SEC Fearless Predictions , Week 4
Posted Sep 20, 2006

SEC Week Four Fearless Predictions, Previews and Analysis

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

How are the picks so far? SU: 26-2 ... ATS: 11-13-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2

SEC Game of the Week

Alabama (3-0) at Arkansas (2-1) 3:30 pm EST CBS Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: In the SEC West, there's Auburn and LSU at one level, Ole Miss and Mississippi State at the bottom level and in the middle are Alabama and Arkansas. While one of the two could potentially move up into the penthouse of the division, that won't happen without a win in this game in what could effectively turn out to be an elimination game in the SEC title race. Alabama is still the X factor team in the mix. The defense is a bit worse than last year's killer, the offense is a bit better, and there's just enough talent on both sides of the ball to make a great run with LSU and Auburn to close out the season. Even with a road date at Florida next week and a trip to Tennessee down the road, 8-2, or even 9-1, is possible going into the showdowns with the West big boys. Arkansas is going through the growing pains of playing freshman QB Mitch Mustain, but the team has had bigger issues over the first three games. Each team is 1-0 in conference play with tight wins over Vanderbilt. Now the season begins.
Why Alabama might win: Arkansas has been stunningly awful against the run allowing 240 yards to Vanderbilt last week. The defense is making way too many plays five yards down the field and has yet to force a turnover. The Hogs aren't likely to get any big mistakes out of a frugal Tide offense, and they should have problems with a running game that's just starting to find its stride after a big day against UL Monroe. Ken Darby was dinged up early, but he's been fine when he gets a little bit of room to move. He's the best back Arkansas has faced yet and should have a big day. 
Why Arkansas might win: Mustain should get five days to throw against a Tide front four that's not doing much to get into the backfield with a mere three sacks in three games. Yeah, the Bama run defense has great stats, but it hasn't faced anyone who could run, Vandy's performance against Arkansas notwithstanding. The Hog backfield is a completely different animal and should be able to tear off 200 yards and keep even more of the pressure off Mustain.
Who to watch: Lost in all the hubbub over Mustain, Georgia's Matthew Stafford, Florida's Chris Leak, and LSU"s JaMarcus Russell has been a very quiet, very steady start for Alabama QB John Parker Wilson. He has shown a little more mobility than former Tide star Brodie Croyle, and he's doing a great job of not making mistakes with only one interceptions while completing close to 60% of his passes and throwing for over 200 yards in each of the first three games. Don't be shocked if he turns out to be the better quarterback in this game.
What will happen
: The two running games will flatten the other's defense. Arkansas will turn it over three times, Alabama won't turn it over at all.
CFN Prediction
: Alabama 13 ... Arkansas 10
... Line: Arkansas -2
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 3.5 

(0-3) at Georgia (3-0) 12:30 pm EST GamePlan Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: This appeared to be a good idea at the time. Who could've possibly imagined that Colorado would come into this game on a seven game losing streak with one of the nation's most inept offenses? Wasn't Dan Hawkins supposed to take a Big 12 North champion and make it blow up? Give Hawkins time and this program should be fantastic, but it's dying a painful death this season with no hope in sight. Georgia hasn't been anything special on offense, but the defense has been out of this world allowing just 12 points on the year and going more than two games without allowing a score. This tune up against the Buffs, and next weeks against Ole Miss, should have the Dawgs battle ready for Tennessee. But first, there's the formality of dealing with CU.
Why Colorado might win: Georgia's offense hasn't exactly rocked anyone's world. The special teams have been unbelievable, and the defense is playing at a national title level. However, the attack is still trying to find some sort of a groove, treading water while freshman QB Matthew Stafford gets more experienced. Lost in the horrific start for Colorado has been a solid performance by its defense, especially against the run. The front line has generated tremendous pressure so far, and it should be able to get to Stafford a few times. If the offense can do anything to capitalize on mistakes, this might not be a blowout.
Why Georgia might win: The Colorado offense simply isn't working. It ranks 115th in the nation in total offense averaging 194 yards per game, 115th in passing, and 114th in scoring with only two touchdowns so far this season. The Georgia defense has been eating opposing running games alive, which means CU and Bernard Jackson will have to try to win, or at least try to move the ball through the air.
Who to watch: The kickers. As crazy as this might sound, Colorado's Mason Crosby and Georgia's Brandon Coutu might be the two best pro prospects in this game, and they're certainly among the two best kickers in America. Coutu has been automatic so far hitting all seven of his field goal attempts and, for his career, nailing 59 of 59 extra points. While he has one of the strongest legs in college football, he doesn't quite have the range of Crosby. However, he's more accurate. Crosby has only hit three of six shots so far, but his range goes out to the parking lot.
What will happen: Colorado's offense is too inept to win this game, but the defense will keep it from being embarrassing.
CFN Prediction
: Georgia 26 ... Colorado 6
... Line: Georgia -26.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 2.5 

Buffalo (1-2) at Auburn (3-0) 2:30 pm EST Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to watch: Ahhhh, the breather. Auburn escaped a controversial 7-3 win over LSU in a defensive classic to take the lead role in the SEC race and be in the mix for the national title. Before the Tigers venture out to South Carolina to continue their conference slate, they get a Buffalo team that's been far more competitive under new head coach Turner Gill than it was on previous seasons. The Bulls got blasted 31-13 by Northern Illinois last week, but pushed Bowling Green the week before in a three overtime loss and beat Temple. They can afford to get a little beaten up with two weeks off before the home date with Ball State.
Why Buffalo might win: The only possible shot the Bulls have of keeping this from being a laugher is if Auburn has completely ignored this game after last year's classic. The score might stay low with the Auburn starters certain to be pulled early. Buffalo might not be playing that well on either side of the ball, but its special teams have been fantastic with a great return game and good early performances from the kickers. UB might have a field position edge, and it should be able to conjure up a few field goals.
Why Auburn might win: Dress up in an Auburn uniform and you could probably tear off six yards a crack against the UB D. Buffalo held the pitiful Temple running game to 80 yards, but gave up 356 and four touchdowns to Bowling Green and 344 and three score to Northern Illinois. Kenny Irons might have 100 yards by the end of the first quarter. The Buffalo D line isn't strong enough to hold up for more than a few drives, while the offensive line has no hope of protecting QB Drew Willy.
Who to watch: Auburn's Brandon Cox has been great, and soon he has to take his game to another level. It helps to have Irons to hand off to, but now the junior quarterback has to start making more big plays happen and has to do more than just limit his mistakes. Now he has to use this game, and the half he'll probably play, to take more shots down the field like he did against Mississippi State. Expect a few bombs against a secondary that'll be cheating up to stop the run.
What will happen
: Auburn will have this in the bag by halftime, but won't obliterate the Bulls. UB's starters will go a full four, while Auburn's might play a half.
CFN Prediction
: Auburn 45 ... Buffalo 6
... Line: Auburn -42.5
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 1.5 

Marshall (1-2) at Tennessee (2-1), 4:00 EST, Saturday, September 23
Why to watch: After an emotional one-point loss to Florida last weekend, Tennessee must now try to get up for a Marshall team that’s been miserable in its two games against I-A opponents.  In last week’s 23-7 loss to Kansas State, the Herd couldn’t protect Bernie Morris or make plays on third down, and generally had no rhythm offensively.  They’ve got one more chance to straighten things out before UCF visits a week from Wednesday in the Conference USA opener.  Even though they led by 10 in the second half and only lost by a point, the Volunteers didn’t bring their “A” game Saturday night, which means they’ll be forced to play catch up in the SEC East the rest of the way.  Marshall represents a chance to get back to the basics, especially with a running game that’s sorely missing injured Arian Foster.
Why Marshall might win: Marshall’s need to kick-start its own running game will come to fruition this week versus a Volunteer defense that’s 87th nationally against the run and will be playing its first game without chief run-stuffer Justin Harrell.  Even with a tweaked right ankle, star back Ahmad Bradshaw will assume a more prominent role in the Herd offense at Neyland Stadium.  Tennessee was a successful two-point conversion away from getting upset by Air Force two weeks ago, so the Vols are not above laying an egg against an inferior opponent.
Why Tennessee might win: Marshall wilted in the face of Kansas State’s speed in Manhattan.  Tennessee is faster.  Erik Ainge and the nation’s 13th-ranked passing attack will get little resistance from a Marshall defense that’s only picked off one pass in 2006 and is allowing 232 yards a game through the air.  Hofstra aside, the Herd is averaging eight points a game, which won’t get it done against this caliber of opponent.
Who to watch: In just three games, Robert Meachem and Jayson Swain have addressed Tennessee’s pre-season jitters about its receivers with 31 catches and six touchdowns combined.  Both can stretch the field with their speed, which is going to be a major headache for Marshall’s pedestrian corners.
What will happen: Tennessee might have been vulnerable here if Marshall wasn’t such a mess.  Montario Hardesty will ignite the running game and Ainge will continue his drive toward comeback player of the year with two more touchdown passes.
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 35 … Marshall 13 ... Line: Tennessee -22.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ...

Wake Forest (3-0) at Ole Miss (1-2) 6 pm EST Saturday, Sept. 23
Why to Watch: Repeat after me, undefeated Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  Of all the teams that projected to be undefeated at this point in the season in the ACC, Wake Forest was probably, along with Duke, the least likely team to have a zero in the loss column.  This is the team’s toughest test so far as it goes on the road to tangle with an Ole Miss team that has been throttled the last two weeks at Missouri in a 34-7 loss and at Kentucky in a 31-14 shocker.  Although the Reels haven't played exceptionally well on the road, in Oxford, they should be a different team. At least, Ole Miss fans hope for that to be the case before dealing with Georgia next week. If there's any hope of going to a bowl game, this has to be a win. Wake Forest gets Liberty up next, so there's an honest chance of being 5-0 before facing Clemson.
Why Wake Forest Might Win:  When QB Ben Mauk left the Syracuse game with an injury, the season appeared ready to go into the tank, but QB Riley Skinner has been more than solid in his stead.  The offense has been average, but the Wake defense, especially against the run, has carried the team through the first three games holding opponents to 93 yards rushing per game wile keeping a strong Connecticut ground game to less than three yards per carry.  Stopping the run in this game becomes vital since it’ll force Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer to have to throw effectively and efficiently to win the game.  That’s a bet Wake Forest will take at this point against the 110th ranked passing offense in the nation.
Why Ole Miss Might Win:  Although Skinner has been effective replacing Mauk, the Deacon running game has only averaged 134 yards per game, well below typical Deacon output.  The Rebels, on the other hand, have been piling up a ton of rushing yards with Schaeffer and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, averaging 172 yards per game.  If they can hang on to the football, Wake’s defense may not be able to get them off the field – four lost fumbles at Kentucky helped sealed their demise in that loss.
Who to Watch:  Can the Wake Forest attack keep rolling without Micah Andrews? The star tailback suffered a torn ACL against UConn and might be out for the year. It'll now be up to De'Angelo Bryant, who'll be productive if he doesn't have a problem with a banged up shoulder.  Wake Forest safeties Patrick Ghee and Josh Gattis are instrumental this week, as it pertains to their run defense responsibilities.  The Wake defensive front will need strong safety support to hold Green-Ellis and Schaeffer in check throughout the game.
What Will Happen:  The Rebels should take better care of the ball this week and will be on the field for 35+ minutes, but Wake Forest linebacker Jon Abbate and his mates are playing way too well right now. The Demon Deacon offense will capitalize on two big turnovers and come away with the big road win.
CFN Prediction: Wake Forest 27 ... Ole Miss 23 ... Line: Ole Miss -3
Must See Rating:
(5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency) ... 2.5 

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2