SEC Fearless Predictions, Sept. 8, Part 2
Posted Sep 4, 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

SEC Saturday, Sept. 8

Missouri (1-0) at Ole Miss (1-0)  6:00 PM
Why to Watch: Which Missouri team will show up? Will it be the one that was on its way to a blowout over Illinois, or the one that almost choked it away in the 40-34 win? This is one of the most talented teams in the Big 12 North, and it needs to get as many confidence-boosting wins before facing Nebraska in early October. A loss to the Rebels wouldn't be a total disaster, but for a team that's as flaky as they come, it could set the wheels in motion for a disappointing year. Ole Miss hung on to pull out a tough 23-21 win over Memphis. A home win over the Tigers would be the biggest in the Ed Orgeron era and would be a huge boost going into the SEC season with Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia coming up over the following three weeks. Consider this a bowl game for the Rebels.
Why Missouri Might Win: The Ole Miss offense appears to be better than last year, but it's still not going to hang up 45 points on the board. This isn't an Illinois-like offense with a slew of young talent to come up with a big comeback; if Mizzou gets up early, it'll stay there. As Memphis tried to come back on the Rebels last week, QB Martin Hankins threw the ball at will. Tiger QB Chase Daniel should be able to do the same if ...
Why Ole Miss Might Win: ... his offensive line doesn't get him killed. The Tigers couldn't run the ball on the Illini thanks to a lousy day from the offensive line, while Daniel was sacked twice and under pressure all game long. Ole Miss might not have the most disciplined, stout defense, but it can get into the backfield and it'll be disruptive. Mizzou has problems when it becomes one dimensional. Take away the ground game, and things become interesting.
Who to Watch: The big question all off-season for Ole Miss was whether or not the passing game could be any better. Brent Schaeffer struggled way too much last year, and senior Seth Adams had the spotlight squarely on him going into this season. While he wasn't out of this world, he completed 19 of 30 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown against Memphis, doing enough to force teams to worry about more than just RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Against Missouri, he won't have to match Daniel yard for yard, but he'll have to be efficient and he can't make mistakes.
What Will Happen: Missouri will have to withstand an early surge of emotion as the Rebel defense will come out roaring. After about 20 minutes, the Tigers will hit on a big pass play to change the momentum, and then will get a crushing score that Ole Miss won't be able to answer.
CFN Prediction: Missouri 27 ... Ole Miss 17
... Line:  Missouri -5.5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2.5
Final Score: 

Mississippi State
(0-1) at Tulane (0-0)  7:00 PM
Why to watch: After failing miserably in its first crack at an opponent from Louisiana, Mississippi State gets a second chance with this week’s visit to New Orleans to play Tulane.  Already in dire need of a win after getting stuffed 45-0 by LSU in a turnover-fest, the Bulldogs and Sylvester Croom can ill afford another sloppy effort.  The head coach’s eventual fate in Starkville might depend on the progress of his feeble offense, specifically QB Michael Henig, who threw six picks to the Tiger defense last Thursday night.  Tulane pops the cork on its 2007 season after being one of a handful of programs that was idle last weekend.  The game marks the debut of Bob Toledo, best known for his offensive ingenuity and up-and-down stint as UCLA’s head coach.  It’s been five years since the Green Wave finished above .500, and a win over any SEC team would give a much-needed boost to a wobbly program.
Why Mississippi State might win: Dig beneath the Bulldogs’ 45-0 loss to LSU, and you’ll notice a defense that played surprisingly well, and only trailed 3-0 just before halftime.  Strong up front with DE Titus Brown and solid in the secondary behind the playmaking of FS Derek Pegues, Mississippi State will frustrate new Tulane QB Scott Elliott and the flimsy Green Wave front wall.  If the offense doesn’t put them in constant holes, Mississippi State has the defenders to shut down a Tulane offense that’s still digesting a new system.
Why Tulane might win: If Mississippi State continues to struggle with turnovers, it’ll be tough to beat anyone.  Henig’s confidence is clearly shaken after last week’s debacle, something the Green Wave will attack with a veteran and underrated front seven.  When healthy, Tulane RB Matt Forte is the best offensive weapon in this game.  Forte’s healthy, and capable of carrying an offense that’ll take some time breaking in Elliott and the new passing game.
Who to watch: With the Bulldog staff looking to take some pressure off Henig this week, it’s an ideal opportunity for powerful RB Anthony Dixon to have a monster game.  At 6-1 and 235 pounds, he’s a downhill runner, who’ll rumble for his first 100-yard game of the season after going over the century mark twice as a true freshman last November.
What will happen: Dixon will go blow-for-blow with Forte for player of the game honors, pulling away with a career day and a Mississippi State victory.  The Bulldogs defensive line will control the line of scrimmage, getting a bunch of quarterback hurries from Brown.
CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 27 ... Tulane 13 ... Line: Mississippi State -6
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2
Final Score: 

Southern Miss (1-0) at Tennessee (0-1) 
7:00 PM GamePlan
Why to watch: For just the second time in 16 years under Phil Fulmer, Tennessee has to get off the mat and bounce back from an opening day loss.  With a trip to Gainesville waiting in the on-deck circle, this Saturday’s visit from Southern Miss already qualifies as a must-win if the Vols have any thoughts of a January bowl game.  While the UT offense was in mid-season form in the 45-31 loss to Cal, the defense was brutal, allowing 471 yards and missing nearly as many tackles.  Running the new hurry-up offense, Erik Ainge showed no ill-effects from his broken pinky, going 32-of-47 for 271 yards and three touchdowns.  Southern Miss has the reputation as a giant killer, but hasn’t had many notable non-conference wins this decade.  A trip to Knoxville gives the Eagles a chance to change that while taking an early lead in the race to become this year’s Boise State.  USM hardly broke a sweat in last week’s win over Tennessee-Martin, relying on two fixtures, a potent running attack and a solid D.
Why Southern Miss might win: An uncharacteristically vulnerable Tennessee defense must now move forward without top pass-rusher Xavier Mitchell, who’s out indefinitely with a concussion.  Southern Miss certainly isn’t Cal, but the Volunteers had no answers for the Golden Bear running game or passing attack.  The Golden Eagles will establish a ground game behind Freshman All-American Damion Fletcher and backup Tory Harrison, putting the onus on QB Jeremy Young to locate TE Shawn Nelson and WR Torris Magee in the passing game.
Why Tennessee might win
: Led by Eric Young and the entire left side of the line, the Vols have a borderline dominant interior that’s good enough to offset Southern Miss’ strength in the front seven.  With time, Ainge will carve up a suspect and beatable Golden Eagle secondary.  An already balanced Tennessee offense gets a lift from the return of last-year’s leading rusher RB LaMarcus Coker, who was suspended for the opener and will join Arian Foster in the backfield.
Who to watch: It’s only a matter of time before Tennessee true freshman DB Eric Berry emerges into a full-fledged star on the Volunteer defense.  Already on the doorstep of a starting assignment, he had seven tackles in his debut, and has the size and cover skills to play either safety or corner.
What will happen: With something to prove, Tennessee will play with a sense of purpose, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  Southern Miss lacks the passing game to really damage the Vol D and the cornerbacks to effectively shut down Ainge and the passing game.  
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 33 ... Southern Miss 14... Line: -13.5
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 2.5
Final Score: 

South Florida (1-0) at Auburn (1-0) 9:00 PM ESPN2
Why to watch: South Florida has traveled light years in just a decade, but to really garner national attention, the Bulls will need to gore a name brand, out of conference opponent.  Auburn, for instance.  Quite possibly looking ahead to this Saturday, USF was sluggish and inconsistent in its 28-13 victory over I-AA Elon.  The Bulls will again be led by versatile sophomore QB Matt Grothe and an attacking defense.  The wild card is true freshman RB Mike Ford, a former Alabama commit, who’s commanding more playing time after exploding for 84 yards and three scores on just seven touches.  Auburn also had trouble in its opener, narrowly surviving with a 23-13 win over a feisty Kansas State team that had the game in hand, but blew it late.  If the Tigers are going to compete for an SEC title, it’ll be on the backs of a defense that only allowed one touchdown and 27 rushing yards Saturday night.  Offensively, on the other hand, they’ve got a serious shortage of reliable blockers and dangerous playmakers to support veteran QB Brandon Cox.
Why South Florida might win: The Bulls have the defensive speed and tenacity to harass a young Auburn line that starts two freshmen and is really struggling in pass protection.  In particular, they’ll have their hands full with speedy DE George Selvie, who began his sophomore season with a whopping six tackles for loss and four sacks.  With corners Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins blanketing the Tiger receivers and Cox short on time, it’ll be up to a depleted backfield to move the ball on the South Florida defense.
Why Auburn might win: If the USF offense executes this weekend like it did last weekend, it won’t score.  Auburn’s defense is the fastest the Bulls will see all year, and there’s no one on the offensive line that can contain ends Quentin Groves and Sen’Derrick Marks.  Without much help from the running game, Grothe will try to do too much and be forced into making poor decisions.
Who to watch: The Auburn kickers.  Starter Wes Byrum is nursing a badly injured ankle, meaning kicking duties could be handled by a couple of complete unknowns, either freshman Graham Sutter or sophomore Zach Kutch.  In a low-scoring game that might be decided by the special teams, the Tigers’ fate could rest on the foot of a frighteningly inexperienced kicker.
What will happen: While this is not a vintage Tommy Tuberville team, Auburn will escape with a close home win for the second straight weekend.  Points will come at a premium, making the turnover battle even more critical than usual. 
CFN Prediction: Auburn 21 ... South Florida 13 ... Line: Auburn -6
Must See Rating: (5 Mad Men - 1 Chelsea Lately) ... 4
Final Score: 


SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Two


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