Auburn (4-4, 2-3) @ Ole Miss (4-4, 2-3)
11:30 CDT, Raycom
All-Time Series: Auburn 24-8
Wednesday's Line: Ole Miss -6.5
This has been one of the most lopsided SEC West series over the last 15 years, as Auburn is 13-2 since 1992. The Tigers are 8-1 in Oxford, with their lone loss coming in 1992. But if ever there was a year for Ole Miss to break the skid, this is it.
At least for the time being, these are two programs heading in opposite directions as the Rebel faithful are fired up just to be relevant again, while Auburn fans are left scratching their heads about this season.
This is not a favorable matchup for Auburn. While Auburn’s offensive woes this season are well documented, here are some numbers to show how bad it’s really gotten: Only Alabama has more rushing attempts than the Tigers, yet Auburn ranks 11th in the SEC in both ypc (3.34) and rush TDs (seven).
The Rebels, for all their problems in the secondary, have a talented front seven that has held opponents to a 3.15 ypc average this season, fourth best in conference. Something tells me that the Rebels aren’t exactly quivering at the thought of AU’s QBs.
Meanwhile, the once stout Tiger D has been shredded in recent weeks by WVU (445 yds) and Arkansas (416 yds). The Rebels sport the conference’s fourth best offense (377.6 ypg) and will look to take advantage of a reeling Tiger D. If the Rebels can minimize turnovers like they did last week, they should have a productive day on offense.
This is a pivotal game for these teams for bowl positioning, particularly for Auburn. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they’re just off their game this year.
Last weekend, the Rebels beat their head coach’s former team. This week, they’ll knock off their former head coach. Ole Miss wins a close one, notching their first home conference win since November 2006.
Straight Up Winner: Ole Miss
Against the Spread: Auburn
(No. 19, No. 18) Tulsa (8-0) @ Arkansas (3-5, 1-4)
All-Time Series: Arkansas 52-15-2
Wednesday's Line: Tulsa -7
This hasn’t been a competitive series since the outset, and Arkansas has won 16 games in a row. The last Golden Hurricane win came in 1976. The Hogs are 40-5 against Tulsa in Fayetteville, though this is certainly the most explosive TU team the Hogs have faced.
After dropping a game to former HC Houston Nutt last week, the Hogs will try to avoid losing to his former OC this week.
They’ll have to stop a ridiculous offense that has torched everyone it’s played this season. In eight games, Tulsa has scored 61 TDs (32 passing/26 rushing/three other), is averaging 55.6 ppg, 601.1 ypg, 8.2 ypp, and leads the nation in scoring and total offense, ranks fifth in passing offense, and seventh in rushing offense.
That said, they’ve done it against seven I-A opponents who combine to be 17-39 and a I-AA opponent.
Unquestionably, this will be Tulsa’s biggest test off the season. While Arkansas is certainly not an elite SEC team, they have the size and speed to compete with the gimmick offense that the Golden Hurricane is running.
The biggest question will be if the Hogs can get up for this one after the disappointment of last week’s game. They’ll play well, but not enough to pull the upset.
Straight Up Winner: Tulsa
Against the Spread: Tulsa
Kentucky (5-3, 1-3) @ Mississippi State (3-5, 1-3)
1:30 CDT, PPV
All-Time Series: Kentucky 20-15
Wednesday's Line: Mississippi State -2.5
Last year in Lexington, MSU knocked off a worn-out ‘Cats team fresh off grueling battles with South Carolina, LSU, and Florida, all in the Top 15 when UK played them. MSU forced six second half TOs last year in the upset. The ‘Cats are 6-9 in Starkville, including 2006’s 34-31 win.
Looking to spark a struggling offense, UK is turning the reins over to Randall (Don’t call him Tex) Cobb, the multi-talented freshman who caught two TDs in the final minutes to secure UK’s comeback against Arkansas a few weeks back.
The injury situation is worse than a week ago, when the already decimated ‘Cats were throttled by Florida. To borrow a paragraph from A Sea of Blue:
"Micah Johnson has re-injured his sprained ankle and is doubtful. Marcus McClinton's knee is a bit worse, Myron Pryor is still out, Kyrus Lanxter is still down with a knee, Ricky Lumpkin has a strained calf, Justin Jeffries and Maurice Grinter are banged up, as is Josh Minton. Dicky Lyons and Derrick Locke are both still out for the season."
The Bulldogs aren’t exactly world-beaters, but this is a good matchup for them. While the insertion of Cobb may jolt a little life back into the UK offense, it won’t be enough to overcome the injury situation. The Bulldogs got back to running the football last week and had one of their most productive offensive days of the season, albeit against a Sun Belt team.
Both UK and MSU rank in the middle of the pack in total defense (though UK’s numbers are a bit skewed after the UF game) and towards the back of the pack in total offense.
By the time this one’s over, there still may not be 20 points on the board. While it won’t set modern football back 50 years like Auburn’s visit to Starkville did, this one won’t be much more entertaining.
The ‘Cats feasted on cupcakes early in the season but have too many injuries at key positions to pull this one off. I’ve suspected all season that this Kentucky team was mediocre. After this week, I think most will have to agree.
Straight Up Winner: Mississippi State
Against the Spread: Mississippi State
Arkansas State (4-3) @ (No. 2, No. 2) Alabama (8-0, 5-0)
2:00 CDT, PPV
All-Time Series: Alabama 1-0
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -23.5
With all the critical conference games this weekend, hard to spend any time on this one. Alabama is prone to letdowns. It’ll probably happen again this week, though I doubt it’s as severe as the early season versions.
This Arkansas State team did knock off Texas A&M in College Station in the season opener, but they suck. Alabama doesn’t. No reason for this one to even be a contest. Alabama improves to 17-1 against Sun Belt teams with a big Homecoming win.
Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Arkansas State
(No. 8, No. 8) Georgia (7-1, 4-1) vs. (No. 5, No. 7) Florida (6-1, 4-1)
2:30 CDT, CBS
All-Time Series: Florida 47-37-2
Wednesday's Line: Florida -5.5
The World's Largest Don't Call it a Cocktail Party returns to Jacksonville for the 74th time this weekend. It sports two top 10 teams for just the fifth time in series history. While UGA won last year, that was the exception to recent rule, as the Gators are 15-3 over the last 18 years against the 'Dawgs.
This game basically serves as an SEC East Championship game and a national title elimination game. Both teams are still in the hunt for a BCS Title game berth, but a loss would knock them out.
The teams rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the conference in scoring (UF 42.0 ppg, UGA 34.3 ppg). The big difference comes on the defensive side of the ball, where Florida again leads the conference (11.9 ppg), while UGA checks in at No. 8 (20.3 ppg).
There should be plenty of fireworks in this one. Florida is cruising right now, and UGA QB Stafford played one of his best games of the season last week on the road against LSU.
The Gators' run D gives up just 3.36 ypc, so it will be interesting to see if Moreno can find space to run. There's little reason to believe he won't have a good day, but if the Gators can limit his big plays, they'll win the overall battle.
I'm not one who believes that TCTUMWNF* had much to do with UGA's win last year. The Gators were rebuilding on the defensive side of the ball and Tebow was not 100 percent in that game, while the 'Dawgs were the best team in the nation over the last several games last season. Those are similar reasons to why Florida wins this year.
The Gators are peaking, having outscored opponents 152-33 since their slip-up against Ole Miss. Meanwhile, the 'Dawgs have done a remarkable job with basically a makeshift offensive line and have other costly injuries at key positions. Look for the Gators to assume control of the East with a close victory in Jacksonville.
*The Celebration That Urban Meyer Will Never Forget
Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida
Tennessee (3-5, 1-4) @ South Carolina (5-3, 2-3)
6:00 CDT, ESPN2
All-Time Series: Tennessee 21-3-2
Wednesday's Line: South Carolina -5.5
Like Kentucky, South Carolina has basically been penciled in as a “win” every season for Volunteer fans. Phil Fulmer is 14-1 as a HC against SC, losing only in 2005 in Knoxville. Fulmer improved to 5-8 all-time against Spurrier. The Gamecocks dominated the game statistically last season, but four TOs and poor special teams play cost them a 27-24 OT loss.
Much like the Auburn-Ole Miss game, if South Carolina doesn’t get it done this weekend, when will they? The Vols are reeling while the Gamecocks are playing better, despite the heartbreaking loss to LSU.
SC QB Stephen Garcia has rejuvenated (to a degree) a once stagnant offense, but he will have to minimize his mistakes (and cockiness) against a stout Vols D, which gives up less than 280 ypg and is anchored by all-world DB Eric Berry.
This is going to be a tougher matchup than Gamecock fans want. USC has not been able to run the ball on anyone this year—100 ypg, 4 TDs—and the Vols D gives up just 101 ypg on the ground. The Vols also have given up just five passing TDs while picking off 14 passes, a handful of which have been returned for TDs.
With the Gamecocks’ propensity to give up the ball—nation-worst 23 turnovers!—ball control will be mandatory. If the Gamecocks force the Vols to drive the length of the field for points, they’ll be in good shape.
The Gamecocks lead the SEC in total defense (256.1 ypg) and rank fourth nationally. The Vols offense has been bad all season, so don’t expect any kind of a breakout game here. This should be a good old-fashioned, hard-hitting SEC game, with the winner being determined by whose QB makes the fewest mistakes.
The Vols will be desperate for a win here, but the Gamecocks will be ready. This is a huge game for them as a loss will actually drop them below the Vols in the conference standings.
Spurrier will have a smart, simplistic game plan for Garcia to take advantage of his mobility and will get back to terrorizing his old punching bag, the Great Punkin. South Carolina wins a close one.
Straight Up Winner: South Carolina
Against the Spread: South Carolina
Tulane (2-5) @ (No. 15, No. 15) LSU (5-2, 3-2)
7:00 CDT, PPV
All-Time Series: LSU 67-22-7
Wednesday's Line: LSU -24.5
LSU squares off with Tulane for the third straight year this weekend in another one of those “Oh, really? Who cares?” games. LSU has outscored the Green Wave 83-16 the last two years, and this one will probably be just as ugly. Tulane hasn’t beaten LSU since 1982.
Last year’s game was close for a half. This year’s won’t be as the Tigers use this as a rebound game before the showdown with Saban and the Tide.
Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU