GVX247 Pick 'Em Party: Week 7

Each week throughout this season, the GVX247 staff will make predictions for some of the biggest games in college football, focusing primarily on the Southeastern Conference.

And you’re invited to join the fun, too.

The GVX247 Pick ‘Em Party will allow all free and VIP members of GVX247 to compete with staff writers Wes Rucker and Ryan Callahan and editor-in-chief Kevin Ryan in a high-stakes, no-holds-barred battle for glory. (Click HERE to sign up for a FREE subscription through the end of the year.)

While this space each week will be devoted to the staff’s picks for 10 of the week’s top games, the user comments below this story will be reserved for members to make their own predictions. NOTE: We’re picking winners against the spread, not straight-up winners. Please pay attention to the point spreads listed below for each game in making your picks.

Weekly winners will receive a free one-month subscription to GVX247. Never the type to stifle genius, we will allow for repeat winners, so if you’re awesome enough to finish first every week throughout the season, we’re not going to stop you.

All picks must be submitted by noon Eastern time on Saturday to be eligible for the weekly contest.

To post your picks, simply list the winners of all 10 games in the order they’re listed below. To break any possible ties, we also need you to predict the final score of Tennessee’s game.

The first tiebreaker will be the total points in the Arkansas-Alabama game. All remaining ties will be decided by Rucker’s dog, FozBeast.

Week 6 recap

In the season-long contest for GVX247’s expert panel, staff writer Ryan Callahan pulled into a first-place tie with senior writer Wes Rucker last week by finishing with the staff’s best record, 7-2-1.

Rucker’s 6-3-1 mark allowed him to maintain a share of the lead, while editor-in-chief Kevin Ryan fell to five games out of first place by going 5-4-1.

“It looks like the cream is rising to the top, just as it always seems to do in long-term competitions like this,” Callahan said. “It’s only a matter of time now before I overtake Wes and run away with this thing. Since Wes is a Cubs fan, I fully expect him to be out of the picture by the equivalent of August on the Major League Baseball schedule.”

Before we reveal our picks for Week 7, here’s a quick look at last week’s results and the overall standings after Week 6:

WEEK 6 RESULTS
Ryan Callahan 7-2-1
Wes Rucker 6-3-1
Kevin Ryan 5-4-1

OVERALL STANDINGS
Wes Rucker 35-23-2
Ryan Callahan 35-23-2
Kevin Ryan 30-28-2

Week 7 picks

LSU (-17.5) AT TENNESSEE

Wes Rucker: I don’t enjoy making excuses for myself or other people, but it’s a shame that Tennessee won’t have all hands on deck Saturday, because I looked at this game all offseason as one UT could win.

I thought UT would be bigger defensively and, therefore, could match up OK with LSU’s power running game, and I still think that’s the case, even without Louisiana natives Janzen Jackson and Herman Lathers.

I knew LSU would be really, really good, but I thought the Vols’ explosive passing game could make some big plays and score enough points to scare and possibly upset the Tigers in Neyland Stadium. But I don’t think that’s the case without injured sophomores Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter in the passing game.

UT will play hard — it always has under Derek Dooley — but it won’t matter. This game now reminds me of the 2002 Vols-Miami game in Knoxville. Neyland was amped up and hostile, and UT made some plays early, but the Hurricanes were never seriously threatened after the opening minutes of a 26-3 win.

I see a few more points in this one on each side. But not many. LSU. (LSU 31, Tennessee 10)

Ryan Callahan: In any other year, I would have expected Tennessee to have a shot in this game.

LSU has a history of allowing less-talented teams to stick around in games like this, as evidenced by the Tigers’ controversial, last-second win over the Vols last year at Tiger Stadium. Plus, UT coach Derek Dooley’s teams have put scares into LSU on a couple of occasions, going back to his stint as Louisiana Tech’s coach.

But this year’s Tigers seem to be a different team, talented as always on defense and capable of putting up plenty of points on offense in every game. In other words, they finally appear to be playing up to their potential on a consistent basis.

Tennessee, meanwhile, simply has lost too many key players to be able to knock off a team of LSU’s caliber. Senior quarterback Matt Simms is a capable replacement for injured sophomore starter Tyler Bray, and UT has a few talented receivers even without injured sophomore Justin Hunter. But with their top two playmakers watching from the sideline— and, of course, with no running game — the Vols won’t be able to keep up with the Tigers.

The excitement of facing the nation’s No. 1 team may help UT get off to a good start, but LSU’s talent eventually will take over on both sides of the ball. LSU. (LSU 34, Tennessee 16)

Kevin Ryan: Let me start by saying I am horrendous at picking these games. Half a season has made that perfectly clear.

It’s a good thing my family isn’t depending on my picking expertise to put food on the table. If that were the case, we’d all be in big trouble.

Now, on to my reasoning, Tennessee’s offense struggled against a good defense last week with Tyler Bray. This week, the Vols face a great LSU defense without Bray.

Logic tells me that UT will struggle to score points and the Tennessee defense will be on the field for a long time Saturday. I think the defense will put up a valiant effort, but in the end the Tigers will wear them down and will have a few short fields to work with on offense.

I think Tennessee will play hard, and coach Derek Dooley will have them fighting to the end. I just don’t think it will be enough.LSU. (LSU 31, Tennessee 10)

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SOUTH CAROLINA (-3) AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Wes Rucker: South Carolina. I’m not going to make a Stephen Garcia crack here, because anyone with that much talent who can’t straighten up and fly right with so many chances is either arrogant, ignorant or has serious issues off the field. None of those is a good thing. This is a talented, book-smart kid who already has a bachelor’s degree and is generally beloved by his teammates, and it’s a sad story. But the Gamecocks will be better with Connor Shaw, and they’ll handle Mississippi State in Starkville.

Ryan Callahan: South Carolina. Mississippi State already has shown this season that it’s not quite ready to compete with the SEC’s best teams every week, and South Carolina certainly is good enough to take care of the Bulldogs even without Stephen Garcia.

Kevin Ryan: South Carolina. The Stephen Garcia era is over for the Gamecocks, but I think the disappointment continues for Mississippi State and its fans. That spread isn’t big enough for me, so I’m picking Spurrier & Co. to cover.

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ALABAMA (-25.5) AT OLE MISS

Wes Rucker: Alabama. It could be worse than being a 17.5-point underdog to the nation’s No. 1 team in your home stadium, Tennessee fans. Ole Miss is a 25.5-point underdog to the nation’s No. 2 team in its own stadium. Hopefully it’ll be a nice day so Ole Miss fans can at least sundress-watch in The Grove.

Ryan Callahan: Alabama. It took the Crimson Tide a bit longer than expected to put away Vanderbilt last week, and yet they still managed to win by 34. That means Ole Miss, the worst team in the SEC West, probably doesn’t stand a chance of keeping it close with Alabama.

Kevin Ryan: Alabama. I don’t see myself picking against Alabama at any point this season — against the spread or otherwise. I think the sluggish start against Vandy will have the Tide fired up from the opening kickoff this weekend.

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FLORIDA (-2) AT AUBURN

Wes Rucker: Auburn. I know Auburn’s got some problems, but I don’t have any idea why the War Eagle Tiger Plainsmen Pick-A-Nicknames are two-point underdogs to a quarterback-less Florida team in Jordan-Hare Stadium. At night. What do you know that the rest of us don’t, oddsmakers?

Ryan Callahan: Auburn. I thought the Tigers would be able to put up a better fight than they did last week against Arkansas, but I don’t think that game is necessarily indicative of how tough this Auburn team is. The Tigers will get back on track against Florida, which still is searching for offensive production without John Brantley.

Kevin Ryan: Auburn. I’ve learned my lesson picking against Auburn this season. I put too much emphasis on that Utah State opener and not enough emphasis on some of the Tigers’/War Eagles’ better wins.

———

GEORGIA (-11) AT VANDERBILT

Wes Rucker: Georgia. Vanderbilt really isn’t a bad team. But the Commodores are at least 11 points worse than Georgia, even in Nashville. The Bulldogs’ defense is much better than I thought it would be in Year Two under coordinator Todd Grantham.

Ryan Callahan: Georgia. The Bulldogs aren’t perfect by any means, but they’re better than a lot of people thought they would be coming into this season. As long as they don’t overlook a feisty Vanderbilt team, they should be able to take care of the Commodores without any problems.

Kevin Ryan: Georgia. If Georgia can beat Tennessee by eight on the road, I have to believe the bulldogs can beat Vandy by 11 or more.

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MICHIGAN (+2) AT MICHIGAN STATE

Wes Rucker: Michigan. This would be a really fun game to watch, and not just because this is a great rivalry and both of these teams could actually be good at the same time for the first time in a while. I’ll go with D-Rob and the Wolverines, but nothing would surprise me in this one.

Ryan Callahan: Michigan. I still don’t have a feel for exactly how good Michigan State is, but I think the Wolverines’ offense is consistently productive enough to lead them to a road victory over their in-state rival.

Kevin Ryan: Michigan. I don’t understand how oddsmakers have Michigan as an underdog in this game, so I’ll take the Wolverines and the points. I also think Michigan wins outright in East Lansing.

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MIAMI (+3) AT NORTH CAROLINA

Wes Rucker: North Carolina. Kudos to both Miami and North Carolina for having enough coaches and players left on the rosters to play in the Pre-Probation Bowl. I’ll take the Heels at home, but I’m glad I’m not watching this one.

Ryan Callahan: North Carolina. The Tar Heels didn’t look too impressive last week against Louisville, but they’re quietly putting together a nice season. And while Miami is better than its record suggests, I expect North Carolina to hold off the Hurricanes at home in the battle of teams formerly coached by Butch Davis.

Kevin Ryan: Miami. I respect Al Golden as a coach and admire what he did at Temple. He walked into a tough situation at Miami with Boostergate coming to the forefront. I think he rallies the Canes this week.

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OKLAHOMA STATE (-8) AT TEXAS

Wes Rucker: Oklahoma State. Things that make more sense than Texas being mediocre or worse at football: modern art, advanced thermodynamics, Tab (the soft drink), Japanimation, wolf T-shirts, Dane Cook being a millionaire and FozBeast always plunging face-first into the screen door when I open the main door.

Ryan Callahan: Oklahoma State. Texas’ performance against Oklahoma last week only verified what I thought I already knew about the Longhorns: They’re not very good. Even on the road, Oklahoma State should be able to cruise past Texas.

Kevin Ryan: Oklahoma State. I don’t know why, but I think Texas is closer to the 5-6 team it was a year ago than the top-10 ranking it had last week. I think OSU’s explosive offense is too much for the Longhorns.

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BAYLOR (+9.5) AT TEXAS A&M

Wes Rucker: Baylor. I would take Texas A&M if this was a 30-minute football game. Alas, it’s a full hour, so I’ll take the must-watch Robert Griffin III and his Bears with the 9.5 points. I wish the Aggies would put a hundy on the crying Bears, but I think I’ll have to settle for them winning by nine points or fewer.

Ryan Callahan: Baylor. Texas A&M very well may win this game — the Aggies, despite their second-half struggles, are probably the better overall team — but Baylor’s offense will do enough to keep it close.

Kevin Ryan: Baylor. I am not a believer in Texas A&M. I am a believer in Robert Griffin III. Giving Baylor that many points — even on the road — seems like too many to me. I’m going with the Bears.

———

ARIZONA STATE (+14) AT OREGON

Wes Rucker: Oregon. Oregon coach Chip Kelly, in his never-ending battle to be as boring as possible around reporters, said “nothing changes” for the Ducks this week without star tailback LaMichael James. I don’t condone the coach’s boring public persona but think he’s right. Oregon’s got speed coming out of its ears and won’t miss a beat.

Ryan Callahan: Oregon. I have been fairly impressed with what I have seen from Arizona State so far this season. But I don’t think the Sun Devils are ready to give Oregon a serious challenge, especially on the road.

Kevin Ryan: Oregon. I know Oregon’s LaMichael James hurt his elbow, but he is listed as the starter on the depth chart this week. Even if he doesn’t play, I don’t think the Ducks will miss him as much as many folks believe.

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