It's time for this week's score projections. Here's an explanation of how it works. Thanks to the percentage projection taking precedent over the absolute when they disagree (and they disagreed on Auburn-LSU), last week's projections went a perfect 9-0, making them 20-3 on the season.
OLE MISS at AUBURN
Absolute Projection: Ole Miss 29 - Auburn 23
Percentage Projection: Ole Miss 29 - Auburn 20
I covered the Ole Miss angle in my piece earlier in the week. If the Rebels win, no one is going to put much stock in it because of the way Auburn is free falling. Gene Chizik was the toast of the conference in September, but October has been something a horror show for him. He could use a win right about now, especially since Paul Rhoads has Iowa State winning in places like Nebraska (as fluky as it was).
GEORGIA vs. FLORIDA
Absolute Projection: Florida 35 - Georgia 15
Percentage Projection: Florida 35 - Georgia 13
This is a rivalry game, and often times the season stats don't matter in them (see: Tennessee-Alabama from last week). However, that's not really what these score projections are good for measure since they are entirely based on season stats (minus I-AA games, of course). Anyway, this one projects to be an easy win in large part due to the fact that Georgia's defense allows opponents to score more points than they average, while Florida's defense lets opponents score less than half of what they average. If those trends bear out, it will be a long day for the Bulldogs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at KENTUCKY
Absolute Projection: Kentucky 27 - MSU 24
Percentage Projection: Kentucky 28 - MSU 24
This one could have just consulted the plain season stats and gone from there since the teams don't seriously affect their opponents' averages. Neither offense scores more than 10% more than their opponents allow, and neither defense allows less than 10% of what their opponents score. With that in mind, expect a close win by the home team.
GEORGIA TECH at VANDERBILT
Absolute Projection: Georgia Tech 30 - Vanderbilt 12
Percentage Projection: Georgia Tech 29 - Vanderbilt 12
I have been avoiding doing these for the SEC's non conference games, but that's only because the opponents have been non-Big Six conference squads. Georgia Tech is a major conference team (and a former SEC member at that) so they get to have their blowout win over Vanderbilt projected. The defenses are very close in their effectiveness versus opponents averages, but the offenses differ tremendously. GT scores 38% more than their opponents allow on average, whereas Vandy scores 49% fewer points than its opponents allow on average. That ain't good.
SOUTH CAROLINA at TENNESSEE
Absolute Projection: Tennessee 21 - South Carolina 16
Percentage Projection: Tennessee 20 - South Carolina 17
Given the quality of the defenses in this game, a low projected score is not a tremendous surprise. I think this could be the best game of the SEC's weekend, especially since it's a practical must-win game for South Carolina. The Gamecocks would be eliminated from the SEC East race with a loss and a Florida win, giving the Gators the division.
NON-SEC GAMES OF INTEREST
TEXAS at OKLAHOMA STATE
Absolute Projection: Texas 38 - OSU 19
Percentage Projection: Texas 36 - OSU 16
I know a lot of people are figuring that this is Texas' last chance of losing before bowl season, and it's not hard to see why. After this game, the best teams left on UT's schedule are Kansas (who lost to Colorado) and Texas A&M (who lost to Kansas State 62-14). The fellas in bright orange don't look in good shape for the fellas in burnt orange though. It appears that the Longhorns are up for another easy win.
USC at OREGON
Absolute Projection: Oregon 24 - USC 21
Percentage Projection: Oregon 19.86 - USC 19.54
This one projects out to a very close matchup, and it makes sense because they're both good teams. Ultimately, the difference may end up being the Ducks' defense, which Dr. Saturday profiled earlier this week. This could be a situation like in 2007 when USC went down to an Oregon team that simply was better. I was planning on picking Oregon in this one before I ran the projection, and now I feel even better about it.
MIAMI (FL) at WAKE FOREST
Both Projections: Miami 29 - Wake Forest 20
Wake is one of those plucky teams that can cause trouble on any given weekend. Unfortunately for their cause, they aren't the authors of too many giant upsets. A win for the Deacs in this one would play right into the ACC roulette story line, but I don't think it's going to happen this week.
WEST VIRGINIA at USF
Absolute Projection: WVU 28 - USF 19
Percentage Projection: WVU 27 - USF 20
While a lot of folks are probably dismissing the Bulls thanks to them being in their customary late season swoon, I figured it might be worth a look since the Bulls have won two of the last three in the series. The fact of the matter is though, that USF's offense just isn't that good and they don't even get up to the average point that their opponents allow. When you consider that some of their notable points have come on fluky long pass plays, it doesn't look good for them even at home.
CAL at ARIZONA STATE
Absolute Projection: Cal 27 - ASU 21
Percentage Projection: Cal 27 - ASU 22
Cal has been flying under the radar a bit after its back-to-back blowout losses and the subsequent KO'ing of Jahvid Best's Heisman hopes. However, two straight blowout wins have landed the Bears back in the polls. I've seen in a couple places where folks surmise that ASU's defense will cause Cal to fall back out of the polls with a loss. While that's a nice hypothesis, it's not likely to happen. Cal should win, but it won't be another laugher.