(#22,#23)Vanderbilt (5-1, 3-1) @ (#10, #9)Georgia (5-1, 2-1)
11:30 CDT, Raycom
All-Time Series: Georgia 48-18-2
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -15
Though the all-time series is lopsided, this has been a very close game the last two seasons. The Commodores won the last they played in Athens and then choked the game away last year in Nashville. The furious comeback/late FG by UGA built some real momentum though, as UGA is 11-1 since.
On paper this game shouldn’t be close. Georgia leads the SEC in total offense – 430.3 ypg – and VU ranks 10th in total defense – 318. ypg. The ‘Dores also sport the worst offense in the conference – 250.2 ypg – while the ‘Dawgs will trot out the 4th best defense (statistically speaking), giving up just 273.8 ypg. If you watched the game against UT last week, you saw UGA finally show some toughness in the trenches and really neutralize a good Vols OL & DL.
Knowshown Moreno is actually taking a little bit of flack for not living up to preseason expectations, but this will be his breakout game. The Vandy D is tied for the conference lead with 11 INTs, but has had trouble stopping the run all season. As long as Stafford plays smart, The ‘Dawgs will have no problems in this one. Look for Moreno to go for 150+ and a couple of TDS to boot.
Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia
Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) @ (#2, #2)Alabama (6-0, 3-0)
2:30 CDT, CBS
All-Time Series: Alabama 44-9-2
Wednesday’s Line: Alabama -13
Like the VU/UGA series, this one is equally as lopsided, but has been very close lately, though Alabama has won the last 4 games. The last 3 have been decided by 3 points apiece and have not been without their fair share of controversy. At least it led to a catchy ditty.
Both teams are much improved over last season – the Tide is #2 in the country and the Rebs have already matched last season’s win total. Houston Nutt has won the last two road games against top 5 SEC teams he’s faced, having beaten Florida in Gainesville a few weeks back and coaching Arkansas over LSU in last year’s season finale. While I don’t think he has the magic to pull this one out, it could again be closer than Tide fans would want it.
While the Tide are undefeated, they’ve “lost” 5 of the last 6 quarters of football they’ve played. After an absolutely perfect 1st half in Athens, Alabama did little in the second half and then laid an egg for the final 3 quarters of the Kentucky game. If they get up big in the first half, they’ve not shown the knack for staying focused and keeping a big lead.
Bottom line is that this Tide team is too physical and too disciplined to lose to Ole Miss Saturday. Mt. Cody will continue to wreak havoc in the middle and JPW should be able to have some success against a less than stellar OM secondary. The Tide wins, but not by as much as they “should”.
Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Ole Miss
Arkansas (3-3, 1-2) @ Kentucky (4-2, 0-2)
6:00 CDT, ESPNU
All-Time Series: Kentucky 3-2
Wednesday’s Line: Kentucky -9
The last time these two hooked up in Lexington, Arkansas won an epic 71-63, 7OT thriller. They could play this game 3x and not get to that score this year. The road team has won 3 straight in this series.
The Hogs played their best game of the season last week. They rode the SEC’s leading rusher to a shocking upset on the Plains. They’ll find it tough to runt he ball against a UK defense that’s given up just 1 rushing TD this season. On the other side of the ball, the ‘Cats may finally find some offensive consistency against a Hogs D that – up until last week – had been porous.
Arkansas won’t be able to maintain the same level of intensity and execution they had in dismantling Auburn last weekend. UK will be in full-on desperation mode as they want to avoid dropping to 0-3 in conference. Rich Brooks still harbors some animosity towards Petrino from his time at Louisville, so he’ll make sure his UK squad is ready to roll. Look for the ‘Cats to win a good one.
Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Arkansas
Mississippi State (2-4, 1-2) @ Tennessee (2-4, 0-3)
6:00 CDT, PPV
All-Time Series: Tennessee 27-15-1
Wednesday’s Line: Tennessee -7.5
Like so many other games this year in conference, this one has the potential to be ugly. Both teams sport a strong defense but an impotent offense. Not sure why anyone who’s not a Vol or Bulldog would actually pay money to watch this game on TV. The Vols must win this game to keep their outside chances at a bowl game alive. The Bulldogs would like to carry over some momentum from their victory over Vandy.
The Vols will get it done this weekend in Knoxville. They’ve shown some signs of life with Stephens under center and this will be his 3rd start, so the jitters shouldn’t be a factor. Look for UT to win a low-scoring game, though giving up more than at TD is too much to ask.
Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Mississippi State
(#13,#14)LSU (4-1, 2-1) @ South Carolina (5-2, 2-2)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All-Time Series: LSU 15-2-1
Wednesday’s Line: LSU -3
LSU and South Carolina square off for just the 6th time since 1992 this weekend in Columbia. The Tigers beat the Gamecocks 28-16 last year in Baton Rouge and have dominated the series all time.
As hyped as the LSU defense was before last week’s game, the numbers tell a different story. Florida shredded them for 475 yds, including a 6.5 ypc average. More disturbing is the fact they’ve only forced 4 turnovers all season, a far cry from the 36 they forced last season. With the Gamecocks offense looking good with Stephen Garcia under center last week, the Tigers will be in for another dual-threat QB test.
This will be a different LSU team this week. The Gamecocks are not nearly as explosive as Florida and won’t be able to bury LSU early. The Tigers will ride Charles Scott and their big OL against the Gamecocks’8th in conference rushing D. Something tells me this is the game the defense gets itself back on tracked and takes advantage of an overexcited Garcia.
The Gamecocks finally beat Ole Miss in conference play a couple of weeks ago, but they won’t have the same luck with LSU. The Tigers will be a focused group out to prove that last weekend’s debacle in the Swamp was just a fluke.
Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU