Mark Edwards' predictions: Tide will edge LSU; AU will roll; don't bank on JSU
by Mark Edwards
Nov 08, 2013 | 2902 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Million Dollar Band should celebrate another win by the Crimson Tide today. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama's Million Dollar Band should celebrate another win by the Crimson Tide today. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Alabama’s biggest rivals typically are Auburn and Tennessee, in that order, and nobody else usually comes close.

But you could make a case for LSU, which is smarting over its former coach, Nick Saban, having so much success at Alabama.

Since 2007, when Saban started at Alabama, the Tide-LSU games have had real meaning on the national stage, before and after. And all of the regular-season games have lived up to the hype.

All six regular-season games have been decided by fewer than 10 points. The only one decided by a touchdown or less was the 2009 game, in which Alabama won 24-15. Even that one was in serious doubt until late.

Alabama won the 2011 national title by beating LSU 21-0, but it was only 12-0 until the final minute of the third quarter.

This time, Alabama is a relatively big favorite at 12.5 points, but the Tide beats that line, it likely will be because it tacks on an insurance touchdown or two at the end.

No. 10 LSU (7-2) at No. 1 Alabama (8-0): LSU doesn’t have the defense it usually has thrown at Alabama in recent seasons, but the offense averages 40.2 points a game. Also, the Bengal Tigers have this interesting statistic — they rank second nationally behind Louisville in third-down conversion rate.

Alabama ranks in the top 10 in all major defensive categories, including first in scoring defense. ... Alabama 24, LSU 20.

No. 7 Auburn (8-1) at Tennessee (4-5): Auburn leads the SEC in rushing, while the Vols are last in rushing defense. That should tell you everything you need to know about how today’s game will go.

It should be fun to be Tre Mason today. ... Auburn 31, Tennessee 14.

Eastern Kentucky (6-3) at Jacksonville State (7-2): As we have pointed out often this week, Auburn’s Tre Mason leads the Southeastern Conference in touchdowns with 14, but who leads the state colleges?

No college player inside our borders can match DaMarcus James’ 17 touchdowns. When the Jacksonville State running back has a good day, so do the Gamecocks, usually. Eastern Kentucky, however, has allowed only 20 points in the last four games and has given up only six rushing touchdowns all season. ... Eastern Kentucky 24, Jacksonville State 22.

No. 9 Missouri (8-1) at Kentucky (2-6): Kentucky’s only wins are over Alabama State and Miami of Ohio. ... Missouri 38, Kentucky 21.

Arkansas (3-6) at Ole Miss (5-3): Arkansas hasn’t won since beating Southern Mississippi nearly two months ago. ... Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 10.

Mississippi State (4-4) at No. 11 Texas A&M (7-2): The Aggies are scoring 49 points a game, which is why they have the record they do while still having the worst defense in the SEC.

Wyoming (5-4) is the only FBS team with a winning record to allow more yards than A&M has. ... Texas A&M 45, Mississippi State 30.

No. 3 Florida State (8-0) at Wake Forest (4-5): FSU should send Stanford a thank you card. The Cardinal’s win over Oregon made the path the BCS title game much more clear for the Seminoles. ... Florida State 51, Wake Forest 14.

Vanderbilt (4-4) at Florida (4-4): The Gators have lost three straight, although it was to three good teams away from home — LSU, Missouri and Georgia. Also, although the offense has struggled, the defense still ranks eighth nationally in fewest yards allowed. Florida is 10th in scoring defense, too. ... Florida 24, Vanderbilt 13.

No. 24 Notre Dame (7-2) at Pittsburgh (4-4): The Irish barely beat Pitt last year, one of many close wins on the road to the BCS title game. Notre Dame is winning close games this year, too — the Irish are 4-0 in games decided by four points or less. ... Notre Dame 24, Pittsburgh 21.

Virginia Tech (6-3) at No. 14 Miami (7-1): After losing to Alabama in the opener, Virginia Tech won six straight, making the Tide’s lackluster performance in that first-game victory look a little less lackluster. However, the Hokies have fallen to Duke and Boston College in the past two games.

Virginia Tech still is ranked third nationally in total defense, but Miami is at home. ... Miami 22, Virginia Tech 16.

Last week: 9-1. (In case you’re curious, I missed on Texas Tech-Oklahoma State by a lot. Oklahoma State won 52-34.)

Overall: 79-21.
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