Some have been arguing, especially lately, that the SEC is down this year. While that may be true, I can stand firm on the fact that I love SEC football whether it is having a “down” season or not.
To me it just seems like another year of exciting football from college football’s toughest bunch.
Well, my record going into the week was 30-6. Let’s see if I could improve upon that with this past weekend's picks.
Week Nine Recap
I’m sure Spurrier had a great weekend of golf during the bye week. Now back to work as they take on Tennessee and “Mr. Dead Man Walking” himself, Phil Fulmer.
Mississippi State vs. MTSU
The mighty Crooms took on Middle Tennessee this past weekend. To be honest, all I saw from this was the box score on ESPN. State won, and that’s all that matters when you are struggling.
My game prediction was MSU 21 and MTSU 20, but the actual score was 31 to 22 in favor of the Bulldogs. A 1-0 start this week is good!
Vanderbilt vs. Duke
While I thought that Vandy had figured out what was going wrong and would get back to the winning ways they had seen for the first five games of the year, Duke proved to be too much.
In a true battle of the “Geeks Inheriting the Turf,” Cutcliffe didn’t allow the familiar ways of SEC football to intimidate his up and rising Blue Devil team.
My game prediction was for Vandy to win 24-14, but they fell 10-7.
Ole Miss vs. Arkansas—The “Nutt Bowl”
Ole Miss is on the rise, and Arkansas, well, it seems as if it may take some time for them to get back up.
At any rate, the emotion and pride surrounding this game was off the charts. I had a good feeling that the more talented team would win, and that Houston would be able to say, “I told you so.”
My game prediction was for Ole Miss to win going away 34-17, but they just managed to squeak by with a score of 23-21.
Auburn 3-3 vs. West Virginia
I had this one pegged, and then Devine had to go and ruin my perfect prediction.
This was a crucial game for Auburn, who is plunging about as fast as the stock market is these days. They just couldn’t manage to hold on after taking a big lead early.
Much to West Virginia’s credit, they came back after committing some huge mistakes in the first half to display a stellar performance in half number two, thus taking the game from Tuberville and the Tigers.
My game prediction was West Virginia 27 and Auburn 17, but Devine scored a late TD to put the final score at 34-17, giving me perhaps my best prediction of the week.
Kentucky vs. Florida
Okay, so can anyone tell me what the difference between a 5-1 Florida team and a 5-2 Kentucky team is? Give up? The answer is 58 points!
This Florida team is playing better than any team in the nation right now, in my humble opinion. Kentucky, on the other hand, is quickly falling off the face of the earth following a 4-0 start to their season.
I had predicted Florida to win 35-21, but they destroyed Kentucky, winning 63-5.
Alabama vs. Tennessee—“Third Saturday in October”
Alabama put forth what was perhaps their best performance of the season, scoring points in all four quarters and controlling the game completely. Even without Cody up front on defense, Alabama was able to control Tennessee’s running attack all night.
Tennessee, on the other hand, fell to Alabama in consecutive years for the first time since the 1991-92 seasons, and for the first time under Fulmer’s reign. Winning three of the next four games to bring this team to 6-6 for the season would be the only attainable goal for which this team could feasibly shoot.
I had predicted Bama to win 37-17, a 20-point spread. Several people told me that 20 points was ridiculous. After Bama won 29-9, by a spread of 20 points, things I guess are looking pretty ridiculous.
Game of the Week: UGA vs. LSU
I had a good feeling that UGA would show its ugly head and beat the Bayou Bengals Saturday night down in Baton Rouge. However, I never would have thought they would put up more points against the Tigers than Florida did in the Swamp two weeks earlier.
Georgia is looking more and more like a team hungry for something. LSU is looking more and more like a team about to fall apart.
My game prediction was UGA 23 and LSU 20, but neither team wanted to play defense, so the score soared to a final of 52-38 in favor of the Dawgs.
So, after this week’s picks, my record did improve. I now sit at a record of 36-7 for the season—84 percent. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Let’s see how I do with...
Week Ten Outlook
Vanderbilt 5-3 (3-2)
Vanderbilt gets the lone bye this week. Three straight losses will make any team wish every week was a bye week. Rest up, ol’ chumps, you still have four slobber-knockers left to play!
Arkansas 3-4 (1-4) vs. Tulsa 8-0 (5-0)
The Hogs just endured a heartbreaking two-point loss to former coach Houston Nutt.
They were pummeled earlier in the season by Alabama, Texas, and Florida in three consecutive weeks by a combined score of 139-31. They managed to bounce back the next week by beating Auburn by three points but have since dropped the last two to Kentucky and Ole Miss by one point and two points respectively. This team is really struggling.
But hey, everyone knew that, right? After their first win of the season, I heard a Hog fan call in and make the statement that they probably wouldn’t win another game the rest of the season. Well, I know it is not much to hang your hat on, but they have since managed to win two more.
A 3-5 record is not what the Razorback nation wants to see, but they are in a rebuilding year, to say the least.
Can senior quarterback Casey Dick lead the Hogs to a fourth victory of the year and jubilation for homecoming Saturday? We will see against a Hurricane team that is determined to keep their undefeated season alive.
Tulsa is no slouch, not by any means.
A perfect record is on the line as they travel to Arkansas Saturday.
They have scored at least 45 points in each game this season, except for a trip to SMU where they scored a measly 35! The six-point win over SMU was their closest margin of victory this year. Beyond that, you will have to look at the first game of the season, where they managed to get by with a 23-point win over UAB.
This team is a scoring machine, and though Arkansas has shown some improvement in the last few games, overall they have not been good at stopping opponents from putting up the numbers this year. For that reason, I predict a homecoming upset.
Game Prediction: Tulsa 40, Arkansas 30
Alabama 8-0 (5-0) vs. Arkansas State 4-3 (2-1)
A huge win over Texas A&M got this team started off on the right foot. They proved they could hang with the big boys, even though A&M is having a sub-par season. They went on to follow that up by scoring 83 points the next week against Texas Southern!
I don’t care who you are—if you can put up 83 points, you are doing something right on offense.
Well, two 500-yard rushers and a quarterback who has passed for nearly 1,500 yards this season will help put points on the board, no doubt.
The Red Wolves are in a fight for the top spot in the Sun Belt. They have had a great season so far. Can they continue with an upset of the number two-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, in the second homecoming game on this week’s slate?
Well that will depend on several factors, particularly whether or not Bama will stay focused, as was not the case in their showdown with another Sun Belt opponent last season.
The Crimson Tide must take every game seriously if they are going to finish the task at hand. A record of 8-0 (5-0) looks great, but an upset could come at any point if they slip up.
Will Bama be focused enough to get it done this week?
Can they refrain from looking ahead to the “Saban Bowl” in Baton Rouge next week?
Well, you be the judge from the following report from ESPN U’s Chris Low.
Alabama coach Nick Saban says it with pride, and his players nod their heads confidently when they hear it.
"We're a blue-collar team," Saban said. "We've got to play good defense. We've got to be able to run it. We've got to be able to throw it. We've got to have balance."
The Crimson Tide had all the above and more Saturday night in making the kind of statement all championship-caliber teams make this time of year in a 29-9 bludgeoning of Tennessee.
They're in this thing for the long haul.
With LSU losing Saturday, Alabama (8-0, 5-0) now has a two-game lead in the Western Division race. The Tide could lose their game at LSU on Nov. 8 and still get to the SEC Championship Game by winning their remaining two games against Mississippi State and Auburn.
But all anybody wanted to talk about outside the Alabama locker room on Saturday night was the here and now. Sophomore middle linebacker Rolando McClain huffed when somebody brought up the fact that LSU had lost earlier in the day.
"We don't really care about LSU," McClain said. "We'll get to them whenever we play them. Right now, we'll enjoy this for 24 hours and get ready for next week."
If he sounds like Saban, you're right. This whole team is starting to sound like Saban, which means it's highly unlikely that anybody is going to catch Alabama napping.
So, I’ll say yes, they are as focused as anyone can imagine. They want to finish the season strong and lay aside the doubts that have come from the 0-9 record they have in November dating back to 2005.
Game Prediction: Bama 38, Ark State 6
LSU 6-2 (3-2) vs. Tulane 2-5 (1-3)
The Green Wave has a potent offense that has actually outgained its opponents so far this season, both on the ground and through the air. In fact, they average nearly 100 more yards per game than the teams they face.
Time of possession is also another stronghold for the Green Wave. Unfortunately, they have been outnumbered where it counts the most—on the scoreboard.
What is killing Tulane is their penalties and turnovers—two categories you never want to have the lead in over your opponents.
Head coach Bob Toledo is a proven leader and does not fear any team he faces. Can he pull some magic this weekend and upset the Bayou Bengals, hoping they might be looking ahead to the showdown with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide next week?
The Tigers have struggled in two of their last three games, giving up 51 points to Florida and 52 to Georgia.
Quarterback issues have once again started to take a toll on this team. Can the young Lee be the leader this Tiger offense needs?
On the other side, the defense looks simply baffled, giving up so many points against two of the conference’s best. There must be a counter-attack to slow opposing offenses down, but what is the answer for this LSU team?
Can they stop the bleeding this week against an out of conference foe? All signs point to yes, even though Les Miles won’t need any magic eight ball to get the answers he needs this week.
This should prove to be a good “relief” game, if there is such in the SEC, and a teaser leading up to the showdown with Saban returning to Baton Rouge for the first time since leaving LSU.
Game Prediction: LSU 33, Tulane 17
Mississippi State 3-5 (1-3) vs. Kentucky 5-3 (1-3)
Sylvester Croom has SEC football running in his veins. He has put his total focus towards bringing this State team out from the depths of humiliation. Just when you think he has them up, someone knocks him back down. Then, as soon as they look like they are down for the count, they punch you in the face and steal one from you.
Will they be able to keep pace with at least the middle-tier teams in the SEC? Time will only tell. A 1-3 SEC record doesn’t look too promising, but then again, you never know which Jekyll and Hyde team will show up.
The Bulldogs of Mississippi State managed to bounce back and beat Middle Tennessee State last week, thus giving them a 2-1 record against the state of Tennessee in the last three weeks. Can they hold on to beat a team from just north of the Volunteer state this weekend?
The Wildcats of Kentucky got humiliated last week at Florida.
How do you get back up when you’ve been handed a 58-point loss? Well, Rich Brooks better find a way to do it, whatever it takes.
A promising 4-0 start has dwindled to a meager 5-3 record. Still, the record isn’t terrible, but it is far removed from the hopes that were present at the end of September. What a difference a month makes!
So, how do you get back up from a 58-point loss? I’m no coach, but I think playing Mississippi State is one way to do it.
If Tennessee can hang 30-plus on them, I think UK can handle them as well.
Game Prediction: UK 35, MSU 10
Auburn 3-4 (2-3) vs. Ole Miss 4-4 (2-3)
Can anyone name me any team that has fallen off the map as quickly as this Tiger team has? I mean, many teams have fallen, big plummets, even from the top 10. But it is hard to name a team that has just completely gone off the radar.
The only other team I can even think of has to be another Tiger team, Clemson. It looks like Tommys and Tigers are having a bad year.
It doesn’t help that a former team of head coach Tuberville is the next on the docket for Auburn. Wow, the degrees of separation around the SEC are not very much anymore.
Ole Miss just beat their head coach’s former team, Arkansas, last week. Now they host a former coach of their own in the form of Tommy Tuberville and the Auburn Tigers. What drama, what storylines surrounding these SEC games!
After appearing to have things turned around in the first half of last week’s game in Morgantown, Auburn is back to the disappointing ways it has been too familiar with this season.
Can the bleeding stop, or has Auburn packed it in for the season?
Ole Miss is having a better than expected year, I believe.
They upset Florida in the swamp. They went on the road to beat Arkansas. And they have been in every game they have played this season.
The truth is, they very well could be undefeated right now.
I think they have a solid team that is only getting better. They will be a force to reckon with in the next few seasons. This week they move on to regaining a winning record.
Game Prediction: Ole Miss 24, Auburn 17
Tennessee 3-5 (1-4) vs. South Carolina 5-3 (2-3)
Things are getting hairy in Knoxville. The team is not playing well, and frustration appears to have set in.
Fulmer, after leading Tennessee to some great years, which included a national tile in 1998, is now in what seem like his last days as the Vols head coach.
If anything could have been salvaged from this team, it would have had to come last year, one would have thought. However, with four games left on the schedule, UT still has a chance at a winning record. The question is whether the team can pull it together and do something they haven’t done all year: Win at least two in a row.
That will all depend on if they can get the first win under their belt this Saturday against Spurrier and the Gamecocks. If so, it seems probable that a win over Wyoming will come the next week, thus bringing their record back to 5-5. So, there may actually be some hope left.
What is there left to lose? Fulmer, I think, pulls out all the punches this week.
The Gamecocks have had had a decent season so far, overall, yet their conference record has not been very good at 2-3. This week they could pull back to .500 in conference play with a win over Fulmer and the Vols.
If quarterback consistency can continue, then maybe this team will have a strong finish and a promising postseason outlook. If not, then as the saying goes, as the quarterback goes, so does the team. I look for Spurrier to have settled the backfield down a bit during the bye week.
Does the Ol’ Ball Coach still have it in him? Some think his better days have passed, and while I may agree, I think he still has enough to keep his team above the bottom of the pack and enough disgust for UT to have his team ready for them.
Spurrier has had two weeks to get his guys ready to play Tennessee. That could be the difference in this game, even with UT laying it all out on the table.
Game Prediction: USC 20, UT 17
Game of the Week: UGA 7-1 (4-1) vs. Florida 6-1 (4-1)—“WLOCP”
Stafford is putting up some pretty impressive numbers right now. I guess he wants to end all the talk of him not being an elite quarterback. Plus, when you have one of the best young wide receivers the game has seen in several years in the form of A.J. Green, it makes things easier through the air.
Moreno ran like crazy last week, to the left, to the right, and straight up the middle. He was virtually unstoppable.
After routing LSU last week—and yes, the score was no indication of how bad UGA blew the doors off the Les Miles Tiger express—UGA is looking to make it two in a row over the mighty Gators.
The Dawgs are playing great football right now, and I think they remember the disappointment of being left out of the SEC championship game last season. They are hungry, they are determined, and they are laying it all out on the table.
Wow, this is going to be a classic battle!
The Gators, in my humble opinion, are playing as well as any team in the nation right now.
I have to admit, I was a little uncertain of the Gators' chances to make it this season, as they started the season with roughly a one-man show on offense. I thought that Superman would eventually fold under so much pressure.
However, I think the loss to Ole Miss earlier in the year woke up everyone else on the team and made them realize that Tebow couldn’t carry the entire load, at least not every week.
This team has the complete package and is now playing together as one solid unit. The offense has been there, the defense is now playing out of their minds, and special teams are getting it done as well. What more could you ask for as a coach?
Oh yeah, and there is the little lingering memory of the celebration from UGA last year. I don’t think Florida will forget that until they have had their vengeance.
Both teams match up well, but ultimately, I give the edge to...
Game Prediction: Florida 35, UGA 31