This week's SEC schedule has the feel of an old-school homecoming week beatdown. How else could you explain four SEC teams welcoming Southern Conference opponents to town with the simple message of, "Thanks for coming, here's your check, now take this whipping and we'll all be happy."
Of course the overwhelming underdogs today across the SEC -- only one game does not feature a double-digit point spread, and all but two of today's SEC games have teams favored by 30 or more -- are not as surprising as the slight favorite.
Vanderbilt is a 1-point favorite against Tennessee today. In Neyland Stadium. And for a generation of folks, that seems preposterous, but the results of the season make you wonder why the Commodores are only 1-point picks. They scared Florida and Georgia and should have beaten Arkansas; Tennessee lost by 10 to the Gators and eight to the Bulldogs and were manhandled by the Razorbacks. To be fair, if the SEC was tiered, Alabama and LSU would be top-shelf; Arkansas and Georgia would be a rung down; South Carolina, Auburn, Florida and Vandy would be on the next level; and UT, the two Mississippi schools and Kentucky would be on the bottom level.
Looking at it that way, Vandy should be the favorite today: The Commodores are occupying the role the Vols have held in this matchup for a generation.
Last week's SEC guesses: 5-2 overall, 4-3 against the spread
Season's SEC guesses: 64-13 overall, 46-28-3 against the spread
The Citadel at South Carolina
Noon, Williams-Brice Stadium
Breakdown: A strong finish could land South Carolina in a high-profile bowl game. The 8-2 Gamecocks have two games left against Palmetto State foes, and here's saying coach Steve Spurrier calls the dogs off to get ready for next week's slugfest with Clemson.
The line: South Carolina minus-42.5
The pick: South Carolina, 37-10
Kentucky at Georgia
12:21 p.m., Sanford Stadium
TV/Radio: WDSI/102.3 FM
Breakdown: The Bulldogs' surge has them one win from Atlanta and the SEC championship game. The last hurdle -- a Kentucky team that was 0-for-12 on third-down conversions in a 30-point loss to Vandy -- will be the easiest of them all.
The line: Georgia minus-30
The pick: Georgia, 49-7
Furman at Florida
1 p.m., Ben Hill Griffith Stadium
Breakdown: This will be a really good chance for Florida fans to look at the young players. It also would be a chance to play with the kids or watch a movie, since this will be among the slew of games that will be painful to watch.
The line: Florida minus-30.5
The pick: Florida, 42-14
Georgia Southern at Alabama
1 p.m., Bryant-Denny Stadium
TV/Radio: Pay-per-view/97.3 & 99.3 FM
Breakdown: A line this big makes you ask one key question: Do you think Alabama's second- and third-team players are better than Georgia Southern's starters. Heck, Alabama's second- and third-teamers would win the SEC East.
The line: Alabama minus-40
The pick: Alabama, 49-3
Samford at Auburn
1 p.m., Jordan-Hare Stadium
Breakdown: Former Auburn great and current Samford coach Pat Sullivan will be honored before the game. After paying tribute to Sullivan, who won the Heisman Trophy 40 years ago, the current Tigers are hoping to hammer his current team.
The line: Auburn minus-35
The pick: Auburn, 47-20
Mississippi State at Arkansas
3:30 p.m., War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock
Breakdown: Mississippi State is one win from securing a bowl berth. Arkansas is still trying to find a way into the BCS. Mississippi State has underachieved and is splitting time among three quarterbacks. Arkansas has overachieved and has an all-star candidate QB spreading the ball around to three stud receivers. Sounds like a mismatch, huh?
The line: Arkansas minus-13
The pick: Arkansas, 45-21
LSU at Ole Miss
7 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Breakdown: How many points would it take for you to feel confident picking the Ole Miss Rebels? Remember, they're playing for a lame-duck coach -- Houston Nutt resigned earlier this month -- and they suspended three players, including starting QB Randall Mackey and top running back Jeff Scott. Would you feel comfortable with Ole Miss and 40 points?
The line: LSU minus-30
The pick: LSU, 45-3
Vanderbilt at Tennessee
7 p.m., Neyland Stadium
TV/Radio: ESPNU/106.5 FM & 1370 AM
Breakdown: Where are we as an SEC football culture when Vandy enters Neyland as a favorite? We're in uncharted waters, that's for sure. UT always has viewed this rivalry as a foregone conclusion; today it's the defining game of this season.
The line: Vanderbilt minus-1.5
The pick: Tennessee, 27-23
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...