SEC Fearless Predictions, Sept. 29, Part 2
Posted Sep 26, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 5 SEC Games, Part 2

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: 30-5 ... ATS: 19-8-1

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Five, Part 1

SEC Saturday, Sept. 29

Florida Atlantic (3-1) at Kentucky (4-0)   1:00 PM GamePlan
Why to watch: Kentucky thought it had completely gotten rid of Louisville for the year, but former Cardinal head man Howard Schnellenberger will be looking to do what his former team couldn't and come up with a win over the Wildcats. FAU is on a nice two game winning streak, complete with a stunning upset over Minnesota, and with a newfound passing attack, it could keep pace with Andre Woodson and the boys for more than just a half. UK is riding high on a five-game winning streak, and proved that the UL win wasn't any sort of a fluke by beating Arkansas 42-29. With a brutal three-game stretch to follow, playing at South Carolina, LSU, and Florida, the Cats could use an easy tune-up. It might not get it.
Why Florida Atlantic might win: Don't let the statistics fool you; there are still question marks about the Kentucky secondary. Louisville is the one team on the schedule able to throw the ball with any effectiveness, and Brian Brohm went for 366 yards. If Rusty Smith and the Owl passing attack gets into the groove it found over the last few weeks, this could quickly get into a shootout, and Kentucky, who's certain to be treating this as a sandwich game, could be in trouble. FAU doesn't make many mistakes, and is strong at forcing turnovers, with 16 takeaways so far.
Why Kentucky might win: It's not like the Owl defense has stopped anyone. It's a decent defense for the Sun Belt, but it doesn't have the secondary to handle all the Wildcat weapons, and it doesn't have nearly enough talent to deal with the UK's overall offensive balance. As good as the passing game has been over the last two weeks, that was against North Texas and Minnesota; teams with two of the worst secondaries in America.
Who to watch: Just how good is Smith? The 6-5, 215-pound sophomore is a pure pro style passer who threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns against Minnesota, and bombed away for 322 yards and a score against North Texas. He's been good at keeping his mistakes to a minimum, and he's been fantastic at spreading the ball around. FAU can't go conservative and have any sort of a shot, so Smith will have to put it up at least 40 times.
What will happen: The two teams will combine for 600 passing yards, but Kentucky will also crank out at least 150 on the ground.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 45 ... Florida Atlantic 20... Line: Kentucky -23
Must See Rating: (5 Ken Burns' The War - 1 The Big Bang Theory) ... 2

Eastern Michigan
(2-2) at Vanderbilt (2-1)   7:00 PM

Why to watch: If Vanderbilt has any dreams of going bowling, this is a must-win game it can't sleepwalk through. After two weeks off following a nice 31-17 win over Ole Miss, the Commodores need to get this over with, tune up, and get ready to try to take advantage of an average Auburn team. Eastern Michigan is looking for the biggest win in the Jeff Genyk era to come up with the program's first three-game winning streak since early 1995. This is a veteran Eagle team that'll be pumped up at the chance to knock off an SEC team, but Vandy is rested and apparently focused on the task at hand with no talk about Auburn so far.
Why Eastern Michigan might win: Vanderbilt's defensive success comes from generating plenty of pressure and getting to the quarterback, but Eastern Michigan might not allow that to happen. With a mobile passer in Andy Schmitt, and a strong pair of pass blocking tackles, Vandy might have to get creative to get into the backfield. If this comes down to a field position battle, EMU has a huge edge in the punting game, averaging 40.88 yards per punt, while Vandy averages 28.77 yards per kick.
Why Vanderbilt might win: Eastern Michigan is a limited offensive team with no playmakers. It's not like the Eagles have faced a murderer's row of defenses so far, but they're only averaging a mere 279 yards per game and ha needed short fields to produce points. As long as Vandy doesn't turn the ball over in bunches, or in key situations deep in its own territory, and as long as it keeps any big kick returns to a minimum, it should be able to show up and win in a walk.
Who to watch: While it's not the best trio of linebackers Vandy will face this year, EMU's Daniel Holtzclaw, Darran Matthews and Andre Hatchett are among the most productive. Holtzclaw is a machine, leading the MAC, and is fourth nationally, with 51 tackles, highlighted by a 19-stop game against Howard. While not used often to get into the backfield, he can do a little bit of everything, and will be asked to keep mobile QB Chris Nickson for getting into the open field.
What will happen: Vanderbilt will score ten points early on, and EMU won't have an answer. Earl Bennett will catch ten passes for well over 100 yards.
CFN Prediction: Vanderbilt 34 ... Eastern Michigan 10 ... Line: Vanderbilt -20.5
Must See Rating: (5 Ken Burns' The War - 1 The Big Bang Theory) ... 1.5

Florida State
(2-1) vs. Alabama (3-1) (in Jacksonville)  5:00 PM CBS

Why to watch: In 1974, an Alabama team on its way to an 11-1 season, with the loss coming in the Orange Bowl to Notre Dame, and along the way, it got all it could handle in an 8-7 win over a Florida State team that would finish the year 1-10. The two tied 37-37 in 1967. That's been it for the two storied programs in what could've been a far, far different scenario if Alabama powers that be hadn't screwed up in 1986. It was all but set that Bobby Bowden would leave Florida State for the vacant Bama job, but it ended up going to Bill Curry, the Seminoles weren't 11-1 the next year, and the rest is history. Now, Nick Saban is the superstar on the sidelines, and he has his team playing well, despite a 26-23 overtime loss to Georgia last week. This is the team's toughest game away from home until the season ender against Auburn. For Florida State, a win over a brand name team is a must after slogging its way through the early part of the year. This is a team in desperate need of a major confidence boost, and it'll get it if it can pull this off.
Why Florida State might win: Alabama is going to struggle to pound the ball on the Seminole defensive front. Clemson got a tremendous game out of James Davis in the opener, but FSU quickly put the clamps down on the Tiger running game, and has been a brick wall ever since. The Tide got the passing game going over the last few weeks, and QB John Parker Wilson has come into his own, but in a perfect world, it controls the game with Terry Grant on the ground. It might not be able to do that.
Why Alabama might win: Can Florida State score? The Jimbo FIsher era hasn't exactly taken off for the Seminole offense, struggling with its consistency and having major problems getting the passing game going. Outside of a few late drives, the Bama secondary has been a rock so far, while the run defense hasn't been all that bad, with the stats skewed by playing Arkansas. It won't take more than a few scores to get FSU panicking and throwing it too often. Once the Noles abandon the ground game, it's over.
Who to watch: Off-the-field issues have suddenly made the FSU defense an issue. The linebacking corps can't afford to lead Geno Hayes, one of the team's top tacklers and best all-around defensive playmakers, who was suspended after his involvement in a bar fight. Losing Hayes speed won't help against the Alabama running game, if he's actually not going to play. Toddrick Verdell will suddenly be trusted into the spotlight, and he has to come through with a strong performance after getting most of the first team work on the weakside this week.
What will happen: The offensive balance of Alabama will be too much for the Seminoles to overcome. Bama will get up early, Florida State will start throwing, Bama will increase the lead, Florida State will keep throwing, Bama will pull away in the fourth.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 23 ... Florida State 13 ... Line: Florida State -2
Must See Rating: (5 Ken Burns' The War - 1 The Big Bang Theory) ... 3.5

North Texas
(0-3) at Arkansas (1-2)   7:00 PM 

Why to watch: And now comes the relaxing portion of the Arkansas program. After two straight rough losses, coming against Alabama and Kentucky, to kick off the SEC season 0-2, the Razorbacks get two weeks off against North Texas and Chattanooga before diving back into SEC play against Auburn. North Texas, losers of five in a row, might not be that great, but it has an interesting, wide-open passing offense that'll bomb away and keep pressing late into the game. 
Why North Texas might win: Bombs away. It might not always be pretty, and it might not always be efficient, but the Mean Green throws, and throws, and throws some more. The Arkansas secondary hasn't exactly been tight so far, especially late in the two losses. Without much of a pass rush, UNT QB Daniel Meager should be able to have time he didn't have in the first few weeks. He'll throw it 50+ times and could generate a few late scores.
Why Arkansas might win: The Mean Green defense hasn't even been close. Forgetting the bombing by Oklahoma, UNT has been ripped apart by SMU and Florida Atlantic, although those came against the pass. If the Hogs were ever going to stretch their legs a bit and try to generate some sort of balance, this would be the time. The Mean Green defensive front will be shoved around at will, and Darren McFadden and Felix Jones should be able to tear off big runs any time they want to.
Who to watch: How much does Arkansas want to push McFadden for the Heisman? You'll know if the star keeps getting the ball in the second half of what's certain to be a blowout. Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray ran for five touchdowns in the opener, and McFadden could pad the stats if given the chance. However, games like this are scheduled to work on the finer points, and Arkansas has to use it to get Casey Dick and the passing game going. Dick her completed a mere 35 of 71 passes, and is coming off an ugly 13 of 28 performance with two interceptions against Kentucky.
What will happen: Arkansas will end this by the early second quarter, but Meager will end up throwing for 400 yards.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 58 ... North Texas 20... Line: Arkansas -36
Must See Rating: (5 Ken Burns' The War - 1 The Big Bang Theory) ... 1.5

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2