Week seven will be a busy one in SEC play. Here are the picks from the TNJN roundtable of this week’s biggest games.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Tennessee
Bradford – Tennessee. Call me biased because I attend the University of Tennessee and my favorite team is the Auburn Tigers (War Eagle!), but there are legitimate reasons why Tennessee can (and will) top Alabama. First, Jalen Hurts has been solid at best as the Crimson Tide’s signal caller, but not spectacular. He’s often inaccurate and is shaky from the pocket. Not only is he playing in by far the toughest environment he’ll play in all year with the exception of LSU, no defensive line he’s faced yet is as talented as the Vols’ front four. Second, Joshua Dobbs is having a spectacular season after a rough start. Alabama always has a dominant front seven, but its secondary is continuously the team’s weakness. Last, what you need to beat the best is a dynamic player who can bust a play open in a multitude of ways. Enter, Alvin Kamara. Whether bruising through tacklers as a running back, or eluding linebackers as a receiving threat, Kamara’s versatility can’t be stopped. It all depends on if Butch Jones can finally decide to be a competent head coach for once and utilize him enough.
Milliken – Alabama. Yes, it was quite impressive that Tennessee lost in double-overtime to Texas A&M, despite the seven turnovers. However, that won’t help them against the Tide. The Vols have shown an unnerving tendency for penalties, mental errors and turnovers. No one can defeat Alabama when doing those things. Tennessee will make it a close game, but Alabama controls it enough to win.
Odom – Alabama. The Tide have the best rush defense in the nation and complement it with the sixth-best scoring offense. Jalen Hurts has been impressive as Nick Saban’s first true dual-threat quarterback in some time, and ‘Bama’s running back platoon has eliminated any depth or injury concerns. Tennessee has played the Tide tough the past few years, but the Vols have too many injuries on defense to keep up for four full quarters.
No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 22 Arkansas
Bradford – Ole Miss. Last year, Arkansas beat Ole Miss because of a flukey fourth-down play. This season, the Rebels are one of the nation’s best teams and have finally learned how to play a complete game. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks’ defense is the eleven-man representation of trash. Texas A&M and Alabama put up 45 and 49 points respectively on Arkansas. Chad Kelly is only the best quarterback in the SEC. Therefore, the Razorbacks will have to find a way to score at least 40 points. Given that no quarterback faces more pressure than Austin Allen, it isn’t happening.
Milliken – Ole Miss. This game will be a high-stakes shootout down in Fayetteville. Although they didn’t fare too well against Alabama last week — something most teams face — the Razorbacks have looked very solid on the season. Across the field, Ole Miss has been perplexing to say the least. If you just look at their first half performances, the Rebels might be No. 1 in the nation right now. In recent weeks, though, they’ve been able to put together more complete performances. This one will be a razor-close finish, with Ole Miss having just a bit too much firepower for Arkansas to overcome.
Odom – Arkansas. Sometimes a team just gets in your head. That’s what Arkansas has done to Ole Miss after shutting the Rebels out two years ago and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in Oxford last year. Ole Miss’s 102nd-ranked defense isn’t going to stop Austin Allen and Arkansas, and the home crowd should be enough to give the Razorbacks a third-straight win in the series.
Missouri at No. 18 Florida
Bradford – Florida. This game sucks. Florida is coming off a bye week (aka a week where they chickened out of a game because of a hurricane so they could get healthy) and won’t struggle against Missouri at all.
Milliken – Florida. After an entire week of people being unnecessarily obsessed with the fact that the Gators might not end up playing LSU, they (and we) can focus on the game, which is what matters. Missouri is coming off their bye week, which came right after getting annihilated by LSU. The Tigers gave up over 600 yards of offense to a LSU team that had looked like a high school offense the majority of the season. That, combined with the fact that they won’t be able to move the ball on the Gators, means it could get ugly. Florida wins this one without much issue.
Odom – Florida. Like David and Adam both pointed out, Florida is pretty much coming out of a bye week here. Although Missouri is doing the same, the Tigers’ confidence can’t be high after being demolished by LSU two weeks ago. With quarterback Luke Del Rio back, the Gators will finally have some offense to complement the nation’s second-best defense.
Mississippi State at BYU
Bradford – BYU
Milliken – BYU
Odom – BYU
Vanderbilt at Georgia
Bradford – Georgia
Milliken – Georgia
Odom – Georgia
Edited by Dalton King
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics