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SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 6

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 3, 2006


It's shakeout time in the SEC with Tennessee going to Georgia, Arkansas at Auburn and LSU battling Florida in the big national game of the weekend. Check back over the next two days for all the Fearless Predictions on Every Game.


SEC
East  Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
- Part SEC Predictions: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

How are the picks so far? SU: 41-4 ... ATS: 23-17-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 6, Part 2
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SEC Game of the Week

LSU (4-1) at Florida (5-0) 3:30 PM EST CBS Saturday October 7th
Why to Watch: Now we get to see just how good these two teams really are. Florida's win at Tennessee was obviously tremendous and the home victory over Alabama wasn't without its charm, but the next three games will show if Urban Meyer's team is just a contender for the SEC title or if it's worthy of being the lead dog in the national title chase. No offense to Ohio State, but the Gators have to be ranked number one, at least based on who deserves the top spot, if they can beat LSU, win at Auburn, and then beat Georgia. LSU is still a mystery team. Oh sure, it  looked great blowing the doors off UL Lafayette, Arizona, Tulane and Mississippi State, but those teams aren't going to exactly challenge for the BCS. The only road game so far, and the only game against anyone with any talent, was at Auburn in a controversial 7-3 loss. A win in Gainesville won't erase that, but it would mean LSU has to be considered in the mix again for the SEC title, and maybe more.
Why LSU Might Win: The Tiger defense is the real deal proving to be a rock against the pass thanks to an aggressive, fearsome pass rush that'll generate consistent pressure on Gator QB Chris Leak. Florida, likely without top RB DeShawn Wynn thanks to a sprained knee that knocked him out of the Alabama game, won't be running it much. Kestahn Moore and backup QB Tim Tebow might get a decent run here and there, but forget about consistently pounding the ball on the Tiger defensive front. Now, Florida might have to be a pure passing team which fits right into LSU's hands.
Why Florida Might Win: Talk about no running game, LSU's is mediocre. Oh sure, it did a great job against Arizona and wasn't bad against Tulane, and there have been 14 touchdowns on the ground so far, but against Auburn, the one, true measuring stick for LSU, there were only 42 yards. Florida's secondary might be getting it done with smoke and mirrors, but it's an opportunistic group that's only allowed three touchdowns so far with eight interceptions including two picks of Tennessee's Erik Ainge. This group will bend, but it doesn't break.
Who to Watch: Put the kids to bed; this game is for the adults. All the SEC quarterback talk this year has been about star freshmen Mitch Mustain at Arkansas, Matthew Stafford at Georgia, and Tebow, but this game will be all about veterans JaMarcus Russell of LSU and Leak. Russell has been nothing short of terrific ranking second in the nation in passing efficiency with ten touchdown passes and only one interception while completing 70% of his passes, while Leak, despite having to look over his shoulder waiting for Tebow to come in and provide a spark, has been magnificent completing 65% of his throws with 14 touchdown passes tossing at least two in every game. Considering the woes of both running games, the quarterback that plays better will win the game.
What Will Happen: If you enjoy defenses, this will be for you. Florida's issues in the secondary will finally be exposed with Russell coming up with his sharpest game of the year.
CFN Prediction
: LSU 16 ... Florida 13 ... Line: Florida -1.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ... 5
 

Arkansas (3-1) at Auburn (5-0) 12 PM EST Saturday October 7th
Why to Watch: If Arkansas wants to step up to the big boy table, this is the game it has to have. With two weeks off after the double-overtime missed kick fest over Alabama, the Hogs are rested and ready for their toughest test since getting whacked by USC in the season opener. The team isn't playing particularly well, but it's 2-0 in SEC play and 3-1 overall with a shot to go on a huge run if they can come up with the huge upset with SE Missouri State, Ole, Miss and UL Monroe ahead. The Tigers are generally acknowledged as having one of the three best teams in America, but they could use a big game after struggling a little too much to put away South Carolina in a 24-17 win last Thursday night. With Florida ahead next week, there can't be a slip here.
Why Arkansas Might Win: South Carolina showed last week that the Auburn defense can be penetrated with short, quick passes and a calm, cool passer. While Arkansas doesn't have that, at least not yet, it does have something Auburn hasn't seen yet: a running game. LSU and South Carolina aren't moving the ball particularly well on the ground, and Washington State is all about throwing the ball. The Hogs will try to pound away on the smallish Tiger D and hope to keep things close into the fourth quarter. QB Mitch Mustain hasn't been sharp so far, but he should get a little bit of time behind a line that's doing a decent job in pass protection against the fearsome Auburn pass rush .
Why Auburn Might Win: Mitch Mustain. The Hog quarterback is showing signs of becoming special, but he's not there yet and he's almost certain to turn it over at least twice. South Carolina was able to stay in the game against Auburn thanks to a nearly flawless game from Syvell Newton. Mustain won't be able to do the same. Arkansas is dead last in America in turnover margin losing seven interceptions and only coming up with one takeaway in four games. To beat Auburn, the Hogs have to come up with several big plays and force some big mistakes. If Auburn keeps the game plan relatively conservative and Brandon Cox is effective at keeping the chains moving, there won't be a problem.
Who to Watch: Since moving from safety to linebacker, Auburn's Will Herring has found ways to keep making plays. He came up with a key broken up pass in the end zone against the Gamecocks last week, and he has been solid against the run leading the Tigers with 27 stops. It'll be up to him to be the first line of defense against Darren McFadden and the Arkansas running game. If Herring is making tackles five yards past the line, Auburn's D might be in trouble. If he's able to sniff things out keep the long gains to a minimum, the Arkansas offense won't go anywhere. A savvy veteran, watch for him to bait Mustain into at least two bad throws.
What Will Happen: Arkansas is better than its being given credit for, but Auburn's defense will swarm all over the Hog offense. Expect a ruthlessly efficient day from Cox and the Tiger offense. By the way, Auburn PK John Vaughn has hit eight of ten field goal tries and all 17 extra points.
CFN Prediction
: Auburn 34 ... Arkansas 14 ... Line: Auburn -16
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ... 3.5
 

Vanderbilt (2-3) at Ole Miss (1-4) 12 PM EST Saturday October 7th
Why to Watch: While Kentucky and Mississippi State might have something to say about it, this might be the game to determine the SEC's worst team. This isn't the Toilet Bowl it might have been in past seasons with both teams playing relatively well considering their records, but each team desperately needs this win to keep alive any possible dreams of a bowl shot. Ole Miss has almost certain losses against Auburn and LSU ahead, and it has to go on the road to face Alabama and Arkansas over the next two weeks, so the current four-game losing slide could get brutally ugly if it's not good enough to beat Vandy at home. The Commodores still have all the big boys from the East to deal with, but with a home game against South Carolina along with dates with Duke and Kentucky still to play, getting to six wins isn't impossible if they can come away from Oxford with the victory. They're 0-2 in SEC play so far, but the losses came to Alabama and Arkansas by a combined total of five points.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Ole Miss can't score. The Rebels are averaging a mere 8.25 points per game with no consistent production coming from anyone on offense. Either the running game is effective, of the passing game goes into the tank, or vice versa. Vanderbilt's defense has been surprisingly effective holding Michigan to a season-low 27 points (also accomplished by Wisconsin) and has been surprisingly solid at not getting steamrolled over by everyone's running game other than the Wolverines'. Making matters worse for Ole Miss has been problems with the run defense. Vandy should be able to roll for 150 yards on the ground without a problem.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Even in the best of times, Vandy isn't a juggernaut. Now it has to deal with several injury issues, especially on defense, where there's some shuffling going on with the loss of safety Ben Koger to a broken leg and linebackers Kevin Joyce and Marcus Bugg to injuries suffered against Temple. Freshman Patrick Benoist might end up starting at linebacker. If the Rebels can't take advantage and put up some decent yards this week, that likely means they won't be good enough to come up with much the rest of the year.
Who to Watch: It might be do or die time, at least this season, for Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer. He was never expected to be Peyton Manning, but he's only completing 46% of his passes with six interceptions and only four touchdown passes. The key to his game was supposed to be running the ball, but he hasn't done nearly enough to spark the offense netting just 105 yards so far. Backup Seth Adams completed eight of 11 passes for 84 yards in the 27-3 loss to Wake Forest last week, and could quickly find his way into the game if Schaeffer struggles early.
What Will Happen: The Ole Miss woes continue. The lines aren't playing well and there's simply not enough happening on offense. The Vanderbilt running game will control the clock and the overall tempo.
CFN Prediction
: Vanderbilt 20 ... Ole Miss 17 ... Line: Vanderbilt -1.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ...
2 

West Virginia (4-0) at Mississippi State (1-4) 2:30 PM EST Saturday October 7th
Why to watch: West Virginia gets back to work with a rare trip into SEC country.  The fourth-ranked Mountaineers are in that small handful of teams positioning for a shot at a national championship, so any letdown in Starkville, or even a close call, would be catastrophic.  Hotshot RB Steve Slaton is on the short of Heisman candidates, while shifty QB Pat White will be returning home this weekend.  Well, sort of.  White’s from Daphne, Ala., which is about a five-hour drive down US-45.  Mississippi State is no stranger to top ten teams having already been throttled by Auburn and LSU, but it has enough of a defense to make this interesting. The Bulldogs regressed last week against LSU, although the offense has shown small signs of life ever since Omarr Conner switched back to quarterback from wide receiver.
Why West Virginia might win: Save for one half of garbage time against Maryland, the West Virginia defense was solid throughout the month of September.  The ‘eers are creating turnovers and allowing an average of only 11 points a game, an insurmountable combination for a Mississippi State offense that generates just 235 yards a game and is leaning on a couple of freshman to shoulder the load on the ground.
Why Mississippi State might win: The Bulldogs are brutal against the pass, but are only giving up 104 yards a game on the ground.  That’s actually a formula that can work against a West Virginia offense that leans heavily on the run, yet is 93rd nationally throwing the ball.  East Carolina showed two weeks ago that when you stack the box, Slaton can be contained and White will make mistakes.
Who to watch: Uhhh, isn’t it about time West Virginia bags its first quarterback sack of 2006?  It’s hard to believe, but the Mountaineers are the only one of 119 I-A teams technically without a sack (although, there appeared to be one in the season opener, but you get the idea).  Before Big East play begins, they’ve got to start getting more pressure on the quarterback, meaning it’s time for Keilen Dykes to begin asserting himself like he did during his breakout sophomore season.
What will happen: Playing on the road and for the first time in two weeks, West Virginia will start slowly, but Mississippi State won’t have the weapons on offense to capitalize.  White will throw his fourth and fifth touchdown passes of the year, one each to Brandon Myles and Darius Reynaud.                       

CFN Prediction
: West Virginia 38 ... Mississippi State 16 ... Line: West Virginia -25
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ... 2.5
 


SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 6, Part 2
| Get Tickets for These Games