Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Alabama rolls up on final bump in road
Tennessee has already scored more touchdowns than it did a year ago, but the Volunteers will need to find a way to stop Missouri’s T.J. Moe on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
LITTLE ROCK After eight consecutive losses, the Kentucky Wildcats are assured of not losing this weekend. They have an open date.
On paper, it appears Alabama has its final test, and maybe a trap game, before the SEC Championship Game because its last two games are against Western Carolina and cellar-dweller Auburn.
Last week, I went 8-1 to bring the season record up to 65-19, and this might be a good time to repeat: The picks are not made against a betting line.
ARKANSAS AT SOUTH CAROLINA The Gamecocks are favored by 14, and if I were a betting man, I’d take the Razorbacks and the points. This is a showdown between South Carolina’s defense and Arkansas’ offense. South Carolina’s offense was centered on Marcus Lattimore, who is out for the season with an injury. The quarterback play has been sketchy, but the Hogs have helped opposing quarterbacks’ stats. This one could be close if Tyler Wilson is healthy and Cobi Hamilton can get some help from the other wide receivers. This series is tied at 5-5 for games played in Columbia. Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw is 14-3 as a starter, but he has been very inconsistent this season. The defense, however, has been very good. South Carolina 24, Arkansas 21.
TEXAS A&M AT ALABAMA The Aggies are coming off a huge road victory in Starkville, Miss., but at end of the road in Tuscaloosa, Ala., stands a mountain. LSU’s quarterback, Zach Mettenberger, had his best game of the year against the Crimson Tide, so there has to be concern about A&M’s Johnny Manziel, who is a true dual threat having passed for 2,527 yards and rushed for 922 yards, the best in the SEC. This will be the biggest football test of Manziel’s life. The Tide have clinched at least a tie for SEC West title, and this one puts them in Atlanta because Auburn can’t stop them. Alabama 28, Texas A&M 17.
GEORGIA AT AUBURN
The Bulldogs can clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a victory here in the oldest rivalry in the South. They do seem to be improving late in the season. Auburn is pitiful. Two former Georgia defensive coordinators, Brian VanGorder and Willie Martinez, are on the Tigers staff. That means nothing, but it was interesting to note. Georgia 49, Auburn 6.
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE AT FLORIDA A perfect game for the Gators to shake off that loss to Georgia two weeks ago. They certainly had not last week when they squeezed by Missouri 14-7. Florida has clinched a share of the SEC East title but needs Georgia to lose to go to Atlanta the first Saturday in December. Florida 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 10.
MISSISSIPPI STATE AT LSU Both teams are coming off hard losses at home. This victory could go to whichever coach shakes off the disappointment first. This is the fifth consecutive top 25 opponent for the Tigers, and you have to wonder if that can take a toll, but the oddsmakers have them more than a two-touchdown favorite. This is the most prolific offense for the Bulldogs since 2000. LSU 24, Mississippi State 21.
VANDERBILT AT OLE MISS The winner becomes bowl eligible and the game is in Oxford, which is why the Rebels are favored by a field goal. If Rebels don’t win, there isn’t enough bourbon in The Grove to ease the pain because the chances of getting to a bowl diminish with LSU and Mississippi State coming up. Vandy has won three in a row, and all its losses were to teams in the BCS top 25. Vanderbilt 24, Ole Miss 21.
MISSOURI AT TENNESSEE The Vols need to find a way to slow Tigers receiver T.J. Moe, but stopping him is almost impossible. The Tigers are 3-0 this season when they get a fourthquarter turnover. Both teams are 4-5, but the Vols are winless in SEC play despite the fact that with three games remaining, they have already scored 11 more touchdowns than they did last season. Missouri 28, Tennessee 24.
Sports, Pages 19 on 11/09/2012