(Courtesy of DCMFanZone)
By Erik Stinnett
If ever a team needed to be on upset alert, this weekend is most certainly it for Alabama.
Since self-imploding against Ole Miss on Sept. 19, the Crimson Tide have been rolling. And picking up steam fast. Alabama has gone 4-0 the past four weeks with its most impressive, dominating victories coming on the road against undefeated, top 10 competition.
Alabama upset (yes, it did classify as an upset) Georgia, 38-10, on Oct. 3. Two weeks later it went back on the road and walloped Texas A&M, 41-23. The other two wins in the last month were home wins over not-as-imposing competition -- 34-0 over Louisiana-Monroe and 27-14 over Arkansas.
No. 8 Alabama is hot right now. Maybe -- if it's possible -- too hot in regards to the situation it finds itself in this week. The 6-1 Tide is facing a very dangerous, talented, capable Tennessee squad that went toe-to-toe with the likes of Oklahoma and Florida. A Tennessee squad coming off its most impressive win of the season (a stirring, 38-31 storm-back-from-behind victory over Georgia) in which just-waiting-to-explode quarterback Josh Dobbs did indeed unleash an explosive performance. A Tennessee squad that has had not one but two weeks to prepare for Alabama and let some of its nicks and bruises heal up.
And today Tennessee arrives at Bryant-Denny Stadium cloaked in an underwhelming wardrobe that has '3-3 overall, 1-2 in SEC play' highlighted across its front and 'nine-game losing streak to Alabama' highlighted across its back.
It's the perfect disguise for a dangerously potent upset-minded guest.
Huge upsets have happened before in this series. Many on both sides probably remember that historic 1990 affair in which an unranked, three-loss Alabama squad went into Neyland Stadium and shocked No. 3 Tennessee, 9-6. Is this the year Tennessee gets payback?
We'll soon see.
Prediction: Alabama 28, Tennessee 27
Texas A&M at Ole Miss: It's stay-alive weekend down in Oxford, Miss.
Texas A&M and Ole Miss both have checkmarks in their respective SEC loss columns and can ill afford another one if they want to remain in serious contention for an SEC West crown. Another loss doesn't eliminate either one completely. It just turns SEC title dreams from within-reach status to longshot status.
Texas A&M is led by playmaking wideout/return man Christian Kirk, while Ole Miss counters with a pretty salty defense led by perhaps the best defender in the country in lineman Robert Nkemdiche, who plays the position more like an oversized but still super athletic linebacker.
Texas A&M is coming off a humbling, 18-point home loss to Alabama last week, while Ole Miss, once riding high earlier this season at No. 3 in the rankings, absorbed an embarrassing loss of its own last Saturday -- falling 37-24 to Memphis.
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Ole Miss 31
Auburn at Arkansas: If the Texas A&M-Ole Miss game is considered a must-win for hanging on to hopes of winning the SEC West, the Auburn-Arkansas game carries with it even graver repercussions for the loser.
Auburn and Arkansas each already have two SEC losses weighing down their respective records. And we're not even to November yet. In other words, it's gonna be a huge challenge for the loser of this game not to mail in the rest of the season.
Auburn does have a little momentum going its way after defeating Kentucky 30-27 last week. Arkansas lost to Alabama 27-14 two weeks ago and has had an off week to try and regroup.
Prediction: Arkansas 24, Auburn 21
Rest of SEC Slate: Missouri at Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky at LSU, Kentucky at Mississippi State.