Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
I’m playing it straight down the middle this week. No boasting. No talking smack. No flashing my bling.
Just rolling along.
My record last week was a perfect 8-0. Granted, there were five games included against nonconference teams that Sean, my 7-year-old, could have picked, and he has about as much interest in SEC football as Houston Nutt and Gus Malzahn do in going on a golf trip together.
Or for that matter, going anywhere together.
For the season, I’m now 63-13 (.829). We don’t just play a mean brand of football in the SEC. We pick a mean brand, too.
Here are my picks for Week 11:
Arkansas 41, Troy 21: Troy coach Larry Blakeney says it’s a lie, that he never guaranteed to anyone this summer that Troy was going to beat Arkansas. Then again, who said bulletin board material had to be true? Coaches have been embellishing quotes for years to fire up their players. So as far as Bobby Petrino and the Hogs are concerned, Blakeney said it.
LSU 28, Louisiana Tech 7: LSU coach Les Miles insists this team has what it takes to finish strong and not unravel after last week’s emotional loss to Alabama. Louisiana Tech has lost four of its last five games, but the Bulldogs did play Boise State tough last week. The Tigers should have learned their lesson a year ago about these kind of games. It was this same weekend that they were nearly upset at home by Troy.
Kentucky 21, Vanderbilt 13: The Wildcats had won four in a row over the Commodores before losing last season. This stacks up as perhaps the most important game of the season for Kentucky, which is trying to lock down its fourth straight bowl trip. A win over Vanderbilt would get the Wildcats to six wins. But a loss means they would have to knock off either Georgia or Tennessee to become bowl eligible. They’re 2-32 against those two teams since the league expanded in 1992.
Alabama 21, Mississippi State 10: The Bulldogs keep playing top teams tough at home, and you figure they’re due a few breaks. The crowd’s going to be crazy similar to the Florida game three weeks ago, and the bye week should help Dan Mullen’s club. So everything would seem to be in place for an upset. But Alabama is too focused, too disciplined and too driven to stumble now, and the Bulldogs won’t be able to score enough against the Crimson Tide’s defense to win.
Florida 31, South Carolina 14: Steve Spurrier’s never been this big of an underdog at home since taking over the South Carolina program in 2005. He’ll come up with enough plays to make the Gators sweat for a while, but he doesn’t have the talent he once did. The big question: Does Urban Meyer run it up if he gets the chance? The Gators haven’t exactly taken it easy on the Head Ball Coach here recently. Florida has won the last two games by a combined 107-37 margin.
Ole Miss 24, Tennessee 20: This was easily the toughest one of the week to pick. The Vols are playing so well defensively and have improved so much offensively that they’re tough to pick against right now, but Ole Miss has been a different team at home. And with a rested Dexter McCluster and one last chance to make something of their season, the Rebels will find a way to get it done in the “Coach O” Bowl. Afterward, they’ll douse each other in Red Bull and all rip off their shirts.
Georgia 31, Auburn 28: The South’s oldest rivalry doesn’t mean as much as it has in past years in terms of the SEC race, but the winner can help itself considerably in the bowl picture. With a trip to Georgia Tech looming in a couple of weeks, the Bulldogs desperately need a win. The Tigers are gunning for their eighth win in Gene Chizik’s first season on the Plains. Both defenses have had their issues this season, which means whoever has the ball last might win. A.J. Green tips the scales in Georgia’s favor.