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Randy Smith: SEC Picks Week Three

Thursday, September 13, 2018 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

In addition to being football season now, it is also Hurricane season and this weekend Hurricane Florence is playing havoc with the college football schedule and bearing down o.n the Carolinas. It has already forced the cancellation of several games in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In the SEC the game in Columbia between South Carolina and Marshall has been wiped out. Others may follow.

Alabama at Ole Miss
This game is really intriguing to me. The Tide is off to a 2-0 start but they really haven't played anybody yet. Ole Miss is also 2-0 and the Johnny Rebs have already proven they can put up points and their competition has been just a little bit better than 'Bama's. That means nothing however because it's Alabama versus Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide has lost just a handful of SEC games in the last few seasons, but two of them were to Ole Miss. If Alabama doesn't play well, and if Ole Miss plays really well, the Rebels have a chance. The biggest advantage I can see for ole Miss is the game is in Oxford. This one will be closer than a lot of people might think.
Alabama 34 Ole Miss 24

North Texas at Arkansas
The Razorbacks are playing pretty well for first year head coach Chad Morris. The Hogs are 1-1 after a win over Eastern Illinois and a 34-27 loss at Colorado State.  Their first SEC game comes next week at Auburn and they have one more tune up before they open league play. North Texas is 2-0 on the year so far and they could give Arkansas fits on Saturday. Quarterback Mason Fine passed for 400 yards and four touchdowns  in a win last week and the Mean Green easily whipped Chad Morris' old team SMU in week one. Will be close but Arkansas should get the win.
Arkansas  37 North Texas 28

LSU at Auburn
This is probably the biggest game of the week in the SEC. The two teams have already pulled out impressive wins over quality opponents and both are ranked in the top 25 polls. The winner of this game will be Alabama's toughest competition in the SEC West the rest of the way. Both teams have been great defensively so far, but I believe that Auburn has a better offense and with the game being played on the Plains the Orange and blue squad is favored to win. Nowadays in college football, that means very little however especially in the SEC. The Auburn Tigers will prevail over the LSU Bengal Tigers but not by much.
Auburn 30 LSU 24

Colorado State at Florida
Colorado State pulled out a big win over Arkansas last weekend, while the Florida Gators were upset at home by Kentucky. The loss to the Wildcats snapped a 31 year winning streak over the 'Cats and the loss exposed several weaknesses on the Gators' squad. The talent is simply not what Florida fans are used to. And in addition to having much less talent on offense, the Gator defense is not as good as expected either. Coach Dan Mullen will eventually fix those problems but it's going to take a while. The Gators have one more tune up before they play at Tennessee next week and already Vol fans are licking their chops and waiting for the Gators to arrive.
Florida 33 Colorado State 24

Middle Tennessee at Georgia
The Bulldogs made a big statement last week in their big win at South Carolina. Georgia is clearly the class of the SEC East and is easily one of the top three teams in the SEC in 2018. They were expected to struggle a bit on defense as they rebuild but that rebuilding chore was a lot easier than expected. Middle Tennessee has a great quarterback, but not much else. They lost their season opener at Vanderbilt 35-7 two weeks ago and if Vandy can score a win that big over the Blue Raiders Georgia should be able to pick the score.
Georgia 54 MTSU 14

Murray State at Kentucky
We've seen this scenario before with the Kentucky Wildcats. They start the season strong but fold down the stretch. This year could be different. A huge win last week in the Swamp over Florida has given the 'Cats plenty of early season momentum. Provided Kentucky doesn't have a huge letdown this week when Murray State comes to Lexington, they should be a perfect 3-0 when they face Mississippi State at home next week.
Kentucky 40 Murray State 17

Louisiana Lafayette at Mississippi State
The Bulldogs are off to a 2-0 start for new coach Joe Moorhead. The Bullies are a very good football team and I've written before that this team could win ten football games this fall. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is back after a one game suspension and when he is on his game, MSU is very good. The biggest chore for Coach Moorhead this week is preventing his team from looking ahead to their match up next week at Kentucky.
Mississippi State 45 UL Lafayette 13

Missouri at Purdue
The Tigers are off to a 2-0 start in 2018 which is much different than the terrible beginning of a year ago.  Tiger quarterback Drew Lock has continued to be one of the best passers in college football as Mizzou is ranked 6th in the nation in passing offense. While the Tigers are 2-0, Purdue is 0-2 and the Boilermakers are not very good. Missouri will likely be 3-0 when they host powerful Georgia next week in Columbia. 
Missouri 45 Purdue 24

Louisiana Monroe at Texas A&M
The Aggies proved last week they are a goo.d football team, taking second ranked Clemson to the wire in a 28-26 loss. Coach Jimbo Fisher h as energized the Texas A&M fan base and his quarterback Kellen Mond is a big-time threat. A&M plays at Alabama next week, so they not afford a big let down this week against UL Monroe. Expect a big win this week before the Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa next week.
Texas A&M 49 UL Monroe 14

Vanderbilt at Notre Dame
The Commodores are 2-0 so far but this week's game at South Bend will be a tough one for coach Derek Mason's team. The Fighting Irish is good but they're especially good at home. Vandy is a bit of a surprise with two easy victories in the season's first two weeks. Just how good Vandy will be this season has yet to be determined, regardless of the outcome of this game. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur has played lights out in the Commodores first two wins over MTSU and Nevada, and he will be a big key this week against Notre Dame.
Notre Dame 30 Vanderbilt 16

UTEP at Tennessee
The Volunteers whipped East Tennessee State into submission last week 59-3, despite a long lightning delay. Tennessee is a 30 point favorite this week against Texas-El Paso and Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer has offered free tickets to the game to all evacuees escaping Hurricane Florence. I don't know how many takers he will have for those free tickets but I do know that the Vols are a better football team after week two than they were after week one. West Virginia is a very good team and Tennessee simply was too nervous in game one and they didn't play well at all. As mentioned before, Big Orange faithful are already looking forward to that visit from the Gators next week.  While the Volunteers are heavily favored against UTEP to be 2-1 heading into the Florida game will be huge. Coach Jeremy Pruitt should have his players focused and ready to go.
Tennessee 48  UTEP 20

Last Week: 11-2
Year To Date 21-6        

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com



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