2010 SEC Fearless Picks - Sept. 18
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
Posted Sep 16, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every SEC game, Sept. 18, Week 3

2010 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 3 ... Sept. 18 Games

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

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SEC Fearless Predictions
- Sept. 18, Part 2 (MSU vs. LSU) 
- Sept. 11 | Sept. 4

CFN SEC Predictions: SU:11-1   ATS: 4-5


Arkansas (2-0) at Georgia (1-1) Sept. 18, 12:00, ESPN/ESPN3

Here's The Deal … In a week when Florida is playing Tennessee and Clemson and Auburn are playing a tough non-conference game, this is the marquee game of the weekend and it's the one that could have the biggest impact. It's prove-it time for Arkansas and desperation time for Georgia. The Bulldogs couldn't get the offense going in last week's 17-6 loss to South Carolina, and the defense struggled to wrap up and tackle against Marcus Lattimore and the ground game, and with four road games (counting the Jacksonville date with Florida) in five weeks coming after this week, a home loss would be disastrous. This is a very talented, very promising team that needs to play like it or the seat could start getting very, very hot for head coach Mark Richt. The same pressure isn't there for Arkansas, but with Alabama, a neutral site date with Texas A&M, and a trip to Auburn to follow, a win between the hedges would do wonders before the rough stretch ahead. The offense hasn't had any problems against Tennessee Tech and ULM, while the defense has stepped up its play against the mediocre opponents.
Why Arkansas Might Win: Can Georgia keep up if this gets into a shootout in any form? The Dawgs beat the Hogs 52-41 in one of the most fun games of the 2009 SEC season, but that was an aberration and that was with a seven-catch, 137-yard, two touchdown day from A.J. Green. The Georgia offense has a fantastic line and a decent group of backs, but it's missing a playmaker to make a difference, and the loss of Green to a four-game suspension has been a killer for the offense and new starting quarterback Aaron Murray. Arkansas might not have the same offensive success it had in last year's shootout, and it's not going to put up the 509 yards it's averaging over the first two games of the season, but it has the ability to put up points in bunches. Georgia's doesn't. Arkansas can come back from a deficit, but Georgia can't.
Why Georgia Might Win: Can the Hog offensive line keep Ryan Mallett upright? The line has only allowed three sacks in two games, but t hasn't been a brick wall and it hasn't done too much for the ground game. The move to a 3-4 defense has done wonders for Georgia's pass rush with seven sacks and 17 tackles for loss in the first two games, and it has the potential to batter Mallett around to throw off the timing of the attack. South Carolina was able to move the ball because Lattimore pounded away 37 times allowing Stephen Garcia to not have to take many chances with the passing game. This week, Arkansas isn't going to get the rushing production and it'll be tee-off time for the Dawg defensive front.
What To Watch Out For: Justin Houston was made for the new Bulldog defensive style. The hybrid DE/OLB has been terrific so far and was great against South Carolina making ten tackles with two sacks with a forced fumble. He needs to be more physical against the run, but his job is to be disruptive and he's doing that. With Houston flying into the backfield, Mallett has to be sharp and his decision-making has to be spot on. Coming off his third 400-yard passing game of his career, he's getting the passing game going, but he'll be hard pressed to match last year's performance against the Dawgs when he threw for 408 yards and five scores without a pick. He has thrown away six picks in his last six games, and considering the problems the Georgia offense is having, he can't give away any easy opportunities.
What Will Happen: The Georgia attack will have to open it up a bit, but it doesn't have the ability to keep up without Green. It'll have to rely on being physical up front and hope the ground game shows up, but Arkansas is going to sell out against the run to make Murray try to win the game. He won't be able to do it. Mallett will be Mallett, and while he'll get sacks at least three times and he'll throw two picks, he'll also be the difference to get through a tough SEC road game to make a major statement to show that things are starting to really work under Bobby Petrino. It's not going to be a shootout, and it's not always going to be pretty, but it'll be an effective Hog win.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 23 … Georgia 20 … Line: Georgia -2.5
Must See Rating: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – 5 … The Event - 1 … 4
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Vanderbilt (0-2) at Ole Miss (1-1) Sept. 18, 12:21, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … Is Ole Miss going to show up? Vanderbilt going 0-2 isn't a shocker considering the losses came to Northwestern and LSU teams that'll end up going bowling and being factors in their respective conference races, but the Ole Miss loss to Jacksonville State was the shocker of the opening weekend and the 27-13 win over Tulane was sluggish and unimpressive. The Rebels have the talent and the athleticism to play with anyone in the conference, but the ugly start means the team needs to come up with a great performance this week and next week against Fresno State or it'll be time to worry with the tough part of the slate coming up soon. Vandy has its layup in two weeks when Eastern Michigan comes to town, but it could use a huge road win to jump-start its season. In 2008, the 23-17 shocker in Oxford helped bring the Commodores national attention, and a repeat is a must to save the year even though September is only half over. On the flip side, if Ole Miss loses this home game, it's not going to be pretty.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: The Ole Miss secondary has struggled. Jacksonville State was able to bomb away to get back in the game and pull off the miracle, while Tulane's Ryan Griffin was effective completing 21-of-30 passes for 203 yards. It's Vanderbilt, so the passing game isn't going to bomb away, but Larry Smith showed against Northwestern that he has the playmaking ability to push the ball down the field and to keep pressing. He's just mobile enough and just dangerous enough to get hot for a stretch and bring back Jacksonville State nightmares for the Rebels. The Commodore defensive front is just active enough to get into the backfield on a regular basis to disrupt the Ole Miss offense before it gets started.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: The pass rush should give Smith a nightmare of a time. The Commodore offensive line has struggled allowing seven sacks in the first two games, and while Northwestern and LSU have a good pass rush, they aren't Ole Miss when it comes to getting to the quarterback. With Kentrell Lockett back in the mix, the Rebels can put the pressure on from all spots up front, and it has shown with seven sacks in the first two games. Offensively, any production should be enough to coast on with Vandy's offense struggling to find any consistency. Yeah, Smith can get hot, but he's not getting the running game to help the cause, and he's not getting the run defense to come up with stops to get him back on the field in a hurry.
What To Watch Out For: It's time for Jeremiah Masoli to be allowed to be Jeremiah Masoli. The former Oregon Duck got most of the work against Tulane and was solid completing 14-of-20 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown with an interception, but he only ran nine times for 27 yards and a score. Houston Nutt has yet to unleash the Wild Rebel, and he has yet to allow Masoli to run wild to mix up the attack. Ole Miss doesn't have to get crazy and it doesn't have to take a slew of chances to win this week, but now is the time to let the All-America talent loose. If he can't run and rock against Vandy, it might be time to worry a bit.
What Will Happen: Ole Miss isn't going to be smooth for a third week in a row, but the ground game will rumble for 250 yards and the defensive front will blow up anything the Commodore offense wants to do. This won't be the game that settles the Rebel fans down, but it'll get the team headed in the right direction.
CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 30 … Vanderbilt 16 … Line: Ole Miss -11.5
Must See Rating: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – 5 … The Event - 1 … 2.5
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Alabama (2-0) at Duke (1-1) Sept. 18, 3:30 ET, ABC

Here's The Deal … For the first time since he was a Tennessee assistant, David Cutcliffe gets a crack at Alabama, his alma mater and a school he knows very well. This is a big deal for Durham, which doesn't host the top-ranked team often, and is adding eight sections of temporary bleachers for the anticipated swell in attendance. Duke is trying to keep its focus following an excruciating 54-48 loss to Wake Forest, the second highest scoring game in ACC history. The Crimson Tide, naturally, are accustomed to the spotlight, winning the 2009 national championship and shooing away Penn State, 24-3, in one of last Saturday's marquee match ups. ‘Bama might get back Heisman winner Mark Ingram and top DE Marcell Dareus, two key pieces in the quest for repeat BCS titles.
Why Alabama Might Win: When Wake Forest runs roughshod on your defense, a visit from the Crimson Tide is cause to hit the panic button. Alabama should have no problems out muscling a weak Blue Devil defense, opening holes for the backs and giving QB Greg McElroy the pocket he needs to find speedy receivers Julio Jones, Marquis Maze, and Darius Hanks. Whether or not Ingram makes his 2010 debut, RB Trent Richardson will get little resistance as he continues his coming-out party. The Tide's dominance at the point of attack will be evident whenever it has the ball.
Why Duke Might Win: Scoring on the Alabama D is a tall order these days, but Blue Devil Sean Renfree will be the most talented passer it's faced in September. Yeah, he has to tighten up his game and improve his decision-making, but through two games, he's already thrown for 708 yards and six touchdowns. His cast of capable receivers, which includes Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, and Austin Kelly, will have a chance to make plays on a Crimson Tide secondary that's breaking in a pair of new cornerbacks. If the Duke offense can land a punch or two early, it'll be interesting to see how ‘Bama reacts.
What To Watch Out For: For the ‘Bama D, many of the faces have been new, but the results remain the same. Through eight quarters, neither San Jose State nor Penn State reached the end zone on it. That said, just one sack through two games is a concern for Nick Saban, who realizes that could impact his team when SEC play begins. With a trip to Arkansas in the on-deck circle, this is a good time for the Tide to start getting Dareus into game shape.
What Will Happen: It won't be Cameron Indoor, but there'll still be a buzz in the air at a stadium not used to hosting a national powerhouse. While the Blue Devils get to showcase their new offensive weapons in front of a larger than normal audience, it won't deter Alabama from taking care of business, as it usually does. The Tide will allow its first touchdown of the year, but it won't be nearly enough in a game that'll be decided by halftime.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 41 … Duke 13 … Line: Alabama -23.5
Must See Rating: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – 5 … The Event - 1 … 2
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Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1) Sept. 18, 3:30, CBS

Here's The Deal … There was a time not all that long ago when this matchup would bring the sports world to a standstill. Now it's just another game on the SEC slate. It's not Florida's fault, and while this might not be the tightest team Urban Meyer has fielded in his time in Gainesville, it's still 2-0 with two blowout wins over Miami University and USF. Tennessee has gone from being down to being in total rebuilding mode after getting its doors blown off in an ugly 48-13 home loss to Oregon. While the Vols played well against a far better Gator team last year, they haven't they've lost six of the last seven games in the series with double-digit losses in the last three. First-year head man Derek Dooley has a lot of work to do for the former superpower as the talent level isn't remotely close to what it was a few years ago, and while being plucky is one thing, not having a chance to be in the hunt with the better teams is a problem. However, a win over Florida, even one that appears to be a shadow of its former self, would change things around in a big hurry and would through the SEC East race into a tizzy.

If the Gators are ready to show that the first two ugly games were an aberration and they come out roaring, then it might be back to business as usual. If the Vols lose this, an 0-5 SEC start is possible with at LSU, at Georgia, Alabama, and at South Carolina to follow (all coming after a layup against UAB next week). It might not sound right, but this is the easy part of the Florida's SEC schedule with Kentucky up next before the big boys kick in with at Alabama and LSU coming after. Tennessee wants to be one of the big boys again and has to win to take a step.
Why Florida Might Win: Tennessee might not complete a forward pass. Miami's Zac Dysert dinked and dunked a bit, but he couldn't get the passing game going down the field. USF's B.J. Daniels completed nine passes with four going to Gators. Tennessee's passing game isn't exactly reminding anyone of the mid-1990s, and it's not going to be any better with Gerald Jones still suffering through a hand injury. Without the team's leading receiver, the Vols will become even more one dimensional with the ground game, and with the SEC's least efficient passing attack, they won't have any ability whatsoever to mount any kind of a comeback or keep up in any sort of a shootout. They have to be perfect in all phases, but the special teams aren't likely to provide much help with the nation's worst punt return game and the SEC's worst kickoff return team.
Why Tennessee Might Win: Florida, the school of Tebow, and Spurrier, and Wuerffel, and some of the greatest offense in the history of college football, is 104th in the nation in passing and 92nd in total offense. Of the 635 yards the offense has generated so far, 134 have come on two plays from Jeff Demps. While Oregon showed last week that the Tennessee defense isn't above giving up big runs, the Gator offense has done absolutely nothing outside of two big runs. With Chris Rainey out of the mix after being suspended, the offense has to get even more creative when it's simply trying to find something that works right now. As long as the Vols don't start turning the ball over in bunches, and as long as it keeps the big Florida plays to a minimum, they can hang around in this. While the Florida defense has been great, it allowed 244 rushing yards to South Florida and can be pounded on a bit. That means …
What To Watch Out For: Tauren Poole has to be special. Kept under wraps by the Kiffin regime, the 5-11, 213-pound speedster, who was the two-time Georgia high school player of the year after running for 5,413 career yards, has shown off why he appears ready to be considered among the nation's top backs after running for 110 yards and two scores against UT Martin and tearing off 162 yards and a score on 23 carries against Oregon. QB Matt Simms isn't going to do anything with the passing attack against the Gator secondary, and while Florida will load up to stop Poole, the Vols have to keep going to its star anyway.
What Will Happen: Tennessee will think it has a chance to win after a decent first half, and then the mistakes will come. Demps will come up with a game-changer for the third week in a row, the Gator special teams will come up with one big play, and the secondary will pick off two key passes to break the tight battle wide open.
CFN Prediction: Florida 31 … Tennessee 10 … Line: Florida -14.5
Must See Rating: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – 5 … The Event - 1 … 3
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- Sept. 18 (Ark. vs. South Carolina) | Sept. 18, Part 2 (MSU vs. LSU)