kendall Webb
Maybe Johnny Football has taken his last snap in College Station. Or maybe not.
That’s a story for another day, in the meantime, Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel still has some big games to play in an Aggie uniform. He’ll lead our No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies into Baton Rouge Saturday afternoon to take on the No. 19 LSU Tigers, and it’s one last big opportunity to round-up any Heisman votes that might be left out there among the undecided voters. With voters likely to be cautious regarding Florida State’s Jameis Winston and the controversy in Tallahassee, a big performance in Baton Rouge could elevate Manziel back into the conversation.
The game itself figures to be interesting, but amazingly, it won’t be for anything more than off-season bragging rights.
Week 12 Recap
In the end, I can’t complain. I had spent much of last Saturday afternoon during Georgia’s visit to Auburn sorting through my bag of lame excuses to explain here why I had chosen the Bulldogs to upset the Tigers. Trailing 27-7 just shortly before the half, a loss to the Tigers seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
But the magic of college football is in watching the seemingly impossible unfold right before our eyes, or in my case, my ears as I drove up through the backroads of Alabama from Birmingham to Huntsville. Georgia had just completed a comeback that wouldn’t soon be forgotten on the Plains when I began to descend into downtown Huntsville from the scenic overlook on Governors Drive just southeast of town. I had long since abandoned my string of flimsy excuses for picking the Bulldogs and was feeling pretty good when the game took yet another unexpected turn – on a fourth and 18, the Auburn broadcast team relayed the events as a deflected Nick Marshall pass found the hands of Ricardo Louis who did the rest of the damage with his feet on an improbable 73-yard touchdown pass to reclaim the victory for Auburn.
Yeah, sometimes that’s how it goes. At that point, I lost the pick, but college football gained another chapter in its history of unlikely comebacks, one that will ultimately rival the Bluegrass Miracle in SEC lore. Call it the Miracle on the Plains, and it could have national title implications if the Tigers somehow manage to upset Alabama on Thanksgiving weekend.
The last-second loss dropped me to 4-1 for the week, and I enter Week 13 with a 78-17 record on SEC picks.
This Coming Weekend
Look, there are some great matchups this weekend. As noted, the No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies pay a visit to the No. 19 LSU Tigers. And No. 10 Missouri’s visit to No. 21 Ole Miss has SEC title implications for the visiting Tigers who will try to stay ahead of the No. 17 South Carolina Gamecocks. But, come on, we know the real treat is next week when the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Auburn to face the No. 5 Tigers in the Iron Bowl. Until then, at this point in the season, everything else is filler.
Mississippi State Bulldogs at Arkansas Razorbacks
12:21 p.m. ET, Saturday, November 23 (ESPN GamePlan)
STORYLINE: Mississippi State tries to stay bowl eligible
Arkansas has already been eliminated from postseason consideration at 3-7, and Mississippi State is one loss away from joining them. The Bulldogs need to beat the ‘Hogs Saturday and Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl a week later to join the postseason party.
PREDICTION: It’s a tough pick, and Mississippi State is the better team overall, but only marginally. I’ll take Arkansas to win it in front of the home crowd as they take their first steps toward being a team in bowl contention in 2014.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at No. 17 South Carolina Gamecocks
1 p.m. ET, Saturday, November 23 (ESPN GamePlan)
STORYLINE: Gamecocks look to avoid FCS trap
It’s the Gamecocks vs. the Chanticleers, but you won’t find any chickens on this field. Coastal Carolina is a member of the FCS, but they are 10-1 with some great athletes on both sides of the ball and they will be anxious to prove themselves against South Carolina. Nothing is at stake for either team in terms of postseason considerations, but there’s plenty of South Carolina pride on the line for both of them.
PREDICTION: Could actually be an interesting game for a while, but in the end, South Carolina should pull away and beat their neighbors comfortably.
Georgia Southern Eagles at Florida Gators
2 p.m. ET, Saturday, November 23 (ESPN GamePlan)
STORYLINE: Florida tries to stay in the postseason hunt
In the old days, this Florida team might have struggled against a Georgia Southern program that has often dominated at the FCS level. But the Eagles are in a transition year as they prepare to move up to the FBS, and they are just middle of the road themselves. Either way, the Gators already have six losses and can’t afford a stumble.
PREDICTION: It might not be pretty, but the Gators will win setting up a one-game “playoff” of sorts against Florida State where they will be heavy underdogs. If they win both of these games, they’ll make a bowl game. If they stumble in either one of them, they are done.
Chattanooga Mocs at No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
2 p.m. ET, Saturday, November 23 (ESPN GamePlan)
STORYLINE: The Crimson Tide rolls on
Chattanooga is in first place in the FCS Southern Conference, but they won’t have the guns to be able to stick with Alabama.
PREDICTION: Alabama should cruise to a comfortable win as they head into a winner-take-all Iron Bowl at Auburn on Thanksgiving weekend.
No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies at No. 19 LSU Tigers
3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, November 23 (CBS)
STORYLINE: The Aggies’ offense against the LSU defense
Johnny Manziel has produced at least 300 yards of total offense in 19 straight starts so there’s no reason to expect less than that Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge. The Tigers’ defense has been shaky at times this year, and the bigger problem will be if Manziel has one of those days where he produces 450-500 yards.
PREDICTION: It’s a tough call, and LSU is running about a 4.5 point favorite. But I’m going to go with Manziel on the road to have one of those games that reminds us why he’s known as Johnny Football. The Aggies’ defense won’t stop LSU either, so I expect a shootout.
Kentucky Wildcats at Georgia Bulldogs
7 p.m. ET Saturday, November 23 (ESPNU)
STORYLINE: The Blue Grass Miracle meets the Miracle on the Plains
Hey, at least the Kentucky Wildcats can empathize with the Georgia Bulldogs. It was 11 years ago that the Wildcats were stunned on 74-yard pass play on the final play of their November 9, 2002, matchup with the LSU Tigers. Fast-forward to last Saturday night when Georgia paid a visit to Auburn and rallied from a 27-7 deficit to take a 38-37 lead. Then on a fourth-and-18, the Bulldogs watched helplessly as a tipped ball landed in the hands of Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis who took it the distance for a 73-yard come-from-behind victory.
PREDICTION: And even with Georgia at just 6-4, it would just about take another miracle for the Kentucky Wildcats to pull this out in Athens. I’ll go with Georgia in a comfortable win.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Tennessee Volunteers
7 p.m. ET Saturday, November 23 (ESPN2)
STORYLINE: Tennessee tries to stay alive for a bowl
The Volunteers are on the verge of missing the postseason for the second straight year while former SEC doormat and in-state rival Vanderbilt is making its record third-straight postseason appearance. Ironically, the Volunteers will need a win here in Knoxville against the Commodores to avoid officially being eliminated with a seventh loss while a Vanderbilt win would be the Commodores’ seventh win.
PREDICTION: It’s actually a tough call, and the Vols are actually favored by about 2.5. And I’m going to go with Butch Jones and his crew to find a way to get it done at home in Knoxville.
No. 10 Missouri Tigers at No. 21 Ole Miss Rebels
7:45 p.m. ET Saturday, November 23 (ESPN)
STORYLINE: Missouri tries to hang on to the SEC East lead
The Missouri Tigers have already exceeded expectations, but anything less than an SEC East title at this point would feel like a letdown after leading the race this late in the season. They remain one game ahead of South Carolina, but the Gamecocks own the head-to-head advantage over the Tigers after winning in Columbia a few weeks ago.
PREDICTION: There are a bunch of tough picks on the board this week, but none are harder than this. I have a feeling James Franklin could be rusty in his return, and Ole Miss has the home field advantage. I’ll go with the Rebels at home.