SEC Fearless Predictions, Sept. 8
Posted Aug 28, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 2 SEC Games.

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

SEC Fearless Predictions Sept. 1Sept. 15Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1 

How are the picks so far? SU: 10-1 ... ATS: 6-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Two, Part 2

SEC Game of the Week

Virginia Tech (1-0) at LSU (1-0) 9:15 PM ESPN
Why to Watch: This is the non-conference game we've been waiting eight months for. It's a battle between two of the best defenses in America and two BCS Championship caliber teams in a game that'll go a long way to shaping the national title race. Virginia Tech has to show that the sluggish 17-7 win over East Carolina had more to do with the weight and emotion of the outside circumstances than the potential problems on offense, while the Tigers are looking for the type of early season victory that would cement them in the top two as long as they keep winning. The defenses will be flying around and doing lots and lots of hitting in what should be a heavyweight war for a full sixty minutes. It's a who's who of star defensive players from LSU's Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, to Virginia Tech's Vince Hall, Xavier Adibi and Brandon Flowers, and it should be your dream come true if you like low scoring slugfests. It's also a dream come true for everyone looking for great games.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win: As long as the Hokies can win the turnover battle, they have a shot. Mississippi State didn't play all that poorly against LSU, considering it was a 45-0 blowout, but it couldn't hang on to the ball and it allowed the Tiger offense to fire away from close range. The LSU attack still needs to prove it can be consistent, and if the Hokies don't screw up, play ball control offense, and force LSU to go on long drives, this will be close throughout. Punter Brent Bowden had a good opening day and should do his part to pin the Tigers deep.
Why LSU Might Win: The Virginia Tech offensive line struggled against East Carolina's defensive front, and LSU's is far better. The Hokie formula has been to play great defense, win the special teams battle, and run effectively, but LSU is all but certain to take RB Branden Ore out of the equation and make QB Sean Glennon try to win the game. Glennon can be effective if he gets time, but the LSU pass rush could be too much for a Hokie line that gave up four sacks last week.
Who to Watch: Call this a validation game for two controversial figures. Glennon started off his season by throwing his first pass for an interception, and then went 22 of 33 for 245 yards and a touchdown against East Carolina. While he's been good at times, he hasn't been consistent, and many see him as the one piece of the puzzle that's holding the Hokies back and keeping them from being a true national title contender. He needs to be razor sharp in his decision making, and he has to be absolutely sure on his throws against a lightning fast Tiger D. For LSU, new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has to prove to the Tiger faithful that his attack can generate points against a top flight defense. While the Tigers put up 45 points on Mississippi State, the offense was hardly smooth and was helped by a D that forced seven turnovers. Virginia Tech's defense is good at making offenses look bad, but if Crowton is the elite coach he's supposed to be, the LSU offense should still produce.
What Will Happen: The Hokies won 26-8 in Blacksburg in the first and only meeting in 2002, but the Tiger program has progressed by leaps and bounds since then. The Tigers are a little better on defense, and a lot better on offense, so as long as they're patient and don't give the Hokies any big breaks, they'll come up with a tough, somewhat ugly win.
CFN Prediction: LSU 20 ... Virginia Tech 13
... Line:  LSU -8
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 5
Final Score: 

SEC Saturday, Sept. 8

Alabama (1-0) at Vanderbilt (1-0)  12:30 PM GamePlan
Why to Watch: The second game of the Nick Saban era might appear to be a breather before facing showdowns with Arkansas, Georgia and Florida State, but this isn't the same sort of Vanderbilt team you're used to. The Commodores are loaded with experience, and has more talent than you might think. After trouncing Richmond 41-17, this is a chance to make the biggest home statement yet under head coach Bobby Johnson, and would likely mean a 4-0 start with Ole Miss and Eastern Michigan to follow. For Alabama, anything less than a relatively easy win would send off panic alarms. This might not be a world-beater of a Tide team, but there's more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to be a factor in the SEC race, even if it's by picking off some of the top teams. Bama has won 19 in a row over Vandy, with the last loss coming in 1984, and a loss this year would quickly sour the Saban lovefest. Even in rebuilding years, Alabama isn't supposed to lose to Vanderbilt.
Why Alabama Might Win: Vanderbilt's biggest issue all year will be the secondary. It's not awful, but it's certainly not going to be the team's strength. Despite a good showing against Western Carolina last week, Bama's offensive strength all season long will be throwing the ball. The O line did a great job in week one, and it shouldn't have too much of a problem with a Commodore defensive front that's not great at getting into the backfield. Bama QB John Parker Wilson should have all day to throw.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Will Alabama be able to pressure Vandy QB Chris Nickson? Getting to the quarterback on a consistent basis was a problem last year for the Tide, and while Saban wants to turn up the heat, he might not have the players to do it against a good offensive line like Vandy's that can do just enough to give its mobile quarterback time to operate. Unlike last year when Vandy lost 13-10, this is a more balanced offense that likely won't make as many mistakes.
Who to Watch: Coming into the year, VU junior receiver Earl Bennett was considering among the best in the nation and an All-America candidate by most, and he did nothing to disappoint against Richmond with 13 catches for 223 yards and three scores. Going back to last year, over his last five games, including a four-catch, 16-yard performance against Tennessee, Bennett has made 50 grabs for 800 yards and six touchdowns. For Alabama, the big story of the first week was the ground game that cranked out 313 yards and six touchdowns led by Terry Grant, who tore off 134 yards and three scores on 18 carries. He's a small, quick back who might not be a workhorse, but could be extremely effective for stretches.
What Will Happen: Vanderbilt has the type of team that could pull off a win like this, and it might if Nickson is hot and there aren't a slew of turnovers. However, the Commodores won't generate enough pressure to throw off John Parker Wilson, and the expected return of WR Keith Brown from suspension to help out D.J. Hall will tear up the VU secondary.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 23 ... Vanderbilt 17
... Line:  Alabama -5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 3
Final Score: 

South Carolina (1-0) at Georgia (1-0)
5:45 PM ESPN2
Why to Watch: Georgia came up with a fantastic 35-14 opening day win over a dangerous Oklahoma State team with the type of weapons that can light up just about anyone. The defense was all over the field and answered several early questions, while the offense had one of the best overall performances in the young Matthew Stafford era. Now the real season begins for the Dawgs in what could amount to an elimination game in the SEC East race. South Carolina overcame a series of suspensions and a bizarre end of the off-season to beat UL Lafayette 28-14. With LSU the next SEC date, the Gamecocks can't afford to lose here. Georgia won last year's matchup 18-0 and has won five straight and eight of the last ten.
Why South Carolina Might Win: The Gamecock linebacking corps, led by Jasper and Casper Brinkley, came up with a great first game against UL Lafayette, and it should be able to keep the Georgia running game from cranking out a huge day. While the Ragin' Cajuns don't have much in the way of a passing game, the USC secondary had a nice first game. It'll be tested against an improved Georgia receiving corps, but it likely won't give up the big plays OSU did.
Why Georgia Might Win: The Gamecock offensive line is still a major work in progress. It didn't have a great game against an overmatched ULL defensive front, and it should get shoved all over the place, and blown past, but a Georgia defensive front seven that was all over the place against the Cowboys. Georgia can make plays in the South Carolina backfield, but South Carolina can't make plays in the Georgia backfield.
Who to Watch: Who'll be under center for South Carolina? Blake Mitchell was suspended for the season opener after cutting classes, and while he'll be coming in rusty, he'll likely be the starter. Mitchell was solid in the loss to Georgia last year completing 16 of 22 passes for 156 yards, but he failed to generate any points. If Steve Spurrier changes his mind at the last minute, it'll likely be up to Tommy Beecher to take over after Chris Smelley, the starter against ULL, hurt his shoulder. For Georgia, RB Thomas Brown ran extremely well last week after suffering a bad knee injury. While he only ran for 48 yards, he scored twice and showed flashes of his old burst.
What Will Happen: Can Georgia play well two weeks in a row? Consistency could be a problem for the relatively young team that had to reload, but its defensive pressure will make up for other problems. It won't be a pretty game, but it should be a good defensive thriller for at least three quarters.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 17 ... South Carolina 13
... Line: Georgia -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 3.5
Final Score: 

Kent State (1-0) at Kentucky (1-0) 
6:00 PM GamePlan
Why to Watch: Don't look ahead to Louisville .. Don't look ahead to Louisville. All Kentucky has heard about ever since its offense made the program relevant has been Louisville. After years of getting pounded by its in-state rival, losing four straight including an ugly 59-28 blasting last year, UK fans are dying to get the Cardinals in Commonwealth next week. But first, UK has to deal with a sneaky-tough Kent State team with a nice defense and a decent running game. The Golden Flashes spoiled Gene Chizik's debut at Iowa State with a 23-14 win in Ames, and they're not going to be freaked out by going on the road to face a BCS league team.
Why Kent State Might Win: It can't be overstated; Kentucky's head is firmly on the Louisville game. Oh sure, the players and coaches are all paying lip service to Kent State, but the media has started looking ahead, and it's not letting UK forget about it. Kent State's secondary is good enough to keep the high-powered UK passing game from exploding, while the running game is strong enough to keep the Wildcat offense off the field.
Why Kentucky Might Win: The Golden Flashes might be solid, but they're not explosive. If the Wildcats can get up early and force KSU to start throwing, this won't be pretty, even though the UK secondary is still suspect. To pull off an upset like this, KSU needs everything to go right, and it'll be badly outplayed on special teams and won't generate enough pressure on Andre Woodson to slow down the air show.
Who to Watch: Kent State has one of the MAC's more interesting backs in sophomore Eugene Jarvis, a 5-5 speedster who can be a surprisingly durable workhorse. He ran for 113 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State, and will also have to be worried about coming out of the backfield in the passing game. He needs to run 20 times or more and keep the clock rolling. If UK can shut him down, this likely won't be a close game.
What Will Happen: Edelman will keep KSU in the game for about a half with a few brilliant plays that'll make the UK fans shift in their seats, and then Woodson will come up with two big passes and the Wildcats will pull away in the third.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 35 ... Kent State 20
... Line:  Kentucky -14
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2.5
Final Score: 

Troy (0-1) at Florida (1-0)  6:00 PM 
Why to Watch: The defending national champions did what they were supposed to do in the opener against Western Kentucky, winning 49-3, and now there's a slight upgrade before the showdown with Tennessee. Troy has just enough of a defense, and a good, veteran quarterback in Omar Haugabook, that it could provide a few problems if Florida is already mentally gameplanning for the Volunteers, but it didn't show much in the 46-26 opening day loss to Arkansas. The defending Sun Belt champions aren't just going to roll over and give up when they see the Gator uniforms and could make this a ball game for a little while.
Why Troy Might Win: While the Trojans didn't necessarily look like world-beaters against Arkansas, they have a talented defensive line and a great secondary that'll provide a bit of a push. Florida might be ultra-talented and with superior athleticism, but this is still a very, very young team that's due to start making some rookie mistakes on both sides of the ball. Even with the blowout win over WKU, Florida's defense had several missed tackles and didn't play as well as Urban Meyer would've liked.
Why Florida Might Win: The speed of the Florida defense should be too much for the Trojans. Haugabook had a great game against Florida State last year, but he struggled with his consistency and threw too many interceptions. Against Arkansas, he only completed 15 of 43 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception. The Gator pass rush should have him on the move all game long, while there likely won't be any semblance of a running game if the UF front seven is focused.
Who to Watch: In search of a consistent running game for a few years, Florida might have finally found its back to work around in junior Kestahn Moore. While not a superior talent, at least compared to other, less experienced options, he's a plugger who ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns against WKU and will likely get the boatload of the carries. The less running Tim Tebow has to do early on, the better. 
What Will Happen: This will be the type of game that Florida wins in a walk, but does just enough things wrong to get the coaching staff yelling. Haugabook will complete fewer than half his passes and will toss three picks that'll make a close game a blowout.
CFN Prediction: Florida 38 ... Troy 14
... Line:  Florida -27.5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2
Final Score: 


SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Two, Part 2


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