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SEC Fearless Predictions, Sept. 22
South Carolina QB Blake Mitchell
South Carolina QB Blake Mitchell
Posted Sep 19, 2007

It might not be the biggest weekend of SEC games, but it'll go a long way to sorting out the overall pecking order with Georgia going to Alabama and Blake Mitchell's South Carolina taking on LSU. Check out the previews and predictions for the Week 4 SEC Games.

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

SEC Fearless Predictions Sept. 1Sept. 8 | Sept. 15Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1 

How are the picks so far? SU: 24-4 ... ATS: 15-6-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2

SEC Game of the Week

South Carolina (3-0) at LSU (3-0)   3:30 PM  CBS
Why to Watch: Either this will be an affirmation of LSU's greatness, or it'll make South Carolina a national player. Steve Spurrier has come up with some nice wins since taking over the Gamecock program, but with a slight miracle, this could be when everything changes. This could be when South Carolina becomes more than just some team in the East that pokes Florida, Georgia and Tennessee with a stick. This could be the statement game that makes the world take notice that this is a team worth watching out for. Or it could be yet another stroll down blowout lane for LSU. The history isn't in USC's favor, with LSU winning the last two meetings in ugly fashion (33-7 in 2003 and 38-14 in 2002), and has been beyond dominant to start the season. The Tigers have beaten Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, and Middle Tennessee by a combined score of 137 to 7 with the nation's best defense that's not allowing anyone to breathe. South Carolina hasn't exactly been impressive so far, but it's 3-0 thanks to a defense that's playing at a high level. While not playing at an LSU level, the D has been good enough to potentially give the Tigers a test.
Why South Carolina Might Win: The offense hasn't been that bad. From the way everyone around South Carolina makes it sound, the attack is the SEC version of Notre Dame. Fine, so the passing game isn't nearly as crisp as you'd expect from a Spurrier team, and the points haven't come in bunches, but the ground game is doing a good job, and there should be more offensive balance than the Tigers have had to deal with so far. The Gamecocks might not have faced a Hawaii or Texas Tech, but the pass defense has been tremendous. The back seven isn't allowing anything short to midrange.
Why LSU Might Win: LSU's defense isn't exactly a cure for a struggling offense. Glenn Dorsey and the lines are absolutely killing everyone, and they should control the average USC offensive line from the start. The Gamecocks need to be absolutely perfect to pull this off, and they haven't shown any signs that they can be. The offense isn't going to be able to make a swift comeback if LSU gets up early, the special teams have been shaky, and there haven't been enough takeaways. As long as LSU doesn't screw up offensively, the defense should be able to carry the way.
Who to Watch: Is there any sort of a quaterback controversy at LSU? No, but there could quickly be one if Matt Flynn struggles for any appreciable stretch of time. The coaching staff knew the Middle Tennessee game wouldn't be a problem, so it allowed Flynn to take the day off to rest a gimpy ankle, and let Ryan Perrilloux get some meaningful time as the starter. All Perrilloux did was complete 20 of 25 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran eight times for 37 yards. However, this is Flynn's team. The high ankle sprain isn't going to keep him out of this game, and after a flawless start to the year, he's been a better playmaker, and not just a caretaker, than he gets credit for.
What Will Happen: South Carolina's defense will keep this from getting ugly for about a half, but LSU will get up early, Blake Mitchell will have to press a bit, will turn it over a few times, and the rout will be on. Once the floodgates open in the second half, USC won't be able to close them.
CFN Prediction: LSU 38 ... South Carolina 13
... Line: LSU -16.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

SEC Saturday, Sept. 22

Florida (3-0) at Ole Miss (1-2) 12:30 PM GamePlan
Why to Watch:
 Oh yeah, Florida. With all the talk of USC, Oklahoma and LSU, the defending national champions have been a bit of an afterthought in the national title chase. After an impressive 59-20 win over Tennessee, now the Gators are on the radar screen. QB Tim Tebow is creeping into the Heisman hunt, the buzz is starting to build about the October 6 showdown with LSU, and now everyone will be paying more attention. Florida might be the best team in the SEC, or at least second behind LSU, while Ole Miss has firmly established itself as the league's 12th team, at least at the moment. The Rebels have been competitive under head coach Ed Orgeron, and it has a few nice pieces to build around, but after losing to Vanderbilt 31-17, the program needs something positive to offer up hope for the future. Ole Miss has won three of the last five meetings between the two, including a 20-17 victory in Gainesville in 2003, and a 17-14 win in 2002.
Why Florida Might Win: The Ole Miss secondary has been awful. The defensive front has done a decent job at getting into the backfield, and the run defense, for a few stretches, hasn't been bad, but everyone has been able to throw the ball without a problem. Memphis QB Martin Hankins bombed away for 343 yards, Missouri's Chase Daniel threw for 330 and five scores, and Vanderbilt's Chris Nickson completed 18 of 26 passes for 200 yards. Florida's offense has been ultra-efficient, and unlike recent years, has been balanced. Helped out by some points from the defense and special teams, the Gators are second in the nation in scoring, averaging 55.67 points per game. Ole Miss has scored 65 points in the first three games.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Florida has to go on the road. In the regular season, Florida has gone 5-4 away from the Swamp in its last nine true road games, and in the five wins, it only won one by more than a touchdown, including tight wins last year over Vanderbilt and a mediocre Florida State. Even with average placekicking, the Ole Miss special teams have been fantastic so far led by a strong punting game. Technically, the Rebels lead the nation in punt returns, but it's only returned one for 28 yards. Offensively, the struggling Rebel line should get a bit of a break against a Florida pass rush that hasn't shown up yet, and that's a must considering ...
Who to Watch: ...the Ole Miss quarterback situation is a mess. Seth Adams has a sprained shoulder, and Brent Schaeffer has been miserable. Michael Herrick is the clear third man in the mix, but he's getting some reps with Adams on the sidelines. If right, Adams gives the Rebels their best passing attack in years, with more downfield throws and accuracy that Schaeffer could only dream about. Schaeffer's strength is his mobility, but he doesn't run, and he's a horrible decision maker. While it's supposed to be a gametime decision, Adams will likely start, Schaeffer will likely see a little time, and once things get ugly, Herrick might get a few late snaps.
What Will Happen: Florida will let down a little bit after playing Tennessee and with Auburn ahead, but it won't matter. This will be a game for the Gator running game to blow up. The Rebels don't have the linebackers to keep Tebow in check, and will get torched every time Percy Harvin gets the ball in his hands.
CFN Prediction: Florida
35 ... Ole Miss 17  ... Line: Florida -21
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ... 2.5

Kentucky (3-0) at Arkansas (1-1)
6:00 PM ESPN2
Why to Watch: Is it possible for this game to be half as good as the 71-63 seven-overtime thriller, won by Arkansas, the last two times they met up? The Hogs battled back, only to lose late, in a 41-38 classic last week in Alabama, but now it has to beat the Wildcats to have any hope of repeating as SEC West champions. With North Texas and Chattanooga ahead, a win here would likely assure a 4-1 start heading into the Auburn showdown. Of course, Kentucky is the big storyline coming into the game, after beating Louisville 40-34 in the final moments. All of a sudden, after beating a team with designs on winning the national title, UK is on the verge of becoming a major player in the SEC race. But first, it has to pull off the win in Fayetteville to really start making some noise. The two teams can score in bunches, have issues on defense, and should light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine.
Why Kentucky Might Win: Yes, Kentucky's defense isn't LSU's but it's far better than it was last year. All of a sudden, the Cats are playing some pass defense. It got ripped up by Brian Brohm for 366 yards, but Louisville is going to throw on everyone. This is a good group against bad passing teams, and Arkansas is a bad passing team. Offensively, the Wildcats are moving the ball in chunks thanks to a near perfect balance with 246 rushing yards per game and 258 through the air. The Hog secondary has struggled in the first two games, and now it faces a passing game that'll be a big-time upgrade from Troy's and Alabama's.
Why Arkansas Might Win: Kentucky's run defense is mediocre, at best. The defensive line doesn't make enough plays up front, while the back seven will make a few too many tackles after a big run. This just in; Arkansas can run a little bit. As shown yet again in the Alabama loss, it doesn't matter what kind of a shootout the game is, the Hog running game can rip off points in chunks. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones can take over a game. If Kentucky has to become a pure passing team, it'll produce, but it'll also have a few problems against an active Hog line.
Who to Watch: The offenses will be on display, and that could be a problem for a Hog defense undergoing some changes. The run defense loses a key piece with the suspension of Ernest Mitchell for hitting Alabama's Justin Britt with a helmet. Before getting booted, he was having a whale of a game with four tackles and a sack. Now it'll be up to Fred Bledsoe to step in and be a rock. He should be strong against the run, but he's not going to get into the backfield. In the secondary, to help muscle up on the UK corners, Michael Grant will move from safety to corner.
What Will Happen: Shootout, shootout, shootout. Arkansas will run for 300 yards, Kentucky will work its way to 400 yards, and in the end, McFadden and Jones will come up with just enough big runs in the fourth quarter to overcome a brilliant day from Andre Woodson.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 38 ... Kentucky 34
... Line: Arkansas -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ... 4

New Mexico State (2-1) at Auburn (1-2) -16.5  7:00 PM GamePlan
Why to Watch: Oh this will be interesting. Auburn has been awful so far, needing a late rally to get by Kansas State before losing to South Florida and Mississippi State. At least, it's been awful offensively. Meanwhile, New Mexico State, coached by former Kentucky head man Hal Mumme, has one of the nation's most prolific offenses, averaging 523 yards and 33 points per game. Yeah, the Aggies have lit up SE Louisiana, New Mexico and UTEP, but it's a team built to throw, throw and throw some more to keep the pressure on. Auburn will have to come up with a win to close out this four-game homestand, or things might get really ugly with a trip to Florida to follow.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: Auburn's offense decided to take the first three games off. Kansas State, South Florida and Mississippi State all have good defenses, but this is Auburn; it's supposed to have offensive playmakers, and it doesn't. New Mexico State's defense is far, far worse than anything the Tigers have had to face so far, but it's vastly improved since last year and is doing a good job of getting into the backfield. The last thing the Auburn quarterbacks need is to be under pressure, but they'll be hit. If the Tiger running game isn't pounding the ball, there could be major problems. 
Why Auburn Might Win: The Tigers have been all too happy to give it away so far this year with 12 turnovers, but there won't be much concern about making mistakes this week against an Aggie defense that's not great at forcing errors. No, Auburn hasn't faced anyone who can throw the forward pass with any consistency, but it's done a fine job of generating pressure in the backfield, and has done an excellent job of slowing down the short to midrange passes. Get to QB Chase Holbrook, and the timing will be off.
Who to Watch: New Mexico's diminutive junior WR Chris Williams has caught fire again. The nation's leading receiver in 2006, with 92 catches for 1,415 yards and 12 touchdowns, started off the season slowly against SE Louisiana with just four catches, but two went for touchdowns. Over the last two weeks, he's been all but uncoverable with 19 catches for 331 yards and five scores, and the numbers could've been far better if he didn't have a few drops. He has to be the number one focus of the Auburn defense, while the Tigers offense will be centered around the quarterback situation. Veteran Brandon Cox has struggled, forcing the coaching staff to fast-forward the future by playing Kodi Burns against Mississippi State. Burns adds a scary rushing element to the mix, but he still needs time. This is still Cox's team, but if he throws a few early interceptions, that will change.
What Will Happen: The game will be taken out of the hands of the Auburn quarterbacks as much as possible with the running game trying to pound away with underused running backs Ben Tate and Mario Fannin, who've been underused so far. Expect close to 300 rushing yards, five sacks from the AU defense, and a little bit of sweat during an Aggie scoring run late in the first half.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 38 ... New Mexico State 20
... Line: Auburn -16.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ... 3

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2



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