National Spotlight Sines on SEC West…. Again

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For the second weekend in a row the games from the SEC West division are the focus of attention in college football. It’s not very often we have an opportunity to see back to back weekends where there are so many high profile games.

#17 Oklahoma vs #35 Texas in Dallas – The Sooner’s loss to TCU and the Longhorn’s 2-3 record has certainly taken the luster off of the Red River Rivalry, but for Oklahoma and Texas fans, it’s still THE game of the year. Odds are in favor of an OU victory, but that was the case last year as well and the Horns came away with a huge upset. The Texas defense is the strength of the Longhorn team. The Horns offense is really struggling. I think they’ll have a hard time scoring points on OU this year. Trevor Knight had an awful day last Saturday and Oklahoma’s offense sputtered, but I give a lot of credit to TCU’s defense for that. I can’t help but believe the Sooners will rebound, and maybe in a big way. Oklahoma 35 Texas 17.

#13 Georgia at #28 Missouri – The SEC East title could be decided in this game, and it also holds national playoff implications. Should either team go through the season without another loss, which would include a win over the SEC West champion, the Tigers or Bulldogs would certainly be worthy of a spot in the 4 team playoff. In hindsight, how in the world did these teams lose the games they lost? South Carolina over Georgia and Indiana over Mizzou? Who would have thunk it. After those losses I wouldn’t have thought these two teams could have worked their way back into contention for anything, yet here I am talking about potential national title implications. It’s a huge game, go figure. My computer rates it as a tossup and with Missouri at home, you’d think I’d lean in that direction, but I believe the Bulldogs pull out a big one on the road. Georgia 35 Missouri 34.

# 15 TCU at #8 Baylor – I was shocked that TCU scored 37 points on the Sooner defense last week. No telling how many the Froggies can score on Baylor. The question in my mind is, can TCU stop Bryce Petty? The Big 12 title could be decided here although I believe the championship still flows through Norman, and Kansas State will certainly be a factor. This is the conference debut in the Bear’s sparkling new stadium and I believe there is a good chance the Horned Frogs are still celebrating the win over Oklahoma…. Baylor 31 TCU 28.

#9 Oregon at #21 UCLA – The Pac 12 and the SEC are the nation’s two best conferences, but the Pac 12 teams are knocking each other out of the national title picture. For these two teams it’s do or die this week. I can’t believe a two loss conference champion would be a factor in the playoff picture, unless the rest of the conferences end up having multiple losses as well. In the pre-season I predicted this game to be Oregon’s only loss of the season, but UCLA’s shocking loss to Utah has created doubt in my mind as to whether the Bruins can pull off a mild upset. The computer shows another tossup and silly me, I’m going with the visiting team again. Oregon 42 UCLA 39.

#2 Auburn at #3 Mississippi State – This is one game I’d rather not have to predict because I’m so torn. Both of these teams are very, very good, and they both manhandled their opponents last week. I won’t call this an elimination game because they are both undefeated and a lot of football remains to be played, but make no mistake, it’s a huge game and the winner will certainly have a leg up on the SEC West crown. Is it possible I could be insane enough to pick the visiting team three times this week? Yes. The Bulldogs are good, and they are at home, but I think Auburn in the best team in the nation. Auburn 24 Mississippi State 21.

#4 Ole Miss at #6 Texas A&M – A little research into Billingsley’s Encyclopedia confirmed what I already suspected, the Rebel’s win over Alabama was one of the Top 5 wins in Ole Miss football history.  The list is certainly debatable, but Ole Miss’ 15-7 win at LSU in 1962, which spurred the Rebels on to an undefeated season and a National Championship, probably tops the list, followed by the Rebels stunning 38-0 shellacking of Tennessee in 1969. The Vols were 7-0-0, #1 in the Billingsley Report and #3 in the AP that week. The game was played in Jackson, Mississippi. The 23-17 win over Alabama may fall right behind those two in importance to the Ole Miss program, pending on how this season ultimately turns out for the Rebels.  But the SEC is a better conference in 2014 than it was in 1962, and the chances of going undefeated are certainly not as good. The 1962 Rebels didn’t have to turn around the week after beating LSU and travel to College Station where a record crowd of 106,000 is expected. Geez….did I read that correctly earlier this week? 106,000????? This is another very difficult game to pick. If the game were in Oxford, I’d say hands down Ole Miss, but winning against another Top 10 team, this time on the road, in the midst of such an historic celebration, well, I think it may be more than Ole Miss can handle. If the Rebels can pull this one off I’ll never doubt this team again. Texas A&M 16 Ole Miss 13.

Billingsley Projections

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