SEC Picks, Week Seven: Alabama's Defense, Arkansas' Offense, UGA on the Fence

Tim CroleySenior Analyst IOctober 14, 2009

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 10:  Linebacker Rolando McClain #25 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts during their game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

We are at the halfway point of the college football season, and it has been a fun ride so far. I finished last week with a record of 5-3.


I admit that I have progressively gotten worse as the season has advanced, but I feel confident that I can rebound with this week’s slate of games.


For the season I am 40-10 picking the SEC. Let’s see how things looked over the past weekend.



Week Six Recap


• The Arkansas game turned out somewhat like I expected. Auburn was unable to get enough pressure on the pass rush to hinder the Hogs’ passing attack. I predicted a much closer game with a score of 38-34 in favor of the Razorbacks, but they won by a larger margin of 44-23.


• Alabama once again proved that defense can, and usually does win the game. Ole Miss learned that this is not the season they had anticipated.


The Crimson Tide literally took this one away from the Rebels, along with five turnovers, and won by the final of 22-3. I predicted the Tide to win 34-21.


• Either Tennessee had an awakening against UGA, or the Bulldogs have packed it in for the season. I thought that Mark Richt would have the Dawgs ready to bite Smokey, but UT ran all over the boys from Athens.


The final was 45-19. I predicted UGA to win 27-14.


• Houston is not playing like the same team that knocked off Oklahoma State earlier this season, but they played good enough to beat Mississippi State.


The final score was 31-24, a valiant effort by the Bulldogs. I had the Cougars winning 28-20.


• South Carolina managed to defend the two point conversion attempt by Kentucky late in the fourth quarter, and that made all the difference as the Gamecocks held on to win 28-26. I had Spurrier’s bunch winning 31-17.


• Vanderbilt managed to take the game to overtime against Army, but in the end the Knights were just too much. Although I had Vandy winning 14-13, they lost by a field goal in overtime, 16-13.


• LSU was nearly shut out by the defending national champion Florida Gators this past Saturday in the Game of the Week, which was very uncharacteristic of the Tigers in their home stadium, particularly on a Saturday night under the lights.


Tim Tebow made his return, managed the game in an un-Gator-like performance, only scoring one touchdown and a total of a mere 13 points.


Had someone told me prior to the game Florida will only score 13 points I would have surely thought LSU would win this one in Death Valley.


The final was 13-3 in favor of the Gators, when I had LSU winning 21-20.



Week Six Summary


Two unbeatens fell this past weekend, Auburn and LSU. That leaves Alabama at the top of the SEC West. With the Florida win they remain unbeaten as well. Florida and Alabama are now ranked No. 1 and 2 in the AP Poll.


My closest game of the week was the Mississippi State game. I picked Houston by eight points in a 28-20 victory, but they actually won by 7 points, 31-24.


My most lop-sided loss of the season came when UGA laid an egg against UT. I did not see that one coming at all. Well, let’s move on to…



Week Seven Picks


The SEC has two teams sitting out this week: LSU 5-1 (3-1) and Tennessee 3-3 (1-2)



Kentucky 2-3 (0-3) at Auburn 5-1 (2-1)


After spending the past two weekends on the road, Auburn comes home for a battle against the Kentucky Wildcats. Pat Dye Field will be a warm welcoming for a team that has far succeeded expectations this season.


Now, I don’ think anyone expected the Tigers to go undefeated this season. Their lack of pressure on defense was exploited by the Razorbacks, but their willingness to buy into the Chizik plan for success has been the difference between this season and the ’08 campaign that was horrendous.


Look for the Tigers to rebound and fair well in this cat fight.


Kentucky has faced some tough opposition so far this season, standing off against what is considered three of the SEC’s best defenses in as many weeks. They will be prepared for an Auburn defense that has given up a lot of points and yards so far this season.


To be honest, I thought UK was through after the ‘Bama loss. But they fought hard against the Gamecocks in an effort to gain UK’s first ever win over Spurrier. I think they’ll fight hard this week as well.


Will it be enough for the ‘Cats to pull out the win? I don’t think it will.


Auburn should have very few problems with Wildcats this weekend.


Prediction: Auburn 31, Kentucky 21




Arkansas 3-2 (1-2) at No. 1 Florida 5-0 (3-0)


Arkansas got their first SEC victory of the season last weekend as the hosted Auburn. This high flying offense was clicking on all cylinders, as was special teams and defense for most of the game.


They hardly looked like a team that had gotten blown out by Alabama two weeks earlier. In fact, they looked like they could matchup with anyone.


Florida went into the dangerous Death Valley and escaped with a very impressive defensive display and 10-point win.


So far this season they are giving up 6.4 points per game. The question is, can they maintain that stout defense against what might be the most lethal passing and overall offensive attack in the SEC?


Arkansas is averaging 37.4 points per game this year and have scored at least 41 points in every game except the ‘Bama game. The problem for Arkansas is this: Florida is averaging 39 points per game. So, what will happen in the swamp this Saturday afternoon?


I expect a defensive domination from the Gators, and a offense running scared from the Razorbacks.


Prediction: Florida 40, Arkansas 14




Georgia 3-3 (2-2) at Vanderbilt 2-4 (0-3)


Georgia simply looked like they didn’t show up last week. Now, that could be attributed to the improvement of the Vols, or it could be the let down from how the season has turned out.


I personally think that going on the road following such a heart-breaker the previous week was too much for the Dawgs.


Vanderbilt lost a close one against Army. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but Vandy is playing some tough football this season. A win this weekend would be huge for the ‘Dores, and would give them their first SEC win of the season.


Do I think Vanderbilt can pull it off? No, not really. Even as deflated as UGA may be, Vandy cannot handle them.


Prediction: UGA 28, Vandy 10




UAB 2-3 (2-1) at Mississippi 3-2 (1-2)


I have personally seen the UAB Blazers play this season, and there is one thing for sure that I know: Joe Webb is a dangerous quarterback who can beat you through the air and on the ground. Ole Miss better not take him lightly.


The Rebels were looking to upset ‘Bama and get back into the hunt for the SEC West Title, but those hopes were crushed as they managed only a 49-yard field goal. After not converting a first down the entire first half and failing on every third down attempt for the entire game, I think the Rebels will come out swinging in an attempt to regain some pride.


Prediction: Ole Miss 30, UAB 10



Mississippi State 2-4 (1-2) at Middle Tennessee State 3-2 (1-1)


The Bulldogs of Mississippi State have come up just short in the last three games. On a positive note, they are looking more consistent this season than they have in a while. I think things are changing in Starkville.


Will they ever be a contender? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though, the opportunity is there this weekend for them to climb back closer to that .500 mark.


Middle Tennessee State is having a pretty good season so far. In their three wins they have scored at least 30 points. In their two losses they have failed to score more than 14.


I see them somewhere in the middle, but not enough to get it done this weekend.


Prediction: MSU 30, MTSU 20



Game of the Week: No. 22 South Carolina 5-1 (2-1) at No. 2 Alabama 6-0 (3-0)


I have one name that all offenses should fear this season: Norwood.


The man is a beast. Along with Cliff Matthews, Eric Norwood is largely responsible for why South Carolina is only a few points away from entering this game undefeated.


I think the Gamecock defense could give McElroy more trouble than he has ever faced in his career if they are playing up to their level of ability.


On the other side of the ball, the offensive mastermind himself has even struggled to get points on the board at times. Don’t be fooled though, Spurrier has a record of sneaking up on teams he is not supposed to beat. And he is no stranger to Alabama, nor is he afraid of the Tide.


Someone should have told the Crimson Tide you don’t schedule Steve Spurrier’s team for homecoming!


Alabama is clicking on all cylinders right now. Sure they struggled to close out drives last week, having to settle for five field goals, but they were facing a pretty stiff defense that was determined to carry the load the offense was laying upon them.


I give a lot of credit to the Rebels defense for withstanding all they did.


Mark Ingram appears to be gathering speed, confidence, and every other thing needed to run straight through the SEC competition this season. Look for him to make some memories in what should be a happy homecoming for the Crimson Tide.


And don’t forget about the defense. Thanks to McClain and company, ‘Bama is slowly crushing the dreams of every opponent they face. I foresee more of that when this chilly night draws to a close Saturday.


Prediction: ‘Bama 27, USC 10


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