While several SEC schools will end their regular season on a down note due to underachieving and too high expectations from their fans, a few schools have had a great season. And while the disappointed group is happy the season ends this weekend, Fans from Alabama, Auburn and Georgia are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Of course at least five of the fourteen schools in the league will have new head coaches in 2018.
Alabama at Auburn
All the SEC West marbles are on the table and in play in this year's Iron Bowl, and when you add in the national championship implications that are at stake, this year's Alabama state championship game is one of the most anticipated ever.
Sixth ranked Auburn is one of the hottest teams in the country with losses only to defending National Champ Clemson and LSU on their record. They stunned previously number one Georgia 40-17 which gave Tiger fans hope that they would be able to beat the Crimson Tide this weekend. While ' Bama has struggled with several injuries lately, the Tide still has the most talented team in the SEC and they still have Nick Saban as head coach. Sorry Auburn fans but that is too much to overcome. It will be a great game and if Auburn wins I won't be surprised, but that is not going to happen.
Alabama 28 Auburn 23
Missouri at Arkansas (Friday)
Other than Auburn the Missouri Tigers are the hottest SEC team right now. The Tigers have won their last three league games over Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt by scores of 45-16, 50-17 and 45-17. They have the highest scoring team in the league and they're facing a bad Arkansas team with a coach who will likely get the boot following the game, Mizzou can pick their score. The Tigers started the season 1-5, but since then they've won five in a row and a win over the Hogs would give them a final 7-5 worksheet.
Missouri 54 Arkansas 20
Florida State at Florida
To say the 2017 season has been disappointing for both these teams is a real understatement. The Gators are awaiting word as to who their new coach will be and the Seminoles are hoping their coach, Jimbo Fisher doesn't leave Tallahassee. Both teams are 4-6 and for the first time since 2011 neither team is ranked and both teams have struggled since the season began. Though it's hard to pick a winner in this one, FSU is the lesser of two evils.
Florida State 23 Florida 16
Georgia at Georgia Tech
The Bulldogs simply must not look ahead to the SEC Championship Game next week because Georgia Tech is good enough to get a win over the Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets have won two of the last three in the series and they would love nothing more than to spoil the 'Dawgs national title hopes with an upset. A Georgia win would set up either a match up with unbeaten Alabama or a chance for redemption against Auburn. Either way the stakes are very high for Coach Kirby Smart's team.
Georgia 33 Georgia Tech 24
Louisville at Kentucky
The Wildcats have had a great year so far, while the 2017 campaign has been a bit of a disappointment for the Cardinals. This game is a huge rivalry game in the state of Kentucky with the winner getting bragging rights for another year. The 'Cats will have a hard time stopping last year's Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson whose second half of the year has been better than his first half. The big advantage for Kentucky is they have the game at home in Lexington but in this game that is not a huge factor.
Louisville 34 Kentucky 24
Texas A&M at LSU
Win or lose this will likely be Kevin Sumlin's final game at A&M. The Aggies are 7-4 which has been the high water mark for quite a while in College Station. The Tigers are coming off a 30-10 win at Tennessee which gives them a mark of 8-3. When the Bengal Tigers lost their homecoming game to Troy a chance at ten wins seemed to be impossible. But with a win over the Aggies and a bowl victory, LSU would be 10-3. And that would give Coach Ed Orgeron a lot of momentum headed into next season.
LSU 27 Texas A&M 20
Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thursday)
The annual "Egg Bowl" will end the season for the Rebels while the 16th ranked Bulldogs are headed to a big bowl game, perhaps the Cotton Bowl. The biggest question surrounding this game is where will Dan Mullen be coaching next year? Perhaps Tennessee, perhaps Florida or maybe back in Starkville. Mullen has proven he is as good or better than any coach in the SEC, not named Saban. MSU is 8-3 and like LSU they have a shot at ten wins as well. It won't be easy but it will be a Bulldog victory.
Mississippi State 37 Ole Miss 27
Clemson at South Carolina
This game is always one the biggest most hated rivalries in college football. After losing five straight to Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have won three in a row including a 56-7 win last year at Clemson. It won't be that kind of runaway this season however. Clemson is right where they were a year ago; 10-1 and in the College Football Playoff poll, this year ranked third. The Gamecocks have had a good solid season but it will be very hard for them to snap Clemson's three game win streak.
Clemson 31 South Carolina 20
Vanderbilt at Tennessee
A friend asked me this week, "Are you going to the Toilet Bowl this weekend?" He was referring to the annual Vandy-Tennessee match up in Knoxville. I told him no but I would watch the game at home on television. There will be no bowl game this year for either team, though both teams went bowling last season. Tennessee is still awaiting word as to who will be the Vols new head coach next year. An announcement could come within a few days as the SEC coaching carousel may slow down and let a couple of guys off. There are reports in Nashville that a Tennessee win could signal the firing of Vandy Coach Derek Mason, though I don't believe that will prove to be true. While we awaited this annual rivalry this week, Tennessee dismissed wide receiver Jujuan Jennings for some ,unflattering comments he made on social media this week. Jennings who missed almost the entire season due to an injury was perhaps the Vols best player. Hopefully things will get better soon for both teams but this game could be as ugly as any in recent memory.
Tennessee 24 Vanderbilt 20
Last Week: 8-1
Year to Date: 81-21
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.