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SEC predictions: Week 5

At the very least, I proved last week that I am a man of my word.

There I was, sporting a Hog Head just off Dickson Street in Fayetteville and even did a video wearing it after promising to do so if I missed the Arkansas-Georgia pick, which I did.

And even though I picked against the Hogs for a second week in a row (and got it right this time against Alabama), I can’t emphasize enough what a blast it was to be there for such a highly-anticipated game, to experience what was an unbelievable atmosphere all weekend long and to meet so many great Arkansas fans.

I hope to be back soon.

That said, I also need to get back on track with my picks. I was 5-2 last week, missing Auburn’s 35-27 win over South Carolina and Mississippi State’s 24-12 win over Georgia.

I’ve picked against Auburn twice this year and gotten burned and picked Georgia to win twice and gotten burned.

Maybe I’ll learn at some point.

My overall record is 28-8 (.777), which has me squarely on the hot seat.

If we were shooting free throws, I’d be able to live with that percentage. But we’re not. We’re picking football games, and anything below .800 is disgraceful.

If my percentage drops much lower, I’m going to have my ACC colleague, Heather Dinich, come over and start picking games for me. She doesn’t have a lot to do. The ACC was out of the national championship picture several weeks ago, although basketball practice does start up here in a few weeks.

Anyway (as the Head Ball Coach would say), let’s take a look at my Week 5 picks:

Alabama 27, Florida 17: It always makes for high drama when the two biggest, baddest dudes on the block get it on. That’s what Alabama and Florida have been in the SEC the past couple of years. Their last two meetings were two of the most anticipated games in recent SEC history. This is their first regular-season meeting since 2006. The Gators’ defense will see to it that they hang around in this game, but the Crimson Tide’s offensive line and running game will see to it that they pull away in the second half.

LSU 28, Tennessee 9: With the way LSU has been struggling on offense, the Tigers’ margin for error isn’t very wide. Good thing they’ve been lights out on defense and Patrick Peterson is returning kicks for them. They get a Tennessee team on Saturday that has been dreadful on third down, both offensively and defensively. The Vols, who had to go into double overtime last week before defeating UAB, are painfully inexperienced and equally thin. This will also be their first road trip of the season. Tiger Stadium is no place to get acclimated to the road in this league.

Ole Miss 31, Kentucky 28: Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was throwing out Michael Jordan analogies this week to inspire his players. The Rebels haven’t had a lot go right this season, although they did erupt offensively last week in the 55-38 win over Fresno State. Jeremiah Masoli is starting to look more comfortable in that offense, and Kentucky’s defense looked spotty last week at Florida. The Rebels will get just enough big plays from Masoli to pull out the win.

Georgia 30, Colorado 17: Colorado gave up 52 points to Cal earlier this season. So if the Bulldogs are ever going to get it going offensively for an entire 60 minutes, this is their chance. Going across the country to play a football game is never easy, but getting star receiver A.J. Green back will be worth an extra touchdown or two. He’s that good. Moreover, getting him back should help everybody’s confidence. It goes without saying that Mark Richt and his embattled coaching staff could use a win, any win. They’ll get it Saturday in Boulder.

Connecticut 24, Vanderbilt 20: The Commodores have had a week off and should be healthier this week. Their running back stable was especially banged up coming out of that Ole Miss win two weeks ago. The Huskies were beaten soundly in both of their road games this season, at Michigan and at Temple, but have been a different team at home. The last time the Commodores beat a BCS nonconference opponent on the road was 2006 against Duke. Unfortunately for Robbie Caldwell’s club, that’s a drought that will continue.

Auburn 48, Louisiana-Monroe 10: The Tigers have had two tough games in a row at home, coming from behind both times and flexing their muscles in the second half. They get a tune-up game this week, their fourth home game of the season, and shouldn’t need to go into the second half to pull this one out. The real goal may be keeping quarterback Cameron Newton’s uniform clean. He’s already carried the ball 75 times this season. Maybe this is the game the Tigers get to rest most of their regulars in the second half.

Mississippi State 34, Alcorn State 7: The Bulldogs played with a real sense of urgency last week and were rewarded with a 24-12 win over Georgia. This is a defense that continues to improve under first-year coordinator Manny Diaz and has played well enough to win in every game. With quarterback Chris Relf playing one of the best games of his career last week, maybe this is a team ready to take off. The Bulldogs need to win these next two, starting with Alcorn State on Saturday, and be 4-2 going into that Florida game on Oct. 16.