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2010 SEC Fearless Picks - Sept. 25, Part 2
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
Posted Sep 21, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every SEC game, Sept. 25, Part 2 Week 4

2010 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 4 ... Sept. 25, 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. 25 (Alabama at Arkansas)

Fresno State (2-0) at Ole Miss 1-2) Sept. 25, 7:30,

Here’s The Deal … Well this hasn’t started out well. Ole Miss lost to Jacksonville State to start the season, but that was seen as nothing more than a brain-cramp by a team that let down in the second half. And then came a 28-14 home loss to Vanderbilt. Now it’s do-or-die time for a team with more than enough talent to challenge in the SEC West race, but probably won’t. After this week comes a date with Kentucky, and then it’s on the road for four of the final six games with dates at Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU, but any team that loses at home to the Commodores by double-digits has to worry about everyone. That includes Fresno State. The Bulldogs live for games against wounded BCS teams, and they’re ready to pounce. Pat Hill’s bunch is flying into backfields and has played relatively well on both sides of the ball with resounding wins over Cincinnati and Utah State. FSU is 6-3 in its last nine games against teams from the automatic qualifying conferences, and in those three losses, two were to Wisconsin three-point heartbreakers, and the other was by eight to a Cincinnati team that finished last year unbeaten. With a win in Oxford, Fresno State could become one of the hot teams to watch out for with a wide-open breeze of a schedule until a date with Nevada in mid-November. An 8-0 start is possible with a win this week.
Why Fresno State Might Win: Ball security. It’s not that Ole Miss has been awful, the offense is moving well and the defense has been fine, but the seven turnovers in the first three games have all been disastrous. The Rebels only gave it was once against Tulane, the lone win, and turned it over three times in each of the two losses. With a defense that’s leading the nation in sacks per game, coming up with ten so far, the chances should be there to pressure Jeremiah Masoli and force him into making mistakes. The Bulldogs should stop the Ole Miss running game before it gets started.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: It’s not like the Fresno State attack is rocking and rolling. The defense has done the job so far and the offense has taken advantage of its opportunities, but the running game has been mediocre and the passing game, while efficient, hasn’t cranked out a ton of yards. Yes, turnovers have been a problem for Ole Miss, but Fresno State has traditionally been beyond awful at forcing takeaways. With just one lone fumble recovery this year, the Bulldogs haven’t been forcing the mistakes they should with a pass rush that has been so dominant. If Ole Miss can get up early and Fresno State has to start pressing, the Rebel defensive front can pin its ears back and generate pressure.
What To Watch Out For: Don’t blame Jonathan Cornell for the problems so far. The Ole Miss senior linebacker was a nice part of the rotation last year, and he has been a terror so far this season with a team-leading 27 tackles highlighted by a three-sack game against Tulane. He has been the best playmaker on a defense full of playmakers, and he has to be even more active this week against Fresno State QB Ryan Colburn. The senior is a solid passer who can push the ball down the field, but he’ll also give away a pick or two under pressure. He has completed 70% of his passes so far with five touchdowns, but he has also thrown a pick in each of the first two games. With a running game that’s not controlling the action, Pinegar will have to do even more on the road.
What Will Happen: Is this the game that Masoli finally plays like Jeremiah Masoli? Will Ole Miss finally stop screwing around and start playing up to its talent? Yes, but Fresno State will still win. The Bulldogs can’t come through in tough WAC games, but they always turn the volume up to 11 against the big boys. The pressure from the defensive front will be enough to stop the Ole Miss offense, while the Bulldog attack will overcome two turnovers to win in a bit of a slugfest.
CFN Prediction: Fresno State 24 … Ole Miss 17 … Line: Ole Miss -2.5
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 3
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South Carolina (3-0) at Auburn (3-0) Sept. 25, 7:45, ESPN and

Here’s The Deal … If everything breaks the right way, this could be a preview of the SEC Championship. South Carolina hasn’t been a total shock so far, but after beating Georgia to kick off SEC play, and with the blowout of a Southern Miss team that crushed Kansas, this has the look of Steve Spurrier’s best Gamecock team by far. After getting last week off against Furman, the Gamecocks now have a fight on their hands over the next several weeks. If going to Auburn wasn’t hard enough, after a bye week comes the showdown against Alabama. Suddenly, road dates at Kentucky and Vanderbilt don’t appear to be free spaces, and there’s still Arkansas, Tennessee, at Florida, and at Clemson to deal with. But for now, the excitement is sky high for a team with a power running game, a veteran quarterback, and a defense that ranks first in the SEC against the run.

Auburn has already been through a full and interesting season. The Mississippi State game wasn’t pretty, but it was an SEC divisional win on the road, and then came last week’s war with Clemson that was among the hardest-hitting, most physical games played all season long. The Tigers got beaten up, but if they can get through this showdown by squeaking out a win, there’s a nice break with ULM up next as part of a run of four home games in five week. Considering Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia are at home, Auburn has one of the SEC’s easier slates … before facing Alabama in the season finale. For now, getting by South Carolina would legitimize a strong start and would only raise the hype more for one of the league’s most fun and exciting teams.
Why South Carolina Might Win:
Every game takes a little while to recover from, and college kids tend to bounce back quickly, but the Clemson game was the type of fierce fight that usually takes at least a full week to recover from. The Tiger front line is banged up with star left tackle Lee Ziemba fighting through a knee injury and with starting right tackle A.J. Greene out for the year with a broken ankle. The Auburn line has been good so far in pass protection and is doing what’s needed to get all the talent in the backfield on the move, but South Carolina ‘s defensive front is playing at an extremely high level. The Gamecocks are sixth in the nation against the run, allowing fewer than 60 rushing yards per game, and they’re flying into the backfield with 11 sacks in the first three games. Auburn’s offense will have to rally time and again after getting hit with a big defensive play.
Why Auburn Might Win: For all the talk and all the press about Cam Newton’s running ability and the explosion with the ground game, the passing game is clicking helped by big home runs. Helped by a Terrell Zachery 78-yard touchdown catch against Clemson (and helped by a busted coverage), Auburn leads the nation in passing efficiency and is averaging a solid 200 passing yards per game. South Carolina, despite a fearsome pass rush, has been picked apart through the air allowing 803 yards including 274 to Furman and 337 to Southern Miss. While the Gamecocks have only given up two touchdown passes and picked off three passes, Auburn doesn’t need to bomb away for a slew of scores; it just has to balance things out and move the chains.
What To Watch Out For: While Mark Ingram might be the star of the SEC backs, and Florida’s Jeff Demps and Kentucky’s Derrick Locke have been phenomenal so far, the running back stars of the near future, and the present, should have a terrific duel. South Carolina freshman Marcus Lattimore has been everything he was advertised to be, and more, pounding on Georgia for 182 yards and a touchdown and running for 97 yards against Furman. He has been a workhorse and a good ying to quarterback Stephen Garcia’s yang, providing a tough element to the ground game that’s been missing over the last few years. Now, South Carolina’s much-maligned offensive front is allowed to be physical. Auburn freshman Michael Dyer hasn’t been the main man with Newton the team’s best runner so far and Onterio McCalebb running so well, but he has the talent to explode whenever he has the ball. Effective every time he has had the chance, he’s being trusted with more and more work and is producing every time. However, Auburn can win if Dyer isn’t great, but South Carolina can’t pull it out it he’s not terrific.
What Will Happen: Call it the hangover effect. Auburn will have to gear it up for all the punches South Carolina will throw, and after the way the Clemson game went, it’ll be hard to hold up and be physical for a full sixty minutes. By their own admission, the fresher Gamecocks went through the motions last week against Furman. It’s going to be a hard-hitting battle with a great game from both Lattimore and Garcia being the difference.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 20 … Auburn 17 … Line: Auburn -2.5
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 5
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West Virginia (3-0) at LSU (3-0) Sept. 25, 9:00 ET, ESPN2

Here’s The Deal … There are four games in Week 4 that’ll pit ranked teams against each other. This is one of them. West Virginia and LSU hook up for the first time ever, with both schools looking to use a primetime audience to propel them higher in the polls. While the Mountaineers haven’t exactly wowed anyone up to this point, they were able to navigate a couple of landmines, Marshall and Maryland, the last two weekends. Not since his debut in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl has head coach Bill Stewart had such a high-profile opportunity to make a splash. LSU has sort of been the SEC’s version of West Virginia. Yeah, the Tigers are ranked and unbeaten, but has anyone been wowed by their first three showings? Although no one will ever admit that style points matter, Les Miles’ kids could shut up a lot of critics with a complete effort here.
Why West Virginia Might Win: The way the LSU offense is performing, the Mountaineers won’t need an offensive explosion to get out of town with a huge win. The Tigers are last in SEC passing, and managed just 264 total yards against Mississippi State last Saturday. With Jordan Jefferson struggling to maximize all of that wide receiver talent, Geno Smith gives West Virginia the better quarterback in this game. He’s been coming on fast, engineering the comeback win in Huntington two weeks ago and throwing four touchdown passes without a pick versus Maryland. With the defense having talent at every level, it might only take one or two long bursts from RB Noel Devine or WR Jock Sanders for the ‘Eers to build a comfortable cushion.
Why LSU Might Win: The offense may be a work-in-progress, but the defense is beginning to peak. Since struggling with North Carolina in the opener, the Tigers have allowed just 10 points over the last eight quarters. They’ll attack an average West Virginia line with a combination of DT Drake Nevis and the linebacker tandem of Kelvin Sheppard and Ryan Baker, a guided missile from weakside. And when Smith drops back to pass, he’ll have to pay special attention to No. 7, Patrick Peterson, one of the top corners in the country. Smith is uncommonly poised for a true sophomore, but there’s no preparation for what he’ll see in Baton Rouge for a night game.
What To Watch Out For: While there’s talent and size in that Mountaineer secondary, the unit has also been exposed on numerous occasions over the last two weeks. Jefferson is going to get multiple opportunities to connect downfield with Reuben Randle, Russell Shepard, or Terrence Tolliver. If he’s on target, it’ll be the type of play that electrifies the crowd and loosens up the West Virginia defense. It’s going to be there, especially on play-action. It’s up to Jefferson to make it hurt.
What Will Happen: Is LSU on upset alert? You bet. However, it won’t happen. On a night when the offense will again sputter, the Tigers will get a much-needed boost from the defense and special teams, which will give Jefferson an important edge in field position. The defense, in particular, will lead the way, creating turnovers and dealing a temporary setback to Smith’s emergence into a franchise quarterback.
CFN Prediction: LSU 28 … West Virginia 17 … Line: LSU -8.5
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 4
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- Sept. 25 (Alabama at Arkansas)