SEC Fearless Predictions , Sept. 1, Part 2
Posted Aug 22, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 1 SEC Games, Part 2

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

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week One


SEC Saturday, September 1

Western Kentucky at Florida 6:00 PM
Why to Watch: The defending national champions in every sport that matters will get two much-needed tune-ups (playing Troy next week) before the big game against Tennessee, and with so many new faces in key places, there isn't time for taking it easy on a sacrificial lamb like Western Kentucky. This is a provisional year for the Hilltoppers as it makes its way into the D-I world in the near future. For now, the goal is to not get embarrassed before the end of the first quarter, take the paycheck, and move on to West Virginia Tech.
Why Western Kentucky Might Win: WKU has an experienced defensive front seven that might be able to keep the Gators from scoring for a drive or two. The offense is undergoing a personnel overhaul, while the secondary returns three starters from D-IAA's (or the FCS's) 16th ranked pass defense. Florida head coach Urban Meyer isn't big on running up the score and won't likely let this be uglier than it needs to be.
Why Florida Might Win: Yeah, the WKU defensive front is full of veterans, but they're not very big, and they're not very good. The Gator offensive line should be rock solid, and could grow into the team's biggest strength. Expect it to shove around the Hilltoppers like they're Ohio State. While the Gator offense doesn't have to get quirky, anything outside of the box (like a reverse) will work. Most top 25 teams can't run with Florida, much less WKU.
Who to Watch: Tim Tebow. While he's supposed to be fantastic against a team like WKU, the pressure is now on for him to be the guy who keeps the momentum going. Chris Leak wasn't always beloved until he won a national title, and by winning a championship, he goes from being the face of the Ron Zook era to a Florida legend. Tebow has a lot to live up to, and every mistake will be scrutinized from the start. There are certainly bigger fish to fry down the road, but he needs to make an early statement.
What Will Happen: Florida will be Florida. It can bring its C game and still win by 30.
CFN Prediction: Florida 41 ... Western Kentucky 7
... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 1
Final Score: 

Oklahoma State at Georgia  6:45 PM ESPN2

Why to Watch: This falls under the category of mega-statement games for two very good programs that'll be sleepers (if that's possible for Georgia) in their respective division races, and for two power conferences. Oklahoma State is loaded with the type of speed and athleticism that SEC fans like to brag about on a regular basis. This is the ultimate feast-or-famine, home run hitting team that can put up points in bunches, and it's a team Georgia needs to be really, really scared off. The Dawgs are solid on both sides of the ball, but they might have to be spectacular to avoid the upset. If Georgia wins this game easily, it means it'll be a major contender for the SEC title. For the Cowboys, this is the game that could put the Mike Gundy era on the national map.
Why Oklahoma State Might Win: Georgia's secondary isn't exactly a weakness, but it'll certainly be a question mark to start the year, while defensive starting experience is a major problem at all spots. A number one corner has to emerge right away after the loss of Paul Oliver to academic issues, and that means future NFL starting WR Adarius Bowman should require way too much attention from the safeties. The more the defensive backs have to hang back, the more openings for the OSU ground game.
Why Georgia Might Win: Is Oklahoma State the real deal? Yeah, there are more than enough athletes to run with Georgia all day long, and it was able to beat Alabama rather easily in the Independence Bowl, but this is still the type of team that can beat anyone, but can lose to anyone. The Cowboy defensive line is average, the secondary is questionable, and there's no sure-thing number two receiver on the other side of Bowman. If Georgia's young and inexperienced O line is ready to roll, the Bulldog ground game should equal the OSU production.
Who to Watch: SEC fans, get ready to see the best twosome of backs you might see all year (or at least a close number two behind those guys in Fayetteville). 5-9, 195-pound Dantrell Savage averaged 6.5 yards per carry last year and has the warp-wheels to crank out yards in chunks. Keith Toston is a bigger back who can also hit the home run from anywhere on the field. These two need to shine, and QB Bobby Reid has to take his rushing yards when he can get them, to have a shot at pulling off the upset.
What Will Happen: If Oklahoma State can keep its head for a full sixty minutes and doesn't panic when Matthew Stafford and the Bulldog offense gets the momentum on its side, it can pull off the upset. The Dawg O line is still too green, the receiving corps too average, and the secondary too suspect to beat a team as good as OSU if it's playing up to its capability.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma State 27 ... Georgia 20
... Line: Georgia -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 4
Final Score: 

Troy at Arkansas 7:00 PM

Why to Watch: Troy, the defending Sun Belt champions have a decent defense and a veteran quarterback in Omar Haugabook, to make this a dangerous game for an Arkansas team almost certain to be looking ahead to Alabama. The Hogs have had a tumultuous off-season, to say the least, and could use a confidence boost after losing its final three games of last season and with all the issues surrounding the program. If Troy can keep it close, it'll be a major victory for the Sun Belt and will send off panic alarms around Fayetteville.
Why Troy Might Win: There's a ton of returning experience and a good enough defense to keep the Hogs under wraps for prolonged stretches. Arkansas can't throw anyway, and now it's without star receiver Marcus Monk thanks to a knee injury. The Trojan secondary has NFL talent in Leodis McKelvin and Sherrod Martin, while the defensive line, led by pass rushing terror Kenny Mainor, should make Arkansas even more one-dimensional than it already is. The linebacking corps isn't as fast as the Arkansas running backs, but it can really, really move.
Why Arkansas Might Win: Troy just doesn't have enough offense in the bag to keep up if Arkansas gets up early. Haugabook is a good Sun Belt quarterback, but he's not the most polished passer around and will throw plenty of interceptions throughout the year. If Arkansas can force the Trojans to play catch up and abandon the running game, there will be plenty of chances for turnovers to own the field position battle.
Who to Watch: Arkansas might have a quick strike running game, but the more it's kept off the field and the more Troy can own the time of possession, the better. Sean Dawkins is a big, pounding runner who has to test the Hog tackles early on and has to keep the chains moving, while leading returning rusher Kenny Cattouse is a quick back who has to crank out a couple of big runs. Of course, the stars of the show are in the Arkansas backfield with the return of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but this is a game for Casey Dick. Even though the much maligned quarterback is without Monk, his top weapon, he has to show he can throw with some semblance of consistency. If he struggles, that'll only make everyone lick their chops that much more to load up against the run, and get the fans grumbling even more about the passing attack.
What Will Happen: Troy's defense will keep this from getting ugly, but it'll be the Arkansas defense that makes this an easy, but ugly, Hog win.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 24 ... Troy 10
... Line: Arkansas -24
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 2
Final Score: 

Richmond at Vanderbilt 7:00 PM

Why to Watch: Richmond will try to recapture the magic of last year's opener when it shocked Duke 13-0, but this is a Vanderbilt team good enough to not only come up with an easy win, but could also come out roaring with veterans and yes, talent, on both sides of the ball. It's bowl game or bust for the Commodores, who need this game as a tune-up before hosting Alabama and Ole Miss the following two weeks. No, Vandy isn't good enough to take anyone lightly, but if this really is going to be the school's best season in several years, this is a game it has to walk through without breathing hard.
Why Richmond Might Win: The Spider offense might not have been explosive last year, but it was solid and balanced. Nine starters return, including sophomore QB Eric Ward, who had a few decent moments in his first season at the helm. As long as the offense avoids screwing up on its own, which was an occasional problem last year, it should be fine since Vandy doesn't have the type of defense that'll force a ton of mistakes.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Richmond had a tremendous defense last season, but that was last year and now eight starters need to be replaced. The front seven is basically starting from scratch, which isn't a plus considering the Commodore offensive line should be one of the team's biggest early strengths. Vandy should be able to power the ball at will and control the tempo with its running game.
Who to Watch: This has to be the game when Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson shows he's ready to become a star. He had a good first season in place of Jay Cutler, but he wasn't consistent and threw too many interceptions over the second half of the season. This is an important warm-up game to be ready for Alabama. If he struggles with his passing, there will be major cause for concern with the big games coming up.
What Will Happen: Even though Richmond should be able to generate a little bit of offense, the defense won't be able to handle the Vanderbilt balance. Yes, the Commodores are the real deal and should be able to thump a team in transition like Richmond.
CFN Prediction: Vanderbilt 34 ... Richmond 13
... Line: No. Line
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 1
Final Score: 

Kansas State at Auburn 7:45 PM ESPN

Why to Watch: When we last saw Kansas State, it was unable to do much of anything in a lousy 37-10 Texas Bowl loss to against Rutgers. QB Josh Freeman couldn't throw, the defense couldn't tackle, and the team basically looked like it needed to go back to the drawing bowl. A good showing here would change all of that. When we last saw Auburn, it looked underwhelming in a 17-14 Cotton Bowl win over Nebraska. Sort of in the national title hunt all season long, but not really, the Tigers couldn't seem to get their mojo back after a midstretch against a slew of overmatched teams. While an impressive win over the Wildcats wouldn't necessarily mean it's time to start booking tickets for New Orleans, it would do a lot to ease concerns about what the team might be able to do, and a little confidence would be nice before a tough battle with South Florida next week.
Why Kansas State Might Win: The Wildcats have to take advantage of an Auburn offensive line that's still a work in progress. While the Tigers won't be awful up front, they lose four starters and have to deal with a defense that finished sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss. The new Wildcat 3-4 D should free up Ian Campbell to wreak even more havoc; Auburn QB Brandon Cox could be under pressure all day long.
Why Auburn Might Win: Is the Kansas State offensive line ready to be under attack from Quentin Groves and the Tiger defensive line? Yes, in theory, but all the experience and all the depth doesn't account for much without the tackles to keep Freeman upright for a full sixty minutes. For Kansas State to win, the skill players need room to roam and can't be pressured too much by the speedy Tiger D. That won't happen. Expect plenty of mistakes and just enough turnovers to give Cox and the offense short fields to work with. On the other side of the ball, the KSU defense can be shoved around against the run. Auburn's O line might not be ready for prime time, but it doesn't have to create much room for the speedy backs to produce.
Who to Watch: All eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Cox has to go from caretaker to playmaker, and he has to make his mediocre receiving corps shine. That could be a problem considering the pass rush he'll likely face, and the good KSU secondary that could grow into the team's strength. This is his team now. For the Wildcats, the season, and each game, will depend on the play of Freeman. Can he be the confident bomber who managed to overcome adversity and beat Texas, or will he be the lost passer who completed just ten of 21 passes for 129 yards and two interceptions against Rutgers and was lousy in spring ball?
What Will Happen: Kansas State will get its licks in on defense and should force a few mistakes, but the Auburn defense will make the Wildcats look worse in an ugly, mistake-filled game.
CFN Prediction:
Auburn 27 ... Kansas State 14 ... Line: Auburn -13.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 3
Final Score: 

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week One


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