It seems very strange, but here we are on rivalry weekend with plenty of the season left to go. Hey, it's 2020. Why not get weird?
The Iron Bowl and the Egg Bowl headline what should be a phenomenal football weekend upcoming in the SEC. No. 22 Auburn has won two out of the last three games vs. No. 1 Alabama but finds itself as more than a three-touchdown underdog heading into Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss will tee it up after a last-second thriller that included Rebels wide receiver Elijah Moore effectively costing his team the game by pretending to urinate like a dog. Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin have taken over the Bulldogs and Rebels, respectively, which should make this one plenty of fun.
Let's break down rivalry weekend and make some picks in this week's edition of SEC Smothered and Covered.
Appetizer: Coaching matchups we've anticipated
Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore pretended to pee like a dog after scoring what should have been a game-tying touchdown in the waning seconds of last year's Egg Bowl vs. Mississippi State. That cost the Rebels 15 yards, they missed the extra point and the landscape of football in the state of Mississippi was forever changed. Lane Kiffin took over at Ole Miss, Mike Leach took over at Mississippi State and all eyes turned to the 2020 edition of one of the fiercest rivalries in the country.
Sadly, neither coach is acting like it. Contrary to the days of Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen, Kiffin and Leach are treating this rivalry with civility and respect for the other side.
"I had known about it just from watching it," Kiffin said. "I think it used to be on Thanksgiving a lot, and then my brother [Chris Kiffin] being here for a number of years. I knew it was always really competitive and a big deal around here. So, it's a big deal."
Now, here's Leach:
"I suspect that I don't know as much about it as you, to be perfectly honest," he said. "I do know that over the years it's always been an incredibly tense game. I know it's very meaningful to people and it's in conversation all year round, every day. There's not a day that I don't hear somebody mention the Egg Bowl. I know it's a very meaningful game, and I know there have been plenty of them that have been exciting to watch, even before I was ever in the state of Mississippi. It's exciting to be a part of it, and a great opportunity to play in one."
THIS ISN'T THE EGG BOWL WE CAME TO KNOW AND LOVE.
Y'all get petty on Saturday, please. We need Dabo Swinney levels of petty in this game.
Main course: The Najee Harris Show
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is the most likely member of the Crimson Tide roster to find his way to "virtual New York" as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Auburn has a great chance of ruining those hopes. Why? Because he shouldn't throw a single pass.
The Tigers gave up 5.55 rushing yards per attempt to Ole Miss earlier this month and 5.41 rushing yards per attempt last week to Tennessee, even when the game plan was patently obvious. Sure, the dominating win over LSU (1.19 yards per carry) sandwiched between the two was great, but that game was a hot mess for LSU that looks more like the anomaly for Auburn rather than a trend. What's more, Auburn ranks second in the SEC in passing defense (237 yards per game) and opponent passer rating (131.04).
Translation: Alabama's game plan should be all Harris, all of the time. Make Auburn prove that it can shut down the top running back in the nation. Make Auburn prove that its defensive line can play up to its competition. Make Auburn so concerned about the run that it is forced to sell out on any down knowing that it can't force a stop.
Auburn's defense can cost Jones the Heisman Trophy through no fault of his own. It can also elevate Harris from dark-horse to front-runner.
- LSU and No. 5 Texas A&M went seven overtimes the last time the two met in College Station. If that happens again, the Aggies could be out of the College Football Playoff hunt. Style points matter ... especially for Jimbo Fisher's crew.
- JT Daniels' emergence as No. 9 Georgia's No. 1 quarterback was a long time coming ... but what's up with the defense? Sure, the Bulldogs are missing a ton of players, but under no circumstances should a roster as depleted as Mississippi State's cruise up and down the field.
- Kentucky has averaged less than 4.32 yards per carry against every opponent not named Vanderbilt or Ole Miss this season. It mustered up 1.84 yards per carry last weekend against Alabama. No. 6 Florida's defense better show out this weekend.
- Vanderbilt freshman quarterback Ken Seals has thrown for 319 or more yards in three of his last four games. If you don't know the name, get to know it.
Picks for Week 13
No. 22 Auburn at No. 1 Alabama
I understand why a blowout is expected in the Iron Bowl. Auburn's offense -- even though it has improved -- can't keep up with Jones, Harris and the talented Crimson Tide wide receiver group. Can it hang around, though? Yes. At least enough to keep it within three touchdowns. The Iron Bowl is the greatest rivalry in sports because of what it means to both sides. Fans know it, players feel it and coaches feel pressure because of it. Both teams will come out tight, and Auburn will make a few plays early to put a little bit of a scare into a Crimson Tide team that has had a tumultuous week due to coach Nick Saban’s positive COVID-19 test. But the running game will get going, Auburn's defense will wear down and the Tide will pull away in the second half for the win -- but not by more than 21. Pick: Auburn (+24.5)
LSU at No. 5 Texas A&M
Will the Aggies be a little rusty after their unexpected midseason shutdown? Maybe a little bit. At least enough to let LSU hang around a bit. Look, it's really difficult to figure the Tigers out. Are they the team that got worked and gave up against Auburn, or the team that showed fight and desire in a win over Arkansas last week? I'm betting on the latter. They didn't give up a single third-down conversion last weekend against the Hogs, which suggest a great matchup between the top third-down offense in the conference. That is where the rust will come in and how the Tigers will keep it close. Pick: LSU (+14)
Kentucky at No. 6 Florida
Kentucky struggles to pass, and its rushing stats are skewed by two great games. Translation: it's a paper tiger. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask will get his top weapon, tight end Kyle Pitts, back after the star pass-catcher missed the last two games. The Wildcats just got lit up by Alabama last week, and will suffer the same fate this week against an offense that's as comparable to the Crimson Tide as any in the country. Pick: Florida (-23.5)
No. 9 Georgia at South Carolina
Bulldogs fans are thrilled that JT Daniels finally saw the field and shined last weekend vs. Mississippi State, but a three-touchdown line against South Carolina seems a bit much. After all, Georgia's defense isn't exactly feeling good about itself right now. Gamecocks interim coach Mike Bobo -- a former Georgia quarterback and offensive coordinator -- wouldn't reveal who will start at quarterback this week, Collin Hill or Ryan Hilinski. This likely means that he has some tricks up his sleeve and will make things more interesting than oddsmakers think. Pick: South Carolina (+21.5)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
In order to beat Ole Miss, a team has to have an offense that can keep pace in a shootout. Mississippi State isn't that team. Even though Will Rogers threw for 336 yards against Georgia last weekend, it's difficult to assume -- based on how the season has evolved -- that his performance is the start of a trend. Even if it is, can the Bulldogs get to 45 points against Matt Corral and the Rebels? Nope. Pick: Ole Miss (-9.5)
Vanderbilt at Missouri
The surprise game of the week features Vanderbilt (which was supposed to play Tennessee) and Missouri (which was supposed to play Arkansas). Give me the 'Dores to cover. Missouri's offense hasn't exactly lit it up since the LSU game on Oct. 10, and has struggled mightily against South Carolina (301 yards) and Florida (248 yards) the last two times out. Seals will do enough to keep it close to the number. Pick: Vanderbilt (+20)
Records -- Straight up 38-10 (5-0 last week) | ATS 23-25 (2-3 last week)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 13? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,600 in profit over the past four-plus seasons -- and find out.