Let’s face it, if Alabama rolls through Fayetteville and beats Arkansas by the 32-point consensus spread, Nick Saban won’t really win anything.
Beating the Razorbacks won’t impress the College Football Playoff committee that much. Neither would a loss, by the way, if he left all of his first two teams in quarantine in Tuscaloosa.
In the NFL, that’s how it would be done but I doubt with the reduced number of games being played this year Saban wants to back off the throttle that much … at least for a half.
On the flip side of that, Sam Pittman can’t lose in this game. If the Hogs cover the spread that will be good enough for a lot of the fans.
You can bet, though, Pittman isn’t looking at just staying within five touchdowns of the Crimson Tide.
Maybe the biggest question is who will be lined up at quarterback and if Pittman knew Thursday he wasn’t letting on but he did have an interesting observation about Franks, who didn’t play against Missouri with a rib injury nobody knew about.
“Would you like to go out there and play hurt against Alabama?” he asked the media. “I wouldn’t. If he’s healthy, we’re going to put him out there. If he’s not, we’re not.”
The way he put that, I’m more than expecting K.J. Jefferson to trot out on the field with the first team.
It’s going to be cold (some of the weather talking heads say snow might be possible) and Alabama is probably coming in looking for the quick kill.
Honestly, it would be a good chance to evaluate Jefferson against the best program in the country. Maybe even put Malik Hornsby in there so he can get a taste of how it does. He’ll still be a freshman in eligibility next year either way.
On Thursday, Pittman had his best press conference since getting the job a year ago. He was relaxed and more at ease with the media than any other time.
If that translates to the players, the Hogs could show up ready to play and at least put up a good fight. Maybe even better than 2018 when they put up over 400 yards of offense against the Tide and put 31 points on the board, which was the most until Alabama reached the playoffs when they were steamrolled by Clemson for the title.
This time is different.
The two arguments are Alabama might be a little lackluster after two rivalry games with Auburn and Alabama or Saban will have them pushing towards the playoffs.
The guess here is the second option there is more likely.
But the Hogs will be able to move the ball.
Alabama 65, Hogs 42
Pete Morgan, trailing by three games coming into the final weeks of our annual predictions contest, has been in hiding more than some political candidates. I’m waiting on a concession text any minute now.
Georgia (13.5) at Missouri: The Bulldogs finally put J.T. Daniels at quarterback last time out and the offense actually improved. Too little, too late, but Georgia has not really improved much over the course of the season, but they should have enough to get past the Tigers. Georgia 31, Missouri 21
Tennessee at Vanderbilt: If the Vols do a faceplant in this one, Jeremy Pruitt will probably be fired between Nashville and Knoxville. Unless Phil Fulmer really doesn’t have a deal in place with Hugh Freeze to take over (and the SEC has quietly said Freeze is not frozen out of the league anymore, according to multiple sources within the league office). The only thing that will let Pruitt make the drive is Vandy is terrible and doesn’t have a coach. Tennessee 35, Vanderbilt 31
LSU at Florida (-23.5): The only thing that is crystal clear about this game is the Tigers just want this season to end. With the program in the biggest collapse of a defending national champion in recent memory, they’ve already said they aren’t going to a bowl game and they still have another game to play next week against Ole Miss that they might just haul off and forfeit. Florida 69, LSU 21
Auburn (-6.5) at Mississippi State: The Tigers may or may not be playing for Gus Malzahn’s job. Things have been strangely quiet on The Plains the last couple of weeks … which, historically, has been when things start happening with the program. But do they want to pull the plug in this crazy year? The Bulldgos have been playing better and it’s very tempting to have an upset special, but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on that one. Auburn 28, Mississippi State 27