Randy Smith: SEC Picks Week Three

Thursday, September 16, 2021 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
There have been few real surprises so far in the SEC through two weeks. There are a couple of pretty good match ups this week, with Tennessee playing a final tune up game before entering SEC play next week. So far, I've picked winners correctly in 22 of 26 games for a percentage of 85 percent. Picking against the spread I've not done as well, picking 46 percent correctly.

Alabama at Florida
The Crimson Tide looks unstoppable, yet Coach Nick Saban is not happy with his team's effort so far. The man commands perfection each and every week and, when the Tide doesn't deliver, he lets everyone know how unhappy he is. This week is a big test for 'Bama because they play the Florida Gators in the "Swamp." This isn't your typical Gator squad.
They have had their own share of problems because of youth and inexperience, but make no mistake, Florida is the defending SEC East champ and Coach Dan Mullen will have his group ready to play. I'm also not sure how tough it is to play in the "Swamp" anymore, but if you can't get ready to face the Crimson Tide, you're not going to be much of a factor.
Alabama 38 Florida 20

Chattanooga at Kentucky
The Chattanooga Mocs are 1-1 as they play a "money" game at Kentucky Saturday at noon. The Mocs evened their record last week with a 20-0 win at North Alabama but Kentucky presents a much bigger challenge. The Wildcats are already 1-0 in SEC play following a thrilling win at home last week against Missouri. Kentucky is for real and will be headed to a very good bowl trip when the season ends. I hope this game will be competitive because the Mocs are still a pretty good FCS squad.
Kentucky 44 Chattanooga 14

Georgia Southern at Arkansas
The Razorbacks have been the biggest surprise in the SEC so far. The Hogs destroyed 15th ranked Texas last week in Fayetteville and Coach Sam Pittman is determined to show folks it was no fluke. Georgia Southern's only hope this week is to play well over their heads while Arkansas is still celebrating the win over the Longhorns. That's likely not going to happen. By the way, both Arkansas wins have come against teams from the state of Texas, Rice and UT. It really doesn't matter because the Razorbacks are really pretty good.
Arkansas 55 Georgia Southern 13

Auburn at Penn State
The Tigers are on national television on ABC Saturday night as they travel to Happy Valley to face Penn State. Both teams are unbeaten so far, with the Nittany Lions scoring a big win at Wisconsin and then blasting Ball State at home last week. Auburn has scored a couple of wins over Akron and Alabama State and they scored 60 and 62 points respectively, but the Tigers will have a tough time scoring that many at Penn State. Coach Bryan Harsin said you can credit the Auburn defense for putting up 122 points in the first two games and he's right. But if the Tigers pull the upset this weekend, quarterback Bo Nix has to have the game of his life. In a close one......
Penn State 24 Auburn 21

South Carolina at Georgia
The Gamecocks have given Georgia fits in years past, but this season may be an exception. While South Carolina is 2-0 on the year with a big come from behind win at East Carolina last week, those two wins show grit and determination if not talent. The Bulldogs are an elite team and should roll to an SEC East title this fall. The 'Dawgs are currently ranked second in the country behind top-ranked Alabama and they should have their way with USC on Saturday.
Georgia 41 South Carolina 10

Central Michigan at LSU
The Bengal Tigers easily defeated McNeese State last week after being upset in week one at UCLA. Coach Ed Orgeron said he's pleased with his team's offense but he wants them to play much faster. The Chippewas of Central Michigan lost by just 12 points at Missouri to open the season and are 1-1 on the year so far. They could give LSU problems especially if the Bengals are not focused. LSU may still be a mystery team and we may not be sure how good they are or aren't until later in the year.
LSU 34 Central Michigan 21

Tulane at Ole Miss
Lane Kiffin has his Ole Miss team 2-0 to start the season and currently ranked 17th in the country. The Johnny Rebs will be tough for anybody to beat now that they finally have found a defense that can at least make a stop every now and then. Ole Miss hosts a Tulane team that is 1-1 but that one loss was a 40-35 decision at then second-ranked Oklahoma. The Green Wave came really close to pulling off the upset in week one and and they followed that loss with a 69-20 win the following week against Morgan State. Ole Miss is favored by 14 points but it could be a lot closer than that. It could also be a high scoring affair as well as a fun game to watch.
Ole Miss 47 Tulane 40

Mississippi State at Memphis
The Bulldogs are playing in Memphis this week against the Tigers after knocking off N.C. State last week at home, 24-10. The Bullies are favored by three against the Tigers and this one could be really close. Memphis pulled out a thriller last week against Arkansas State 55-50 and, if Mike Leach has his offense clicking on all cylinders this week, they may break the scoreboard at Liberty Bowl Stadium. This could be a really wild one.
Mississippi State 52 Memphis 47

Southeast Missouri State at Missouri
The Tigers may still be smarting from that tough loss at Kentucky last week but Southeast Missouri will provide some relief. Missouri gave the Wildcats all they wanted last week in Lexington and lost 35-28 in a great football game. The Redhawks are 0-2 on the season thus far and are heavy underdogs this weekend in Columbia. Mizzou has a chance to be a pretty good football team if they get a few breaks along the way. They won't need breaks this week.
Missouri 49 Southeast Missouri 13 

New Mexico at Texas A&M
The Aggies have struggled offensively in starting the season 2-0 and they had to really work to avoid an upset last week at Colorado, winning 10-7. The A&M defense has lived up to all expectations but Coach Jimbo Fisher is still trying to fine tune the offense. There should be no problems this week against the Lobos but New Mexico is 2-0 as they travel to College Station to face the Aggies. If Coach Fisher can get that offense clicking, they will be tough to beat.
Texas A&M 37 New Mexico 7

Stanford at Vanderbilt
The Commodores are underdogs again at home as they host the Stanford Cardinal this week in Nashville. Last week Vandy shocked their fans with a 24-21 win on the road at Colorado State. That came a week after a 23-3 loss to FCS foe East Tennessee State. Vandy definitely showed some improvement in last week's road win for new head coach Clark Lea. The Black and Gold snapped an 11-game losing skid with the win last week but the Cardinal will prove to be too much.
Stanford 23 Vanderbilt 17

Tennessee Tech at Tennessee
The Volunteers quarterback problems became magnified with the injury that knocked starter Joe Milton out last week in the home loss to Pittsburgh. Back up Hendon Hooker played admirably filling in and even looked better throwing the ball than Milton did. The fan base is still clamoring for Harrison Bailey to get on the field but I expect Hooker to start and get most of the snaps against the Golden Eagles. Tennessee is heavily favored over the Golden Eagles and will undoubtedly be 2-1 when they face the Florida Gators in the "Swamp" next weekend. Tennessee fans need to remember that the Vols are a work in progress and things will not be fixed overnight.
Tennessee 50 Tennessee Tech 14    

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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