Week 12 brings a week of cupcakes for four of the fourteen SEC teams, with Alabama and Auburn looking to coast into their rivalry collision next week, while South Carolina and Florida join the ‘Bama pair in searching for easy wins. For the rest of the conference, coaches could get fired and heartbreak might rule the SEC by midnight. Here are five bold predictions for the weekend.
‘Bama and Auburn will suffer from key injuries
It almost never fails that when a team is expected to coast against a lesser opponent, a key player goes down and throws the season into chaos. Alabama may get back some of its key defensive players, but the Tide should worry about recovering players re-injurying themselves or new injuries springing up.
Auburn has found its offensive stride and is a long way removed from the six points it put up against Clemson. However, the Tigers need to worry about injuries on the offensive side of the ball ruining that momentum. Pull the players early or suffer the consequences with the playoffs on the line next week.
Kentucky will push Georgia to the brink
What does Georgia have to play for? The Bulldogs have already won the east division and are headed to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.
Obviously, if they head into that game with one loss and beat Alabama or Auburn, they will seal up their playoff berth. But does Georgia care? Do the players believe? The team that got embarrassed last Saturday night didn’t seem like it cared.
Kentucky’s ground game will look to sprint past Georgia’s now-exposed defense. The Bulldogs may be able to establish their ground game to combat the Wildcats, but they will need to prove that they are not a one-dimensional offense.
Likewise, Georgia will need to reset its vision, a mission Kentucky is looking forward to stopping. Benny Snell Jr. averages nearly five yards per carry, and he has accumulated 15 touchdowns in 10 games this season. Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson rushed for 167 yards last week, and Snell is certainly a threat to copy that feat.
Bret Bielema will be fired by Monday
At this point, Bielema has to know he is coaching for his job, especially after his athletic director was fired earlier in the week. Consequently, the Razorbacks will need to rally for Bielema this week against No. 17 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs roll into the game licking their wounds after losing a tight game to Alabama.
Having played to win all night against the Crimson Tide, Mississippi State let Jalen Hurts hit two big passes to seal an Alabama victory. Look for Mississippi State to take out its frustrations on the disappointing Razorbacks, paving the way for Bielema’s firing.
UAB blazes Florida
In the battle of the reptiles, most would assume that Florida would be the team with the 7-3 record on any given year. In this season’s case, that is not true.
UAB has surged back onto the college football landscape, becoming bowl eligible in its first year back. Florida, meanwhile, is searching for an identity and a new coach. The Blazers will come in and torch “The Swamp,” adding on to Florida’s current losing streak. Fire leads to rebirth, and Florida may be able to use this inferno to beat a crippled Seminole team during rivalry week.
Tennessee wins its first SEC game in 2017
Call me crazy, I don’t mind, but I feel a change in the winds of Knoxville. Butch Jones is gone, though his image is still inexplicably on the back of the Neyland Stadium jumbotron. Brady Hoke is going to lead this underachieving team to victory against the LSU Tigers.
It’s going to happen. Write it down now.
Change is in the air, so bet on the game — you can thank me later. John Kelly is going to shine in prime time. In the brisk November air under the glowing lights of Neyland Stadium, the Vols will upset the No. 20 LSU Tigers. This game will get the eight-loss monkey off the back of Tennessee’s program, setting up a conflict with “little brother” Vanderbilt to get the team bowl eligible. Get ready Vol fans, Saturday Night is going to be wild.