SEC Football: Week 9 Preview and Predictions Against the Spread

Jeremy Hillman@@SECpigskinContributor IOctober 28, 2011

SEC Football: Week 9 Preview and Predictions Against the Spread

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    In what seems like a blink of an eye, we are rolling into week nine of the 2011 SEC football season.

    With five SEC games on tap, including the annual Florida versus Georgia clash in Jacksonville, this Saturday should be a fun day of Southeastern Conference football.

    As I do each week, I will preview each SEC game and make a score prediction against the spread.

    I will also be held accountable for my picks, by posting updated results each and every week (I included my Week 8 results below):

    Record Straight-Up Week 8: 5-0

    Record Straight-Up Season: 54-7 (88 percent)

    Record Against the Spread Week 8: 2-2

    Record Against the Spread Season: 34-23 (60 percent)

    Click through the slide show to see my picks for each game for week nine of the season.

Arkansas Razorbacks at Vanderbilt Commodores

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    The Game

    October 29 12:21 PM ET (SEC Network)


    The Story Lines

    Will Arkansas flex its offensive muscle and keep upset-minded Vanderbilt at bay?  

    Can the Commodores manufacture another SEC upset and add to their surprising season?


    What Will Happen

    The Vanderbilt defense has been solid all season and is tough against the run. As a matter of fact, the Commodores rank fifth in the SEC in rush defense, allowing just 138 rushing yards per game.

    This will be important as Arkansas, aside from a nice game from Dennis Johnson last weekend, has struggled to run the ball most of the season.

    On the other side, Arkansas has struggled with stopping the run this season, giving up over 180 rush yards per game.

    Zac Stacey, Vanderbilt's talented back, who ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns against Army last week, could have a productive game on Saturday.

    While Vanderbilt could win the run battle, it will be through the passing attack that the game is decided.

    Arkansas' Tyler Wilson is one of the top quarterbacks in the country and will connect early and often with his talented group of receivers. The Razorbacks average an SEC-leading 321 passing yards per game.

    Vanderbilt, on the other hand, ranks 11th in the SEC, gaining just 140 passing yards per game.

    The prolific Arkansas passing game will trump the Commodore running game and Arkansas will outpace Vanderbilt. However, it will stay close early.


    Predicted Score

    Arkansas 30 Vanderbilt 14 (Vegas line: Arkansas -9)


Florida Gators at Georgia Bulldogs

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    The Game

    October 29th 3:30 PM ET (CBS)


    The Story Lines

    Will Georgia earn an important victory over rival Florida and continue their quest to win the SEC Eastern Division?  

    Can Florida get their offense back on track, with the return of injured starting quarterback John Brantley, and upset the Bulldogs?


    What Will Happen

    Georgia will run the ball with talented freshman back Isaiah Crowell to open up the passing game. Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray will then find talented receivers Orsen Charles and Malcolm Mitchell down the field.

    Florida will come out on offense and try to get Chris Rainey out in space to use his speed to make big plays. They then will hope injured quarterback John Brantley is healthy enough to produce more passing yards than they have had in his absence.

    Look for Crowell to run for more yards than Rainey and for Murray to outperform a rusty Brantley.

    The Bulldogs will out gain the Gators in yards and points.


    Predicted Score

    Georgia 28 Florida 20 (Vegas line: Georgia -3)

Ole Miss Rebels at Auburn Tigers

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    The Game

    October 29th 7:00 PM ET (ESPN)


    The Story Lines

    Can Auburn bounce back from a tough loss to LSU last weekend and avoid an upset at home?  

    Will Ole Miss play like they did in the first half last weekend or the how they played in the second half?


    What Will Happen

    Auburn will hand the ball off to star running back Michael Dyer early and often on Saturday.  The talented back is averaging over 100 yards per game.

    That could be trouble for Ole Miss as the Rebels have surrendered over 222 rushing yards per game in 2011. That ranks them dead last in the conference in rushing defense.

    As a matter of fact, Ole Miss has the worst statistical defense in the SEC, allowing 442 yards per contest.

    However, this game could still be close, as Auburn is second-to-last in the SEC in total defense, allowing 402 yards per game.

    Running back Jeff Scott and the Ole Miss offense will gain yards and have some big plays on Saturday.

    In the end, Auburn will sneak out with a win behind a loud home crowd and a stronger running game.


    Predicted Score

    Auburn 30 Ole Miss 24 (Vegas line: Auburn -12)

Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats

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    The Game

    October 29th 7:00PM ET


    The Story Lines

    Can Mississippi State shake off a rough start to the season and avoid an upset?  

    Will Kentucky find some offense and keep themselves in the game?


    What Will Happen

    Mississippi State will run the ball with powerful back Vick Ballard along with big quarterback Chris Relf and pound the ball at the Wildcats.

    However, Kentucky has star players on defense in safety Winston Guy Jr. and linebacker Danny Trevathan. They will give the Bulldog offense a challenge.

    The problem for Kentucky is on offense. The Wildcats are last in the SEC in total offense, averaging just 259 yards per game.

    Against a capable State defense, the lack of offense will be Kentucky's undoing.

    Look for a pretty comfortable win for Mississippi State.


    Predicted Score

    Mississippi State 28 Kentucky 13 (Vegas line: Miss State -10)

South Carolina Gamecocks at Tennessee Volunteers

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    The Game

    October 29th 715 PM ET


    The Story-lines

    Can Carolina overcome the loss of star running back Marcus Lattimore?  

    Will Tennessee rejuvenate the offense and put up enough points to have a shot at an upset?


    What Will Happen

    Carolina will not be able to run the ball like they did when they had Lattimore, but the passing game should be effective.

    Gamecock quarterback Conner Shaw will connect with star receiver Alshon Jeffery for several big plays, as Tennessee gives up over 200 passing yards per game.

    Tennessee will continue to struggle on offense, as they have since the loss of starting quarterback Tyler Bray to injury, and fail to keep up with South Carolina on the scoreboard.

    The Gamecocks will win this on the road with solid defense and big pass plays.


    Predicted Score

    South Carolina 28 Tennessee 14 (Vegas line: South Carolina -4)