Did you know that there is a game between two SEC West heavyweights that will have absolutely no bearing on the SEC Championship Game? Football is weird sometimes. In the holiday spirit, I'll be giving each of my predicted winners a reason to be thankful.
(12)Texas A&M @ (22)LSU: 2:30 p.m., CBS
As we all expected, the Heisman front-runner is being plagued by scandal, accusation and innuendo. Surprisingly, that Heisman front-runner is not named Johnny Manziel. All things considered, it's been a pretty quiet season for JFF, despite having what is arguably a better season than last year's Heisman campaign. If Manziel goes to Baton Rouge and performs well this weekend, we may see a resurgence of Manziel Mania. LSU may have laid an egg against Ole Miss and fallen flat against Alabama, but the Tigers are still a big physical team that likes to hit people. Johnny vs. the LSU defense won't get the hype that next week's Iron Bowl will, but it's going to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The Aggie defense still has more holes than a Selena Roberts expose, so Jeremy Hill stands to have a field day running the ball. This feels like a high-scoring game.
Predicted winner: LSU, which should be thankful for the Raising Cane's franchise. Guthrie's, Zaxby's and everyone else simply fall short of the mark set by "Cane's." They do chicken fingers right.
(8)Missouri @ (24)Ole Miss: 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Which Doctor Bo will show up on the road in Oxford, the precise surgeon who can slice apart a defense, or the quack who is drowning in debt from malpractice lawsuits? If Bo Wallace plays well, there is no question the Rebels have the ability to knock off the favored Missouri Tigers at home. If he doesn't ... well, expect Mizzou to ruin what has been a nice little stretch for Ole Miss. James Franklin, who was having a fantastic season before being injured, returns to the starting lineup for the first time this weekend. Will we see rust and discontinuity, or will he provide the spark that will propel the Tigers toward a special postseason?
Predicted winner: Missouri, which should be thankful it landed in the Eastern Division despite being nearly three times closer to Chicago than it is to Gainesville.
Vanderbilt @ Tennessee: 6 p.m., ESPN2
I'm not sure exactly why or how the college football power in the state of Tennessee has shifted from Knoxville to Nashville, but it's been glorious to watch, hasn't it? Vanderbilt can sneak up on the best of us, but last year's 41-18 demolition of the Vols spoke volumes about the trajectories of these two programs. Butch Jones will have Tennessee back soon, but Jordan Matthews and the Vanderbilt offense is too much for the Volunteers this year.
Predicted winner: Vanderbilt, which should be thankful for head coachoach James Franklin during these last two or three games that the Commodores will have him.
Mississippi State @ Arkansas: 11:21 a.m., SECN
Wow, we ran out of good games quickly, didn't we? Dan Mullen vs. BERT. I don't even know who to root for/against in this game. Luckily, these teams are so bad that we don't have to worry about accidentally seeing this game on network television. These teams have combined for an impressive 10 straight losses and are looking for anything positive to give their fans this late in the season. Mississippi State probably has the slightly better team, but Arkansas is at home and coming off a bye week.
Predicted winner: Arkansas, which should be thankful for the money being home to Wal-Mart HQ brings into its state. Without that, we would all have to drive to Arkansas games on dirt interstates.
Kentucky @ Georgia: 6 p.m., ESPNU
I don't know if you read about this in the newspapers, but Georgia is coming off of a pretty painful loss. Were the Bulldogs playing a better team, they would be in danger of experiencing an emotional hangover than could blemish and otherwise perfectly average season for them ... but they're not. They're playing Kentucky, which will instead undeservedly become Aaron Murray's metaphorical punching bag. This is going to be Murray's final game in Athens, so expect lots of
trite emotional commentary throughout this one. WHO WILL BE THE LAST REFEREE HE WHINES TO IN ATHENS???
Predicted winner: Georgia, which should be thankful for the fine people at the Athens Regional Medical Center.
Georgia Southern @ Florida: 1 p.m., ESPN3
By now we all know what Florida is: a serviceable defense and an offense straight from the depths of the fiery underworld. Georgia Southern travels to Gainesville on Saturday and will bring an option offense that will almost certainly be destroyed in convincing fashion. Coach Boom may be in some hot water, but he can still sleepwalk to a big win over the Eagles. Don't be surprised if the Gators' offense looks downright Malzahnish and elects to throw fewer than 10 passes.
Predicted winner: Florida, which should be thankful that Ron Zook is available right now to right this ship. Make the call, Gators.
Coastal Carolina @ (11)South Carolina: Noon, ESPN3
So what do you do if you're a South Carolina player who's already wrapped up your SEC schedule? You beat the hell out of Coastal Carolina in the morning and pray that Missouri loses at night. South Carolina ends its season with a huge matchup against Clemson, and this serves as a nice little tune-up game for the main event. Coastal Carolina may get annihilated on Saturday, but at least it has an amazing mascot and logo. Chanticleers assemble!
Predicted winner: South Carolina, which should be thankful for cooler weather that forces coaches to wear shirts.
Chattanooga @ (1)Alabama: 1 p.m., ESPN3
Oh look, Alabama has a bye week, too. The Tide struggled against Mississippi State last week, which probably means that Nick Saban is going to aim his death laser directly at Chattanooga's aorta. That's really all you need to know about this game. Chattanooga is still a great city with a fun aquarium. Hopefully the Mocs players will live to see it again.
Predicted winner: Alabama, which should be thankful Mack Brown's mini-resurgance :(
More from College and Magnolia:
- SEC preview: We're Thankful For Johnny Football's Return
- What went wrong with the Tigers' defense against UGA?
- The College and Mag Show: Nov. 21, 2013
- On chance and bye-week entertainment
- Football to watch when you can't watch Auburn football