SEC Football: Weekly Rundown

Tim CroleySenior Analyst ISeptember 9, 2008

In what will hopefully become a weekly writing for me, I have decided to embark on a journey that will weekly explore each SEC team - the games, the injuries, the media hype, etc.

That being said, I don't think any other introduction is due. So, without further delay, I give you the SEC Weekly Rundown.

Florida Gators

The Swamp will be quiet this week, as the Gator Nation rests following the solid win over the Miami Hurricanes. This rest will be needed before tackling Tennessee and a four-game stretch before receiving their second break for the year.

Tim Tebow, aka Superman/Mr. Do It All/Heisman Hopeful, has lived up to his name so far. With two weeks to prepare to travel to Rocky Top, he should be looking to have a great game and lead his team into a brutal SEC Eastern Division showdown. This game will be hyped, no doubt, with more coming next week.

Georgia Bulldogs

So far, the Dawgs have played two c*pc*ake teams (you’ve got me doing it now, GrayGhost). However, wins are wins, and the UGA offense, especially Knowshon Moreno, has looked great. Moreno racked up 168 yards and scored three touchdowns in the win over Central Michigan.

If Moreno has just a hint of this kind of performance against a struggling South Carolina team, the Dawgs will be looking for more than just revenge for last year’s upset and exemption from the conference championship, and possibly the national championship. Mark Richt has learned from past mistakes and this Georgia team is ready to play ball come Saturday.

South Carolina

Now for the flip side. Carolina experienced a loss that very few saw coming, including yours truly. Following an very ugly 34-0 win over NC State, two thoughts went through my head.

First, I thought that maybe NC State was just so terrible they could not win even if the Gamecocks tried to give it away.

Second, I thought that if Carolina could win big they way they did with the horrendous play on offense, then maybe they would be better in week two, but I was clearly wrong.

South Carolina really is that bad. How could this be a Spurrier-led team? I’m beginning to question a lot with him in his last days. Keep in mind though that Spurrier tends to have his team ready to go for the big games–always!

Even still, this game will be over by the second quarter, I believe.

Game Prediction:  UGA 35, S. Carolina 13

Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats are looking strong so far. However, keep in mind that they have played a very down Louisville team and Norfolk. Norfolk? I couldn’t even tell you what state they are in.

I’m not trying to bash the ‘Cats, too much. But before you get on the bandwagon look at what they have done. Akron comes calling this week before a bye and then Temple. So the Bluegrass team could possibly be 4-0 heading to T-Town for the start of eight straight games of SEC play beginning with Alabama on Oct. 4.

Coach Brooks does have his team, particularly the defense, on the right track. In Week One, defensive tackle Myron Pryor created a fumble, picked up another to run it back for a touchdown, and led the ‘Cats to an impressive defensive performance against Louisville.

The defense is for real, against much lesser competition, so don’t get all geeked up yet. Akron did, after all, put up 42 on Syracuse. Now, this isn’t your daddy’s Syracuse team, but neither are the Zips. This should be close, but SEC trumps in the end.

Game Prediction: UK 35, Akron 24

Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols, coming off a week of rest following the UCLA meltdown, should be back on track and looking to take the frustration out on a defenseless UAB Blazer team.

UCLA did all they could to hand the game to UT, much like Carolina tried to do for NC State, but the Volunteers were just too prideful to take the gift. A win in the Rose Bowl is the dream of many college football players, but apparently dreams don’t come true in Knoxville.

I thought Tennessee was just being rude by not putting away the game in the first half, but then it hit me, they felt too bad for the Bruins and decided to hand it back. I mean, how could you do such a thing to the coach and team that are taking back Los Angeles?

Thus, Tennessee must have thought that having a week off would help everyone forget about the loss, plus adding in a UAB stomping would put them back on track, and decided to ultimately be the bigger person and give it back to UCLA in the end.

Two bright spots for UT: 1) UCLA is a non-conference game, so a loss doesn’t kill them like one coming to Florida in Week Four, and 2) humiliating UAB, perhaps the only team they will beat from Alabama this season, will help their feelings.

Game Prediction: UT 45, UAB 10

Vanderbilt Commodores

Pulling off a huge win over Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks of South Carolina made it two in a row! Yes, that’s right. Spurrier has lost two straight to Vandy!

The ‘Dores were underdogs to Miami, Ohio. They pulled the upset there and then stuck it to Carolina on national television last Thursday night. They are on fire and on top of the world, but so is their competition come Saturday: Rice.

Trailing by eight with just minutes to play, Rice pulled off an unbelievable comeback over Memphis. They are also on cloud nine. This could be a better game than anyone could have predicted heading into the season.

With a rising Ole Miss on the horizon for week four, the question is whether or not Vandy can play level headed or will they still be floating from nine days prior.

Game Prediction: Vandy 31, Rice 30

Alabama Crimson Tide

Bama must have left their “A-game” in the ATL.

After punching Clemson in the mouth and rolling over the Tigers much like a semi would to a half-dead armadillo, Alabama forgot to continue to play in Week Two vs. Tulane.

It took special teams play to lift Alabama over the Green Wave. Javier Arenas was honored as the special teams player of the week in the SEC due to his 212-yard performance on punt and kickoff returns, which included to an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown. However, many questions and some controversy surround this game.

Many believe the Tide was still living off a Week One thumping of Clemson, while others believe the Bob Toledo-led Tulane Green Wave had all summer to work up to their first-game showdown with the Tide.

Thus, they came out and smacked Bama much the same way Clemson was smacked. Some contribute the struggle to the Tide’s recent injuries, which had been avoided all summer.

The difference is that good teams find a way to win, even when they are having an off- week. This was a wake-up call I believe for Saban’s Crimson squad. Bama is good, not great, but better than what was shown last Saturday. In fact, I whole-heartedly believe Alabama would have lost that game to Tulane last season.

Bama plays host to a Western Kentucky team that may feel the wrath of Saban’s anger following a dismal performance in Week Two, as the defense works to pitch a third straight game with no touchdowns given up.

Game Prediction: Bama 38, Western Kentucky 6

Arkansas Razorbacks

The Hogs have seen better days. Bobby Petrino will receive his first of what looks to be many losses as the Arkansas head coach when they travel to play the Texas Longhorns Saturday.

I hate to be short with Arkansas, but a four-point win over Western Illinois and single-point, come-from-13-points-behind win over Louisiana-Monroe doesn’t impress me any more than watching ice melt. I’d probably flip a coin if I were forced to do watch one, hoping to get the ice. At least it wouldn’t take three and a half hours in this south Alabama heat.

For Arkansas’ sake, I hope they can at least stay in the stadium with Texas. Or perhaps they should make like Auburn did with FSU back in the nineties and see if it is too late to just buy out.

Game Prediction: Texas 45, Arkansas 13

Auburn Tigers

I will admit that I bashed the Tigers in Week One because of a sputtering passing attack. But in week two, they came out strong against Southern Mississippi.

But I do have to ask, why did they grease down their players when they got inside the red zone? Was Tuberville trying to take one from Phil Fulmer’s book and humbly give the game back to the Golden Eagles?

Either way, Auburn came out on top of what could have been much worse. Southern Miss should thank the Tigers for letting up. The game could have been as much as a 42-7 blowout by the team from the “Loveliest Village on the Plains.”

Auburn should also be thankful that the Eagles decided not to take advantage of all those turnovers. It could just have easily been a much closer game.

This week’s game features another team from Mississippi, this time a half-whipped Bulldog squad. Yes, the same Fighting Crooms that upset Auburn on the Plains last season.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Could it be that Sylvester Croom simply had the wool pulled over everyone’s eyes last year, or was he just playing straight up good football against teams who overlooked him? I’ll take the later, but am afraid for his sake it might have been a one-time dream season.

I like Croom, don’t get me wrong. But this year started off perhaps as poorly as last year. I know the Thursday night loss to LSU last year was downright sick, but so was losing to Louisiana Tech.

Southeast Louisiana provided a bounce back week for the Starkville bunch. Could this week continue that trend? No one saw last year coming, but a win over Auburn and the second straight over the Tide proved that Sylvester owned the state of Alabama.

And taking an SEC team for granted is the most dangerous thing to do on autumn Saturdays in the South.

History tends to repeat itself. Auburn is oh so familiar with that from the repetitive wins over Alabama.

I predict that Tuberville is forced to work his magic one too many times this weekend as the “Mississippi River Boat Gambler” in the state he swore he would only leave in a pine box, and it ends up biting him.

All I have heard for the last two days is “not again this year” from the Auburn crew. And like I said history tends to repeat itself, and Tuberville gets bitten.

That being said, the key words are “tends” and “bitten” with no certainty and no death slaying from Croom.

Game Prediction: Auburn 26, State 23 (OT)

LSU Tigers

As was so clearly depicted by Justin Goar in his weekly article, the LSU nation simply wants some football. It doesn’t matter when or where or how. They want some football after being forced to postpone the Troy game. Unfortunately for the Mean Green of North Texas, it will come at their expense.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Arkansas, I am leaving this short and sweet and invite you to check out Goar’s article for more on this. LSU is hungry to just simply play!

Game Prediction: LSU 48, North Texas 9

Ole Miss Rebels

Houston Nutt almost pulled it against what is shaping up to be the ACC’s best, Wake Forest. A back-and-forth battle turned out to be an entertaining game Saturday afternoon.

Many have overlooked Ole Miss coming into this season, largely because of the 0-8 SEC debacle from last year. The Rebels are however better than that, and I think it is quickly showing.

Nutt and the Rebel team will face Samford this week. It should prove to be a game that will help the feelings of the Oxford faithful after being deflated last week.

Samford (from Birmingham for those of you who didn’t know) was relentless last week against a feeble NAIA Faulkner University Eagle squad, pounding them 62-0. Yes, this is the same Faulkner University mentioned in my bio: my alma mater. However, the difference is Samford and Faulkner is perhaps as big as the difference between Ole Miss and Samford.

Faulkner is just in their second season of football, having an all-time record of 1-10. Samford has been around for a while. But Ole Miss is an SEC team that helped write the book. They need to play like that this week if they expect to be taken seriously this year.

Remember what goes around comes around, Mr. Bulldog from Sanford.

Game Prediction: Ole Miss 41, Samford 7


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