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SEC Week 12 predictions

Mississippi State travels to Alabama for the marquee game of the week. The winner is in the driver's seat for the SEC West title and, ultimately, a potential playoff spot. Our writers are split on the outcome of that one, but that's not the only game they disagree on. In fact, the only unanimous pick this week is, somewhat surprisingly, Texas A&M over Missouri. Let's get on with the picks.

Why Alabama wins: This isn’t a pretty Alabama team, but it doesn’t matter. It’s tough as nails and plays so much better at home. Mississippi State is back to being the underdog and Alabama’s defense will force Dak Prescott to make early mistakes. The Tide are banged up? Yeah, but their SEC and playoff runs are over with a loss. Who wouldn’t want Nick Saban in this matchup? Alabama 27, Mississippi State 20 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Mississippi State wins: People argue that the Bulldogs have struggled in recent weeks. What if they were just sitting back, waiting for Alabama? I expect this team to be ready and open the game like it did against LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn earlier in the season. And if it comes down to quarterback play, I’ll take my chances with Prescott over Blake Sims. Mississippi State 28, Alabama 24 -- Greg Ostendorf

Why Georgia wins: Auburn’s defense was abysmal in the loss to Texas A&M and Georgia gets Todd Gurley back. You think he’s jacked up to play in this one? This one has shootout written all over it, but the return of Gurley coupled with a chance to win the East will boost the Dawgs to a close win. Georgia 38, Auburn 35 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Auburn wins: The only prediction I'm confident about in this one is that the scoreboard operator is going to be busy tallying points. It's hard to imagine either of these defenses having much success on Saturday, so it might come down to who makes one more stop than the opponent. Auburn's offense is slightly more balanced, so I'll give the Tigers a tiny edge in a shootout. Auburn 38, Georgia 35 -- David Ching

Why LSU wins: Arkansas has come close to ending its SEC losing streak several times this season, and it seems like the popular pick to predict that it happens this week. But what the Razorbacks do best -- run downhill -- is something that LSU is equipped to defend. This will come down to whether Arkansas' defense can slow down LSU's power running game, and I don't think it can. LSU 28, Arkansas 24 -- David Ching

Why Arkansas wins: The Razorbacks are rested after an off week while LSU must travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, after a grueling overtime battle with Alabama. Arkansas took LSU down to the wire when they met a year ago and this is a better Razorbacks team. Arkansas has been close several times this year to ending its SEC losing streak against quality teams (Alabama, Mississippi State, Texas A&M). This time, the Razorbacks break through. Arkansas 20, LSU 16 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Why Florida wins: The Gators have been much more explosive offensively lately and the confidence level has picked up considerably thanks to the spark Treon Harris has provided at quarterback. South Carolina hasn't had many answers defensively for opponents lately, allowing more than 40 points to each of its past three SEC opponents. Florida 34, South Carolina, 27 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Why South Carolina wins: Yes, I know the Gamecocks have lost four straight SEC games. I know they’re trending in the wrong direction. But I like the Head Ball Coach in this one. Steve Spurrier has won six straight games coming off a bye week, and I just don’t think Florida’s offense can keep pace if it's a shootout. South Carolina, 34, Florida 31 -- Greg Ostendorf

Why Missouri keeps it close: Missouri is the SEC's ultimate "find a way" team this year. The Tigers aren't particularly good at anything and yet here they are with a 7-2 record and a chance to win the SEC East. Heck, they beat the doors off Florida despite mustering all of 119 yards of offense and seven first downs. Their pass rush is good enough to fluster Kyle Allen and maybe they'll return a kick or a turnover for a score to keep it close, but superior talent and home-field advantage give the Aggies the edge. Texas A&M 24, Missouri 21 -- David Ching

Why Texas A&M wins big: It's all about confidence for Texas A&M. Between its shaky defense and true freshman quarterback, emotions play a factor. So coming off a big win at Auburn is huge. The Aggies’ ability to throw the ball will turn this into a shootout the Tigers can't survive. Why? Because Maty Mauk is too careless with the ball, and he'll likely be running for his life with Myles Garrett chasing him. Texas A&M 41, Missouri 20 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Tennessee wins: A bowl berth is on the line for two teams going in opposite directions. The Wildcats have lost four straight since starting 5-1, while the Vols are riding high off a comeback win at South Carolina and might have found their quarterback of the future in Joshua Dobbs, who will have another big weekend after getting to rest and absorb more of the offense during the bye week. Tennessee 31, Kentucky 24 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Kentucky wins: If Justin Worley were still Tennessee's QB, I'd feel differently. If the Vols' offensive line had shown more improvement, I'd wonder about this pick. But I can't change those things. Kentucky is just better. Its defense, with playmakers Bud Dupree, Za'Darius Smith and A.J. Stamps, should force Dobbs into a few bad plays. So long as Patrick Towles is careful with the football, Kentucky should be able to run effectively and score enough points. Kentucky 35, Tennessee 34 -- Alex Scarborough

Standings

Greg Ostendorf 73-15

Edward Aschoff 71-17

David Ching 71-17

Chris Low 71-17

Alex Scarborough 69-19

Sam Khan Jr. 66-22