Les Miles may not know it yet, but his team remains on the periphery of the national title chase. Beat the Crimson Tide and LSU vaults back into the national equation. In the process, he'd have a chance to beat down the biggest villain in Louisiana -- Nick Saban. As the game nears, Miles has been particularly eloquent on the opportunity for big plays.
"I guess what I'm saying is I'm in the key piece of my season where the big plays have yet to have been made. As I go into the next game, I look for those plays to be more important than anything that we've done in the past, and to say that I have any opinion to this point that would be finite would not," Miles said.
God, I love this man.
It's also likely that Miles' game plan will revolutionize football this week. "The opportunity to carry the football in a predictable fashion and the ability to hand the ball off as well as throw it really give you the most diverse attack," Miles said. Right. More seriously, LSU matches up really well with Alabama. The Tigers have the secondary talent to play man coverage on Julio Jones with Patrick Peterson and the defensive strength in the front seven to shut down Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. The result? An ugly, ugly ballgame that will end with a 13-10 LSU victory.
Go ahead and write this one in stone, it's happening, the latest Milacle is coming and it's drowning out the Tide's championship chances and maybe, just maybe, sending Nick Saban off to Dallas to coach the Cowboys next season.
LSU-Alabama is one of three decent SEC matchups this week. The other four games are paid executions. The SEC teams offer up a big paycheck and the lower-tier teams roll into town and take their beatings. Last week, I went 3-2 against the spread to run my seasonal record to 24-25-1. Of course, I'm also now 0-3 on my bet your mortgage picks after South Carolina failed to cover against the Vols.
This week, I have no clue on the four non-SEC games. But I'll persevere. And if I'm wrong, I'll drown my sorrows in a few hurricanes on Bourbon Street this weekend.
1. Alabama -6.5 at LSU
The Tigers are the pick. Not just to cover, but to win.
2. Arkansas at South Carolina -4
The weird thing about this game? It doesn't matter one bit to the Gamecocks. No matter what happens in this game, the SEC East title will be decided next week at Florida. This has to make the loss at Kentucky, during which time the Gamecocks gave up an 18-point lead to the otherwise winless in the SEC Wildcats, all the more excruciating. Merely beat the Wildcats and right now the Gamecocks would have a home game to clinch their first SEC East title.
What's more, the Gamecocks would still be in the national title hunt. Win out and it's likely the SEC championship would be for a trip to the BCS title game. Instead Arkansas rolls into town and no matter what happens in this game, the Gamecocks absolutely, positively, must win next week.
As for Arkansas, this is the stretch run for Bobby Petrino. Lose this game and 7-5, along with a losing record in the SEC for third consecutive season, remains a distinct possibility. Win and Razorbacks fans can still hold out hope for the Cotton Bowl or better. So this is a big swing game. Especially since for all the preseason hype, the Razorbacks have beaten one BCS-level team, Texas A&M, with a winning record all season.
Last week, South Carolina was gouged in the passing game by Tennessee's Matt Simms and Tyler Bray. This week, I think it will be more of the same. But I just can't get past the fact that Arkansas will not be able to stop Marcus Lattimore.
Gamecocks are the pick.
3. Florida -14 at Vandy
The Commodores are reeling. I mean, really reeling. Especially on offense. Last week, the Razorbacks outgained the Dores by 400 yards. This week, Florida's woeful offense that showed some signs of improvement with the return of text message guru Chris Rainey, rolls into town. Vandy hasn't beaten the Gators in a generation.
It's not starting this weekend.
Florida wins big.
4. UT-Chattanooga at Auburn -38
Fun fact: UT-Chattanooga is the only college football team in the state of Tennessee with a winning record this season. Unfortunately, it gets to put that record on the line by taking on Cam Newton and Auburn. Plus, this Auburn game is bracketed in between Elon and Samford, so how can you really expect Chattanooga to get up three games in a row?
Might it overlook the Tigers?
Auburn's the pick.
5. UT -20 at Memphis
The state of Tennessee's top football programs -- UT, Memphis, Vanderbilt and MTSU -- are a combined 8-24 on the season. Now two of them play for state bragging rights. And Memphis must be beyond awful if Tennessee is nearly three-touchdown favorites over it.
Even Derek Dooley was stunned to hear the spread. "Wow," Dooley said, when informed of how much the Vols were favored by. The Vols have been remarkably consistent this year, notching the nation's 93rd best offense and matching it with the nation's 94th best defense. But if you think those numbers are bad, Memphis has the nation's 117th best offense and the nation's 118th best defense.
Memphis somehow beat MTSU, which means if it beats the Vols it will win the state title. With Vandy still to come and a win over UT-Martin, the Vols have something to prove in the state title race as well.
In October, Memphis lost by 41, 56, 22, and 39 against Tulsa, Louisville, Southern Miss and Houston.
If all of those teams can cover, so will the Vols.
6. Louisiana-Lafayette at Ole Miss -28
Fun fact: Louisiana-Lafayette lost to Western Kentucky by 33. That's the same Western Kentucky team that had previously lost 27 consecutive football games. Now it's going on the road at Ole Miss and the line is 28. So I'm taking the Rebels here.
Ole Miss is the pick.
7. Idaho State at Georgia -43.5
The Idaho State Bengals step out of conference to take on Georgia this weekend. That's both a blessing and a curse since the Bengals are 0-6 in the Big Sky conference. I know nothing about Idaho State and neither do you. But 43.5 seems like an awful lot of points to give away.
So, in words that will not be written or uttered very often down south, I'm taking Idaho State.
8. Charleston Southern at Kentucky -45
Since Sept. 19, Kentucky has won a single football game, beating South Carolina in Lexington. This should be the Wildcats second victory. Charleston Southern has two victories this year, over teams called North Greenville and Mars Hill. I know on the last pick I said 43.5 was too many points to give up, but I'm reversing course here.
Joker Phillips hasn't won enough football games to call off the Cats against an inferior foe. He'll run up the score.
The Cats will cover.
Follow Clay Travis on Twitter here. With All That and a Bag of Mail returning for the football season, you can e-mail him questions at Clay.Travis@gmail.com