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Matter's SEC Picks: Egg Bowl, Iron Bowl, Battle Line. Welcome to Rivalry Week

Matter's SEC Picks: Egg Bowl, Iron Bowl, Battle Line. Welcome to Rivalry Week

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Arkansas Missouri Football

Arkansas coach Barry Odom is seen before the start of an NCAA college football game between Missouri and Arkansas Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, which also means it’s Rivalry Week across college football. (Except for Razorbacks fans who insist the third word in Battle Line Rivalry is a lie.) Before you stuff yourself silly and the tryptophan kicks into gear, check out this week’s Picks.

But first …

STLTODAY SEC POWER RANKINGS

1. Georgia

2. Alabama

3. Ole Miss

4. Arkansas

5. Mississippi State

6. Texas A&M

7. Tennessee

8. Kentucky

9. Missouri

10. South Carolina

11. Auburn

12. LSU

13. Florida

14. Vanderbilt

SEC HONORS WATCH LIST

SEC player of the year/offensive player of the year: Alabama QB Bryce Young

If not the Bama QB, then his receiver is the best playmaker in the league.

In the running: 

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, Alabama WR Jameson Williams, Missouri RB Tyler Badie, Arkansas WR Treylon Burks, Mississippi State QB Will Rogers

SEC defensive player of the year: Alabama OLB Will Anderson Jr.

The nation’s best pass rusher could head to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

In the running: Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, Texas A&M DB Antonio Johnson, Georgia LB Nakobe Dean, Ole Miss DE Sam Williams

SEC newcomer of the year: Alabama WR Jameson Williams (Ohio State)

In the running: Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker (Virginia Tech)

SEC coach of the year: Josh Heupel, Tennessee

In the running: Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss; Shane Beamer, South Carolina; Sam Pittman, Arkansas; Kirby Smart, Georgia

Still a close call here.


THURSDAY

No. 8 Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC) at Mississippi State (7-4, 4-3)

Series: Ole Miss leads, 63-46-6

Kickoff: 6:30 p.m., ESPN                                              

Line: Mississippi State by 1 ½

Matter’s Pick:  Mike Leach quietly has the Bulldogs in position to win eight games and finish second in the SEC West. Ole Miss has the more explosive offense. MSU has the more reliable defense. This could turn into the best Egg Bowl in years. The game’s in Starkville, but I’m riding the Lane Train. Ole Miss 35, Mississippi State 31

FRIDAY

Missouri (6-5, 3-4) at No. 25 Arkansas (7-4, 3-4)

Series: Missouri leads, 9-3

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m., CBS                                   

Line: Arkansas by 14 ½

Matter’s Pick: The Tigers should be feeling pretty good after winning a couple in a row for the first time all season. But in the words of Eli Drinkwitz, “This week doesn’t care about last week.” Arkansas has morphed into a team that wins with offense. K.J. Jefferson is a load to tackle. Treylon Burks is a load to cover. The Hogs manage to run the ball no matter who carries it. But expect nothing less than a highly motivated Arkansas defense. Barry Odom’s players will give their coach all they’ve got against his alma mater. Missouri has Tyler Badie and a much-improved defense, but the passing game still has question marks, starting with Connor Bazelak’s mobility. With Bazelak no threat to run the ball, Odom will flood the passing lanes with eight defenders, daring his former QB to win through the air. The 14 ½-points seem like a lot, especially considering the Hogs’ average margin of victory in SEC play is 8.8 points. Drinkwitz will have his team ready, but the Razorbacks are due in what’s been a one-sided series. Arkansas 34, Missouri 27

SATURDAY

Florida State (5-6) at Florida (5-6)

Series: Florida leads, 36-26-2

Kickoff: 11 a.m., ESPN

Line: Florida by 3

Matter’s Pick: You’ve got two rivals trending in opposite directions. The Gators are without a head coach — Eliah Skywalker vanquished Darth Mullen last week — and might be lacking the motivation department. Florida could turn the QB job over to freshman Anthony Richardson, who curiously never saw the field last week at Mizzou. Either way, the Seminoles are finding some traction under second-year coach Mike Norvell. After an 0-4 start, the Noles have won two in a row and need one more W for bowl eligibility. They’ll get it done at The Swamp. Florida State 27, Florida 23

No. 1 Georgia (11-0) at Georgia Tech (3-8)

Series: Georgia leads, 68-41-5

Kickoff: 11 a.m., ABC

Line: Georgia by 35

Matter’s Pick: The Yellow Jackets can’t stop anyone, but Georgia should rest its starters in the second half to stay fresh for the SEC championship game. Take the points. Georgia 41, Georgia Tech 12

No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1) at Auburn (6-5, 3-4)

Series: Alabama leads, 47-37-1

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m., CBS          

Line: Alabama by 19 ½

Matter’s Pick: Auburn overachieved through the first half of the season and hasn’t recovered from the loss of quarterback Bo Nix. But this isn’t your typical dominant Alabama team. The Tide were fortunate to hold off LSU and Arkansas and might get tested on the road against their archrival in the Iron Bowl. The Sons of Saban survive, but it’s close. Alabama 38, Auburn 31

Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7) at Tennessee (6-5, 3-4)

Series: Tennessee leads, 77-33-5

Kickoff: 2:45 p.m., SEC Network

Line: Tennessee by 31

Matter’s Pick: It’s Vandy’s last chance to avoid a winless SEC season. No chance. This is prime Josh Heupel-run-up-the-score territory. Tennessee 45, Vanderbilt 7

No. 14 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3) at LSU (5-6, 2-5)

Series: LSU leads, 34-22-3

Kickoff: 6 p.m., ESPN

Line: Texas A&M by 6 ½

Matter’s Pick: It’s Coach O’s last stand. Pull the upset and LSU will make a bowl game. The Bayou Bengals should have a new coach by then — Baylor’s Dave Aranda? — but for one last time at Tiger Stadium, the man born to coach at LSU gets to roam the sideline, less than 24 months after he guided the Tigers to the national title. Texas A&M has the better team and has covered the spread in five of its last six games — and five of its last six on the road. But not this time. LSU 23, Texas A&M 17

Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5)

Series: Clemson leads, 71-42-4

Kickoff: 6:30 p.m., SEC Network

Line: Clemson by 11 ½

Matter’s Pick: Shane Beamer deserves some SEC coach of the year votes for taking a depleted roster to a bowl game in a year when injuries forced him to play three quarterbacks. But the party ends Saturday. Don’t look now, but Clemson has regained some functionality. They’ve won six Palmetto Bowls in a row — and clobbered the Cocks in the last four — but this one’s closer than normal. Clemson 27, South Carolina 20

Kentucky (8-3) at Louisville (6-5)

Series: Kentucky leads, 17-15

Kickoff: 6:30 p.m., ESPN2

Line: Louisville by 3

Matter’s Pick: Why exactly is Louisville favored? Give me the eight-win SEC team over the six-win ACC team that hasn’t beaten anyone in the last month not named Duke or Syracuse. Kentucky 31, Louisville 23

OUTSIDE THE SEC

No. 2 Ohio State (-8) at No. 6 Michigan: Is this the year the Wolverines finally take down the Buckeyes? They have the running game to keep C.J. Stroud and those elite receivers off the field, but never pick Michigan against OSU until it finally happens. Ohio State 34, Michigan 24

No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 7 Oklahoma State (-4): The Cowboys haven’t won Bedlam since 2014, but they’ve got the defense, the motivation and the home-field advantage. Pokes all the way. Oklahoma State 31, Oklahoma 24

Penn State (-1 ½) at No. 12 Michigan State: Off the field, it’s been a race to see who can sign their coach to a 10-year contract sooner. On the field, the Spartans are limping to the finish line. Penn State has the superior defense in a game that’s tough to call. Penn State 23, Michigan State 21

Last week’s picks

Straight up: 6-1

Against the spread: 5-2

Season picks

Straight up: 108-36

Against the spread: 81-63

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