SEC Week 8 Preview: Gators, Wildcats Square Off in Lexington
I'll be previewing the SEC matchups in a weekly column from here on out, with some bonus picks from the other BCS conferences.
And so without further ado...
Most Intriguing Matchup(s)
Florida at Kentucky
The Wildcats are coming off a huge upset win over LSU, which put them back in the race in the East. The Gators are coming off a bye and had an extra week to prepare for the Wildcats, but the game is in Lexington.
LSU beat Florida and Kentucky beat LSU, so the Wildcats should beat the Gators, right? In any event, this promises to be an offensive showdown, with both teams capable of scoring over 40 points.
With a Wildcat win, the Gators are out of the East race, and the Wildcats have to hope for South Carolina to lose. A Gator win puts Florida in at least a tie with Georgia for third in the East, with Kentucky still lurking close behind.
Prediction: Florida wins because they have the ball last and score. The Gators need this one more than Kentucky does, and the week off helps.
Florida 42, Kentucky 40
LSU was stunned by the Wildcats in three overtimes and is determined to bounce back.
This game will determine first place in the SEC West. The winner puts itself in an excellent position to reach the SEC Championship Game given the relative ease of both teams' remaining schedules.
Expect a low-scoring defensive struggle.
Prediction: LSU is determined to bounce-back from the Kentucky loss. The fact that the kickoff is set for 9 p.m. at LSU doesn't bode well for Auburn.
LSU 24, Auburn 14
Tennessee at Alabama
Both teams are coming off conference wins and are currently in position to capture their respective division crowns.
Both teams have also been very inconsistent this year.
The play of the quarterbacks will be pivotal. Tennessee’s Erik Ainge and Alabama’s John Parker Wilson are top-tier QBs—this is going to be a classic SEC showdown.
Look for both teams to try to get the edge on the ground and rely on their QBs for big plays. Both teams play smashmouth defense, so expect this to be a fierce one.
Prediction: Tennessee looked impressive against Georgia, but was a different team against Florida. Alabama got an early win over Arkansas, but has since dropped games to Georgia and non-conference Florida State. It remains to be seen which teams show up.
If the Gamecock offense doesn't perform better than it did the last two weeks, Vanderbilt could escape with the win.
In a matchup that pits the first- and last-place teams in the SEC East against each other, look for Steve Spurrier's playcalling to be important.
If Spurrier lets Chris Smelley throw it downfield, the Gamecocks could win in a blowout. But if Vanderbilt can force some turnovers and run the ball successfully, look for the upset.
South Carolina gets the advantage at home, where it hasn't lost this year. The USC defense should have no problem with a subpar Vandy attack.
It has been announced that senior USC QB Blake Mitchell will see some playing time after a good week of practice. Maybe Mitchell is finally ready to perform up to his abilities.
Look for Spurrier to go with whoever has the hottest arm.
Prediction: South Carolina finally opens it up offensively. Smelley continues to perform and the freshman talent at WR finally shines. Vandy gets behind early and can’t climb back.
South Carolina 38, Vanderbilt 14
The Rest of the SEC
The Bulldogs are idle after a close win at Vanderbilt—and definitely need the week off before their rivalry showdown with Florida.
Arkansas at Ole Miss
A battle of the winless in the SEC West.
Both teams have come close this year, losing tough games to good teams by less than a touchdown. Look for close, high-scoring contest.
Arkansas gets the offense rolling and Darren McFadden and Felix Jones get a needed confidence booster.
Arkansas 35, Ole Miss 31
Mississippi State at West Virginia
West Virginia will easily handle the Bulldogs. Although Miss. St. has played better this year than in previous years, the Mountaineers are a powerhouse team.
West Virginia 42, Mississippi State 14
Miami at Florida State
Kansas at Colorado
South Florida at Rutgers
Michigan at Illinois
Southern Cal at Notre Dame
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