The final week of regular season college football is upon us. Fanatics like yours truly, waited thirty-eight weeks for the season to begin, and this fourteen week stretch went by much too quickly. There were a few surprises along the way especially early in the season but it all sets us up for a lot of excitement through the first couple of weeks of 2020.
(Thursday) Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Egg Bowl)
We get a real treat for our Thanksgiving night as the Johnny Rebs face their rival MSU Bulldogs in the annual Egg Bowl.
While this annual donnybrook means a lot to fans of both teams, it may mean a little bit more to State. The Bulldogs are a win away from becoming bowl eligible while the Rebels are packing things up for the year at 4-7. Games like this one are hard to pick because they're rivalry games. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 62-45 with six ties. Howev er, it's been really even the last few years. In the last decade, the Rebs have won six while the Bullies have won four, including a 35-3 win last year. As always it should be a dandy.
Ole Miss 34 Mississippi State 30
(Friday) Missouri at Arkansas
On Friday the Missouri Tigers will try again to snap their losing streak which now stands at five in a row following a loss to Tennessee last week. The Tiger offense has really struggled to score points during this skid. Injuries to quarterback Kelly Bryant have been a big factor as last week, Bryant played tentatively in the loss to the Volunteers If Coach Barry Odom's team can end the streak this week, the Tigers will end the season at 6-6, yet because of NCAA sanctions a bowl game isn't in the picture. Arkansas is playing out the string after head coach Chad Morris was fired a couple of weeks ago after less than two seasons. The Tigers are playing for pride and that should be enough.
Missouri 23 Arkansas 14
Clemson at South Carolina
The seat under USC coach Will Muschamp is as hot as it could possibly get going into the in-state rivalry game with third ranked Clemson. The Tigers have dominated the long-time series 70-42 with four ties. Oddly enough , Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is 5-5 against the Gamecocks. He lost his first five games to Steve Spurrier but has beaten Carolina five straight times. The Tigers still have a lot riding on this game. With a win, Clemson would finish 12-0 for the second straight season. It would also be an NCAA best 27th straight victory as well. The Gamecocks are 4-7 on the year and they've had a week off to get ready for the Tigers who were also idle last week. Clemson is focused and playing their best football at the best possible time.
Clemson 49 South Carolina 13
Georgia at Georgia Tech
This should be a warm up for Georgia's battle with LSU in next week's SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs, still saddled with that mid season loss to South Carolina, need two more wins to solidify a place in the College Football Playoffs. That would also knock Alabama out of the playoff chatter as LSU is going regardless of a win or loss in the title game; provided they beat Texas A&M this weekend. Georgia has been carried for the last few weeks by their defense which is the best in the SEC this year. Quarterback Jake Fromm has been less than impressive since the loss to the Gamecocks so it's a good thing the defense has played well.
Georgia 38 Georgia Tech 7
Louisville at Kentucky
This is an interesting match up. The Wildcats have already locked up a bowl game for the fourth straight year under Coach Mark Stoops, but 7-5 would look a lot better than 6-6 to the bowl committees. Louisville is already headed to a bowl game at 7-4. This has been a successful season for first year head coach Scott Satterfield whose team has won two in a row including a 56-34 win over Syracuse last week. The Cardinals score a lot of points and while the Kentucky defense is formidable, it won't be enough to halt the Cardinals.
Louisville 34 Kentucky 20
Texas A&M at LSU
The Bengal Tigers and their fans are hoping to focus on the Aggies and not look ahead to the SEC Championship Game with Georgia next week. A&M is in a perfect place to pull off a major upset. LSU is the third number one team the Aggies have faced this season so they should be ready for the kind of pressure that brings. LSU has been a really great story this season in college football. The Tigers have a transfer quarterback in Joe Burrow who is the definite leading Heisman Trophy contender so far. Burrow has far and away been the best quarterback in the nation through thirteen weeks. He will be tough to stop for the Aggie defense and is the "straw that stirs the drink" for LSU. A&M is good, but not good enough this week.
LSU 41 Texas A&M 23
Florida State at Florida
This big Sunshine State rivalry is usually more anticipated than this year. Florida is very good while the Seminoles are mediocre at best. FSU is 6-5 and headed to a bowl game, mainly due to three wins in their last four games. Willie Taggart, like Arkansas' Chad Morris was fired less than two seasons and since Taggart 's departure have turned things around a bit. Florida has made great strides under second year head coach Dan Mullen who is getting more comfortable in his role as the Gator's head man and with a win this week over the Seminoles should land in a very nice bowl game.
Florida 38 Florida State 20
Alabama at Auburn
The Iron Bowl is generally perceived as the best game in college football, year in and year out. This year's contest is no exception to that. The 15th ranked Tigers are gunning for the Tide trying to knock them completely out of the playoff scenario. It can be done. Alabama rolled over a hapless Western Carolina team last week behind new starting quarterback Mac Jones. Jones is 2-0 as a starter for the Crimson Tide but those wins have come against the Catamounts and Arkansas. Auburn arguably has the best defensive line in the SEC and will come after Jones play after play. Auburn is a whole different animal than Western Carolina. This will be 'big-boy football" at its very best. Time to pick a major upset!
Auburn 30 Alabama 24
Vanderbilt at Tennessee
What a difference two months can make. Tennessee was reeling following week three. 0-3 and headed nowhere. Fans were viciously calling for Coach Jeremy Pruitt's head and there wasn't much his defenders could say to defend him, except to just be patient. After that 0-3 start, the Volunteers are 6-2 including four straight wins and five in the Vols last six games. Tennessee is once again playing with passion. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano passed for a career high 415 yards against Missouri last week, spreading out that yardage to receivers Juaun Jennings, Marquez Callaway and Josh Palmer, who each hauled in 100 yards or more. The Tennessee defense is also playing lights out and even though the Vols will suffer a few losses from this great group of seniors the future looks extremely bright as recruiting is looking very good. The Vols are not all the way back, but this turn around has brought them back to relevance.
Tennessee 44 Vanderbilt 13
Last week : 8-0
Year to date: 84-17 (83%)
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com