SEC predictions: Week 3

The week didn’t start out that well for me. I took a shot on Mississippi State knocking off Auburn last Thursday night and missed.

My apologies to Gene Chizik’s boys. I’m not a hater and not even a doubter. You just have to take a few chances every once in a while on home underdogs.

Plus, I heard Cameron Newton had a phobia of cowbells.

Only joking.

Now, my Saturday spree was no joke … 8-0, baby. I felt like Jeff Demps in the open field with two or three steps on the closest guy.

Through the first two weeks, I’m 17-4 (.809), which includes an 8-1 mark last week.

There’s still a long way to go, but I feel better about my execution and didn’t make some of the mental errors that plagued me the opening week.

Here goes with my Week 3 picks:

Georgia 28, Arkansas 24: There’s no truth to the rumor that Arkansas put in the inside zone read play this week and plans on running it religiously. Nah, the Hogs are going to do what they do best, which is throw the football. The Bulldogs know the stakes in this contest, and they also know they better get to Ryan Mallett. Both teams will play well, but Georgia’s special teams will be the difference.

Auburn 31, Clemson 21: These two schools might as well be football twins. They’re alike in so many ways. But whereas Auburn has already been tested on the road this season, Clemson hasn’t played anybody. Cameron Newton has been the man for Auburn in the first two games, but this may be the game that the Plains version of the Tigers turn loose freshman tailback Mike Dyer on their way to a 3-0 start.

Florida 27, Tennessee 7: This was once the hottest rivalry in the Eastern Division and had a little spice to it last year after all Lane Kiffin’s yapping. But even with the Gators sputtering some on offense in their first two games, the Vols are still a ways off in the depth, experience and talent department from keeping their drought in this series from extending to six in a row.

LSU 21, Mississippi State 17: LSU needed a goal-line stand a year ago to escape in Starkville, and the Tigers have a way of keeping things interesting in the second half. To their credit, they did put away Vanderbilt last week on the road, but the Bulldogs will put up a considerable fight to keep from losing two in a row this early in the season. In the end, they won’t be able to handle LSU’s defensive front, coming up just short … again.

Alabama 42, Duke 13: Just seeing Alabama playing a football game in Wallace Wade Stadium will be a strange sight. Think there might be a tinge of crimson in the place? David Cutcliffe has done an excellent job since taking over the Duke program, and the Blue Devils can score points in bunches. But Alabama gets its two best players back this week in running back Mark Ingram and defensive end Marcell Dareus and will put this one away early.

Ole Miss 21, Vanderbilt 9: It wasn’t pretty last week at times in the Big Easy, but Ole Miss was finally able to separate itself from Tulane. Now back home, the Rebels will try and exorcise the demons from the Jacksonville State debacle the opening week. Vanderbilt’s just trying to score a touchdown against an SEC team. In their last 10 SEC games dating back to the 2008 season, the Commodores have scored just five offensive touchdowns. They’ll get their sixth Saturday, but they won’t get the win.

Kentucky 41, Akron 17: Joker Phillips is still looking for what he considers a complete performance from his club. The Wildcats are plenty explosive on offense. They just need to avoid the mistakes and tackle a little better on defense. And if they really get in trouble, they can always line Randall Cobb up in the shotgun and let him go to work. Maybe he can come up with a fifth different way to score a touchdown this week in what should be another Kentucky blowout.

South Carolina 34, Furman 10: Don’t tell the Head Ball Coach his Gamecocks are on a collision course with the SEC championship game. He doesn’t want to hear it. It’s way too early. In fact, the last time the Gamecocks beat Georgia, they didn’t even go to a bowl game (2007). He says their only focus is handling their business this week against Furman. Looking ahead has been a problem in the past at South Carolina, but you get the feeling that this is indeed a different bunch.