It's hard to believe the college football season has hit mid-November and there are only a few weeks remaining until the SEC Championship Game.
That means the countdown to numerous coaching dismissals will heat up considerably as schools scramble to get somebody in place in time to save the recruiting season. Call it the Bobby Petrino sweepstakes.
Joker Phillips is already a goner at Kentucky, and John L. Smith is almost certainly finished at Arkansas. The futures of Tennessee's Derek Dooley and Auburn's Gene Chizik remain to be seen. Any changes likely will come quickly.
Given the tenuous position of Dooley and Chizik, the remaining games likely will be a barometer for their chances to keep their lucrative paying jobs.
Tennessee has a decent to good chance to win its final three games, starting today against Missouri. Auburn is an underdog today against Georgia and will be a decided underdog at Alabama. The other remaining game on the Tigers' schedule is a home game against Alabama A&M.
Chizik will have a hard time explaining an 0-8 SEC campaign to the folks who sign his paycheck each week.
On to the picks:
Texas A&M (plus 13.5) at Alabama: Interesting matchup here as Texas A&M seems to be gaining momentum toward the end of the season and Alabama is coming off its last-second victory in a knock-down, drag-out fight with LSU. The question is whether LSU exposed Alabama's defense or if it was simply an off night. The Aggies present multiple challenges for the Tide's defense with dual threat QB Johnny Manziel running the show. Texas A&M is the highest scoring offense in the SEC and Alabama has the stingiest defense. Today in Tuscaloosa, defense trumps offense. Alabama 28, Texas A&M 24.
Georgia (minus 15) at Auburn: The Tigers got a reprieve of sorts last week by thrashing hapless New Mexico State in their most complete performance of the season. Georgia started slowly before turning it on in what turned out to be an easy win over Ole Miss. Auburn is the last hurdle between Georgia and the SEC Championship Game. Unless new Auburn QB Jonathan Wallace has the game of his life, Georgia will win in a walkover. Georgia 35, Auburn 14.
Missouri (plus 3.5) at Tennessee: Vols need a big finish to qualify for a bowl game and it should start today in a meeting of a high-octane offense (Tennessee) against one that has struggled in SEC play. Tennessee's defense is awful but Tyler Bray should make up for it with another big day. Tennessee 31, Missouri 27.
Mississippi State (plus 13.5) at LSU: Bulldogs have been blown out in their past two games (Alabama, Mississippi State) and there's no reason to think their slide won't reach three games tonight in Death Valley. LSU showed against Alabama that it remains one of the nation's elite programs. Only a marvelous game-winning drive and some questionable play calling by coach Les Miles kept the Tigers from beating Alabama. Unless it has a letdown after such a tough game, Miles and Company will win. LSU 27, Mississippi State 10.
Vanderbilt (plus 3) at Ole Miss: Both teams need one win to qualify for a bowl game. Vanderbilt has momentum with three straight wins. Ole Miss is trying to rebound after losing at Georgia. Hugh Freeze has worked some magic already this season, and with games with LSU and Mississippi State remaining, this might be the Rebels best shot at qualifying for a bowl. Vanderbilt 21, Ole Miss 14.
Arkansas (plus 14) at South Carolina: Gamecocks will try to win without Marcus Lattimore. Arkansas needs a couple of wins to play in a bowl game. Today will be South Carolina's day. South Carolina 35, Arkansas 31.