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2010 SEC Fearless Picks - Oct. 9 (Bama-USC)
South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore
South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore
Posted Oct 7, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every SEC game, October 9

2010 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 6 ... Oct. 9 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
- Oct. 2 | Sept. 25 | Sept. 18 | Sept. 11 | Sept. 4

- Oct. 9, Part 2 (LSU-Florida) 

CFN SEC Predictions: SU:38-4   ATS: 15-23


Alabama (5-0) at South Carolina (3-1) Oct. 9, 3:30, CBS

Here’s The Deal … South Carolina, if you really want to show that you’re ready to be a real player in the SEC, and on a national scale, this is your chance. This is your big opportunity to take the SEC East by the horns, and even with a loss to Auburn two weeks ago, get into the national title chase. This is an interesting Gamecock squad that was able to power its way over Georgia and get the passing game going efficiently throughout the year. Don’t dismiss the opening day blowout over Southern Miss, who appears to be the class of Conference USA by far. This is the game the program has been waiting 100 years for. This is the time when South Carolina can go from being South Carolina to the national story. This is the one game that long-suffering Gamecock fans have been dreaming about ever since Steve Spurrier arrived on the scene. This is for the big-time.

For Alabama, it’s another week, another Game of the Century for the opponent. The Tide keeps taking everyone’s best shot and keeps on rolling with an emphatic blowout over Florida a week after a strong defensive stand late to get past a deadly Arkansas offense. However, now the body blows might start to add up. Bama is better than everyone on its schedule (and is better than anyone in America), but it’s one thing to beat a Virginia Tech here or an Oregon State there (Boise State, cough, Boise State), and it’s another to deal with Penn State, and then go to Arkansas, and then Florida, and then face a road date at South Carolina. This is the first of an brutally unfair run of five games against teams that get two weeks off to prepare for the defending national champions (not including the Auburn game to close out the season), and the Tide will have to gear up the emotion and the focus against a team that’s going to treat this like the BCS Championship.

Why Alabama Might Win: South Carolina finally faced an offense, and it failed. Cam Newton ripped off 176 yards and three touchdowns and Michael Dyer added 100 yards as Auburn ran for 334 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the 35-27 win. When push came to shove, South Carolina got shoved, and the Gamecock running game that was so effective against Georgia, and appeared to be on the way to being special with Marcus Lattimore one of the SEC’s bright new stars, got stuffed. If South Carolina couldn’t run on a mediocre Auburn defense, it’s not going to be able to do much of anything against the No. 1 scoring defense in America. The Tide is swallowing up everyone’s running game with the linebackers doing a fantastic job of keeping the big plays to a minimum.
Why South Carolina Might Win: South Carolina’s biggest flaw isn’t going to be exposed. The Gamecocks haven’t protected the passer in years, and it hasn’t improved much this season with 12 sacks allowed in the first four games. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, as great as the Alabama defense has been, the pass rush has been non-existent. There has been decent pressure from time to time, but for one of the first times in a long time, Stephen Garcia will get time to throw. On the flip side, the Tide offensive line has been decent in pass protection, but not a brick wall, and the Gamecocks have done a great job of getting to the quarterback so far, even if the sack totals are skewed with seven coming against Furman.
What To Watch Out For: Is it really going to be Garcia under center for the entire game? The Gamecock veteran was having a nice game against Auburn, completing 15-of-21 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns, but he fumbled twice and Spurrer put in hot-shot freshman Connor Shaw late in the game to provide more of a spark. While Shaw put the ball in the hands of Alshon Jeffery in the end zone on the team’s final offensive play, it got batted into his second interception of the quarter. Garcia is the starter, but if he struggles, will Spurrier come up with the quick hook? Alabama’s defense tends to make quarterbacks look bad. For the Tide, superstar WR Julio Jones is dinged up … again. He suffered a bruised knee, but it’s not expected to be anything serious.
What Will Happen: South Carolina will come up with one of its best performances in years. Garcia will screw up on a few key throws, but he’ll do just enough to stay on the field with two big pass plays keeping the Gamecocks alive. And then the Bama running game will take over. Mark Ingram kicked off his Heisman campaign with a brilliant 246-yard, one touchdown game last year, and while he won’t do that again, he and Trent Richardson will combine for 250 rushing yards in the tough, gut-wrenching win.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 23 … South Carolina 16 … Line: Alabama -6.5
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 4.5
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Tennessee (2-3) at Georgia (1-4) Oct. 9, 12:21, ESPN3

Here’s The Deal … Tennessee vs. Georgia … TENNESSEE vs. GEORGIA; it sounds like a really, really big, must-see game of the year. Of course, this year it’s just a matchup of two teams playing out the string in a showdown so big that you can find it streaming on a computer near you. The SEC East “showdown” is always compelling in one way or another, but the games themselves have been awful over the last few years with the last five all blowouts and six of the last seven decided by double digits. However, in a strange way, this might be the most interesting game between the two in close to a decade with all the current controversy each team dealt with this week. There was the hot mess of a finish at the end of the Tennessee-LSU game, which has been given more publicity for Les Miles’s time management skills than for UT’s choke job on substitutions (referee error or not). The Vols have only one two games this year, beating UT Martin and needing double overtime to get by UAB, but Georgia would love the problem of being 2-3 right now. Out of the SEC race with an 0-3 start, a bowl might be a pipe dream for the Dawgs with Vanderbilt and Idaho State the only reasonably sure-thing wins on the schedule. After a clunker of a loss to a mediocre Colorado team on the road, the Dawgs have to rebound now and pull off the win over a bad Tennessee squad, or the Fire Mark Richt bumper stickers will start flying around Athens.
Why Tennessee Might Win: So what’s Georgia’s problem? The passing game, even without A.J. Green, has actually been efficient, the defense has been decent, for the most part, and the kicking game has been fine. The issue is that the Dawgs aren’t doing any one thing particularly well, and they’re getting pushed around a bit too much for a team that’s supposed to be strong on both lines. Colorado ran wild, Arkansas and Ryan Mallett threw at will, and South Carolina and Mississippi State were balanced enough to keep the chains moving. The takeaways aren’t coming with just one fumble recovery on the year and two picks in the four losses. Tennessee, if it can establish the ground game right away, should be able to take control of the tempo. However …
Why Georgia Might Win: The Tennessee offensive line isn’t getting the job done. After looking great at times early on, the push hasn’t been there for Tauren Poole and the rushing attack, while QB Matt Simms has been a sitting duck far too often. The defensive line isn’t generating any pressure, so this has to be a second straight week when Aaron Murray and A.J. Green get to play pitch-and-catch all over the yards. With Green back in the mix, and after his brilliant, highlight-reel debut against the Buffs, Georgia has far more explosion and firepower, even if it hasn’t been unleashed yet. The Tennessee offensive line is giving up sacks in bunches, giving up a ridiculous 17 so far, which means it’s time for …
What To Watch Out For: … Justin Houston to start doing more of that sack thing he was supposed to be so famous for. After a strong 2009, he was put in a hybrid role on the outside and was turned loose to hit quarterbacks on a regular basis. He started out great with two sacks against South Carolina and ten tackles, and then he disappeared when needed the most in the loss to Arkansas. He came up with a sack against Colorado, and he has been active at being involved in the ground game, but his job is to be disruptive, and he needs to be doing more. If he can’t rock against this Volunteer line, it’ll be time to worry.
What Will Happen: Green has yet to come up with a touchdown catch in his two good, but not great performances against the Vols. He’ll be the target of the Tennessee defense right away, and everything else for the Dawg attack will open up. The Georgia defensive front will come up with its best game in weeks, Murray will be strong, and all will be right in the Athens world … for one week.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 27 … Tennessee 17 … Line: Georgia -11.5
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 3
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Arkansas (3-1) at Texas A&M (3-1) in Arlington Oct. 9, 3:30, ABC

Here’s The Deal … If you liked the Texas A&M – Oklahoma State 38-35 shootout last week, you should enjoy more of the same between the two former Southwest Conference rivals. Last year’s matchup was supposed to be a fun battle, too, but instead it was all Hogs in a 47-19 win with four touchdown passes from Ryan Mallett. Now, after losing last week to the Cowboys, A&M needs a win over a brand name team to 1) show that it’s good, and 2) be ready to gear up for yet another firefight with Missouri up next. The Aggies have one of the nation’s top offenses, and they outplayed OSU last Thursday night in Stillwater, but turnovers were a problem and a rough night from the offensive line didn’t help. Arkansas, with turnover problems of its own, has had two weeks off to sit and stew after blowing its chance against Alabama, and it needs to get back on track before diving back into SEC play at Auburn. Even after the loss to Bama, the Hogs earned a measure of national respect for the close call, and now they have to prove they’re the real deal, while also getting a suddenly-necessary big non-conference win for the struggling SEC.
Why Arkansas Might Win: The pass rush. A&M’s offensive line has whiffed way too much so far this year and hasn’t been able to keep Jerrod Johnson clean. The interception problems are partly on Johnson, but he has also been under a ton of pressure and has had to rush things trying to press at times. Arkansas has been fantastic all season long at getting into the backfield with six sacks against Georgia and three sacks in each of the other three games. The pressure helped force Bama’s unflappable Greg McElroy into three interceptions, and it’s asking a lot for Johnson to all of a sudden become a caretaker with the ball and not come up with at least two picks. On the other side, A&M, even with one of the nation’s best pass rushers in Von Miller (a banged up Von Miller) isn’t doing anything to pressure the passer with just six sacks so far. If you don’t get to Mallett, you get ripped apart.
Why Texas A&M Might Win: Arkansas isn’t forcing enough takeaways. Johnson isn’t above just handing over a few errors, but with only one recovered fumble and four interceptions, the Hogs aren’t doing enough to overcome the nine turnovers. However, A&M won the turnover battle last year and got blown away when Mallett got hot for a stretch. This year, the Aggies are even better equipped to keep up with a better receiving corps, a stronger running game, and a better offensive line than Arkansas. If the Aggies want to calm things down and try to control the clock with the ground game, they can. Arkansas can’t do that against a solid A&M run defense.
What To Watch Out For: It’s all about the quarterbacks. Johnson outbombed Mallett last year, and A&M lost in a blowout, so this might not necessarily be a case of the better quarterback winning. It might be more about the more efficient passer getting the W. Both quarterbacks are trying to make amends for meltdowns with Mallett throwing three picks against the Tide, including two late with the game on the line, but he has been phenomenal over the first part of the year with 300 yards or more in all four games and 400 against ULM. Johnson gave away four picks in each of the last two games, keeping FIU alive in a 27-20 Aggie win and dying against Oklahoma State in what should’ve been an A&M win. He has thrown for 300 yards or more in three of the four games and chucked for 409 yards and five scores against the Cowboys, and he’ll have to be even sharper to pull off the win.
What Will Happen: Expect over 800 yards of passing, lots of home runs, lots of momentum swings, and lots of fun. The Hogs will let A&M go up and down the field, but they’ll win the turnover battle and Mallett will be better than Johnson.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 41 … Texas A&M 31 … Line: Arkansas -6
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 4
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Eastern Michigan (0-5) at Vanderbilt (1-3) Oct. 9, 7:00, ESPNU

Here’s The Deal … It takes a special opponent to be a layup for Vanderbilt, and Eastern Michigan qualifies. The Eagles are on a 17-game losing streak, and while they’ve made some strides in some ways under second-year head man Ron English, the results haven’t been there. With three straight blowout losses, they’re looking for something positive as they kick off a run of three road games in a row and five in the next six. Vanderbilt has had a weird season with a stunning win at Ole Miss one week, and a total clunker against a bad UConn team the next. With SEC play kicking into high gear next week at Georgia, this is tune-up time and a chance to finally get an easy win … if everything goes to form.
Why Eastern Michigan Might Win: Vandy’s offense hasn’t shown up in years. The offensive line isn’t doing anything in pass protection, and the production simply isn’t there averaging fewer than 300 yards per game and doing nothing with the passing game. Larry Smith doesn’t get the ball down the field on a regular basis and has to rely on his legs and the ground game to get the offense moving. In a game between two offensively challenged teams, field position will be at a premium and EMU has an advantage in the punting game averaging 39.5 points per boot and Vandy averaging a pathetic 3.5 yards per punt return.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Smith will get ten days to work. The EMU defense is getting ripped apart mainly because there’s nothing happening up front with a line that came up with five sacks in the first five games and just 20 tackles for loss. While the Commodores don’t have any semblance of a downfield passing game, the EMU secondary can be torched with no pressure up front. The EMU offense isn’t miserable, but it isn’t going to put up more than three touchdowns; 28 Vandy points wins this easily.
What To Watch Out For: Warren Norman, let’s see what you can do. The sophomore has had to fight through injuries, but he’s still Vanderbilt’s most dangerous rushing threat tearing off 111 yards against Ole Miss and 68 against LSU. Held to just 27 yards on six carries, limited with a knee problem, if he’s even 80% he should be able to hit the 100-yard mark against the miserable Eagle D. For EMU, Dwayne Priest has been the offense starting out with 142 yards and two scores against Army and 117 last week against Army. At the very least, he has become a steady scorer with five touchdowns on the year with a touchdown in each of the last three games.
What Will Happen: Eastern Michigan will put some points on the board, but Vanderbilt will come up with its best performance of the year with the running game pounding away with close to 300 yards on the ground and one big pass play to break the game open.
CFN Prediction: Vanderbilt 38 … Eastern Michigan 17 … Line: Vanderbilt -26.5
Must See Rating: Britney on Glee -5 … Life As We Know It - 1 … 2
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- Oct. 9, Part 2 (LSU-Florida)