SEC Football Rundown: LSU-Auburn, Florida-Tennessee Highlight Week Four

Tim CroleySenior Analyst ISeptember 16, 2008

Before I get started with this week’s outlook and predictions, let’s recap last weekend’s great games.






Spurrier hates the Dawgs. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. He had his guys ready to play and was very close to pulling off the upset. My pick was 35-13 UGA, while the actual score was 14-7. Even though I got the score wrong, I got the win.




UK vs. Middle Tenn.


Apparently, the SEC schedule I have is not the updated version. I had Kentucky playing Akron. Instead, the Cats faced a very stiff Middle Tennessee team. I had predicted UK to win over Akron 35-24. The actual game score was 20-14. Kentucky won either way, thanks to the playing field being 100 yards long instead of 99.




UT vs. UAB


Tennessee struggled early, but eventually it was no contest, just as I had assumed. The Vols won 35-3, and my prediction was 45-10. Not too bad—only a three-point difference in the predicted and actual margins of victory.




Vandy vs. Rice


I had Vandy winning 31-30, considering both teams were coming off great wins the previous week. Apparently the ‘Dores are better than anyone really could have expected. Winning the game 38-21 and improving to 3-0 (1-0 SEC) has them looking pretty good heading into Week Four.




Bama vs. W. Kentucky


The Tide seemingly struggled against Tulane in Week Two. Thus, picking Bama big was not popular among everyone in Week Three. Nevertheless, I had Bama winning 38-6. The actual score was 41-7, only a two-point difference in the pick and the actual margin, turning out to be one of my better picks of the week.


Do not forget either that in the end Tulane gave a pretty good East Carolina team all they could handle last weekend, thus validating their toughness against Bama.




Ark vs. Texas


Ike was wreaking havoc on the great state of Texas last weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with all in the path of this immense storm. The cancellation of the game was the least of most people’s worries. Ark should be relieved that the Texas embarrassment has been postponed.




Auburn vs. State


I predicted a close nail-biter. I was not disappointed. My predicted score was a 26-23 overtime win for the Tigers. The actual score, in case you fell off the face of the earth and did not get to watch Baseball Tonight Saturday, was 3-2.


A two-run shot from State pulled the game within one, but they just did not have enough juice to get another run to send it into extra innings. Auburn gave them every opportunity to win—State just kept sending the wrong batters up to the plate.




LSU vs. North Texas


The Mean Green were anything but Saturday. LSU played exactly as I had predicted, with intensity and passion following a week off. LSU rolled to a 41-3 victory. I had them 48-9, so again, a close prediction with only a one-point difference in the actual spread! My closet pick in terms of margin of victory.




Ole Miss vs. Samford


I was at the Troy vs. Alcorn State game Saturday as I heard the score come over the PA: “In the first, Samford leads Ole Miss seven to six.” Well, the Rebels turned it on and cruised away for the win, 34-10. I predicted 41-7.




Week Three Overall


I finished the week perfect in terms of picking winners. Auburn and UGA gave me a scare, as did UK at the end. UT, Bama, and LSU were money. I missed the margin of victory for UT by three points, Bama by two, and LSU by one.




Now, let’s move on to Week Four!


This week’s sleeper is Kentucky—and no, I don’t mean the team that will pull the upset.




After fumbling the schedule last week, I’m proud to say I know I will get Kentucky’s opponent correct in Week Four.


Having the week off will help the Cats prepare for Temple in Week Five. Wow, I can’t believe we are inching closer to Week Five already! Wow, I can’t believe I’m wasting my time talking about UK having two weeks to prep for Temple!






Forget the talk about Georgia having not played out of the Deep South since whenever. All that talk is for people who want to talk bad about teams or those who cannot argue anything else.


I mean, these are new players. UGA has not been dressing out the same team for the past 50 years. If that were the case, then I would say UGA hasn’t played west of the Mississippi in ever how many years.


But the truth is, many PLAYERS have never traveled. It is not some breaking news that teams get new players. All of that has really gotten to me, if you cannot tell, since I first heard it back during the summer.


The Sun Devils, besides all of this useless travel talk, lost to UNLV! Are you kidding me, Dennis Erickson? The week before one of your biggest games of the season, the biggest out-of-conference by far, and you let UNLV put it to you. Wow. That’s all I have to say about that.


Now, ASU is not a bad team, don’t get me wrong, but Stafford and the Dawgs make a national statement following the close win over the Gamecocks. Get ready for a longer than expected season, Dennis.


Game Prediction: UGA 31, ASU 13




USC vs. Wofford


Spurrier, chin up. You virtually have a week off. You almost pulled the upset against a top five team. You are not that bad. Hey, at least Smelley was looking better. He passed for over 250 yards against Richt and a tough defense.


Turnovers have been the storyline for the Gamecocks this year. If you take away one turnover from the past two weeks, you would probably have a 3-0 team! So, not all is bad. Plus, you get Wofford to beat up on and then UAB for dessert the next week. Now is the time to improve.


Sure 1-2 (0-2 SEC) looks bad, but come Week Six you should be 3-2 and ready to win an SEC game against Ole Miss.


One final note: I appreciate the control over the visor tossing last week, and be kind to Wofford.


Game Prediction: USC 38, Wofford 10




Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss


Vandy is looking great sitting at 3-0. A win against Mississippi this week should place them somewhere they have not been in nearly 25 years: in a top 25 college football poll. Hey, I even voted for them in the B/R poll to be in last week after beating Carolina. They have proved it to me.


A solid win over a Rice team coming off their own high-spirited win was enough to prove to me that the ‘Dores have the right outlook and are focused. Don’t overlook this team for any reason.


Ole Miss is looking up from last year. Houston Nutt has them on the right track. Perhaps they could have beaten Samford by a bigger margin. That would have really impressed me.


But they did hang in there with Wake two weeks ago. They haven’t folded at any point this year so far. And hey, a win over Vandy will give them more SEC victories than they totaled all of last season.


This is perhaps the hardest game for me to pick this week. I give Vandy the edge on performance so far this year. I give Ole Miss the edge at home. Vandy has the next week off. Ole Miss goes to the Swamp. This is too close to call.


Game Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, Ole Miss 23




Florida vs. Tennessee


I know many of you have been waiting for this week and this game for too long. For Florida fans, Miami was just a teaser. The ‘Canes have not yet returned to national prominence, but they did offer an early season taste of greater football to come.


Florida put it to Hawaii in Week One. That was no surprise. Miami was stiff against the Gators early on in game two, but Florida ran away late. Now, with two weeks to salivate and anticipate a trip to Knoxville, you can bet Tebow and company are ready. You can bet that Urban and the boys from Gainesville are ready to stick it to Fulmer and the Vols.


Two weeks can seem like an eternity in the middle of a college football season, but I think I know exactly where the Gator focus is, especially for this matchup.


The team from Knoxville, Tennessee did a pretty good job licking their wounds from Week One. A Week Two bye and practically another last week has the Volunteer nation back up to speed. Playing a stable game last week should keep UT in rhythm and help maintain focus. However, more questions are now emerging from the UCLA debacle.


For example, if UT lost to UCLA, who got embarrassed by BYU, then is either team any good at all? Or was it just a battle of two mid-tier teams who wish to return to glory? Was beating up on UAB a sign of Fulmer and Smokey putting their team back in the hunt on the right trail?


Okay, go ahead and bash me, Vol nation. Tell me UT won the SEC East last year. Tell me they are really good. Tell me they will beat other teams from Alabama this year. Go ahead. I can take it. (After the Auburn game Saturday, I think you might beat another state of Alabama team this year).


However, what you will not do is beat a team from the “Sunshine State” this weekend, even if you are playing in Neyland Stadium. Heisman winner Tim “He is (the) Man” Tebow will have a great day and lead the Gators to a solid win after having two weeks to prepare.


Game Prediction: Gators 31, Vols 24




Alabama vs. Arkansas


As BabyTate mentioned in his Week Four picks article, this game carries a lot of tradition and history despite the limited times these two teams have met. As I mentioned in my “Bama Beware” article, the series has been oh so close over the past decade, with each team winning five games.


The Tide looked great against Western Kentucky, for what all that is worth. Now, following Tulane’s performance against East Carolina, fans are recognizing Bama’s struggles against the Green Wave as more great play by Tulane than simply bad play from the Crimson Tide.


John Parker Wilson has been consistent on most areas so far. He still lacks the skill needed for the long pass. Look for him to open that up this week against a vulnerable Hog defense.


Also of note from last week, Bama used five running backs in the game. Not one missed a beat as they were subbed in. Bama also utilized play from three quarterbacks. The depth is beginning to take form.


Arkansas got it done against Western Illinois in Week One. They squeaked by Louisiana-Monroe in Week Two. They were fortunate enough to have Ike cancel their showdown with Texas in Week Three.


Thus, you have a matchup of two undefeated teams in the SEC West. Tell me one person who would have predicted this before the season began.


Extra time to prepare for the Tide is great news for the Hogs. Not having to play Texas the week before is even better news. God be with the people of Texas who have suffered, but I’m sure Petrino felt relief when he heard the game was canceled.


You see, Petrino has a long way to go with this team. Casey Dick is a good quarterback, no doubt, and there are some other bright spots at Arkansas, I am sure. Petrino is just saving them. He didn’t want to show them early on, right? I don’t know. You tell me.


The way I see it, having to come from behind to beat Louisiana-Monroe is embarrassing.


And yeah, I know. Bama lost to the Warhawks last year. Don’t remind me. But that’s the point. Teams who struggle with or lose to LAMO are not good teams. Bama was not a good team last year. They had problems. Those times have changed.


Alabama has only nine seniors heading into what is virtually their first road game and SEC opener. That is the lowest numbered senior class in the nation. They also have played 15 freshmen so far this year. That is the highest number of freshmen played by any team in the nation.


What does that say about the way they have performed thus far? Well, it tells me that they are a young team full of talent, hungry to win, and ready to punch you in the mouth. Basically, they are the new, young bully who thinks he owns the block. Until someone tells them different, they are going to continue to push people around and own that block.


Bama owns the neighborhood yet another week as they go on the road to open in SEC play.


Game Prediction: Bama 29, Ark 13




MSU vs. GA Tech


Croom was oh so close to pulling off the upset of Tuberville and the Tigers Saturday night. On top of good defensive play from the Bulldogs, Auburn tried their best to hand it to them.


I don’t know what went wrong. I hate to say it, but I think Sylvester’s coaching genius of last season may have been a one-time show.


He lost in Week One this season to Louisiana Tech. He couldn’t win at home against an Auburn team that faltered on offense and continuously handed him the ball.


He went for a 4th-and-15 with enough time on the clock to pin Auburn deep and play good defense, which State had been doing all night, but he didn’t. Why?


Why not just let your defense continue to do what they had been doing all game? Why not hope for another Auburn turnover, which is what happened? You would have been right there in position to win.


Tech, on the other hand, as ugly as the ACC is this year, managed to hang with a decent Virginia Tech team. Just three points decided the battle of the “Techs.” They beat a Boston College team that many thought would challenge for the ACC in Week Two. Overall they have been more impressive to me, and at home they get the nod.


Game Prediction: Tech 24, State 16




LSU vs. Auburn


Okay, sit down and hold on tight. There are many comparisons to be made in this next section of what should be the game of the week. So please refrain from pulling out your bashing sticks until I am finished.


LSU performed exactly as I expected in Week Three. Having so much time in between games made the Bayou Bengals just that much hungrier for a big win, and that is exactly what they got. Crushing the Mean Green was great, but looking to a night game in Auburn this weekend is going to be a bit different.


Opening the SEC season is always interesting. Last season witnessed a beatdown of Mississippi State on Thursday night to open SEC play and the college football season. That 45-0 thumping was on the road, similar to this year’s SEC opener—on the road at night. The difference is the opponent.


I can imagine that playing in Jordan-Hare is a bit different from playing at Davis Wade Stadium. However, the Auburn squad looked very evenly matched against Croom’s squad Saturday.


I know it is somewhat like comparing apples to oranges, but Auburn opened their SEC season last week much as LSU did last year: on the road, at night, against State. Both Tiger teams played on an ESPN network. Both teams won. Both teams gave us much to talk about. The difference is that the talk comes from different ends of the spectrum.


LSU won 45-0. Auburn won 3-2. Now a win is win, but 3-2?


LSU went on to win the national championship, and Mississippi State made it to a bowl game last season. So LSU beat a respectable Bulldog team on the road to get things kicked off.


This season State will be lucky to go to the toilet bowl if they can’t turn things around. They are much worse, as can be seen from the first three weeks. Thus the question for Auburn is, where were you Saturday night? This is not as good a State team as we saw in ’07. You should have laid the wood to them!


Are you telling me this is the high-flying Tony Franklin offense everyone was so giddy about in January? Is Auburn on the level of Mississippi State? Is this the same team that was predicted at SEC Media Days to win the West? Help me out here people. I need some answers.


I heard someone state yesterday that Auburn’s win over State was more impressive than Bama’s win over Western Kentucky. Once I stopped laughing, I realized that there could be more truth in that than I first could have imagined. Then I started laughing again.


Sure, the Tide played the equivalent of a high school squad, some could argue. But they did play five deep at running back. They did play three deep at quarterback. They spread the wealth around once the game was out of hand.


The Auburn game, however, was out of hand early. It was awful.


Auburn, you should have put that game away in the second quarter. Are you telling me that State is that good, to hang with Auburn? Remember now before you answer, this is the same team that lost to LA Tech to open the season.


I listened to the Auburn game on the radio, and I’ll tell you right now that I was not impressed one bit. If Auburn was impressive, then they sure need to reconsider their play-by-play announcers, because they made Auburn out to be an ill-prepared, struggling with their offense team.


If that is not the case, then I say you call for the heads of Stan White and whoever else is in the booth, because they bashed that great, overpowering offense.


Okay, now that I’m through with my rant for the week, I say that Auburn has reality hit them square on the chin this week. Wake up Auburn—your athletes deserve better than Tony Franklin. Tuberville needs to get playmakers in there. I’m not joking—Auburn has some. I have seen them.


I just hate they are wasting away on the bench. Regardless of whether or not I like Auburn or wish for them to win, I think this new offense is creating a mosh pit on the sidelines for the talent that in former years would have been punching other teams in the mouth.


I'm not as sold on LSU as perhaps I should be, but I have witnessed Auburn's dismal offense for two straight weeks.


Game Prediction: LSU 20, Auburn 17


* BTW, this just reported. The real reason for all the panic yesterday on Wall Street was due to the mass selling of stock in Tony Franklin Offense, Inc.


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