Friday, October 3, 2008

SEC Weekend Games of Interest: The Off Week Edition

We did a decent job picking games last week, going 5-1 and recovering from the disaster that was the 3-3 week before. Our lone bad pick was Florida vs. Ole Miss and I have no issues with getting that one wrong. The season record is now up to 29-6 in SEC picks and here is what’s happening in your neck of the woods:

Florida at Arkansas: The Gators have been very inconsistent on offense so far this year and Tim Tebow has looked confused at time. They are lacking an identity on that side of the football and everyone seems to be looking around for someone else to make plays. This will definitely be a week where UF can put up some positive statistics and big plays after last week’s shocking loss to the Ole Miss Rebels.

"Tim already took the blame for last week, I'm off the hook. It's his fault."

As discussed in previous posts, Arkansas is not very good this season. Casey Dick has made some very questionable decisions while under pressure and has given up more pick sixes (3) in the last two games than Arkansas has scored offensive TD’s (2). It also doesn’t help that the Razorback defense seems to have a lot of things in common with the French Army, as they are both always on retreat.

Bulldawg Fan AC and His French Mobile Infantry Tank, Ready for Battle!

Florida wins this game fairly easily, 41-13 and will jump 4 spots in the polls as a result.

South Carolina at Ole Miss: This should be a good football game. LB Jasper Brinkley looks to have lost a step and the added weight is not helping his game. However, Eric Norwood has become increasingly comfortable at the linebacker position and I feel like he has been the most impressive of the two stud SC defenders this season. Carolina has been anything but overwhelming against Wofford and UAB, but South Cackalacky has a strong, physical defense that will definitely put pressure on the young Jevan Sneed. Carolina needs to make a strong statement on the road, especially after their early season road loss to Vanderbilt.

"Steve, I saw you lose to Vandy, don't be Acting like you didn't lose to Vandy!"

Ole Miss is coming off of their first major road win in close to 5 years and their upset of Florida was truly unexpected. However, they were also a victim of Vanderbilt's 4-0 start and have plenty of issues themselves. Look for the Rebels to come out motivated at home against the Gamecocks and push for an early lead. Both squads have been susceptible to the turnover and whoever wins this pivotal battle will pull out the game. Our pick, in an upset, is South Carolina 24-21.

Kentucky at Alabama: CBS has picked this as their SEC game of the week as two of the final four undefeated SEC teams look to battle it out in Tuscaloosa. The majority of our readers saw first hand what Bama did last week so we don’t have to dig too much into their 41-30 destruction of the Dawgs. Alabama looks to be the strongest team in the conference at this time and won’t try to do anything in this game that they haven’t done all year. This formula involves strong, fundamental defense, domination of the line of scrimmage, and ball control on offense. While Kentucky has a very strong defensive unit, surrendering only 5.5 points per game, they have faced very little in the way of strong competition and have struggled to create offensive consistency. Kentucky will challenge the Alabama offense, but expect a solid game plan from Crimson Tide OC Jim McElwain to keep pressure off of John Parker Wilson. Alabama should get another victory here, 31-14 and improve their lead in the all time series against UK to 34-2-1.

Auburn at Vanderbilt: College Game Day makes its long awaited debut in Nashville and no, there is not another game going on at LP Field. They are setting up camp on the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University in anticipation of an actual tackle football game and to tell the truth, I’m jealous. Not only will Vandy play a better game than UGA did last week (I think anyone can), but the College Gameday crew will get to visit the World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge, a B’NE personal favorite.

"Chris, They call it a Holler and a Swaller, give me a Holler and a Swaller!"

As far as the game goes, expect a fairly low scoring affair. Vanderbilt is last in the SEC in both Total Offense and Total Defense and API has been less than stellar, as we all know by now, on offense. The Tiger defense is built for speed and swarms to the ball, which will give Vandy problems as they are not particularly big or fast with their option running game. The Commodores are extremely opportunistic and if Chris Todd and the Auburn offense start to flounder, Vandy will take advantage of the opportunity as they lead the SEC in interceptions (10) and turnover margin (+9). The key to this game is Tommy Tubbs taking more control over the Auburn offense, going back to more of a conservative, under center game that suits their personnel. Look for a physical Auburn victory in the range of 21-10 or 24-14.

Northern Illinois at Tennessee: It is pretty easy to reopen the QB competition between Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens when you are playing a 2-2 Northern Illinois squad. Early prediction for Phil and Mr. Clawson, Nick isn’t going to fair much better than Jonathan.

"Peyton, You know You want to go in there and put on that #3, Stephens Jersey."

N. Illinois started the year by losing two close games to Minnesota and Western Michigan and has followed that up with a pair of blowout wins over Illinois State and Eastern Michigan. Truthfully, we don’t know too much about the Huskies. I can tell you that former Notre Dame QB Demetrius Jones found DeKalb, IL so appealing that he transfered to the University of Cincinnati on 9/27/2007 immediately after transferring to N. Illinois on 9/12/2007. In our random pop culture factoid of the week, the legendary Dan Castellaneta is a Northern Illinois University graduate.

"Hey Phil, I saved you a piece, DOH!"

UT should come out early and dominate this game but tends to play soft against weaker out-of-conference competition. At some point Dave Clawson will remember that he has a huge O-Line and Arian Foster and he can use these weapons to his advantage. Dave, please ignore these comments until after the UGA game. The pick here is Tennessee, 38-17.

That sums it up for this week. Like most SEC fans during one of their off weekends, I will be at a wedding. So have a bourbon and coke and watch as much SEC football as you can.

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