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Which Pigskin to Pick

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

Another week and another contest to decide who will take home the prize for the pigskin picks. This week’s games are Ole Miss at Alabama, Auburn at LSU, Florida at Kentucky, South Carolina at Georgia, and Stanford at USC.

The first game we are previewing is Florida at Kentucky. Going into the season, it seemed like Kentucky might be the sexy pick. Kentucky was coming off a season in which they were much improved in Mark Stoops second year. The wildcats were still not up there with the other top SEC schools but they showed signs of improvement and signs of their program advancing.

Two of these signs came when they almost beat the Gators in the swamp after three overtimes and when they gave the then number one team in the country Mississippi State Bulldogs a scare. Florida on the other hand had another unimpressive season that ended with the firing of Will Muschamp and the hiring of Jim McElwain.

Florida was going to be in a rebuilding year as McElwain tried to get things on track. Coming into the season, many professional analysts felt like Kentucky could the shock the Gators and snap the 29 game losing steak given that the game is in Kentucky. However, the Gators have looked strong in their debut under McElwain displaying a strong offense that was very absent during Muschamp’s tenure. The Gators still have a strong defense as well, that was never weak under Muschamp that is highlighted by All American Vernon Hargreaves. The Gators struggled last week looking very sloppy agasint East Carolina but judging by McElwain’s reaction I don’t think that will last for long.

Kentucky on the other hand looked very unimpressive in their debut against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns as they only won the game 40-33. However, they did manage to have a better outing in their win over South Carolina. The Gators are still in a rebuilding year though and have only played lower tier opponents so far. However, the Gators still have enough firepower to keep their 29 game winning streaks alive. Kentucky will be fired up to snap the steak and avenge last years narrow loss so look for this to be a close game.

The next game will be the Ole Miss Rebels traveling to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Last season the Rebels stunned Alabama after the Rebel’s land shark defense stuffed the Tide for only 17 points (only 10 of those were offensive) and went on to win 23-17. This season Ole Miss still boasts the same tough defense while also featuring a new stronger offense that was widely inconsistent last season under quarterback Bo Wallace.

The Rebel’s were crippled last season due to lack of run game and Wallace’s habit of making big mistakes in big ballgames. New quarterback Chad Kelly seems to be the right man for the job to make Ole Miss’s offense a threat and they seemed to get the running game going in the right direction. However, it will probably hit a massive roadblock when they face Alabama’s front seven which is arguably the best in the country. Ole Miss will still have a chance as they boast a strong passing game led by potential NFL first round pick Laquan Treadwell and Alabama’s secondary is still a work in progress.

Alabama’s defense will be up for the task tough and probably force the young Kelly to make mistakes. Bama will also have Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake to rely on offense as well. In addition, Nick Saban just doesn’t lose to the same team two years in a row. The only time it has happened since he has been at Alabama was against LSU in 2010 and 2011. Ole Miss should give Alabama a scare but look for the Tide to roll with the win in Bryant Denny.

Some quick notes about the other games, Steve Spurrier’s recruiting has been down the past few years and the lack of talent on their team and their 7-6 record last year is showing it. Georgia usually does not play well against South Carolina but this year they should manage to win fairly comfortably.

Stanford looked awful in their opener against Northwestern and not too much better against UCF. USC however, has looked strong in both their outings as they are finally working their way off their sanctions and getting back to their old ways. USC has tons of talent and if Stanford isn’t back to their ground pound ways then they will likely been in for a tough time Saturday.

Auburn has to make change things up and they have to do it fast. They narrowly escaped a loss to Jacksonville State, a game in which they should have won easily. Auburn has the talent to be a title contender but turnovers and underperformance on offense has spelled trouble for the Tigers so far. Maybe it’s the preseason hype but if Auburn doesn’t wake up they will be in for a tough time Saturday and into the season. LSU is coming off a strong win in which they had to grind against Mississippi State. They are still searching for their identity outside of Leonard Fournette on offense though. However, their defense still looked strong although whether or not Mississippi State’s offense was as good as it was at times last year is still undetermined. If Auburn plays like they did agasint Jacksonville State it will be a long day in Death Valley.However, if Auburn plays like their capable of and gets back to their fast and physical ways then they should be able to handle the young bayou tigers. Saturday will really begin to tell us where both teams are at.

Final Predictions: Alabama over Ole Miss 31-24, Florida over Kentucky 35-31, USC over Stanford 38-20, Georgia over South Carolina 28-17, Auburn over LSU 31-28.

 

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