SEC Fearless Predictions, Oct. 20
Posted Oct 18, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 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. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1 

How are the picks so far? SU: 48-9 ... ATS: 30-18-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 8, Part 2

SEC Game of the Week

Auburn (5-2) at LSU (6-1)   9:00 EST ESPN
Why to watch: Home loss to South Florida? Yesterday's news. Home gaffe against Mississippi State? Memorex. Auburn is on a four-game winning streak and can go from being the "what's-wrong-with-this-team?" team of the first few weeks of the season to the SEC West leader in the clubhouse with a win in Death Valley for the first time since 1999. Apparently, LSU lost to Kentucky in a triple overtime thriller last week, but no one seems interested in acknowledging it. Ask ten college football types who the number one team in America is, and at least nine will say LSU. The scenario is still there for the Tigers. Win out, and that includes the SEC championship game, wait for the inevitable losses from Boston College, South Florida and Ohio State, slip into the number one spot, win the national title, be happy. Everything seems to be that simple for LSU in the eyes of many, but this isn't going to be a pushover of a game, and it could be the toughest test between now and early December. These two teams have played thee of the nastiest, toughest games of the last three years, with Auburn winning 7-3 last season, LSU winning 20-17 in 2005, and Auburn winning 10-9 in 2004. Expect another great one.
Why Auburn might win: The power running kick that Les Miles and LSU has been on over the first half of the season might not work this week. Oh sure, LSU has been able to show its manliness in crushing the Virginia Tech defense, rumbling over Florida and South Carolina when it had to, and generally powering its way over everyone else. The Auburn defense, by design, is smallish and quick, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hold up well. The defensive line is the equal of the LSU offensive line, while the linebackers will rarely let any of the LSU backs get to the next level. Last week at Arkansas, Darren McFadden ran for 45 yards. Felix Jones ran for 42. You don't hold Arkansas to 67 net yards of rushing offense without doing something very, very right.
Why LSU might win: Auburn doesn't score. There's no passing game to speak off, the Auburn receivers will get erased by the LSU secondary, the offensive line has been mediocre, and the points are usually generated from good field position and help from the defense. If LSU gets up by any appreciable lead, this thing's over. Auburn doesn't have the ability to pass its way back into the game, and until Brandon Cox starts beating someone deep, LSU's safeties and linebackers will tee off against the run. The LSU D line could eat the Auburn O line alive if Cox has to start throwing it every other down.
Who to watch: The Auburn receivers are no big whoop; everyone knows that, but the real shocker has been the LSU receiving corps that hasn't stepped it up since top target Early Doucet got nailed with a groin injury. Brandon LaFell has had his moments, but he appears to have the hands of an offensive tackle. Drops have been a problem across the board for the Tigers, and there hasn't been nearly enough explosion to match the speed and athleticism. It's partly by design, with LSU having so much success running the ball, but very soon, a consistent passing game will have to remerge, and so will a receiver.
What will happen: It's the rock-solid, lead-pipe lock of the year ... the Tigers will win. The LSU version will get a bit more out of its offense than the Auburn version will get out of its attack. At home, LSU pulls out a defensive slugfest that could come down to a last second kick, or a fourth and short call.
CFN Prediction: LSU 17 ... Auburn 13  ... Line: LSU -11
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ...

SEC Saturday, Oct. 20

Vanderbilt (3-3) at South Carolina (6-1)   12:30 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: All of a sudden, South Carolina isn't just in the SEC East race, it isn't just in the SEC race, it's knee-deep in the chase for the national championship. Firmly at the No. 6 spot in the first BCS rankings, the Gamecocks probably control their own destiny if they actually want to start dreaming about New Orleans for more than just the Sugar Bowl. It's not an easy road ahead, still needing to deal with road trips to Tennessee and Arkansas, along with home games against Florida and Clemson, but first things first, USC has to make sure it doesn't slip up against a Vanderbilt team on a two-game skid. The Commodores haven't beaten the Gamecocks since 1999, and to stay in the hunt for a bowl bid, it needs to pull off the upset.
Why Vanderbilt might win: South Carolina is pulling it off with smoke and mirrors. One game the defense is nasty, the next it can't stop the run. One game the running game is working, the next it gets stuffed. This isn't a consistent team, and there's no way it can't be getting a little ahead of itself and mentally planning for the big road trips ahead over the next two weeks. The Gamecocks can be run on. If the Vandy ground game can find an early groove, and if the defense can create a few turnovers that turn into points, this will be a much tighter game than many expect.
Why South Carolina might win: This isn't an explosive Commodore team, and it could have major problems if the USC offense can get to a double-digit lead early on. The passing game doesn't generate yards in bunches, despite having an elite talent in Earl Bennett to throw to, and the running game isn't nearly as effective as it should be, considering the mobility at quarterback. It's a simple formula for USC: score early, don't turn the ball over, control the clock, and get out with the win.
Who to watch: Considering it's the middle of the season, the quarterback situations should be solidified, not up in the air. Chris Nickson has had a rough two games for Vandy, completing just seven of 21 passes in losses to Auburn and Georgia, opening the door for Mackenzi Adams, who had a nice outing against the Bulldogs completing seven of ten throws for 124 yards and a touchdown, and running for 46 more. If nothing else, the two might rotate. .Adding to the uncertainty if the Gamecock quarterback situation. Chris Smelley has been fine since taking over four games ago, and is coming off a three touchdown pass performance against North Carolina. But Steve Spurrier being Steve Spurrier has hinted that Blake Mitchell might see time, or even get the start, after a good week of practice.
What will happen: It doesn't matter who's at quarterback; South Carolina will get another strong defensive performance when it needs it the most, and will keep the buzz going with the trip to Tennessee ahead.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 31 ... Vanderbilt 13  ... Line: South Carolina -13.5
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 2.5

(4-2) at Alabama (5-2)   12:30 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: Among all the SEC rivalries, some are big on a national scale, some are obvious, and then there's the old school SEC battles like this one. The Florida - Tennessee rivalry is nasty, but for the most part, it only got to another level once Steve Spurrier took over in Gainesville. Alabama - Auburn is one of the most intense in America, but that a whole other animal. Tennessee vs. Alabama is mean. That the two teams are in different divisions doesn't matter; the two fan bases really want this win. The Vols have become the fringe pick for the SEC East title, having already gotten Florida and Georgia out of the way, and missing Auburn and LSU from the West. Kentucky, Arkansas and South Carolina are certainly strong, but only the season ender against the Wildcats is on the road after this trip to Bama. The Tide has managed to play heart-stopper after heart stopper, with five straight painfully close battles that all came down to the end. While this is hardly a finished product, the signs are there that this might quickly grow into a killer under Nick Saban. This should be yet another down-to-the-wire game for the Tide.
Why Tennessee might win: The offense has found its groove. Erik Ainge is throwing the ball like a stone-cold veteran, while the ground game has stepped up its play over the last three weeks, with 211 yards against Mississippi State, and four touchdowns against Georgia. This is a balanced, effective offense that's starting to connect on more and more big plays, while the defense has settled down after getting bombed by Cal and Florida early on. In other words, this is a rock-solid team that's playing well enough to win the SEC East.
Why Alabama might win: Bama isn't beating itself. This isn't a good enough team to overcome a ton of mistakes, and the Tide offense isn't making them, giving it away just nine times so far. Tennessee won't get any cheap points. Offensively, this is the type of team that does what it has to do, when it has to do it. In a perfect world, it'd like to run the ball, and it should be able to pound the ball a little bit, but when push comes to shove, John Parker Wilson should be able to throw well. The Tide receivers are strong enough do their part in a shootout.
Who to watch: Eric Young, Anthony Parker, Josh McNeil, Chris Scott, and Ramon Foster. This is the starting Tennessee offensive line, and it's keeping Ainge's jersey squeaky-clean, allowing a mere two sacks so far. Credit Ainge for being able to get rid of the ball in a hurry, but the front five also needs recognition for becoming one of the nation's tightest. This group is the primary reason the Vols are back in the race.
What will happen: Alabama is finding ways to make it happen, but the lucky rabbit's foot won't work this week. In what should be one of the SEC's better shootouts, Tennessee will be more effectively balanced in the second half. Call this an Ainge over Wilson pick.
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 38 ... Alabama 35  ... Line: Alabama -1
Must See Rating: (5
Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 1 Ellen's dog plea) ... 3

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 8, Part 2


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