The games are getting much harder to pick as the season progresses. Usually you get a feel for a team and know what kind of matchup it will be. However, many SEC teams are playing Jekyll and Hyde. In spite of that, I did manage to go 5-1 for the week, thanks to a come-from-behind win for the Gators.
That brings my overall record to 45-11 going into Week Eight.
Week Seven Recap
Both LSU and Tennessee got some much-needed rest before facing some formidable foes in Week Eight.
The Kentucky Wildcats came alive after facing what are perhaps the three best defenses in the SEC in as many weeks. Auburn is experiencing deja vu and images of last season running through their head.
I nailed the Kentucky score as I picked the Tigers to win 31-21, but Auburn managed only two touchdowns, thus losing to Kentucky for the first time since 1966 by the final of 21-14.
The game in The Swamp between Florida and Arkansas had to be the surprise of the day. After leading for most of the afternoon, Arkansas witnessed some questionable officiating and let the game slip right out of their hands. The Gators got the win 23-20. I predicted a much larger spread of 40-14 in favor of the Gators.
The Salvation Army would have been proud of the Gators, as generous as they were with giving things away last week. In the end, they got the biggest gift of all: a win, with a little help from the men in stripes. So, it is true, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
UGA finally got another SEC win. Granted, it was against what is perhaps the worst team in the conference, Vanderbilt , but a win is a win, right? I predicted a 28-10 victory for the Dawgs. UGA pounded it out against the ‘Dores and won 34-10.
After falling from the top 25, Ole Miss faced-off against the UAB Blazers. It didn’t take much effort for the Rebels to get the win here. I predicted Nutt and his crew to win 30-10, but they won a bit more comfortably by the final of 48-13.
Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State Bulldogs got a win over Middle Tennessee State Saturday night. I had the Bulldogs all the way, 30-20, when they actually won by the final of 27-6.
In the Game of the Week , we witnessed the amazing talents of Alabama Crimson Tide Sophomore running back Mark Ingram, as he ran over, around, and through a very tough South Carolina defense. In fact, I think this was the best defense and biggest challenge the Tide has faced all year.
Just like many predicted, ‘Bama struggled with Spurrier and the Gamecocks. McElroy looked less than average, and South Carolina’s offense seemed not much different either.
Just as I predicted, Ingram made some great homecoming memories for the Crimson Tide faithful.
In the end, a 68-yard drive was put together by...oh, wait...the Tide’s Mark Ingram. Totaling 246 yards rushing, not to mention leading the receiving corps with 23 yards as well, Ingram carried the No. 2 Crimson Tide to victory by the final of 20-6. I predicted a 27-10 win for the Crimson Tide on this homecoming day.
Week Seven Summary
Those pesky Wildcats had to go and beat Auburn to mess up my perfect record for the week. Oh well, I did finish 5-1, which is not too shabby if I do say so myself.
My two closest games of the week were the ‘Bama and UGA victories. The Crimson Tide won by 14 points, 20-6, while I predicted them to win by 17 points, 27-10. In the UGA game, they won 34-10, while I had predicted a 28-10 victory for Dawgs.
Well, on to…
Week Eight Picks
The SEC has one team sitting out this week: UGA 4-3 (3-2) .
Arkansas 3-3 (1-3) at Mississippi 4-2 (1-2)
Is it just me, or does every game in the SEC seem to be so heated due to former coaches, former assistants, and so forth, going on to coach at rival SEC schools?
Well, this game will be no different, as Rebel head coach Houston Nutt faces the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Hogs are hurting after they let last week’s game at The Swamp slip away from them. The Rebels, however, picked up a bit of speed after beating the UAB Blazers a week ago. So it would seem that the Rebels should be poised for a win in Oxford.
Prediction: Arkansas 27 Ole Miss 24
LA-Monroe 4-2 (3-0) at Kentucky 3-3 (1-3)
This is a tough one, no doubt. Kentucky is coming off a huge win over Auburn, but Louisiana-Monroe has won their last three games, all over Sun Belt competition.
The Warhawks are no stranger to SEC foes. Just ask Nick Saban’s 2007 Alabama team.
Alas, the SEC toughness Kentucky should display will be more than the Warhawks can handle this season.
Prediction: Kentucky 27 LAMO 13
No. 1 Florida 6-0 (4-0) at Mississippi State 3-4 (1-2)
Florida has struggled with its offense for a couple of weeks now. I don’t see any need for worry, though. As long as Tebow is in the backfield, it is very hard to pick against his team.
The Gators survived a scare last week at home. Can they go on the road and beat their former OC?
Dan Mullen knows the Florida playbook inside and out. Or, at least he should. He was the master-mind behind a potent offense that witnessed Tebow, Harvin, and the rest of the Gator crew rack up points on what are usually considered the best defenses in the NCAA.
The question is, can he put together a game plan strong enough to knock off the defending national champion Gators, and his former team? We’ll all see Saturday night. One thing is for sure, though: if the win comes, this will be the biggest moment in the history of State football, and in the young head coaching career of Dan Mullen.
What do I think? I think State has a chance…
Prediction: Florida 30 Mississippi State 21
Vanderbilt 2-5 (0-4) at No. 24 South Carolina 5-2 (2-2)
The team that was everyone’s Cinderella to start the 2008 season continues to see more pumpkins and hear more midnight bells toll. Yes, Vanderbilt is all but finished with the 2009 campaign.
I hate it for Johnson, because he seems like a good guy. There’s just no room for wins in Nashville, TN. Look on the bright side—midterms are over, right?
Spurrier and the Gamecocks are still fusing about the Crimson Tide loss last week. If they don’t wake up and realize they have another game this week, it could be an upset special in Columbia. I really don’t see it happening, though.
Carolina has a great defense, and it will show this week.
Prediction: USC 30 Vandy 10
Auburn 5-2 (2-2) at LSU 5-1 (3-1)
Auburn is inching closer in the direction they thought they were leaving a few weeks ago.
The West Virginia win was huge for them. However, the Razorbacks seemed to take all of the wind out of their sails last week, and Kentucky used three different quarterbacks to run straight through the Tigers from the Plains.
Can Chizik find a way to regroup his men and revitalize their egos? It will be hard, as they go on the road to the always brutal environment of Baton Rouge.
The last time LSU turned on the lights in Death Valley, the results were not so good for the Bayou Bengals.
Their offense is struggling right now, and that is no big mystery. The unknown is, however, what will Les do to create more for his offense? I think we’ll see just what he has in store for Auburn as he has had two weeks to prep for what is typically a classic SEC clash.
Prediction: LSU 20 Auburn 10
Game of the Week
Tennessee 3-3 (1-2) at No. 2 Alabama 7-0 (4-0) "Third Saturday In October"
I know the Iron Bowl is special in a lot of ways, but this rivalry trumps all others for these two teams. The feud has been ongoing for years, and I don’t see anything less than a nasty fight Saturday in Bryant-Denny.
Now the Vols have seemed to have awakened in their last game two weeks ago against UGA, but this is not your pappy’s Bulldog squad we're talking about here. Tennessee still has several holes to fill, particularly on offense.
The only thing that concerns me is the fact that Kiffin has been so quiet lately. I’m not sure if that is due to the off-week or the fact that he knows how much they have left to overcome. At any rate, I don’t think Saban and the Tide are going to overlook this game by any stretch.
So, there seems to be a grumbling among the Tide faithful concerning the offensive woes in the past couple of weeks. Does anyone not realize that these were two very good defenses the Tide was facing?
In the 1992 season, the last time ‘Bama won it all, they had two close wins over lesser foes than this year’s South Carolina squad. They beat Southern Miss 17-10, and then two weeks later fought off Louisiana Tech 13-0. In that Tech game, the offense failed to score a point, as the special teams had all 13 points off two field goals and a punt return.
This kind of tenacity to win no matter what seems to be rekindled this season in Tuscaloosa.
This is just a hunch, but I foresee a Saturday afternoon filled with something different from both teams that perhaps no one has seen so far this season.
For the Vols it will lead to some points, I believe, catching the Tide off guard on defense.
But for the Tide, I think the new wrinkle we’ve yet to see will be the straw that breaks the Tennessee backs for the game and the season.
‘Bama has won the last two over the Vols, and three of the last four. Let’s watch the Tide offense come alive once again and make it three consecutive wins for the Tide over the Volunteers.
Time to break out the cigars!
Prediction: ‘Bama 31 UT 13