2010 SEC Fearless Picks - Sept. 11, Part 2

Posted Sep 8, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every SEC game, Sept. 11, Part 2

2010 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 2 ... Sept. 11, Part 2

East | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State

- More College Football Picks (and NFL, too) 

- Sept. 11 (Georgia at South Carolina
- Sept 4 

Oregon (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0) Sept. 11, 7:00 ET, ESPN2

Here's The Deal … In last week's openers, Oregon and Tennessee won by a combined score of 122-0. Okay, so their victims were New Mexico and Tennessee-Martin, respectively, but the outcomes were still rather impressive. This is the first meeting between the Ducks and the Vols, an intriguing non-conference match up and a rare trip to the south for the visitors. No. 8 Oregon completely deconstructed the Lobos last Saturday, 72-0, despite starting young Darron Thomas behind center and being without star RB LaMichael James. Nothing will put a long and tumultuous offseason in the rear view mirror faster than a nationally-televised win in SEC country. Tennessee was never threatened in its opener, an ideal situation for a school in transition. Not only is a new coach, Derek Dooley, being broken in for a second straight year, but the two-deep is littered with youth and new starters. The bar is unusually low in Knoxville, but that'll change if the Vols pick off a ranked team.
Why Oregon Might Win: Don't be fooled by the uniforms. This is not your typical Tennessee squad, in terms of overall talent. The defense is good, but not great. And the offense lacks pop, especially now that receivers Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore are injured. Yes, this is going to be a tough environment for Thomas, but he'll get plenty of support from a tremendous offensive line, James, and RB Kenjon Barner, who went ballistic a week ago. If the Volunteers can't fill the lanes in run defense, Neyland Stadium could be quiet before halftime. An aggressive Oregon D will attack a very young Tennessee line with a combination of Kenny Rowe off the edge and blitzes from linebackers and safeties. It could be a long night for inexperienced QB Matt Simms.
Why Tennessee Might Win: The Volunteers are determined to establish a power running game, which will serve two purposes. First, by running 213-pound Tauren Poole and David Oku, Tennessee will be attacking the softest area of the Oregon defense, the interior of the line. Plus, a ball-control attack keeps the Duck offense pacing on the sidelines and reduces the risk of turnovers. Thomas was sharp a week ago, but he's never had to perform in front of 100,000 rabid fans belting out the words to Rocky Top. It's going to be a daunting challenge that's exacerbated by the new Vol defensive coordinator. It was Justin Wilcox who devised Boise State gameplan that held Oregon to eight points in the 2009 opener.
What To Watch Out For: New Tennessee DE Malik Jackson is the one Vol who's seen Chip Kelly's spread up close and personal when he was a member of USC. He's also provided the Ducks with some bulletin board material, taking swipes at the system and suggesting it won't be nearly as potent without QB Jeremiah Masoli. He's probably right, but he probably also needs to check his edit button in the days leading up to a huge game.
What Will Happen: It's Knoxville. At night. Nothing should be taken granted, even when Tennessee is not Tennessee. That said, it's going to be hard to put a cap on an Oregon offense that's so prolific on the ground. There'll be some punts mixed in, but eventually James, Barner, or Thomas will bust through the line and change the tempo of the game. Once the Vols are trailing, there's too much uncertainty on that offense to bank on a rally in the second half.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 34 … Tennessee 24 … Line: Oregon -13
Must See Rating: Boardwalk Empire – 5 … Going the Distance - 1 … 4
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Arkansas (1-0) at ULM (0-0) Sept. 11, 7:00, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … Arkansas did exactly what it was supposed to do against Tennessee Tech to open the season. The passing game was efficient and unstoppable, the running game was fine, and the defense was a brick wall. ULM is better Tennessee Tech, and it gets the game at a "neutral" site in Little Rock, but it'll need an inspired effort and a poor showing by the Hogs to pull off the upset. The Warhawks have a potentially strong and dangerous offense, but the defense is going to be a problem for a while. At the very least, ULM is just starting the year and has an extra week of preparation and game film to go on, but it needs to do something right with a key Sun Belt battle at Arkansas State next week.
Why Arkansas Might Win: ULM's biggest weakness going into the season should be the secondary … uh oh. Everything clicked for Ryan Mallett and the Hog passing game last week completing 21-of-24 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and he should have similar success if the line can provide the time. Nine different receivers caught passes against Tennessee Tech, and it should be more of the same with Mallett spreading the ball around and finding the weak link in the secondary. This is an athletic Warhawk defensive back field, but three new starters are about to be get a baptism by fire. Be stunned if Mallett doesn't have 300 yards passing after three quarters.
Why ULM Might Win: The lookahead factor. The Arkansas season really begins next week with a trip to Georgia followed up by Alabama, at Texas A&M, and at Auburn. This is the first of a run of four road games in five weeks, and even though everyone is saying all the right things, there has to be a sense that last week was the tune-up and this week is about going through the motions to get to the Dawgs. For all the good things Arkansas did last week, it had a problem with turnovers giving it away three times and not coming up with any takeaways. ULM has to be at least +3, and it has to take advantage of every opportunity, to make up for getting bombed on.
What To Watch Out For: There was a bit of a fight for the ULM quarterback job this offseason, but it was apparent early on that redshirt freshman Kolton Browning was going to be the main man at the start of the year. No. 2 option Trey Revell is moving to tight end to get his size and athleticism on the field, but that means Browning has to be more than just average. He has a nice passing arm and great running skills, and he's going to have to be an all-around playmaker to make things happen to keep up with the Arkansas attack.
What Will Happen: ULM will start out well and Arkansas will come out a bit sluggish, but that will quickly change. Mallett will throw four touchdown passes and the Warhawks will have to throw to try to get back in the game. It won't be pretty.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 41 … ULM 10 … Line: Arkansas -34
Must See Rating: Boardwalk Empire – 5 … Going the Distance - 1 … 1.5
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Western Kentucky (0-1) at Kentucky (1-0) Sept. 11, 7:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … Willie Taggart didn't have a good debut, but Joker Phillips did. Taggart has been given one of the toughest tasks in America needing to try to make Western Kentucky football relevant. The Hilltoppers have lost 21 straight, and while there are a few decent pieces to start with, there's a long, long way to go before they can hang around with the better teams. The lost 49-10 at Nebraska last week and have BCS games against Indiana and South Florida coming up next, but record doesn't really matter right now. For WKU and Taggart, simply improving in some way each week is enough. On the flip side is Kentucky with Phillips winning in his debut over the school's rival, Louisville, in a less-than-scintillating 23-16 battle. Now is when the team has to form the base of wins to a possible bowl trip with Akron up next before going to Florida, and there's no excuse to not win this game in a walk. This is tune up time, and UK has to use the opportunity to make the offense more efficient and discover more playmakers on defense.
Why WKU Might Win: Bobby Rainey. Nebraska might end up being good enough to play for the national title, but Rainey ran well on the vaunted defense cranking out a career-high 155 yards on 30 carries, and he caught three passes for 36 yards. Taggart is a great molder of running backs, having coached Toby Gerhart at Stanford, and he's getting the most out of Rainey, who might the Sun Belt's most dangerous offensive playmaker. UK got gouged by Bilal Powell for 152 yards and a touchdown, and while 80 of the yards came on one play, the potential is there for Rainey to have the same sort of production.
Why Kentucky Might Win: The nearly perfect offensive balance of last week should carry over. The offense might not have been perfect against Louisville, but the yards were there with 236 passing yards and 230 on the ground. The offensive line had a strong performance keeping QB Mike Hartline from getting pressured and paving the way for Derrick Locke and 104 yards on the ground, and it should do more of the same against a WKU defensive front that's aggressive, but not all that great. It shouldn't take too many points to get the win. In the last three years WKU has played against six BCS teams, including UK in 2008, and has yet to score more than 13 points in any of the contests.
What To Watch Out For: Kentucky do-it-all playmaker Randall Cobb has built up a nice underground buzz as one of the SEC's top stat-sheet fillers, and he had a few moments in his debut rushing for 80 yards and a 51-yard score and catching two passes for 19 yards against the Cardinals. The Hilltoppers couldn't handle Nebraska running quarterback Taylor Martinez, who ran seven times for 127 yards and three scores. UK will put Cobb under center in a Wildcat formation and he could be in for a huge day on the ground.
What Will Happen: Who'll get more rushing yards, Rainey or Cobb? The lack of a WKU passing game will keep the game from being interesting as Kentucky gets up early and then goes through the motions in the second half.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 45 … Western Kentucky 13 … Line: Kentucky -24
Must See Rating: Boardwalk Empire – 5 … Going the Distance - 1 … 1.5
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Ole Miss (0-1) at Tulane (1-0) Sept. 11, 9:00 ET, ESPN2

Here's The Deal … Get right back to work. That's about the only thing that might begin healing the wounds at Ole Miss, which suffered an embarrassing home loss to Jacksonville State, 49-48. With the media swarming around the Rebels and head coach Houston Nutt, it's probably a good thing that the team will head out of town to face one of the worst programs in the FBS. There's certainly time to salvage the season in Oxford, but the margin for error has vanished long before anyone would have guessed. Tulane, on the other hand, began its season with a 27-21 win over Southeastern Louisiana. It ought to frame it because there won't be many like it over the next couple of months. The Green Wave simply doesn't appear to have enough talent or depth to snap its streak of seven consecutive losing seasons.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Overshadowed by the crushing overtime loss was the play of the Rebel attack, which piled up 479 yards of almost perfectly balanced offense. Both Jeremiah Masoli and Nathan Stanley made plays at quarterback, and Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis were the catalysts of the ground. Maybe Nutt will use both of his hurlers and really keep the shoddy Tulane defense on its heels. As bad as the Ole Miss D was on Saturday, there's no doubt that the line has enough talent to abuse the Tulane front wall. DE Kentrell Lockett is expected back after sitting out the opener with a rapid heartbeat, joining all-star DT Jerrell Powe and a slew of veterans.
Why Tulane Might Win: One of the many truths that came out of the first weekend is that Ole Miss is having problems defending the pass. The inexperienced duo of Coty Blanchard and Marques Ivory just got done burning it for 252 yards and four touchdowns. Green Wave QB Ryan Griffin will look to duplicate that effort, with help from top receivers Casey Robottom and D.J. Banks. Tulane has also found a complement to Albert Williams in the running game. In his first game out of high school, rookie Orleans Darkwa went for a team-high 75 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
What To Watch Out For: Will it be Masoli or Stanley for Ole Miss at quarterback? If Nutt knows, he hasn't hinted which way he's leaning. In all likelihood, both will get snaps, with the hot hand getting the most snaps. It helps that both players bring something a little different to the Rebel offense. While Stanley is more of a pocket passer at 6-5 and 215 pounds, Masoli can pound it between the tackles like a fullback.
What Will Happen: Better days lay ahead for Ole Miss, a decent team that imploded after halftime of the Jacksonville State game. It all begins on Saturday in New Orleans, where the Rebels will once again sport a balanced attack to move the ball on Tulane. Everyone will get in on the act, but a gradual increase in playing time will earn Masoli the majority of the headlines.
CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 45 … Tulane 17 … Line: Ole Miss -21
Must See Rating: Boardwalk Empire – 5 … Going the Distance - 1 … 3
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