SEC Fearless Predictions, Sept. 13, Part 2
Alabama QB John Parker Wilson
Alabama QB John Parker Wilson
Posted Aug 6, 2008

Previews and Predictions for the Week 3 SEC, Part 2

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

- SEC Fearless Predictions Aug. 30 | Sept. 6

How are the picks so far? SU: 16-5 ... ATS: 6-10

- SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Three

Western Kentucky (1-1) at Alabama (2-0), 7:00 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: Alabama had it all. After the dominant 34-10 win over Clemson to start the season, everyone fell in love with Crimson Tide football again. There was the cover of Sports Illustrated. There was talk about going from a sleeper to a favorite in the SEC race. There were even whispers that the young team was ahead of schedule just enough to be in the national title hunt. And then came last week’s 20-6 clunker of a victory over Tulane. The Green Wave outgained, outplayed and outworked the Tide, and now Nick Saban has to get his team playing back into midseason form with road trips to Arkansas and Georgia coming up next. Western Kentucky got ripped up by Indiana in week one and returned the favor against Eastern Kentucky last week. The Hilltoppers won’t be a fully-fledged FBS team until next year, but they’ll have a few more shots against the big boys playing Kentucky and Virginia Tech over the next few weeks.
Why Western Kentucky might win: If Alabama does that again, Western Kentucky has a shot. You and ten friends would have a shot if the Tide struggles like it did against Tulane. WKU did a good job against Indiana’s passing game, and did a better job against Eastern Kentucky’s running game. Alabama couldn’t pass protect last week, and it showed as John Parker Wilson only completed 11-of-23 passes for 73 yards. WKU has to get into the backfield early.
Why Alabama might win: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Alabama stunk last week. It still won. There was the inevitable letdown factor after the Clemson win, but this is a good enough Tide team to stink it up once in a while and still come away with the win. Indiana was able to run for 297 yards on the Hilltopper defense, and Alabama should be able to do the same.
Who to watch: Part of Alabama’s problem against Tulane was the offensive line. Actually, most of the problem was the offensive line. All-Everything tackle Andre Smith was out with a slight knee injury, while starting guard Marlon Davis left early with a knee injury. Both will be back. For WKU, stating quarterback K.J. Black is out with a dislocated shoulder. David Wolke was fine against Eastern Kentucky, but he wasn’t anything special. He’ll have to be special to give the Hilltoppers a shot.
What will happen: Alabama will rebound with a good, efficient day from J.P. Wilson, while the running game will get back on track with 200 yards.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 34 … Western Kentucky 10 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1.5
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Middle Tennessee (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0), 7:00 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: All those who had Middle Tennessee beating Maryland last week raise your hand. All those who had Kentucky turning in one of the two best defensive performances of the season so far raise your other hand. No you didn’t. The Blue Raiders stunned a hapless and punchless Maryland team 24-14 in one of the biggest wins in Middle Tennessee history. Unfortunately, the team would’ve rather come up with the opening day win against Troy, but after a 31-17 loss, there will be uphill battle for the Sun Belt title with a trip to face a read-hot Arkansas Stat next week. Kentucky’s defense was fantastic against Louisville and better against Norfolk State, giving up a total of five points in the two wins. As long as Rich Brooks’ club can avoid the upset, a 4-0 start is likely with Western Kentucky up next before kicking off the SEC slate at Alabama.
Why Middle Tennessee might win: It’s not like the Kentucky offense is hitting on all cylinders. It has been fine, but most of the success has come from the defense. If the Blue Raiders can hang around and keep it close, they can hope for the two-plus turnovers they’ll need to pull off the upset. They’ve forced seven turnovers in two games and should be able to come up with a few big defensive plays if UK starts to panic at any point. 
Why Kentucky might win: Middle Tennessee can forget about running the ball. The tremendous UK defensive front has been a brick wall against the run so far, while the secondary hasn’t been too bad, either. There won’t be any chances taken by the offense, even if the Blue Raiders get up early. UK should be able to keep it conservative, not turn the ball over, and hope the defense and special teams can take care of the rest. Middle Tennessee isn’t going to come up with an offensive explosion.
Who to watch: Mike Hartline didn’t set the world on fire as the UK starting quarterback with no touchdown passes and just 207 yards in two games. Needing to add more flash to the mix, the UK coaching staff threw Randall Cobb to the wolves last week. While the freshman struggled at times and is expected to make a few big mistakes, he has the talent to be one the offense revolves around for the next few years. Cobb only completed 6-of-11 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Norfolk State, but he ran for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
What will happen: Kentucky’s defense will come up with five sacks of Middle Tennessee QB Joe Craddock and will keep the Blue Raiders under 100 yards rushing. The UK offense won’t be special, but it’ll be effective enough to get by.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 26 … Middle Tennessee 13 ... Line: Kentucky -16.5  
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 2
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Samford (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-1), 7:00 PM ET
Why to watch: Ole Miss should probably by 2-0. After beating Memphis without too much of a problem, the Rebels and QB Jevan Snead came up with an impressive late rally to take a 28-27 lead against Wake Forest with just over a minute to play. Demon Deacon QB Riley Skinner led the way down the field into All-America PK Sam Swank’s range, helped by a key pass interference call, and now Houston Nutt is 1-1 as the Ole Miss head man. It’ll be 2-1 after this week before battling with an upstart Vanderbilt team, but the Rebels need to get some work in. The defensive line has to tighten up through all the injuries, and the offense could use a bit more pop. Samford is expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Southern Conference, but it’s 2-0 after getting by West Georgia 21-19 and blowing away Faulkner 62-0. This is the Bulldogs’ only game against an FBS team.
Why Samford might win: The defense was a nightmare throughout last season, but it’s been solid so far. The run defense has only allowed 35 net yards while the pass rush has been excellent. The offense has run at will with 367 yards and seven touchdowns against Faulkner, but that was against Faulkner.
Why Ole Miss might win: If West Georgia’s Sean Gray could throw for 315 yards and two touchdowns, Snead should be able to do whatever he wants to. The Rebel offensive line should dominate from the opening whistle, and the Rebel running game should start to produce a big rushing total for the first time under Nutt.
Who to watch: Ole Miss might have lost to Wake Forest, but it found its quarterback and its star. Snead, a transfer from Texas, struggled a bit against Memphis, but he was stellar against the Demon Deacons completing 20-of-31 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns. Most importantly, he came through when the team needed him to in the clutch.
What will happen: Ole Miss will run for over 300 yards and the backups will be in just before the end of the third quarter.
CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 45 … Samford 10 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1
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North Texas (0-2) at LSU (1-0), 8:00 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: LSU has been able to beat almost everyone in its path, but it can’t beat Mother Nature. Hurricane Gustav forced last week’s game against Troy to be postponed until November, and this week’s game against North Texas was a question mark with even more bad weather on its way. Hurricane Ike is supposed to miss the battered and beaten Baton Rouge area, so instead of moving the game to a separate location, the Mean Green and Tigers will get in on Saturday night in Death Valley. UNT hasn’t been creating much of a storm so far getting blown out in the opening two games against Kansas State and Tulsa by a combined score of 101 to 32. The defense hasn’t even been close while the supposedly high-octane offense hasn’t done much. LSU is back on the field for the first time since a 41-13 pasting of Appalachian State. The team has had far more to deal with than just football, but with Auburn coming up next week, there can’t be any lack of focus now.
Why North Texas might win: The Mean Green might have more of a distraction than LSU considering Ike is supposed to hit Texas, but considering the damage and the clean up the Tigers have had to deal with, football hasn’t been priority one. The Mean Green offense has to start bombing away like it did at times last season, while the defense has to hold up for a drive or two early on to keep this from being over in the first quarter.
Why LSU might win: Tulsa’s David Johnson threw for 420 yards and six touchdowns, while Kansas State’s quarterbacks combined to throw for 306 yards and three scores. The LSU combination of Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch threw for 193 yards and four touchdowns against Appalachian State, and they should be able to take advantage of a UNT that’ll have to concentrate on stopping the run.
Who to watch: Giovanni Vizza is still the North Texas starting quarterback … for now. The sophomore hasn’t thrown an interception yet and has been fine, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns in two games, but he hasn’t been lights out. Star recruit Riley Dodge, head coach Todd Dodge’s son, will be used a bit as a receiver, but it could be just a matter of time before there’s a quarterback switch if Vizza isn’t getting the job done.
What will happen: LSU won’t have any interest in doing anything other than getting this over with as soon as possible.
CFN Prediction: LSU 50 … North Texas 3 ... Line: LSU -41
Must See Rating: (5 Hole in the Wall - 1 First Blood) … 1.5
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- SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Three