Last Minute SEC Predictions


Saturday is here, God Bless America.

Another day of college football awaits all of us well endowed fans today. We Aggies will get to watch our seventeenth-ranked team take on Nevada bright and early at 11 a.m, paving the way for what should be a good showing for the maroon and white. And afterwards the rest of the day brings what is the SEC’s best and biggest slate of matchups of the young 2015 season.

So, without further ado, here are some last minute predictions for this week’s biggest games in the SEC West.

1. Auburn @ LSU

Sep 12, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s “Battle of the Tigers” kicks off at 2:30 in Baton Rouge.

LSU enters the game ranked thirteenth with a 1-0 record after a 21-19 escape last week in Starkville against Mississippi State (the Tigers’ opening game was cancelled due to weather). After an up-and-down 2014, LSU has finally settled on a quarterback in sophomore Brandon Harris who is joined in the backfield by a young Heisman candidate in Leonard Fournette. The defense, even after the departure of John Chavis, looked strong in shutting down Dak Prescott for three quarters. LSU is trending up.

Auburn’s season is at a bit of a crossroads, which is never a good sign this early in the season. The Tigers entered the season ranked in the top ten, with a new quarterback sporting a Cam Newton-esque frame. Auburn appeared pretty solid in a 31-24 win to open the season against Louisville, although the win which looks less impressive as the Cardinals dropped to 0-3 this Thursday. New quarterback Jeremy Johnson has thrown five picks and has yet to settle into his new role. Jacksonville State (that one team you hadn’t heard of until last weekend) took Auburn to the wire last week, and the Tigers came back to win, but when an FCS squad gives you all you can handle at your home turf, there are issues that need to be addressed. Namely – the quarterback.

With that being said, Auburn is getting ready for a game that could define their season: Lose and you fall a game behind on a schedule that still features Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Texas A&M. Win, and a victory over LSU in Death Valley makes last week’s near upset a bit more forgettable.

LSU, while no doubt a talented squad that is still high in the polls, remains a mystery. Their win last week did nothing to shed light on the matter, as Harris threw under fifteen passes and the defense nearly blew a twenty point lead.

Harris’ first career start also came against Auburn last season on the Plains, a game that LSU lost 45-7. Auburn was able to confuse LSU’s offense last year and mix up a steady dose of Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne to a statement win. This year, the game is in Baton Rouge, Marshall and Artis-Payne are off to the NFL, and LSU’s skill players are a year older.

Everything about this game seems to favor LSU, except for the fact that Les Miles’ offense was a bit one-dimensional last week and the defense was never truly tested against the run. And although LSU plays at home, a 2:30 kickoff is vastly different than a 7:30 game. Death Valley is a terrifying venue, but Death Valley at night is maybe the most daunting place in sports. Auburn catches a bit of a break with the 2:30 kickoff.

Expect Will Muschamp to use every trick in his book to confuse Brandon Harris, forcing a few mistakes, and contain Leonard Fournette enough to give the offense a chance to win. Whether or not Jeremy Johnson shows up against a talented LSU secondary is the key to this game, and if he can throw for more touchdowns than interceptions, Auburn will win the game. I expect Gus Malzahn’s team to be ready to prove their doubters wrong.

Auburn – 24 LSU – 17

2. Nevada @ Texas A&M

Sep 12, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Tra Carson (5) is tackled by Ball State Cardinals linebacker Aaron Taylor (7) in the first quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

A&M kicks off at 11 p.m. at Kyle Field, a week after opening the new stadium in a 53-23 rout of Ball State.

Nevada will provide a bit more of a challenge than last week’s MAC squad. Quarterback Tyler Stewart has tossed three touchdowns in a win over UC Davis and a 44-20 loss to Arizona. The Wolfpack average 4.9 yards on the ground (according to and are led by a familiar face.

Nevada head coach Brian Polian was the Special Teams Coordinator at Texas A&M under Sumlin in 2012, also coaching tight ends. A former assistant, Polian had some fun with his former boss in the days leading up to this game, reportedly texting Sumlin “We’ll huddle if you huddle.”

Nevada is a good squad, but this is still a middle of the pack (pun intended) Mountain West team that has struggled mightily since the departure of Colin Kaepernick. Texas A&M will look to extend their nation-leading 18 straight wins over non-conference opponents to 19.

Texas A&M raced out to a 49-3 lead last week, and although this game will be different based on legitimacy of opponent and the placement of this game between the grand opening of Kyle Field and the SEC opener, the Aggies should win big again. Don’t be surprised if Kyler Murray trots onto the field before halftime, and Sumlin builds some more depth in advance of next Saturday’s SEC opener vs. Arkansas

Texas A&M – 55 Nevada – 17

3. Ole Miss @ Alabama

Sep 12, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Jaylen Walton (6) and Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) during the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

College GameDay selected the only possible destination this week.

Ole Miss began their rise to the top of college football last season by beating the Crimson Tide 23-17 in Oxford. Bo Wallace played the game of his career (by far) and Hugh Freeze’s defense held Blake Sims, Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon to 17 points.

Enter Nick Saban and his plot for revenge. The 2014 season didn’t drop a game after losing to the Rebels, propelling themselves to the top seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide are gearing up for another run, and a talented Ole Miss team is the next team in Saban’s sights.

This year’s rebels feature the same stingy defense led by all-universe defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, but with a more electric offense than we’ve seen from the Rebels in recent years. Bo Wallace is out at quarterback, Chad Kelly is in. The former Clemson-turned JUCO-to Ole Miss Rebel has led Ole Miss to back to back 70+ point outings in a 2-0 start.

Alabama also checks in at 2-0 after a big win over Wisconsin and a quieter 37-10 victory over UT-Martin last week.

The biggest storyline in this game is Alabama’s quarterback situation. Both Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman have looked decent, but neither has truly seized the job. Coker should start, but the gap is close. Of course, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin took a former fullback in Blake Sims and broke school records with him last season, so there’s no limit to what this offense could do. Kiffin has a track record of tailoring offenses to the best players, and that should be the story this week.

Especially since Derrick Henry taking handoffs. Henry looks to be the next in the line of great Tide running backs, from Mark Ingram to TJ Yeldon. Alabama should give Ole Miss a steady dosage of Henry and then look to open up the rest of the offense based on success on the ground game.

The Rebels are as good a defensive team as any in the country, and Henry will earn his yards the hard way. The secondary is still talented but, with the departures of Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson, could be tested by the Tide’s receivers.

On the flip side, Alabama boasts the best front seven in college football, and Ole Miss will need to get creative with giving their backs opportunities to make plays, especially with super-junior Laremy Tunsil out at left tackle. And, just like Bo Wallace played a near-perfect game last year, Chad Kelly will need to have just as good a game if he wants to become the first quarterback since Johnny Manziel to beat the Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium. It took Bo Wallace three seasons to have his breakout game, and Kelly won’t muster the same type of performance. Ole Miss is still among the most talented teams in the country, so look for the Rebels to hang very, very close, but blow the game on a Hugh Freeze gamble.

Alabama – 24 Ole Miss – 20

Other games in the SEC:

Texas Tech @ Arkansas: The Red Raiders’ offense has been potent with Patrick Mahomes under center, but the defense is still a typical Big XII defense, and a bad one at that. This game will be a far cry from last year’s Razorback romp, but the Hogs will still be able to control the game on the ground and give Brandon Allen a few opportunities off of the play action. Look for Arkansas to bounce back after last week’s loss to Toledo and get a solid out-0f-conference win. Arkansas – 31 Texas Tech – 27

Northwestern State @ Mississippi State: The Bulldogs nearly came back, but suffered a 21-19 loss to LSU last week in Starkville. Dak Prescott was able to get the offense moving in the final quarter, and that success should easily carry over into this game against a cupcake. Dan Mullen will look to gear up for next week’s trip to Auburn. Mississippi State – 42 Northwestern State – 14