SEC predictions: Week 14

At least I have the SEC championship game to redeem myself before we hit the bowl season.

I was a very disappointing 5-3 last week, missing the Alabama-Auburn, Mississippi State-Ole Miss and Vanderbilt-Wake Forest games.

I’m barely hovering above the .800 mark for the season with a 77-19 record (.802).

This is where you’re judged, though. Nobody cares that you correctly picked Florida over Appalachian State or Jacksonville State over Ole Miss … oops.

Well, you get the idea.

This is the SEC championship game, the game that will determine whether or not the league gets a shot at its fifth straight BCS national championship.

These are the games you’ve got to get right. If you don’t, you can take that .800 percentage and deposit it in the nearest trash dumpster.

Before I offer up my pick for Saturday’s game, I’d like to remind everyone that I nailed each of the past two SEC championship games, picking Alabama last year and Florida the year before.

Here’s my stab at making it three in a row:

Auburn 38, South Carolina 28: The cloud has lifted for Auburn and Cam Newton, and there won’t be any more uncertainty regarding his eligibility heading into Saturday’s game. Of course, like it’s really mattered the past couple of games. He’s been lights out since everything broke, accounting for eight touchdowns in the Tigers’ past two games. The Gamecocks will no doubt play Newton differently than they did the first time when he ran for 176 yards and three scores. For starters, they will play him more to run and won’t be dropping as many defenders into coverage. South Carolina is playing its best football right now and has the offensive playmakers (Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery) to give Auburn fits. Jeffery, in particular, had a big day in the first game. What nobody has been able to do all season is keep the Tigers’ offense off the field. They’re so explosive that they put pressure on you to score every time you have the ball, and the defense is uncanny in its ability to come up with clutch stops and turnovers when it has to in the second half. The Head Ball Coach will have his team ready, but this is an Auburn team that doesn’t flinch regardless of how many points it falls behind. It’s also an Auburn team that has Newton at quarterback. That combination has been good enough for 12 wins in a row. Why not 13 in a row?