We’re back with some more Friday afternoon predictions before the weekend finally arrives.
Week 7 will give the SEC its first Friday night game of the season, as Mississippi State travels all the way to Provo for a meeting with BYU, and a renewal of the Third Saturday in October. Ole Miss travels to Arkansas for a game that still holds big implications in the SEC West
With only six games, including the Friday spotlight matchup, you shouldn’t have any trouble catching all of these if you choose.
(All kickoff times ET)
Mississippi State at BYU: A Fitzgerald mistake is the difference
The Cougars just convincingly beat Michigan State in East Lansing, 31-14, and senior tailback Jamaal Williams has rushed for at least 160 yards for three straight weeks (9 touchdowns in that span). Auburn just beat up on Mississippi State at home, and the Bulldogs haven’t really looked good since beating South Carolina in Week 2. Despite all of this, it should actually be a close game because BYU tends to play to the level of its competition. Neither defense has been very good this season. Five of BYU’s six games have been decided by 3 points or fewer. Challenge for Mississippi State will be the travel distance, altitude change (4,500 feet above sea level) and the late kickoff time involved for a young group that hasn’t dealt with that much. But the Cougars’ biggest advantage comes in the turnover department. They have 14 this season, including 10 interceptions. Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald isn’t turnover-prone, per say, but he isn’t perfect.
Kickoff: 10:15 p.m., ESPN (Friday)
Line: BYU -7
Prediction: BYU 28, Mississippi State 24
Vanderbilt at Georgia: All aboard the Chubb train, choo choo
Defense was supposed to be the Commodores’ strength, but they haven’t done much of anything well in 2016. Last week, a close loss to Kentucky in Lexington masked an ugly stat: Vandy allowed 258 rushing yards. Georgia, meanwhile, romped for 326 yards on the ground against struggling South Carolina on the back of a healthy Nick Chubb (16 carries, 121 yards). Needless to say, even if the Bulldogs still can’t move it through the air, they should have little problem sending the tailback attack rolling through Derek Mason’s defense on Saturday.
Kickoff: Noon, SEC Network
Line: Georgia -14
Prediction: Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 13
No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Tennessee: Alvin Kamara will keep the Vols hanging around
Tennessee has been decimated by injury. Alabama is as deep as they come. So, I don’t foresee an upset or even a close game. The Tide hung 49 on Arkansas. Without the likes of Cam Sutton, Jaylen-Reeves Maybin and possibly Darrin Kirkland, keeping the score respectable will be tremendously tough for defensive coordinator Bob Shoop — especially with Lane Kiffin keen on running up the score against his old team. The Vols will need to try and keep pace on offense. Star tailback Jalen Hurd will return, but it’s doubtful he’ll get a heavy load his first game back. Which means, Kamara will play a huge role again. It’s silly that Mike DeBord has waited this long to feature him — Karmara accounted for 288 total yards and 3 touchdowns against Texas A&M — because his speed and receiving skills make him an incredibly tough matchup for any defense. Kamara caught 4 passes for 44 yards in last year’s loss to Alabama. Expect he and Josh Dobbs’ running abilities to be Tennessee focal points.
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Line: Alabama -12
Prediction: Alabama 48, Tennessee 30
Missouri at No. 18 Florida: Marvin Zanders sees real playing time
Aside from two bad quarters in Neyland Stadium, the Gators defense has been outstanding this season (11.6 PPG allowed). And Drew Lock, prolific numbers aside, is still at a 50 percent completion rate with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in three Power Five losses (West Virginia, Georgia, LSU). Mizzou will need to create an edge for itself, especially with Florida getting quarterback Luke Del Rio back from injury. Lock’s dual-threat backup Zanders would certainly be one option. The sophomore has seen very limited action, but his ability to escape could be huge against the Florida pass rush, and it would be one way to move the ball without attacking that fearsome secondary too often. The Gators should still cruise to a victory in The Swamp, but perhaps Zanders plays OK and creates some sort of quarterback controversy for Barry Odom. We’ll see.
Kickoff: 4 p.m., SEC Network
Line: Florida -13.5
Prediction: Florida 34, Missouri 10
No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 22 Arkansas: Upset alert
This game earned the weekly SEC pick for three reasons: the lack of an Ole Miss pass rush, its inability to stop the run and Arkansas’ massive advantage in time of possession. Expect a lot of long, slow drives from the Hogs as they try to suck the life out of Chad Kelly and the Rebels. But even then, you still have to take the over in this game.
Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN
Line: Ole Miss -7.5
Prediction: Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 35
Southern Miss at LSU: Ed Orgeron continues staking his claim for the full-time job
Not that “Coach O” can gain too many points in a game like this. But the Golden Eagles are 4-2 and beat Kentucky at home in Week 1, so beating up on them without top player Leonard Fournette would still count as an impressive feat. Southern Miss has allowed at least 35 points in four of its six games and, even worse, gave up 339 yards rushing against the University of Texas- San Antonio last week. There won’t be any suspense in this one, and the Tigers will cover.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Line: LSU -25
Prediction: LSU 43, Southern Miss 17