It's largely homecoming week in the SEC which means big checks are written to (mostly) FCS patsy teams to come in and get drilled in front of the somewhat full stadium while the 5th string running back has a career day. Only one team playing the annual slaughter game has an opponent with a winning record and I'm certain that wasn't planned. There are only two games in the conference that mean ANYTHING this week and those previews will bookend this week's previews and predictions. So break out the floats, get in line for the parade, and pick up your game dates as we stroll through the SEC schedule for the week.
Last week: 5-1 Overall: 49-19
(Home team listed first.)
J. Newcastle can be heard on "College Football Saturday" each football season on 1300 WTLS & 106.5 FM and Tallassee Times TV. His SEC Weekly Preview also appears at Blogcritics.org and Tallassee Times. Follow J. Newcastle on Twitter - twitter.com/j_newcastle.
There is a lot riding on this one. South Carolina needs this one to set up the SEC East playoff against Florida next week. For Arkansas this game is all about bowl positioning as they are eliminated from winning the SEC West with the two in-division losses. Arkansas wants this to be a track meet and while South Carolina can play that game sometimes, they are best when they run the ball and physically whip the teams in front of them. The Gamecocks have been known to hit the skids late in the game and that will surely get them killed against a team like Arkansas that scores all the time. However, the Hogs give up points almost all of the time and that won't change this week. Add in that with home field advantage and it tips the scales for the Gamecocks. Expect South Carolina to get behind a strong rushing effort from freshmen phenom Marcus Lattimore and holds serve at home to get a hard fought win against Arkansas.
South Carolina 28, Arkansas 25
This might as well be a homecoming game. The Gators are feeling better after beating Georgia (though you'd think that would be old hat by now) and the Commodores are just plain beat up after standing in the ring and taking it on the chin from Arkansas. The 'Dores will fight tooth and nail in this one - for a quarter - then the superior speed and talent at Florida will take over and run away with the game. Florida is not what they were in the championship seasons but they are still better than Vandy.
Florida 33, Vanderbilt 10
Auburn is no longer ranked #1 in the BCS and rabid Auburnfan is outraged. Playing teams like this isn't going to help that case. Or Cam Newton's Heisman campaign. Of course saying you can't be stopped after a team held you to your lowest rushing output on the year doesn't help either but that's neither here nor there. The game vs. Chattanooga? Props for playing a team with a winning record for homecoming. Other than that, who cares? The Tigers roll and await Georgia next week. Yawn.
Yeah Georgia is probably demoralized after losing to Florida (though they should be used to it by now). Idaho State hasn't won a game since early September. The Bulldogs cruise in this one and look ahead to a season-making game against Auburn next week. The race for homecoming queen will be more competitive than this one.
Georgia 45, Idaho State 13
Kentucky's thing this year has been to not start playing well until the second half. That will actually work this week against the Buccaneers who play like the creamsicle namesake from the 1970s era NFL. Big Blue gets win number five with ease.
Kentucky 38, Charleston Southern 9
Memphis is terrible. They give up points at a steeper rate than Tennessee does and the Tigers offense goes in reverse as much as forward. The Volunteers could field a team of actual volunteers from what's in the stands and still win by two touchdowns. How is this a road game for Tennessee? Seriously.
Tennessee 44, Memphis 10
This one has the makings of a smashmouth, down and dirty street fight. Both teams thrive on defense and ball control. LSU needs this win and some help to get back in the SEC West race. Alabama needs to win out to return to Atlanta. Both offenses have gone in the shell during the season (though LSUs only peaked out of the shell for one game it seems). Normally home field advantage would play a bigger part but Alabama has won in Baton Rouge and has been good on the road save the trip to Columbia earlier this season. Alabama's offensive issues are solvable because they still have the best two running backs in the league to lean on and the passing game has grown leaps and bounds since last season. LSU's defense has improved but the offense is worse on the front lines and at the quarterback position. That's advantage Alabama, who will be able to get pressure and disrupt LSU's chances to reach the playmakers on the outside. Couple that with a more consistent offense and it gives the Crimson Tide the edge and the win.
Alabama 23, LSU 14