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SEC Fearless Predictions, Nov. 24, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 21, 2007


Previews and Predictions for the Week 13 SEC Games, Part 2


SEC
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. 17Dec. 1 

How are the picks so far? SU: 70-18 ... ATS: 46-30-2

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 13, Part 1

SEC Saturday, November 24th

Georgia (9-2) at Georgia Tech (7-4)  3:30 PM  ABC
Why to watch: It’s not as if “clean, old-fashioned hate” needs extra storylines, but this year’s edition does have a couple of juicy sub plots.  No. 7 Georgia is one of the nation’s hottest teams, riding a five-game winning streak that could land it in the SEC Championship game or the Sugar Bowl if LSU winds up playing for a national championship.  Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey, on the other hand, might need to stop his personal five-game losing streak against the Bulldogs in order to improve his job security.  Gailey is 0-5 in this high-profile series, and a sixth straight loss to your main rival is no way to quiet critics.  The Dawgs have done an about-face since getting bombed by Tennessee in Knoxville more than a month ago, getting massive production on the ground from freshman sensation Knowshon Moreno.  While a Volunteer loss sends Georgia to the league title game to face LSU, the Bulldogs will be a very attractive at-large BCS bowl candidate if they can get to 10-2.  Back-to-back wins over Duke and North Carolina have Georgia Tech in the postseason, but winning a second-tier bowl game in December is nothing compared to beating Georgia for the first time since 2000.  The Jackets’ 7-4 record is a little hollow, considering they’re just 1-3 versus teams with a winning record.
Why Georgia might win: Few teams in the country are playing better than the Bulldogs, who are having fun, exuding confidence, and growing up quickly.  The transformation is especially evident on offense, where Moreno has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last five games, and QB Matthew Stafford has stepped up his play as a sophomore.  On defense, an improving unit has 20 sacks during the winning streak, while putting choke holds on Auburn and Kentucky the last two weekends.  Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice will get his yards on Saturday, but without much help from the nation’s 100th-ranked pass attack, they’re going to be hard yards.
Why Georgia Tech might win: This is the week that the Georgia offensive line finally looks like it’s got three freshmen in the starting lineup.  Although Stacy Searels’ unit has been a revelation in Athens, facing Jon Tenuta’s attacking defense will make even veteran front fives wilt.  The swarming Yellow Jackets lead the country in sacks and tackles for loss, getting pressure from every member of the front seven.  Tech is also No. 9 at stopping the run, which is the toughest challenge Moreno and Thomas Brown will face.  That Bulldog swagger is going to disappear the first time Stafford is dumped on third down or gets called for intentional grounding.  Choice may not explode for 150 yards, but he will move the chains, and keep the Georgia offense standing around on the sidelines.
Who to watch: Georgia’s youth movement hasn’t been relegated to the offensive side of the ball.  On defense, true freshman LB Rennie Curran has been distinguishing himself since earning more playing time last month.  Quick, instinctive, and ferocious he broke through with 13 tackles and a tackle for loss in a fourth straight game against Kentucky last week.  Curran’s objective this week will be to fill the lanes, making sure Choice doesn’t get past the second level of defense.
What will happen: Like any good rivalry, this game will be nip-and-tuck for 60 minutes, with neither team getting much separation.  Georgia will prevail when Tech QB Taylor Bennett fails to engineer a game-ending drive, but it’s not going to be easy for the Bulldogs.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 29 ... Georgia Tech 20 ... Line: Georgia -3.5
Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...3.5

Florida State
(7-4) at Florida (8-3)  5:00 PM  CBS
Why to watch: Although this rivalry’s heyday was a few years back, it remains an intense game that still means plenty to both schools, their fans, and the recruits deciding whether to open up their next chapter in Tallahassee or Gainesville.  Florida may be out of the SEC race, but at No. 12 in the BCS standings, will solidify a spot as an at-large option with one more win.  The first player in history to run and throw for 20 touchdowns in the same season, Gator QB Tim Tebow is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy and has one more big chance to show off.  In front of a national TV audience, Saturday will be his final chance to convert those voters hesitant to give the award to a sophomore.  Having already lost to Miami, Florida State needs this game more for its psyche than its postseason positioning.  After going 7-6 a year ago, any chance of claiming progress in 2007 will be shot if the Seminoles enter another postseason with five losses.
Why Florida State might win: Yes, there have been occasional lapses, but the Seminole defense has largely been a rock all year, creating turnovers, making plays for negative yards, and holding opponents to less than 100 yards a game on the ground.  On offense, Florida State will attack a Florida secondary that’s been riddled recently by injuries, and is last in the SEC in pass defense.  Enjoying a nice run since regaining the starting job last month, QB Drew Weatherford will pick on the Gator corners with the help of receivers Greg Carr and De’Cody Fagg.
Why Florida might win: Since losing to LSU on Oct. 6, the Gator offense has churned out an average of nearly 47 points a game, getting a good mix from the running and passing games.  Expect more of the same in the Swamp, as Tebow shows off his second wind, and explosive WR Percy Harvin returns from a sinus infection and migraine headaches.  To win this game, Florida State will have to reach the 30s, something the offense hasn’t been able to do since Week 2 when UAB visited Doak Campbell Stadium.
Who to watch
: What were you thinking, Geno? For some unexplained reason, Florida State LB Geno Hayes chose to taunt Tebow in the press this week, basically saying that the lefty was going down hard on Saturday.  It’s not like the Gators need any extra motivation to stick it to the Seminoles, but the fans at Ben Hill Griffin will be prepared to unleash a chorus of Geee-nos the first time Tebow breaks free from one of Hayes’ tackles.
What will happen: While Florida State will move the ball on Florida, each time the Seminoles score, the Gators will counter with at least one of their own.  Tebow will enhance his Heisman brag sheet, taking a chance to rub it in if the opportunity is there.
CFN Prediction: Florida 40 .. Florida State 27 ... Line: Florida -14.5

Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...3.5

Clemson
(8-3) at South Carolina (6-5)  7:00 PM  ESPN2
Why to watch
: As rivalry games go, Clemson vs. South Carolina doesn't get much in the way of national recognition, mainly because at least one of the two programs is almost always mediocre and the game rarely means anything to the rest of the college football landscape, but it's nasty. It's a battle for the state, it's a battle that fans will point to for 365 days, it's a battle that makes a big difference on the end-of-the-year résumés for their respective conferences. This year, it's also about righting the ship after tough slides. Clemson had the ACC Atlantic Division in the bag with going into the fourth quarter against Boston College, and then got hit with 17 points and failed to capitalize on its chances late to, there's no other way to put it, choke it away. Hanging around at 22 in the latest BCS rankings, there's a shot at getting an at-large BCS bid if it can blow away South Carolina. The Gamecocks were right in the BCS hunt for a few minutes, and then the season made a quick left turn into mediocrity with a four-game losing streak to put bowl hopes in question. Injuries have been a problem, but a total defensive meltdown has been the bigger issue. After losing four straight in the series, the Gamecocks pulled out a 31-28 win last year as part of a nice three-game winning streak to end the season, while Clemson went belly up losing four it its last five. Tiger fans aren't going to be too pleased with another disaster.
Why Clemson might win: South Carolina's defense can't stop anyone. There were problems after the loss of All-America LB Jasper Brinkley, and then things quickly went south as Arkansas tore off 651 yards of total offense, and 570 rushing yards, with four touchdown runs, while Florida came up with 537 yards of total offense and five scoring runs. Clemson's offense might have struggled against an inspired Boston College D, but it's been a machine against average defenses all season long. SEC fans might disagree, but Clemson's defense is the best the Gamecocks have faced since the loss to LSU. Outside of one blown coverage against BC, the Tiger secondary has been unbelievable.
Why South Carolina might win: All the pressure is on Clemson. South Carolina might need this game to pull out of the doldrums, but it has the injury excuse to fall back on. If Clemson loses this, all the good that came with the 8-2 start will be wiped away. The one really, really good Tiger win came over, um, uhhhh .... Florida State in the opener? To be fair, the Tigers blasted a good Wake Forest team and hung 70 on a Central Michigan team that'll likely win the MAC, but it's not like USC will see speed and talent it hasn't faced before in SEC play. The Gamecock passing game has been strong over the past few weeks, and while Clemson's secondary is having a statistically great year, it faced only one team that throws the ball effectively, Boston College, and it was lit up for 315 yards. Blake Mitchell isn't Matt Ryan, but he's playing well.
Who to watch: Only four South Carolina starting quarterbacks have beaten Clemson more than once, and it hasn't happened in more than ten years. Mitchell struggled in his first attempt against the Tigers, throwing three interceptions in the 13-9 loss two years ago. He wasn't much better last year giving away three more picks, but he also threw for 268 yards and won the game. That's six interceptions and no touchdown passes in two tries, but he could throw ten interceptions and still be hailed as a hero if he pulls out a win. For all the yards he's bombed away for, he has only thrown four touchdown passes against teams with a pulse and isn't making the clutch throws to turn games around. Again, all that matters is pulling out the win for his disappointing career to suddenly become something special.
What will happen: Oh yeah, Clemson has a running game. Relatively dormant over the last few weeks it'll break out and dominate from the start. It won't exactly be the Arkansas game all over again for the Gamecocks, but it won't be far off.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 38 ... South Carolina 30 ... Line: Clemson -3

Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...3.5

Alabama (6-5) at Auburn (7-4)  8:00 PM  ESPN
Why to watch
: UL Monroe, schUL Monroe. Nick Saban wasn't given the gross national product of a third world nation to beat the Warhawks. He was brought in to do three things: 1) Make Alabama a consistent SEC contender again, 2) beat Auburn and 3) beat Auburn. The Tide had been playing with fire all season long beating Arkansas, Houston and Ole Miss by less than a touchdown each, and now it's been on the flip side losing to LSU, Mississippi State and to, yeah, UL Monroe all by a touchdown or less. The Tide is half empty fan would look at the three-game losing streak and figure the team has hit the wall. The Tide is half full fan would say the team was roughly five big plays away from being undefeated. After all, no one has beaten Bama by more than seven points. The Tide really is better than the last three weeks would suggest, but a four game slide, first year or not, would send up panic flairs. Auburn is sort of in the same boat as Bama; it just doesn't know it. A good season by most measures, Auburn was 7-3 with good wins over Florida and Auburn to get excited about, and losses to South Florida, LSU and Georgia, which now all look acceptable, along with a home clunker against a revved up Mississippi State. A loss to Alabama wouldn't just be a loss to Alabama, it would be the team's second straight loss with a chance at a 7-6 season with a loss in the bowl game. It's not like head coach Tommy Tuberville is on any sort of a hot seat, but he could be in a big hurry if he doesn't make it six straight over the Tide.
Why Alabama might win: Auburn's offense isn't great, but it can be great when things get tight. This isn't an attack built on making big comebacks, and it's not explosive enough to get out to any sort of a big lead that should make the Bama offense panic. The Tide D might not get to the quarterback enough, and it might not do enough to change games around, but it's been rock solid throughout the year and has more often than not stiffened when it's had to. If the offense can get any sort of a lead, the defense should be able to hang on and force the Tigers to be something they're not. The Tide secondary is just good enough to keep the pedestrian Auburn receivers from getting into any sort of a groove.
Why Auburn might win: Forget the debacle against Georgia; the Tiger defense is far, far better than it showed two weeks ago and is among the best in the nation against average offenses. Alabama's offense is hardly in a lather lately and will likely see at least one aspect of its attack completely erased. Auburn doesn't have a big-time offense, and it won't need one in this game. It'll need to keep the chains moving, not turn the ball over, and with the nation's number one punting game, win the field position battle. If if the Tigers can do that, and if the offense can take advantage of every good opportunity, there shouldn't be any problems. To put it bluntly, Alabama just isn't good enough to beat Auburn straight up. As long as AU doesn't screw up, it should be fine.
Who to watch: Auburn QB Brandon Cox is just plain awful against Georgia. He led the team to a win over the Dawgs two years ago, but he has thrown eight picks in the last two games against them, both losses, and stunk it up two weeks ago in Athens. That was Georgia, not Alabama. In two games against the Tide, Cox has been mediocre, completing 20 of 35 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns, but he hasn't thrown an interception and won both battles. A victory on Saturday would cement his legacy as a quarterback who beat Bama three times, which would gloss over the slight disappointment his career has been since taking over for Jason Campbell.
What will happen: Cox threw just one interception in a seven game span before the meltdown against Georgia, and he'll be back on track this week. With two weeks off to rest up and prepare, the Tigers will be fresher on defense and more efficient on offense. It'll be a workmanlike win over the Tide with Wes Byrum coming through with field goal after field goal when the Tiger offense stalls.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 26 ... Alabama 17 ... Line: Auburn -6

Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories  equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...4

SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 13, Part 1