SEC Week 13 picks: Ole Miss to end LSU drought
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
And down the stretch I come. I was 4-1 last week, missing Vanderbilt's 31-24 win over Kentucky. I guess I got caught up in the "same old Vanderbilt" trap. But this is clearly not the same old Vanderbilt. These Commodores are making a strong bid as the best team in school history. With 13 games left to pick, counting the SEC Championship Game, I'm now 65-18 (.783) for the season. That means to reach my goal of finishing .800 or better for the season, I've got to hit 12 of the next 13 games. Anybody know any good tips services? I'm not going to get ahead of myself. It's been a good season, but it's not over. As Nick Saban says, the minute you slow down to enjoy your success, that's when you're in trouble. Here are my picks for Week 13:
Ole Miss 28, LSU 24: The newly named Magnolia Bowl has a lot riding on it this year. Namely, the winner positions itself nicely for a Cotton Bowl bid. The Rebels (6-4, 3-3 SEC) would also need to beat Mississippi State to end the season, but an 8-4 team Ole Miss team on a five-game winning streak could just about write its ticket to Dallas. LSU almost wrote its ticket to the most embarrassing loss of the Les Miles era last week, but managed to rally from a 31-3 second-half deficit and beat Troy. Did that comeback re-energize the Tigers, or are they merely limping to the finish? Here's betting the answer is somewhere in between, and Ole Miss snaps a six-game losing streak against LSU to win a thriller at Tiger Stadium.
Vanderbilt 17, Tennessee 14: The pressure is off Vanderbilt, which got that ever-elusive sixth victory needed for a bowl game last week in a 31-24 win over Kentucky. The Commodores went into that game 0-17 since 1982 in contests in which they could have become bowl eligible. They can also do something Saturday that hasn't been done since the 1930s, and that's win a second game over Tennessee in a four-year span. The last time that happened was 1935 and 1937. The Vols were off last week after bumbling through the most listless performance of the Phillip Fulmer era the week before in a 13-7 home loss to Wyoming. Nice way to honor your longtime coach who's been forced out, huh? Tennessee's defense deserves much better. John Chavis' unit has played gallantly all season. As for the offense, let's just go ahead and put it out there: It's the worst Tennessee offense we've seen since the color television set was just starting to pop up in most American households.
Arkansas 24, Mississippi State 21: Injuries have rocked Mississippi State all season. The latest was to defensive tackle Jessie Bowman. The Bulldogs are coming off a punishing, physical game against Alabama, while Arkansas had a week off to get some players healthy, namely tailback Michael Smith (shoulder). The Razorbacks (4-6, 1-5 SEC) still have a chance for a bowl game if they can win their last two against Mississippi State and LSU. That's a tall order, but they haven't lost to the Bulldogs since 1998 (nine straight wins) and will find a way to get their 10th in a row regardless of which brother (Casey or Nathan Dick) is playing quarterback.
Florida 49, The Citadel 0: Talk about a team naming its score. The Gators' reserves could probably name their score in this game against the outmanned Bulldogs. The biggest concern for Florida is not getting anybody hurt with a trip to Florida State looming on Nov. 29 and then the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 6. It should also give Urban Meyer a chance to play some of his younger players. During its six-game winning streak, Florida has been a team that has come to play no matter the opponent. That maturity is going to be tested Saturday with the Gators going into the game knowing they're so superior in talent. The last thing they want right now is a sloppy performance.