HST Staff Predictions Week 5

Four weeks. It seems like just yesterday we were in the midst of the summer doldrums, praying for the sweet release of football, college or professional. Now we are a third of the way through the 2017 season, and it’s all going by so quickly that, to quote a white girl, I just can’t even.

Last week we learned that South Carolina misses Deebo Samuel worse than Shaq misses free throws, and they may struggle to score a touchdown the rest of the season. Tennessee is another team that has yet to establish a true identity, struggling with winless UMass in Knoxville. Arkansas lost the battle of coaches on the hot seat in a shootout in Arlington, and Florida extended their win streak over Kentucky to an astounding 31 years. Do we need to mention Alabama? So much for Vanderbilt’s “We want Bama” attitude going into that game. It was more like “we want Bama to go back home and stop mercilessly skull-dragging our team in front of a mostly-Tide-fans crowd in our own stadium” kind of day.

After a dominate win over Mississippi State, Georgia will get an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the SEC East when they travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee, while Florida hosts Vanderbilt in a game where the Dores look to bounce back and Florida looks to stay on top of the East race. Mississippi State and Auburn will duke it out on the Plains in a game where both teams will try to stake their claim as second best in the West. Don’t forget about Texas A&M hosting South Carolina either. Kevin Sumlin was able to survive another week after beating Arkansas, but can the Aggies keep it going? It should undoubtedly be a fun Saturday in the SEC.

Standings after week 4:

1. Trey: 36-8 (81.8%)

2. Peyton: 35-9 (79.5%)

T3. Blake: 34-10 (77.2%)

T3. Cooper: 34-10 (77.2%)

T3. Matt: 34-10 (77.2%)

*EDITOR’S NOTE: HOME TEAM LISTED SECOND IN CAPS. ALL SPREADS TAKEN FRIDAY SEPT. 29 2017*

 

Vanderbilt at FLORIDA (-10) Saturday 11:00

Cooper: It’s going to be extremely interesting to see how Vanderbilt responds after getting annihilated by Alabama this past weekend. Unfortunately for the Commodores, they face another stout defense this Saturday, except this one is on the road. I expect this to be a low scoring game that is dominated by the defenses. I will take Florida at home 20-13.

Blake: Well folks, I had a bad week this past go around, and I apologize. I lost three games. But that’s ok, because we still came out positive across the board. On to Cincinnati as they say. For Vandy, it’s on to Gainesville. That won’t be fun. Derek Mason was introduced to Nick Saban this past weekend, and needless to say the Commodores are still trying to decipher up from down. Florida was gifted a win by Kentucky, giving them back to back last second victories over teams that outplayed them. In the end, as much as I think Florida’s luck has to run out soon, I just don’t know if Vandy can put the pieces back together quickly enough to be ready for a road matchup against a talented defense. Gators in a close one, 24-16.

Peyton: Im very interested to see if Florida can even score on Vandy. Had this been any other week, I would go with Vandy here. But after that beat down by Bama. I’m taking the Gators. Florida 20-6.

Trey: Vanderbilt is coming off an embarrassing 59-point home loss to Alabama last week. On the other hand, Florida is coming off a crazy win over Kentucky las week. The Gators have the momentum heading into this game and may have found something with Luke Del Rio at quarterback. Florida wins 20-13.

Matt: Vandy was manhandled by Alabama last week 59-0. As bad as that sounds, I still think that Vandy is the second-best team in the East. I had them at number one until I watched UGA play this past Saturday. Florida has a very weak offense, and aside from the Bama game, Vandy has been very solid on defense. I expect a close game, with Vandy coming out ahead 24-17.

New Mexico State at ARKANSAS (-17) Saturday 11:00

Cooper: Arkansas is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M last week, and it’s reasonable to expect a bit of a hangover from the Hogs. I have a feeling this game will be close throughout the first half, but Arkansas will be able to score the last few touchdowns of the game to put it away in the fourth quarter. I’m going with the Hogs 45-21.

Blake: The Razorbacks are more talented than the New Mexico State Aggies across the board. Austin Allen is an NFL-caliber quarterback with big offensive linemen and powerful running backs. Now if someone would just tell Bret Bielema that, Arkansas would start winning football games. So far this season, the Hogs have not fared well against teams with equivalent talent, like TCU and Texas A&M, but these Aggies are not an SEC team. Arkansas needs to get back to basics and put numbers up against an inferior opponent. Look for the defense to be better than last week when they surrendered 50 points to A&M. Arkansas rolls 52-20.

Peyton: This could be extremely high scoring. While I know the Hogs will score and score big, New Mexico State has an offense that can do the exact same. No matter how bad the Hogs are though, they are still an SEC talent-rich team and this gives them the edge early in the 4th. Arkansas 56-40.

Trey: I think this game will be closer than people think. New Mexico State is not a bad football team, and they gave Arizona State all they could handle earlier this season. With that being said, Arkansas better be ready to play in this one or they might get beat. However, Arkansas will be too talented for New Mexico State in the end. Arkansas wins 38-24.

Matt: Four weeks into the season and Arkansas is still a mystery to me. I watch them one time and think they are a decent team, then other times they look awful. I don’t think Bret’s job is in jeopardy this season if things go as expected, however a loss to someone like NM State would change things in a hurry. I predict Arkansas will come out ready to play this week and win fairly easily. Hogs 43-17.

Georgia (-7.5) at TENNESSEE Saturday 2:30

Cooper: As Mississippi State fans learned last week, it can be hard to get up for a game following a big emotional conference win the week before. I can see Georgia getting off to a bit of a slow start in this one, but ultimately their overall talent will be too much for Tennessee. I’m taking the Dawgs 31-17.

Blake: It pains me to say it, but this score will look better on paper than the mauling Georgia gave Mississippi State last week. The Bulldogs of the East were ready and waiting for that game, and they handled business. Now they travel to Knoxville to face a mediocre Tennessee team in an environment that is hostile to both teams as long as Butch Jones is on the sideline. The Vols lost a heartbreaker to Florida two weeks ago and appeared to be sleepwalking through the UMass game. Perhaps they were preparing for their big division rival to come calling. I think Tennessee plays it tight and hangs around until late in the third. But Kirby Smart is better than Butch Jones, and UGA has better talent. Bulldogs win 27-17.

Peyton: Well, Georgia flat out beat us down. But I don’t expect the same here. I think this is a game Tennessee gets up for. I look forward to seeing Jacob Eason come back, and given they let him, I think he makes some big plays in the 4th. Dawgs 30-20.

Trey: Georgia has been very impressive to start the season and were especially impressive last week in their win over Mississippi State. On the other hand, Tennessee has’t looked very good at all this season and they struggled to get by a winless UMass team last week. Georgia’s defense should be able to shut down a very one dimensional Tennessee offense and win this one relatively easily. Georgia wins 34-17.

Matt: Butch Jones is a dead man walking as far as his coaching at UT is concerned. The players know it and are not giving maximum effort. These situations can go one of two ways. The players can rally around their coach, in an attempt to save his job, and play all out or they can do what it seems UT players are doing: laying down and accepting what is happening. The effort the UT players gave in the UMass game was as bad as I have seen since Houston Nutt’s last season in Oxford. Pair this with the fact that Kirby Smart has the Bulldogs firing on all cylinders, and it would reason that a beatdown is brewing. UGA wins 35-10.

Eastern Michigan at KENTUCKY (-14.5) Saturday 3:00

Cooper: I’m a bit worried about how Kentucky will respond after such a tough loss to Florida last week. We have seen teams in the past fall apart after a tough loss like that, but luckily for the Wildcats, they get a team like Eastern Michigan next. I expect a slow start from Kentucky, but they will be able to rally in the second half and avoid the upset. Wildcats win 31-17.

Blake: Kentucky was robbed. There, I said it. And i’m not ashamed of it. Despite inept coaching and defensive alignment down the stretch, Kentucky had a chance to kick a game-winning field goal from inside 30 yards at the end of the game thanks to a great run by Benny Snell Jr. But a holding call against Kentucky brought the ball out of field goal range, and the Wildcats lost the game. The call was bogus and egregious. And terrible. And such a Kentucky way to lose a game. The Wildcats have two easy rebound games in Eastern Michigan and Missouri before they have to get right for a game at Mississippi State, so Mark Stoops and company should be able to figure it out. Wildcats will look slow in the start, but they are a talented team and should pull away after halftime. UK 48-20.

Peyton: Kentucky had the win last week and they just let it slip away. It won’t happen this game. It’s over at the half, as Kentucky is just to much for EMU. Wildcats 49-17.

Trey: Kentucky will look to rebound after a rough loss last week to Florida. Kentucky should be able to get back on track in this game against Eastern Michigan. The Wildcats have too much talent in this one. Kentucky wins by a score of 38-17.

Matt: Kentucky lost a heartbreaker against Florida last week but showed that they are ready to compete in the East. I do not think they are a great team by any stretch of the imagination, however I do expect them to win this game on sheer talent alone. UK 40-20.

Mississippi State at AUBURN (-10) Saturday 5:00

Cooper: Mississippi State got pummeled last weekend in Athens, and things don’t get any easier this week as they head to the Plains. I expect the Bulldog defense to play better than they did last week against Georgia, but I do have concerns on offense for State. Auburn may actually have a better defense than Georgia, particularly on the front seven, and that doesn’t bode well for a run heavy offense like State. If the Bulldogs are going to win this one, they are going to have to find a way to move the ball on the ground and Fitzgerald will have to make some plays with his arm. With that said, I am going with Auburn 20-13.

Blake: In the preseason 13 & 34 Podcast, we talked about this three game stretch against LSU, Georgia and Auburn and what the Bulldogs should expect, or hope for, as a result. After winning the first two games handily, State dominated LSU in Starkville and the hype train was rolling. Unfortunately, the next stop was Athens. UGA took State to the woodshed from the first play of the game, and the maroon-clad Bulldogs never recovered. But as we said in preseason, if you win one out of these three that is a good start to the season. Well, the Bulldogs have done that. And I want more. I want State to go to the Plains and walk the Tigers up and down the field just like the LSU game. But I’m not sure if that can happen. Auburn is fast, physical and extremely talented across the defense. While the offense has not looked great so far, Jarret Stidham appears to be getting more comfortable in the offense each week. This will be a battle, if both teams show up. I think Mullen and Grantham will have the team focused and ready after last week. Let’s just hope the talent level is there to compete. Screw the haters, I’m taking the Dawgs. State in an upset 20-13.

Peyton: I’m afraid Auburn is similar to Georgia and might even have a better front seven. Nick HAS to make some plays with his feet and down the field passing. I just don’t think we have quite enough talent to beat Auburn and it bites us in the 4th. It’s hurts to say this, but Auburn 27-17.

Trey: Mississippi State did not play well against Georgia last week. In fact, State was dominated on both sides of the ball, and the game was basically over after the first five minutes. MSU faces a similar style of team this week in Auburn, and I don’t see that being a good thing. Auburn has a very fast and physical defense. I suspect that they will try to implement the Georgia game plan and shut down State’s rushing attack and force Nick Fitzgerald to beat them with his arm. If they are successful in shutting State’s rushing attack down, I’m just not sure that Fitzgerald is far enough along in his passing skills to beat a team like Auburn with his arm. One of the key weaknesses of this Bulldog team is it’s lack of big, physical receivers, and that doesn’t help Fitzgerald either. With that being said, I believe Auburn will win this game by a score of 31-17.

Matt: My head says Auburn, my heart says State. One thing we know is that Auburn was given the blueprint to stop State’s offense by UGA. Load up to stop the run and short passes and make Nick beat you throwing down the field. As of now, State doesn’t have anyone with the ability to stretch the field and win one-on-one battles. I trust Dan Mullen to game plan against that this week. The best way to do that is with intermediate passes. Crossing patterns for eight to ten yards a pop. The one strength of MSU’s receiving corps is a ton of players who are really slot-type receivers. Use them that way. Defensively State will be fine. I still trust Grantham. So do I go with my head or with my heart? “Take another little piece of my heart now baby.” Dawgs win 24-21.

Troy at LSU (-19.5) Saturday 6:00

Cooper: As a Troy student, I would love nothing more than to see the Trojans win this game in Death Vally. Back in 2008 Troy just about did that. The Trojans led LSU early in the third quarter 31-3 before the Tigers stormed back for 40-31 victory. Unfortunately, I don’t see a repeat of that this Saturday. LSU wins 38-14.

Blake: No contest here. LSU was much better against Syracuse in the second half when they got the rest of the defensive line back from suspension, and this week will be a tune up again for the Tigers. Troy is an inferior team and LSU needs to continue to flex its offensive muscles in order to be ready for the back half of SEC play. LSU wins big 48-10.

Peyton: UPSET ALERT. I’m kidding, but this game could be closer than most expect. Still though, this is an LSU team and they aren’t gonna get beat too many times a year. This for sure won’t be one of those times. LSU 34-17,

Trey: LSU hasn’t looked very good so far this season. This team has problems that it needs to address or they will continue to struggle by LSU’s standards. However, they should be able to win this game with relative ease. LSU wins 35-13.

Matt: One thing that I think we will slowly begin to learn as the year progresses is that LSU is not as good as we would like to think they are. They are still an eight-win team, but certainly not ready to compete with Bama for the West. The fact remains though, that they have talent all over the field, and Troy just simply does not. LSU wins 42-14.

South Carolina at TEXAS A&M (-10) Saturday 6:30

Cooper: This one is very intriguing for me. How crazy is it that A&M could be 4-1 with a win Saturday? I bet no one expected that after the UCLA game. As for South Carolina, they were one of the surprise teams the first two weeks of the season, but they just haven’t looked the same without Deebo Samuel. This should be a pretty close game throughout, but I’m going to take the Aggies by a score of 31-27.

Blake: A win Saturday would put A&M at 4-1 on the year, and Kevin Sumlin would still be headed to the unemployment line. What a time to be alive. The Aggies appear to be the more talented team with the loss of Deebo Samuel for South Carolina. While the Gamecocks’ defense is, well, game, the offense is abysmal now. I think the Aggies will look much better in this one because South Carolina will play 90-plus snaps defensively. Aggies win 38-17.

Peyton: I think this will be another shootout for A&M, and while most people are going with the Gamecocks, I think this game shows that the SEC West’s worst team can beat the SEC East’s second or third best. Aggies 45-35.

Trey: This game is the true definition of a toss-up game. Both of these teams have been very inconsistent so far this season. South Carolina looked like a real contender in the East to start the year, but an injury to its best playmaker Deebo Samuel, a loss to Kentucky, and just squeaking out a last-second victory over LA Tech has presented many questions about the Gamecocks. On the other hand, Texas A&M has been very up and down, and I believe Kevin Sumlin is on his way out as head coach of the Aggies. However, A&M is 3-1 and are coming off a nice victory over Arkansas last week. I struggle with who to pick in this game because it is a complete coin flip game, but I’ll go with A&M to win 38-31.

Matt: Anyone who is willing to lay money on this game, for either team, is crazy. These are two teams who both have schizophrenia. We never know what we are going to get from one week to the next. If A&M comes out committed to the run game, I think they will pull out the win. Who knows what Sumlin will do though. This is the hardest game of the week for me to pick. I am going to go with Sumlim’s Aggies, however I have zero confidence in the pick. A&M over South Carolina 34-21.

Ole Miss at ALABAMA (-27.5) Saturday 8:00

Cooper: The Tide have got to be tired of hearing about how Ole Miss has beaten them two of the last three meetings, and I expect them to take it out on the Rebels Saturday. Ole Miss can’t stop anyone on the ground, and this week they face the number one rushing offense in the conference in terms of yards per game. Saban and company will run the ball right at the Rebels in an attempt to keep Shea Patterson and AJ Brown on the sidelines as much as possible. Ole Miss may score a couple touchdowns, but Bama will roll easily 52-17.

Blake: I don’t understand why people think Ole Miss will score in this game. What about Alabama’s defense gives you any confidence in an opposing offense? Especially one that may be missing some of its top playmakers like A.J. Brown. That’s right, Ole Miss may be missing key starters on both sides of the ball because of injury, and they have to travel to Tuscaloosa to face an Alabama team that is constantly reminded of its 1-2 record against Ole Miss the past three years. So no, I have zero confidence in an Ole Miss offense that can’t run for fifty yards against Pac-12 defenses. I think Saban and Alabama run the ball fifty times and control the clock for over two-thirds of the game. Bama wins big 52-10.

Peyton: Oh, the Ole Miss smack talk sure is fun to read. Quite entertaining. Sure they have had Alabama’s number the past few years, but this year the only number they have is the local escort service. Alabama destroys and Shea looks awful in this one. Alabama rolls 49-10.

Trey: I believe Ole Miss will be able to put up some points in this game, but Alabama will put up a whole lot of points in this one. Ole Miss has one of the worst rush defenses in the country, and the Alabama rushing attack should have a big day and run at will against Ole Miss in this one. Alabama wins by a score of 45-24.

Matt: My favorite thing about this game is that there are Ole Miss fans who are actually holding out some kind of hope that they will pull off the miracle. Well, it ain’t going to happen. The Rebels do have great receivers and Shea is a very solid quarterback, but Ole Miss has zero run game. The only thing worse than the Bearsharks run game is their defense. I expect Bama to win BIG. Bama wins 42-17.

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