| South Carolina
| LSU |
| Miss State
SEC Fearless Predictions
Sept. 1 | Sept.
Sept. 15 | Sept.
Oct. 6 | Oct.
Oct. 20 | Oct.
Nov. 3 | Nov.
Nov. 17 | Nov.
How are the picks so far? SU: 76-20... ATS:
Tennessee (9-3) vs. LSU (10-2)
4:00 p.m. ET, CBS
This might not have been the matchup or
the circumstances many wanted, but it could be a better game than
it's being given credit for. Unfortunately, the history of recent
SEC Championship games would beg to differ.
53rd 403.92 ypg
24th 446.83 ypg
71st 402.92 ypg
3rd 278.92 ypg
22nd 35 ppg
10th 40.17 ppg
70th 28.67 ppg
22nd 20.08 ppg
64th 148.83 ypg
12th 219.5 ypg
64th 158.42 ypg
14th 103.83 ypg
39th 255.08 ypg
55th 227.33 ypg
83rd 244.5 ypg
6th 175.08 ypg
California L 45-31
Florida L 59-20
at Miss St
W 27-24 OT
at Kent. W 52-50 4OT
at Miss St
L 45-37 3OT
Bama W 41-34
at Ole Miss
L 50-48 3OT
relative to each
Considering this is the showcase game
for the nation's premier conference, it's been a dog with fleas for
the last nine years (even though last year's Florida win over
Arkansas was entertaining), and since its start in 1992, the title
game has seen only three of 15 games decided by fewer than
double-digit points. In the minds of many SEC fans, it'll probably
be a tenth straight dud considering the team they wanted from the
East isn't here.
Sorry, but Georgia has to buy a ticket to get in. It's Tennessee,
who whacked the Dawgs 35-14 to spark a run of seven wins in eight
games, and held off Kentucky last week in a four-overtime thriller,
to take the East title for a shot at its first BCS bowl appearance
since losing to Nebraska in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl. This is also a
chance for the Phil Fulmer era to once and for all silence all
critics who've been waiting for the program to be among the elite
again. 0-2 in SEC Championships since winning it, and eventually the
national title, in 1998, the Vols will finally show everyone they're
for real if they can get by the Tigers.
LSU knows all about what it's like to be in Georgia's shoes after
holding the unofficial title of the SEC's Best Team at the end of
the 2006 regular season, only to miss out on the title game after
losing the West to Arkansas. This year's team had an even better run
with everything set up for a shot at the national title before
Darren McFadden had other ideas in an all-timer of a three-overtime
Hog win. Of course, Florida came into last year's SEC Championship
game against Arkansas needing a miracle to play for the national
championship, and UCLA provided it with a win over USC. Things are
vastly different this season, but LSU can still stoke the debate if
it roars its way to a big win.
Seventh in the latest BCS rankings, it might seem impossible for the
Tigers to be anywhere near Glendale on January 7th, and they might
realistically be shooting for the Sugar Bowl with a win, but in this
crazy year, a dominant, blowout victory over Tennessee could change
things in a hurry.
the loss to Arkansas, the generally held belief is that LSU still
has the most talented team in America, or is an extremely close
second or third, and while it has two losses, with both coming in
triple overtime; it's not like it got stomped on by anyone.
But LSU can't start playing the what if game. Oh sure, if Missouri
loses to Oklahoma, West Virginia loses to Pitt, Virginia Tech loses
to Boston College, and LSU beats Tennessee by an impressive
double-digit margin, it'll have a beef, but first, there needs to be
a big win this week over a team that's answered the bell time and
Ever since losing to Alabama 41-17 on October 20th, it appeared to
be a question of when, not if the Vols were going to blow it to
allow Georgia or Florida to slip into the title game. But they
survived an overtime war against South Carolina that was so brutal
it basically ended the Gamecock's season. They stuffed Arkansas in a
34-13 stunner. They survived a missed winning field goal attempt
against Vanderbilt, and managed to get through four overtimes to
beat Kentucky. Sorry, but they really are good.
This is the team that won't die.
So now the question becomes what kind of LSU will show up? Will it
uncoil its breathtaking array of speed, power and talent and finally
show it's the SEC's dominant team? After all, six of its last seven
conference games were decided by a touchdown or less, with the one
blowout win coming against Ole Miss in a better battle than the
final score would indicate. Or will this be a slightly depressed
team that was hoping this would be gateway game to a national title
and might have been mentally planning for a heavyweight showdown
If the Tigers don't take Tennessee seriously, the Vols will pull a
reversal of 2001 when they came into the title game in Atlanta
needing to beat LSU, a big underdog, to play for the national
championship, only to get shocked 31-20. If the Tigers are fully
focused, this could be the statement game many have been waiting
for. If Tennessee comes out with a major-league us-against-the-world
screw-you attitude, like it did against Georgia, it's more than
capable of winning.
Part history might not be kind to the SEC title game, but if both
teams play up to their capabilities, it'll be entertaining.
Players to watch: Everyone's banged up at this time of year,
but LSU doesn't appear to be quite the same without its two
defensive stars at 100%. While injuries are hardly an excuse for the
loss to Arkansas, it'll be worthy of note how well DT Glenn
Dorsey and S Craig Steltz play after coming up with tough
Darren McFadden might win the honor of being the nation's most
talented player, but in the eyes of many NFL scouts, Dorsey is in
the running. Despite not being nearly the same monster he was before
hurting his knee, thanks to being on the wrong end of a questionable
block against Auburn, he gutted his way through the second half of
the season as the anchor of the defense and tone-setter for the rest
of the line.
Steltz has also fought through a variety of injuries but has still
managed to come up with 89 tackles and six interceptions. Despite
being far less than 100%, he proved to be the one player able to put
a stop to McFadden's dashes last week with 12 solo hits and 16 total
tackles in the loss. The All-American is the one Tennessee QB
Erik Ainge will have to account for on every play. LSU junior
Curtis Taylor is a whale of a free safety, but Steltz is the one
who can turn around a game in a heartbeat.
If it weren't for Tim Tebow, Ainge would be showered with all the
SEC praise and accolades after coming up with a monster of a season.
Despite losing all his star targets from last year, he managed to
complete 64% of his throws with 27 touchdown passes and eight
interceptions. Three of the picks came against Kentucky last week,
but he also threw seven touchdown passes as he came through time and
again in overtime. The senior leader will have to be cool, calm, and
collected in the face of the Tiger defensive pressure, and he has to
be able to consistently get the ball to his targets in places where
they can do something with them. He hasn't exactly had a ton of
success against LSU, getting knocked out of the 2006 loss and
struggling through the 2005 win combining to complete just eight of
25 passes for 58 yards and an interception in the two games.
For Tennessee's defense, this might finally be the game the world
takes notice of junior LB Jerod Mayo.
Talent has never been an issue;
staying healthy has been. He has finally gotten through a year
relatively injury-free and came through with with 112 tackles with a
whopping 34 in the last two games. He made seven solo tackles
against Vanderbilt and 11 against Kentucky, and this week, it'll be
his job to butt heads over and over again with LSU bruising fullback
Jacob Hester when the Tigers try to power the ball.
LSU will win if...
the line can protect a beat up Matt
Flynn. The LSU quarterback gutted it out against Arkansas, but had
to undergo a series of injections to stay in the game. He stepped up
his play in the second half against the Hogs, but he's beaten up.
Tennessee has the prototype looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane
defensive front that gets shoved around way too much against the run
and doesn't to anything to get into the backfield. Last in the SEC
in tackles for loss, Tennessee has to manufacture pressure from the
start or LSU's attack will do whatever it wants to. LSU's O line has
to play better after giving up way too many sacks over the second
half of the year, but the UT line will help make the Tiger front
five look good. The Vol secondary got ripped up last week by UK's
Andre Woodson, and while Flynn isn't Woodson, he can be extremely
effective if given time.
Tennessee will win if... it
gets Arian Foster rolling right away. Ainge will be Ainge. He won't
make too many mistakes and will make the right reads and the right
throws most of the time, but for Tennessee to pull this off, it
needs Foster to get rolling from the start. He's not Darren
McFadden, who ran for 206 yards and three scores on LSU last week,
but he should find a little room to move on a slightly overrated
Tiger defensive front seven that allowed 385 yards to the Hogs and
201 yards to Ole Miss two weeks ago. It'll also help to prolong the
game as much as possible. No, that doesn't mean take it into a third
overtime, even though LSU suffered both its losses in the third
period of extra time, but it does mean that the longer the game is
close, the more it favors Tennessee. LSU is the more beaten up of
the two teams.
What will happen: LSU's defense is coming off two straight
rough outings, but it's almost like the team has been just waiting
to get to this point. Oh sure, it knew all the implications of last
week's game, but from the team's apparent attitude throughout this
week, it's almost like they just wanted to get to Atlanta so they
could finally claim their destiny. Tennessee is good enough to win
this game if it scores early in a blitzkrieg-like fashion, like it
did against Georgia, but the defense will be too porous from the
start. Matt Flynn will have a brilliant game while Jacob Hester will
power his way to an effective 75 yards and three scores.
Line: LSU -7.5 ... CFN Prediction: LSU 34 ... Tennessee 17
Florida 38 ... Arkansas 28
Florida got up 17-0 helped by a nine-yard Chris Leak run and a
37-yard pass to Percy Harvin, but had a fight on its hands the rest of the way.
Arkansas used everything possible to generate offense with Marcus Monk catching
a 48-yard touchdown pass from Casey Dick, Darren McFadden threw a two-yard
touchdown pass to Felix Jones, and WR Cedric Washington threw a 29-yard
touchdown pass to Jones on a double-pass. A 40-yard interception return for a
touchdown by tackle Antwain Robinson off a Leak pitch gave the Hogs a 21-17
third quarter lead, but the Gators got the big plays to take the lead for good
with a botched Arkansas punt return recovered for a Florida touchdown
and Harvin ripping off a 67-yard touchdown run for a 31-21 lead. The Gators put
the game away on a five-yard pass from Andre Caldwell to Tate Casey.
Player of the game ...
Florida WR Percy
Harvin caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown and ran six times for 105
yards and a score and LB Brandon Siler made 12 tackles