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Week 12 predictions in the SEC

The most impressive aspect of Auburn’s 40-17 whipping of Georgia last week was the way the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage. Prior to Saturday, the Bulldogs had rushed for at least 200 yards in eight of their first nine games and 185 in the other; against Auburn’s outstanding defensive front, they managed 46 yards on 32 attempts.

The story was much the same on the other side of the ball. Georgia had held six of its first nine opponents to less than 65 yards on the ground; Auburn rolled up 237, including 167 (on 32 carries) by Kerryon Johnson.

Auburn’s performance, combined with Alabama’s struggles in Starkville, certainly raised the level of intrigue heading into next week’s Iron Bowl. This much we know: The winner will face Georgia for the SEC title, and—provided the Bulldogs make it to Atlanta without dropping another game—the winner of that game will punch its playoff ticket.

Let’s not jump the gun, though. There are five conference games on the Week 12 SEC docket. Tennessee fired Butch Jones on Sunday following an 0-6 start in conference play, so we’ll pass on picking the Vols’ home game with LSU. [We have a pretty good idea of how that one is going to go.] Let’s dive in on the other four.

Last week’s record: 3-1

Record on the year: 33-11

Saturday, November 18

Kentucky (7-3, 4-3) at Georgia (9-1, 6-1)

Auburn showed that it is possible to run the ball with success against Georgia. That’s good news for Kentucky tailback Benny Snell, Jr., who has rushed for 100-plus yards and three touchdowns in three straight games. On the other hand, a mediocre Wildcat defense could be subject to a bounce-back effort from a Georgia offense looking to get back on track.

The Pick: Georgia 34 Kentucky 14

Missouri (5-5, 2-4) at Vanderbilt (4-6, 0-6)

Lost among the wreckage of miserable seasons by the likes of Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, et al, is the fact that Vanderbilt is winless in conference play following a 3-0 start to the year. That’s not likely to change against a white-hot Missouri team that has scored at least 45 points in four straight games (all wins).

The Pick: Missouri 38 Vanderbilt 28

Miss. State (7-3, 3-3) at Arkansas (4-6, 1-5)

Can’t help but wonder if Dan Mullen regrets not going for it on fourth-and-three in plus territory late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to Alabama. Either way, he shouldn’t face any such agonizing decisions this week against the hapless Hogs, who have allowed 40-plus points four times in conference play for the second year in a row.

The Pick: Miss. State 35 Arkansas 20

Texas A&M (6-4, 3-3) at Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4)

True freshman Jordan Ta’amu has thrown for 368, 382 and 418 yards in his first three career starts, with seven touchdowns. Apparently, quarterbacks grow on trees in The Grove. Expect a shootout in Oxford.

The Pick: Ole Miss 41 Texas A&M 38

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