2010 SEC Fearless Picks - Oct 23, LSU-Auburn
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
Posted Oct 21, 2010

Both Auburn and LSU are deep in the hunt for the national title, whether the BCS rankings know it or not. Can Jordan Jefferson and the Tiger offense do enough to overcome the other Tiger attack? It's the SEC game of the year ... so far. Check out the CFN Fearless Predictions for every Oct. 23 SEC game.

2010 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 8 ... Oct. 23 Games

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

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- Oct. 23, Part 2 (Bama-Tennessee) 

CFN SEC Predictions: SU: 47-8   ATS: 19-31


LSU (7-0) at Auburn (7-0) Oct. 23, 3:30, CBS

Here's The Deal … Has either Tiger team looked like a possible national champion? LSU generates more headlines for allegedly bumbling into wins, while Auburn's defense can't seem to slow down any offense that fields 11 players. Both stereotypes are wrong, but not without some grain of truth, and it's almost like no one wants to embrace either team because each has the big Alabama matzo ball hanging out there, but yes, really, this is a tremendous SEC battle between two teams that are deeper in the national title chase than you might think.

Yeah, fine, so LSU was outbonered by Tennessee and was fortunate to beat a bad Vols team, and the close call against Florida doesn't look so hot now after Mississippi State went into Gainesville and stopped the Gator offense cold, but the Tigers don't have to apologize in any way for being 7-0. West Virginia is going to win the Big East, North Carolina is solid, the 29-7 Mississippi State win has been glossed over, and yes, winning at Florida is always a positive. Lost in all the outside noise is that LSU has the SEC's best defense, the special teams are among the league's best, and the running game is rocking. The woeful passing game is starting to spark up a bit, and if the right combination really has been found with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson tagging off, LSU might be hitting its stride at just the right time with Alabama coming up next after a two week layoff.

Auburn's offense has been phenomenal, leading the SEC in yards, rushing, and scoring, while the passing game is second in the nation in passing efficiency. The defense can't seem to stop anyone's passing game, getting ripped apart by an Arkansas backup, a South Carolina backup, and allowing 266 yards per game. Fortunately, LSU can't throw, Ole Miss isn't dangerous through the air, and Georgia's passing attack is spotty, so if these Tigers can get past the other ones, 11-0 will be coming up fast in the rearview mirror before getting two weeks off before the regular-season finale at Alabama.

LSU has won three straight games in the series, four of the last five, and five of the last seven, and the last two Auburn wins were by a combined score of 17-12.

Why LSU Might Win: Auburn was able to rumble through a strong South Carolina run defense that stopped Alabama, and Mississippi State's run D is solid, but Auburn hasn't faced anything like it's about to deal with. The LSU run defense has allowed more than 100 yards just twice, giving up 152 to Mississippi State and 101 last week against McNeese State. Mobile quarterbacks like Mississippi State's Chris Relf (46 yards) and Florida backup Trey Burton (35 yards) have had minimal success with Drake Nevis and a Tiger defensive front playing at a national title level, and the linebacking corps as fast and swarming as any the program has had in the last decade. Auburn QB Cam Newton might be able to get through the line, but his big runs should be kept to a bare minimum against the speed and athleticism of the LSU back seven. On the other side of the ball, yes, Auburn is 15th in the nation against the run, and it's strong up front, but the stats are a wee bit misleading since Mississippi State is the only team on the slate so far in the top 50 in the nation running the ball, but …
Why Auburn Might Win: … the run defense really is great. Most of the time, opposing offenses have bombed away through the air to try to keep up the pace with the tremendous Auburn attack, but South Carolina's ground game was stuffed with Marcus Lattimore gaining just 33 yards on 14 carries, Kentucky's Derrick Locke was held to 31 yards on five carries, and Mississippi State was stuffed for just 117 yards. Auburn's biggest weakness so far, the pass defense that lost safety Aairon Savage for the year with yet another leg injury, isn't going to be exposed by an LSU passing game that showed signs of life in an impressively clutch performance against Florida, but doesn't have the ability to crank out the yards needed to mount any sort of a comeback. If Auburn gets up early and LSU has to scramble, it'll be hard to close the gap. Auburn can throw to rally against LSU if needed, but LSU can't throw to come back on Auburn.
What To Watch Out For: Cam Newton, this is your Heisman for the taking. If you come up with a big performance this week with the whole world watching, you'll be the front-runner up until the Alabama game. Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez have politely excused themselves from the race, Mark Ingram has yet to show up in it, and LaMichael James and Kellen Moore, while worthy, will have to overcome the Toby Gerhart time zone issue. Newton is the main man for college football's top spot with four games with 171 rushing yards or more while ranking second in the nation in passing efficiency. However, he has thrown just one touchdown pass with an interception in his last two games, and he's shouldering more and more of the workload getting 25 carries or more in three of the last four games. He's not going to run for 188 yards and three touchdowns like he did against Arkansas, but as long as he's good and Auburn gets the win, he'll be the signature star of the season so far.
What Will Happen: LSU is better than you think it is. The defense will bottle up Newton and the offense will run well getting up early, and then the passing game will kick in. The LSU quarterbacks will throw three key interceptions and Auburn will take advantage of every mistake. Wes Byrum will put Auburn up on a late field goal, and LSU's final, thrilling drive will fizzle.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 23 … LSU 20 … Line: Auburn -6
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … 5
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Ole Miss (3-3) at Arkansas (4-2) Oct. 23, 12:30, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … After extremely disappointing losses to Alabama and Auburn in the last two weeks, Arkansas has to take advantage of the next month with three home games in the next four in a desperate hope to get into the hunt for a top SEC bowl bid. Winning the West will be next to impossible now with the two losses to division foes, but the season is hardly a waste. This is a good, entertaining team that could be good enough run the table with the right breaks. Meanwhile, Ole Miss is trying to jump-start its season. Inconsistent, the rebels looked terrific in wins over Fresno State and Kentucky, and they weren't awful in last week's 23-10 loss to Alabama, but the Vanderbilt and Jacksonville State losses are still haunting, and with Auburn coming up next and a trip to LSU still to deal with, it might be a fight just to get a bowl bid. There's talent and athleticism on both sides of the ball, and the combination is just good enough to potentially come up with a huge upset that would turn the year around. If the offense shows up, Ole Miss will put up a terrific fight.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Pressure. The secondary hasn't been any good and the pass defense has given up way too many yards and big plays, but the defensive front will get in the Arkansas backfield and get consistent pressure on Ryan Mallett. The Arkansas offense line has been fine, but it hasn't been special and it hasn't done much of anything for a running game that ranks last in the SEC averaging just 114 yards per game. Mallett hasn't been great when he gets hit, and he's still trying to recover from a concussion that knocked him out of the Auburn game. To have any chance against the Hog passing game, the Rebels will have to sell out to put Mallett on his back to force a few misfires. Arkansas is 102nd in the nation in turnover margin, and Ole Miss needs to be at least +2 to keep up the pace. Getting help from the special teams would be nice. Jesse Grandy has only returned five punts so far, but Ole Miss is third in the nation in punt returns averaging 21.4 yards per try.
Why Arkansas Might Win: Even though Ole Miss has been great at getting to the quarterback, the pass defense really has been awful. Mallett might struggle if he's getting planted, but he'll get more than his share of big plays in against a secondary that gave up 390 yards to Fresno State, 300 yards to Kentucky, and allowed Greg McElroy to complete 17-of-25 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns last week. Yes, Arkansas is having a hard time in turnover margin, giving away nine picks and five fumbles, but Ole Miss has picked off a grand total of one pass. One. New Mexico State is the only other team to not have two interceptions. Mallett will get hit, but when he's not on his back, he'll be connecting on really, really big plays. On the defensive side, the Arkansas defensive front has been tremendous at getting into the backfield, and if you can get to Jeremiah Masoli before he gets started, you can stop the Ole Miss offense cold.
What To Watch Out For: Mallett left the Auburn game when his head bounced off the turf, but he has been cleared to play this week and appears to be close to 100%. Reportedly, it wasn't the Tebow-like devastating concussion, and it wasn't the foggy Jay Cutler-vs.-Giants-type, either. As long as he's fine and playing, he needs to make amends for one of his worst performances of last year completing 12-of-34 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown in the 30-17 loss. To get to Mallett, the Ole Miss defense has to keep bringing the pressure from all sides. With star end Kentrell Lockett lost for the year weeks ago, the Rebels are getting a boost from linebacker D.T. Shackelford is growing into his top-billing as a star recruit making 23 tackles and three sacks. Fellow linebacker Jonathan Cornell leads the team in tackles and also has cranked out three sacks, growing into fringe All-SEC performer.
What Will Happen: Auburn might have ripped through the Arkansas defense last week, but the Hogs are better than that. The Rebel running game will sputter a bit and Arkansas will get up early and coast in the second half. Ole Miss won't be able to rally back with the passing game.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 38 … Ole Miss 20 … Line: Arkansas -10
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … 3
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South Carolina (4-2) at Vanderbilt (2-4) Oct. 23, 7:00, ESPN3

Here's The Deal … You just KNEW South Carolina was going to do this. The Gamecocks were so good in beating Alabama, and they were so good in the first half against Kentucky, and then they were just so … so … so South Carolina. The SEC East appeared to be a done deal after the win over the Tide, and now at 2-2 with tough games against Arkansas and Florida still to deal with, there's no margin for error with layups against Vanderbilt and Tennessee ahead. However, the Gamecocks are battered and beaten up, and Vandy has to take advantage. As insane as this might seem, if the Commodores can be deep in the hunt for the SEC East title if they can beat the Gamecocks, but coming off a 43-0 thumping from Georgia, they're not looking like the team that whacked Ole Miss and blew away Eastern Michigan. It took a fight for USC to put away Vanderbilt last year in a 14-10 win, and it lost in the previous two meetings.
Why South Carolina Might Win: The Vanderbilt offense has been inconsistent at best this year, pathetic at worst, and it was a complete and utter disaster against Georgia last week running for just 58 yards and throwing for 82 as the offensive line got blown up by the Bulldog defensive front seven. Even with a few good performances thrown into the overall mix, Vandy is still averaging just 315 yards per game and its offense isn't going to go anywhere on a South Carolina defense that's giving up a mere 100 yards per outing. The Gamecock secondary can be torched by anyone who can throw the ball overhand, but the jury is still out on whether or not the Vandy quarterbacks have mastered that yet. The South Carolina defensive front is way too active for Larry Smith to be able to do much on the move.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Will South Carolina abandon the running game with Marcus Lattimore hurt? Brian Maddox is a decent prospect, but with the star of the show banged up with an ankle injury suffered against Kentucky, and the team going into the tank last week once he was knocked out, it might be bombs away. That could be a good thing for a Vanderbilt team that hasn't been bad in the secondary and has its biggest issues against good running teams. South Carolina might try to establish the ground game early with a few different options, but there's no one the level at Lattimore. Vandy doesn't generate a ton of sacks, but it gets behind the line and it should come up with a few negative plays to stall some key drives.
What To Watch Out For: As if the South Carolina running game didn't have enough to worry about with Lattimore hurt, the Vanderbilt defense should get back a key cog up front with defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone expected to return from an ankle problem that kept him down for a few games. He might not be going full tilt, but he'll be a part of the rotation and should be a factor. Also back in the mix is the team's top defensive player, LB Chris Marve, who missed the Eastern Michigan game with a knee injury and returned to play in a limited role against Georgia making three tackles. With a game under his belt, he needs to be back to his pre-injury form to match the seven-tackle performance of last year's game.
What Will Happen: South Carolina's defense will overcome a sluggish performance from the offense. The Gamecock running game will fizzle, and Stephen Garcia will make his typical two lunkhead throws to kill some key drives, but the Vandy O won't go anywhere.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 26 … Vanderbilt 10 … Line: South Carolina -12
Must See Rating: Due Date – 5 … Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue -1 … 2
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- Oct. 23, Part 2 (Bama-Tennessee)