SEC Fearless Predictions , Week 9
Posted Oct 26, 2006

The networks have been instructed not to call the Georgia-Florida matchup the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Whatever. More importantly, it's a chance for Florida to make another statement in the national title race, and for Georgia to kickstart its season.

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
Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8

How are the picks so far? SU: 55-10 ... ATS: 32-25-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 9, Part 2
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SEC Game of the Week

Georgia (6-2) at Florida (6-1)  3:30 PM EST CBS Saturday October 28th
Why to Watch: The World's Largest Outdoor Gathering of People Who'll Drink, but Shouldn't Be convenes with the two powerhouse programs going in opposite directions. Defending SEC champion, Georgia, has limped along the last few weeks losing to Tennessee and Vanderbilt and coming close to losing to Mississippi State. The defense has taken a big step back after dominating over the first five games, while the offense hasn't been progressed as quickly as originally hoped. With a trip to Auburn and a battle with Georgia Tech ahead, not to mention a road trip to Kentucky, a loss to the Gators would likely quicken the team's slide into mediocrity, at least for this season. Florida has had two weeks off to lick its wounds after getting sacked at Auburn, and now it needs to win impressively to get the national title buzz going. Urban Meyer's club is getting the benefit of the doubt in the respect department thanks to its schedule, but with a bunch of one-loss teams waiting to step into the national title void if USC or West Virginia loses, there's no room for a slip, or even an average performance.
Why Georgia Might Win: Pass rush. As Auburn showed in impressive fashion, Florida and Chris Leak will screw up when under consistent pressure. Leak can pick apart anyone America when he gets time, or creates his own time when on the move, but he'll float his passes and will make mistakes when someone's in his face. Timing is everything to most offenses, and it's absolutely critical for Meyer's attack to work as well as needed. Bulldog ends Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses will soon make millions as top pass rushers in the NFL, and even though they've been disappointing so far this season, the have the ability to generate consistent pressure for stretches. However ...
Why Florida Might Win: ... no one on Georgia got to Tennessee's Erik Ainge, and the results weren't good. Meyer has had two weeks off to prepare for the Bulldogs, so there's been plenty of time to make sure No. 12 will get time to operate. Georgia is a great fit for Florida; the Gator weakness is the secondary, and the Dawgs can't throw. More to the point, the receivers can't catch. The Gators will load up to stop the run and force freshman Matthew Stafford to try to win the game. If he's not on, the Dawg offense could be painful to watch.
Who to Watch: This one's on the respective coaching staffs. Meyer has been a winner everywhere he has gone, but he's particularly strong with time to prepare. Last year, the Gators beat the favored Bulldogs after getting two weeks off, beat Florida State after having an every week, and beat Iowa in the bowl game. His 2004 Utah team thumped Arizona, North Carolina and Pitt, in the Fiesta Bowl, with the extra time, and won both games in 2003 with more than one week to prepare. In other words, expect the Gators to be ready. Georgia head coach Mark Richt has had to play around with his offense with an injury to top RB Thomas Brown, ineffective play at quarterback, and struggling receivers making life difficult. For Georgia to win, it'll have to come up with a few quirky wrinkles, create a few turnovers, and/or get some big special teams plays. The Dawgs can't beat the Gators straight up.
What Will Happen: Strange things often happen in this rivalry, but not this year. Georgia is playing way too poorly on both sides of the ball to beat the rested and ready Gators.
CFN Prediction
: Florida 28 ...Georgia 13 ... Line: Florida -14
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Flicka) ... 4

Auburn (7-1) at Ole Miss (2-6)  12:30 PM EST Saturday October 28th
Why to Watch: Auburn, thanks to a high BCS ranking, is in the thick of the national title chase, but it has to win impressively and has to win out while hoping Arkansas slips twice somewhere along the way to the SEC championship game. With Tulane last week, Ole Miss this week, and Arkansas State next week, this is the cupcake stretch for the Tiger schedule with Georgia and Alabama to close out. Over the last two weeks, the Rebels played well in an overtime loss to Alabama and got blasted by Arkansas, but now they finish with three home games in the final four in an attempt to make something good happen in yet another disappointing season. A home win over Auburn wouldn't just be the biggest in the two-yard Ed Orgeron era, it could potentially turn the program around.
Why Auburn Might Win: The inconsistent Ole Miss offense hasn't been able to score ranking last in the SEC in scoring offense and total O averaging 13 points and 260 yards per game. QB Brent Schaeffer is fine when he's on, like he was against the Tide, but when he's off, the entire machine breaks down. Even though the Auburn defense will bend a bit and give up yards, it's good and not breaking too often. If Ole Miss isn't hitting several home runs, it doesn't have a shot.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Will Auburn be fully focused? When the defense wakes up and turns things up a notch, like it did in the second half against Florida, it's a sight to behold. When it's going through the motions and is getting beaten on, like against Arkansas, it can be extremely average. Ole Miss has to take a page out of the South Carolina book with several quick passes while also getting Schaeffer on the move. Even though he's not an efficient passer by any stretch, he showed against Bama that he can occasionally make plays with his arm when he's in a groove. Auburn's D can be over-aggressive at times; Ole Miss has to take advantage with some misdirection and cutbacks. Schaeffer and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis can do that.
Who to Watch: This will be a game for Auburn linebacker, and occasional safety, Will Herring to shine as the spy on Schaeffer and Green-Ellis. Ole Miss doesn't have much of a downfield passing game, so it needs to move the ball with its rushing attack and hope to get its stars to bust open some big plays. Herring will roam to make sure short gains don't turn into Arkansas-like long ones, and he should be able to sniff out a few short passes and have a few interception chances.
What Will Happen: Auburn will get up 14-0 early and coast from there. Tiger head coach Tommy Tuberville is looking for more production out of his defense, and he'll get it.
CFN Prediction
: Auburn 31 ... Ole Miss 10 ... Line: Auburn -17
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Flicka) ... 2.5

Vanderbilt (3-5) at Duke (0-7)  1 PM EST Saturday October 28th
Why to Watch:  Duke continues to improve each and every week and nearly pulled off the upset of all upsets last weekend losing a nail biter to embattled Miami 20-15.  Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis moved the Blue Devils down inside the Miami ten yard line with three seconds left in the game, but an interception on the final play of the game left only another moral victory, instead of victory number one this season.  Vanderbilt has piled up its own number of moral victories this season, along with the three actual wins they’ve earned, but South Carolina throttled the Commodores last week 31-13.  The ‘Dores must finish 3-1 over the last four games to be bowl eligible, but with Florida and Tennessee on the docket in November, this is a must win game.  A bowl game is out of the question for Duke, but a win will prove to everyone that they’re actually much better than their 0-7 record indicates.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Vanderbilt’s defense is ranked 21st in the nation against the pass, giving up 162 yards per game and will provide Lewis with as stern a test as he’s had as the Duke starting QB.  The ‘Dore defense held South Carolina’s Cock and Fire offense to 133 yards passing last weekend and if the secondary does the same against Duke, the Blue Devils may not be able to generate enough offense with their 117th ranked running game to win the game.  Lewis threw four interceptions against Miami and the Vandy secondary is salivating at facing the young, but talented, QB.
Why Duke Might Win:  All streaks have to come to an end, right?  Right?  Well, if Duke’s 15 game losing streak is going to die, it’s going to happen because of another solid defensive performance, especially against the run.  The Duke defense held the Hurricanes to a miniscule 30 total yards rushing last weekend.  While Vanderbilt’s running game is the strength of the offense, averaging 148 yards per game, if Duke’s defense shuts it down, QB Chris Nickson, who was replaced in the fourth quarter by Richard Kovalchek against South Carolina, will be forced to carry them with his passing acumen.  The ‘Dores are averaging only 161 yards per game through the air, so Duke will make Nickson carry the Vandy offense on his right arm to win this game.
Who to Watch: Vanderbilt LB Jonathan Goff is fifth in the SEC with 63 tackles and is one of the most underrated players in the conference.  He’s a rock hard hitter who’s the leader of this Vanderbilt defense.  The ‘Dore defense funnels everything back into their linebackers and Goff tackles everything that moves.  To move the ball effectively on Saturday, Duke must find a way to get a hat on #47.
What Will Happen:    Duke, again, will move the football between the twenty yard lines, but will struggle to put touchdowns on the board.  Vanderbilt will get a solid all-around performance from Nickson, who’ll throw the football effectively enough this week to get the win.

CFN Prediction
: Vanderbilt 21 ... Duke 17 ... Line: Vanderbilt -10
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Flicka) ... 1.5

Kentucky (3-4) at Mississippi State (2-6)  2:30 PM EST Saturday October 28th
Why to Watch: It's not a battle of SEC basement dwellers with Kentucky just ahead of Vanderbilt, but it's not far off. The Wildcats are in range to go to a bowl needing to beat the Bulldogs and come up with home wins against Vanderbilt and UL Monroe to become eligible. An upset over Tennessee or Georgia would be nice, but beating the teams it's supposed to will get the job done. MSU is coming off one of its best performances of the year in a 27-24 loss to Georgia, and it needs to show that things are improving over the final four games to take the heat off of head coach Sylvester Croom. This is one of the team's final two home games, so it has to take advantage of the opportunity.
Why Kentucky Might Win: UK can throw the ball a little bit, and the Bulldog corners can get picked apart. QB Andre Woodson should be able to dink and dunk to his heart's content. The Wildcats have been a bit underrated all year at getting to the quarterback, while MSU's offensive line has been porous at best. Don't let MSU's last two games fool you; the offense isn't productive and it's hardly explosive or consistent, but ...
Why Mississippi State Might Win: ... it's been better. The return of QB Michael Henig from a collarbone injury has cranked the production up a notch leading the way to almost 300 yards against Georgia with a chance to win late until Henig fumbled. While the Bulldog attack will never explode, it should be able to put up some yards against the nation's worst defense. UK is giving up 462 yards per game having equal problems against the run and the pass.
Who to Watch: Does MSU actually have a living, breathing 1-2 running back combination? Sophomore Brandon Thornton has been the main workhorse over the last two weeks showing off his decent quickness and a little bit of power, but the real star in the making is freshman Anthony Dixon. A great mix of speed and size, Dixon has all the tools to be a great one and last week, he finally showed off a little bit of goal line ability with three scores against the Bulldogs. Getting the tough yards has been a problem for him, but if he has some room to move, he has the burst to break off big runs. Eventually.
What Will Happen: Mississippi State is starting to play better and will score on the sad UK defense, but it won't be able to keep up the pace. The Wildcat passing game will be the difference.
CFN Prediction
: Kentucky 31 ... Mississippi State 27 ... Line: Kentucky -2
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Flicka) ... 2

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 8, Part 2
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