SEC Football Capsules: Week 13 Predictions

Friday

No.
7 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) at Arkansas (4-7, 2-5)

Where:
Fayetteville, Ark., Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium

When:
2:30 p.m.

The
blitz:
After suffering a scare in their final home game of the season, the LSU
Tigers should come out ready to go in this one. Even after giving up 35 points
to Donte Moncrief and the Ole Miss offense, LSU’s defense still ranks top-10 in
the country and should be able to contain the No. 88 scoring offense nationally
– especially one that kills itself with turnovers. The Razorbacks are playing
for little other than pride, while the Tigers have a BCS bowl bid potentially
on the line. It’s unlikely Les Miles will need another inspired (and hilarious)
post-game speech to media members.

Pick:
LSU, 27-13

 

Saturday

Georgia Tech (6-5) at No. 3 Georgia (10-1, 7-1)

Where: Athens, Ga., Sanford
Stadium

When: Noon

The blitz: In terms of national
importance, this game could not mean less to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets
already clinched a spot in the ACC title game thanks to Miami’s self-imposed
bowl ban, and, at 6-6, are simply playing for a more respectable
middle-of-the-pack bowl. But for Georgia, everything is at stake, as the
Bulldogs are two wins away from playing for the BCS title. A week removed from
facing Georgia Southern’s triple-option attack, Georgia’s 18th-ranked
scoring defense should not be overmatched or confused by much. And points are
never a problem against Paul Johnson’s defense. So it’s really a matter of
avoiding injuries before the upcoming matchup with Alabama in the SEC title
game.

Pick:
 Georgia, 41-17

Kentucky (2-9, 0-7) at Tennessee (4-7,
0-7)

Where:  Knoxville, Tenn., Neyland Stadium

When:   12:21 p.m.

The blitz:  It’s a shame this game took place so late in the
season, because it could have provided an SEC win to bank on for both now-former
coaches, Joker Phillips and Derek Dooley, each of whom were fired before
logging a conference win this season. The Volunteers will have an interim coach
on the sidelines for this one (Jim Chaney), and his team might just get a win
against the toothless Wildcats’ offense. Kentucky is playing much more inspired
than Tennesee – even carrying Phillips off the field after last week’s win –
but as long as Tyler Bray gets back on track, the Volunteers’ offense will be
too explosive.

Pick:
Tennessee,
33-21

Vanderbilt (7-4, 5-3) at Wake Forest
(5-6)

Where: Winston-Salem, N.C.,
Groves Stadium

When: 3:30 p.m.

The blitz: James Franklin has done one of the best jobs in the
country this season, transforming Vanderbilt into an seven-win team already, so
perhaps its fitting he travels to play another headman (Jim Grobe) who knows something
about getting the most out of limited resources. The 2012 season has not been
kind to the Demon Deacons, and the Commodores balanced attack and disciplined
defense does not spell out better news. Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews has
been a matchup nightmare even for SEC opponents – 101.64 receiving yards per
game, 12th nationally – so expect his quarterback, Jordan Rodgers,
to find him early and often. Vanderbilt gets its sixth straight win.

Pick:
 Vanderbilt, 27-20

No. 4 Florida (10-1, 7-1) at No. 10 Florida State (10-1)

Where: Tallahassee, Fla., Doak
Campbell Stadium

When:  3:30
p.m.

The blitz:  Put this rivalry game right there with
Georgia-Georgia Tech, Alabama-Auburn and Notre Dame-USC in terms of BCS
implications. Both Florida schools still have a shot at the national title,
especially if the No. 1 Irish are upset in Los Angeles Saturday. At No. 4 in
the BCS standings, Florida has the best shot at the crystal ball, but has not played
well offensively of late. Safe to say, the Gators’ performances against
Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State will not suffice in keeping up with
the 14th-ranked offense. Can Florida lean on its defense once
more?

Pick: Florida State, 24-21

 

Auburn
(3-8, 0-7) at No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1)

Where:  Tuscaloosa, Ala., Bryant-Denny Stadium

When: 3:30 p.m.

The blitz:  Let’s be honest here, nobody expects this one to
be close. It will be surprising If this is even a three-score game at halftime,
as the Auburn Tigers have struggled to score on practically everyone, much less
Nick Saban’s defense. With the Crimson Tide’s renewed season – Saban’s team
needs just two wins to play for the national title – the home team will not
take this one lightly. Barring uncharacteristic turnovers (like against Texas
A&M), this one should be over quickly.

Pick:  Alabama, 38-9

 

Mississippi
State (8-3, 4-3) at Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5) 


Where: Oxford, Miss., Vaught-Hemingway
Stadium

When: 7 p.m.

The blitz: For the first time
in years, the Egg Bowl features two intriguing teams, as Ole Miss’ revival and
Mississippi State’s ongoing consistency under Dan Mullen continues. If both
coaches stay put, this could be the first in a long line of interesting
end-of-the-season rivalry games in Mississippi. The Rebels’ offense was
clicking on most cylinders versus LSU last week, but was unable to close the
game out with the upset. Mississippi State is not LSU, but the Bulldogs’ secondary
will present quarterback Bo Wallace and his receivers with plenty resistance (4th-best
turnover margin in the country). LaDarius Perkins’ versatility out of the
backfield (10 total touchdowns) will be the key for Mullen’s squad to pull
through.

Pick:  Mississippi
State, 31-24

 

No.
12 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2) at No. 11 Clemson (10-1) 


Where: Clemson, S.C.,
Memorial Stadium

When:  7 p.m.

The blitz: A Tigers’ home game – at not-the-real Death Valley,
according to Steve Spurrier – should provide all the emotional backdrop needed
for a hard-fought rivalry game. The real question: Who is going to stop Tajh
Boyd? With a flurry of offense in the closing weeks of the season, Boyd now has
41 total touchdowns and is the second-rated quarterback nationally, hopping
right back into the mix for a wide-open Heisman race. This could be his
signature moment, as long as he can avoid the dynamic pass rush of ends
Jadaveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. South Carolina’s offense has (as expected)
not been the same without star running back Marcus Lattimore, even being held
to just seven points through three quarter against Wofford, so can quarterback
Connor Shaw muster enough firepower to keep this rivalry firmly in the grasp of
the Gamecocks?

Pick: Clemson. 38-28

 

Missouri
(5-6, 2-5) at No. 9 Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2)
 


Where: College Station, Texas, Kyle Field

When:  7 p.m.

The blitz:  This
game is on the radar for one reason and one reason only: Johnny Manziel. As the
freshman who is second in the country in total offense and has 38 touchdowns on
his resume looks to make Heisman history, he won’t find himself on the national
stage for his final game before voting takes place, so he’ll need to make it
extra special against an underwhelming Tigers defense which has allowed 79
combined points over the past two games. The other conference newcomers have
not had similar success as Texas A&M in its inaugural SEC season, and that
is not likely to change as coach Kevin Sumlin surges forward with his National
Coach of the Year campaign.

Pick:  Texas A&M,
45-20