Seriously, ESPN? 8:26 p.m. for a start to the Alabama-Ole Miss game?
It's time for the SEC and other schools across the country to just say no to television when it comes to starting games after 7:30 p.m. in the time zone in which they are located.
Sure, the networks pay gazillions of dollars to the conference for the rights to televise games, but at some point SEC Commissioner Mike Slive needs to step and put an end to late-night kickoffs. It's a disservice to the fans who, you know, actually pay for tickets to the games. If you lived in north Alabama last week and made the trip to Tuscaloosa and didn't spend the night, you probably rolled back into town around 2:30 a.m.
And that's just dumb.
If the SEC has the clout it thinks it does, it should dictate start times to the networks, not the other way around. And it should put its fans first.
Rant over, on to the picks.
Some nice games on tap this weekend in the conference, including Georgia-South Carolina, LSU-Florida. Texas-West Virginia and Missouri-Vanderbilt.
Oh yeah, Auburn plays Arkansas too. We'll start with that one.
Arkansas (plus 9.5) at Auburn: I'm not sure how oddsmakers come up with a betting line for this one. Arkansas has been abysmal and been outscored 110-10 in its past two SEC games. Quite frankly, the Hogs are an embarrassment. Auburn is coming off a bye week and showed signs of defensive improvement the last time out in a 12-10 loss to LSU. But are the Tigers good enough offensively to take advantage of Arkansas' terrible defense? And are they good enough to stop QB Tyler Wilson? Auburn needs to start making a bowl push today. Auburn 28, Arkansas 17.
Georgia (plus 2.5) at South Carolina: Winner has the inside track to the SEC East championship providing it can beat Florida later in the season. Georgia's offense appeared unstoppable last week in beating Tennessee, but the defense looked suspect. The Bulldogs have a great freshman running back tandem in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and a fine quarterback in Aaron Murray. South Carolina counters with a stout defense, including defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. These days, offense usually trumps defense. Georgia 24, South Carolina 14.
LSU (minus 2.5 at Florida: Lots of people are asking what's wrong with LSU these days. The Tigers escaped Auburn with a win and then appeared lackadaisical against Towson. Are the Tigers overrated, or just bored with their early season schedule? Florida is playing improved and inspired football in year 2 of the Will Muschamp era. In a reversal of previous years, Florida ranks second in rushing offense and 13th in passing offense. If LSU has been on cruise control, today would be a good day to kick it into overdrive. Florida 17, LSU 14
Vanderbilt (plus 7) at Missouri: Is James Franklin's star waning at Vanderbilt? A 1-3 start isn't what Commodore fans were expecting after last year's bowl season in Franklin's first season. It should be noted that Vanderbilt's three losses are against teams that currently are undefeated. Missouri still is looking for its first SEC win. When in doubt, take the home team. Missouri 21, Vanderbilt 13.
West Virginia (plus 7) at Texas: West Virginia put up 70 points last week on Baylor; Texas hung 66 on Ole Miss a few weeks back. Both teams might reach triple digits today. Geno Smith could just about wrap up the Heisman Trophy with another big day today. West Virginia 42, Texas 35.
Mississippi State (minus 10.5) at Kentucky: Bulldogs trump Wildcats on the football field and continue their march toward a showdown with Alabama later this month. Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 14.