SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 3
Posted Sep 13, 2006

Now the fun really begins as (arguably) the two biggest SEC games of the year happen on the same day with Florida squaring off against Tennessee while LSU faces Brandon Cox and Auburn.

East  Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
- Part SEC Predictions: Week One | Week Two

How are the picks so far? SU: 19-1 ... ATS: 9-8-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Three, Part 2

SEC Game of the Week

LSU (2-0) at Auburn (2-0) 3:30 pm EST CBS Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: It's not an overstatement to suggest that this might be for the SEC West, SEC, and national championship. These teams are that good, and this game is that big. These two played one of the best games in a 2005 season full of classics with LSU coming out on top 20-17 in overtime, and nothing less than another brilliant battle is expected. Unlike other top teams across the country, these two come in hitting on all cylinders with LSU beating UL Lafayette 45-3 before annihilating Arizona by the same score in what was fashionably being called a possible upset special.  Auburn blasted a better-than-you-think Washington State squad 40-14 and showed off all the weapons in a 34-0 SEC opener against Mississippi State. While this is as big as it gets for both teams, it's far more important for LSU with road tips to Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas still to deal with. It's not exactly smooth sailing for Auburn the rest of the way if it wins, but the toughest games left are at home against Florida and Georgia. The two tough road games are at South Carolina and Alabama, and both are very winnable for a team this good.
Why LSU might win: Auburn terrorized quarterbacks over the first two games with a fearsome pass rush that blew up the Cougar and Bulldog offenses. With nine sacks in two games, the Tigers haven't have been able to do whatever it's wanted to defensively because of all the pressure. The LSU offensive line might not be the dominant force it was last year, but it's still plenty good and has the talent to keep QB JaMarcus Russell clean. Russell has been fantastic over the first two games because he's had three days to throw, so if he gets a little bit of time, he'll be deadly.
Why Auburn might win: Will LSU be able to run the ball? It used a bevy of backs to crank out 231 yards on the ground with three touchdowns against Arizona, but the key runners, Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent, are still looking like players trying to get healthy. Jacob Hester and Charles Scott have been good, but to beat Auburn, the entire backfield will have to be great. Last year Joseph Addai helped carry the LSU offense to the win and Russell had a mediocre game. If the offense can take away the LSU ground game and Russell isn't on, it could be a long night for the Tiger attack. On the other side of the ball, the LSU defense will look to stop RB Kenny Irons, who ran 27 times for 218 yards and a touchdown in last year's game. This year, the Auburn offense is far better equipped to put points on the board if Irons is taken out of the gameplan.
Who to watch: Auburn senior PK John Vaughn had an excellent 2005 season connecting on 11 of 14 field goals in 11 of the team's games, but against LSU, he
missed five field goals with his final attempt bouncing off the left upright in overtime to give the other Tigers the win. To be fair, he missed a couple of bombs, but his rough day cost Auburn the win and the West title. He's had to hear about that game every day since last October 22nd, and he'll be the focus of all the media attention because of the previous heartbreak. In a game that should be as tight as last year's classic, he'll likely have a chance to exorcise his demons. On the other side, sophomore PK Colt David has hit all 12 of his extra points and hit his one field goal attempt, but he's still untested and will have to prove he can handle the pressure.
What will happen: The Tigers will win.
CFN Prediction
Auburn 23 ... LSU 17 ... Line: Auburn -3.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 5 

Arkansas (1-1) at Vanderbilt (0-2) 12:30 pm EST GamePlan Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: Arkansas got over the 50-14 bombing by USC to slog its way through a 20-0 win over Utah State. Now it kicks off its SEC schedule with its first trip to Vanderbilt since 1995 to face a Commodore team that didn't show any offense over the first two games against Michigan and Alabama. The Hogs desperately need this win with Alabama and Auburn ahead, and they need a sharper performance out of star prospect QB Mitch Mustain. Vandy sophomore QB Chris Nickson might not have Mustain's talent or upside, but he's a promising young player who should grow into the job over the next several games. These two will be the quarterbacks of their respective teams for a long time and should be worth the price of admission.
Why Arkansas might win: While Vandy did a decent job against Alabama's running game last week holding it to 134 yards, it got plowed over by Mike Hart and Michigan for 240 yards and a score. With Mustain under center, the Hogs will be running as much as possible and should limit the number of big throws the star freshman will have to make. With RB Darren McFadden back after playing a limited role against USC, Arkansas should run for 200 without breathing hard.
Why Vanderbilt might win: What happens when you play a true freshman under center and have other young players all over the place on offense? You have lots and lots of mistakes. The offense only lost one turnover last week against Utah State, but it gave it away five times against USC, mostly thanks to RB Felix Jones. On the road, the Hogs might be prone to make a few more mistakes and should give the struggling Commodore offense a few short fields to work with.
Who to watch: Two of the nation's best and most productive defenders will be on display. Vanderbilt junior LB Jonathan Goff is coming off a 13-tackle games against Alabama and is currently the SEC's leading tackler with 27 stops to go along with two forced fumbles. Considering Arkansas will run the ball, and then run it some more, he should be a near lock for at least 12 tackles. Arkansas senior LB Sam Olajubutu might be a bit undersized, but he plays huge against the run and has the speed to fly all over the field. The leader of the Hog D has 21 tackles in the first two games with 11 coming last week against Utah State. It's not far-fetched to think that these two will join Patrick Willis of Ole Miss as first team All-SEC selections.
What will happen: It's not going to be a thing of beauty. Mustain is still trying to navigate his way through the D-I world, and Vandy's offense is currently 114th in the nation averaging just over 200 yards per game. The Commodore D won't be able to handle the pounding.
CFN Prediction
Arkansas 20 ... Vanderbilt 13 ... Line: Arkansas -6
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2 

UAB (1-1) at Georgia (2-0) 1 pm EST  Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: This might be a tougher test for Georgia than originally thought. In what's supposed to be a rebuilding year, UAB has been solid so far with an excellent performance in the 24-17 loss to Oklahoma followed up by a Conference USA season opening win over East Carolina. The Blazers are all about the Bulldogs over the next two weeks hosting Mississippi State after this tussle in Athens. Georgia has been fine, but nothing special in a blowout over Western Kentucky and a surprisingly easy 18-0 win over South Carolina. With Colorado in the midst of a disastrous season, the game against Tennessee on October 7th should be the only real challenge until the Cocktail Party showdown with Florida in six weeks, but UAB should be more than a pushover.
Why UAB might win: The Georgia offense hasn't quite taken flight yet. Part of that is because of a shaky quarterback situation with star freshman Matthew Stafford being thrown to the wolves in play of an injured Joe Tereshinski last week, and part of it is due to a slightly underperforming running game. This isn't an offense that'll throw 40 points on the board against a D-I team without help, so UAB should stick around for a while if it can hang on to the ball. After two games, the Blazers are 11th in the nation in turnover margin.
Why Georgia might win: If Stafford and crew were ever going to get things going, this would be the game. UAB hasn't done much against the pass so far giving up 227 yards to Paul Thompson and the mediocre Oklahoma air attack and 280 yards to East Carolina. The defensive line isn't generating any pressure, so Stafford should have plenty of time to work. 
Who to watch: And the UAB quarterback this week will be ... Sam Hunt? The Middle Tennessee transfer has been decent, but nothing special during his time completing 14 of 22 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown and was replaced last week by senior Chris Williams. Williams came off the bench last week to throw two touchdown passes to beat East Carolina, but Hunt, the more mobile of the two, will start this week. Both of them will see time against the Dawgs. With the Blazer running game not doing too much, whichever quarterback is under center will need to get the passing game moving.
What will happen: Georgia will win because of its defense and special teams. Expect one big pass play from Stafford to break open a close game in the third quarter.
CFN Prediction
Georgia 30 ... UAB 13 ... Line: Georgia -17.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ... 2.5

Ole Miss (1-1) at Kentucky (1-1) 6 pm EST Saturday, September 16th
Why to watch: With the meat of the SEC season ahead for both teams, barring an unexpected turn of events, this is probably a must-win for any and all hopes of a bowl bid for both teams. Ole Miss saw its promising start come to a crashing thud with a 34-7 loss at Missouri that showed just how far the program needs to go before it can contend for anything big. Kentucky got up off the mat after the 59-28 embarrassment at Louisville to thump poor Texas State 41-7. With a trip to Florida next week, the Wildcats can't afford to give away a winnable home game. Ole Miss gets a three-game homestand after this and would love to get back to Oxford on a high note.
Why Ole Miss might win: Kentucky's still a bit of an unknown even after two games. The defense has to prove it can stop a decent running game, which it wasn't close to doing against Louisville, and Ole Miss will try to run, run, and run some more with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis and QB Brent Schaeffer. Can UK handle Schaeffer's mobility? Probably not. UK's strength is getting into the backfield, but that's negated by Schaeffer.
Why Kentucky might win: The Ole Miss pass defense has been non-existent. It's not like Memphis and Missouri are Texas Tech and Hawaii, but they were able to throw at will on the porous Rebel secondary combining for 478 yards and four touchdowns. Kentucky might have major issues on both sides of the ball, but it can throw the long ball. QB Andre Woodson should have a field day.
Who to watch: In a game as even as this should be, field position will mean everything. Each team has a good punt returner who'll have to be gameplanned for. Ole Miss freshman WR Marshay Green has only returned two punts, but he has been effective taking one 37 yards and against Memphis and 11 yards against Missouri. He's also starting to grow into a decent receiver catching four balls for 49 yards and a score last week. UK's Rafael Little is one of the SEC's best all-around players, and he has picked up where he left off last year on returns averaging 24.6 yards per try last week. He hasn't been used enough on offense, but that will quickly change.
What will happen: The flash of the Kentucky passing game will turn out to be too much for the plodding Ole Miss offense to overcome. If the Rebels find any semblance of a passing game, they'll win. They won't.
CFN Prediction
Kentucky 27 ... Ole Miss 23 ... Line: Kentucky -3.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Dancing with the Stars) ...

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Three, Part 2