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SEC Fearless Predictions, Sept. 20
Auburn RB Ben Tate
Auburn RB Ben Tate
Posted Sep 15, 2008

It's the biggest weekend of the year for the SEC with Tennessee and Florida to kickstart the East race, Georgia going to Arizona State for a great non-conference matchup, and Ben Tate and Auburn hosting LSU in what might be the SEC West championship game. Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 4 SEC Games.

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

- SEC Fearless Predictions Aug. 30 | Sept. 6 | Sept. 13

How are the picks so far? SU: 24-5 ... ATS: 10-12

- SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2

SEC Game of the Week

LSU (2-0) at Auburn (3-0), 7:45 EST ESPN
Why to watch: Alabama is good, really good, but it’s at least a year away from getting over the hump and becoming the SEC West champion. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but the Tide is young, and it has to go to Georgia, LSU and Tennessee. Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas have just enough to beat anyone in the SEC on a given day, but none of the three will come within ten miles of the West title. Basically, the battle of Tigers should decide who wins the SEC West title and it’ll launch the winner into national title discussion. LSU has been good, but distracted. Hurricanes have wreaked havoc on the Baton Rouge area and force what was supposed to be a tune-up game against Troy to mid-November. While the defending national champions are still filling in the gaps after losing a slew of top talents, the defense is as nasty as ever, there’s still explosion on offense, and the running game might be even more deadly. Meanwhile, Auburn’s defense has been terrific, while the offense has been … the defense has been terrific. The Tigers are coming off a 3-2 war of suffering attacks at Mississippi State, and while things might not be clicking into overdrive for the Tony Franklin attack, the running game is solid. This is more than just a great SEC battle. This is a showdown of two national title-worthy defenses playing at the highest level, and it shapes up to be a classic.
Why LSU might win: Auburn’s offense isn’t working. It has been fine at times, but the three wins came from great defense and an offense that has taken advantage of every opportunity. Forget about a passing game, Auburn’s is the least efficient in the SEC and it only cranking out 162 yards per game. LSU won’t have to worry about the deep ball, and it certainly won’t have to worry about a big run of points. If either team has the ability to pull away, it’s LSU.
Why Auburn might win: The LSU defense has been great, but that’s partly because it faced Appalachian State and North Texas. Not only did the D lose Glenn Dorsey, Ali Highsmith, Craig Steltz, and Bo Pelini, but now it’ll be without top linebacker Darry Beckwith after a knee injury suffered against the Mean Green. Auburn’s offensive line has allowed just three sacks so far, while LSU is last in the SEC in tackles for loss and hasn’t been able to generate a consistent pass rush despite having an NFL-caliber front four.
Who to watch: The lines are fantastic. Both the offensive and defensive lines for each team are loaded with NFL talent, including a few potential first rounders on display. Tyson Jackson, Al Woods and Ricky Jean-Francois form the nucleus of arguably the most talented defensive line in America, but the Dorsey-less LSU front four has to prove it’s the real deal against the dominant Auburn offensive front. Meanwhile, Auburn’s Sen’Derrick Marks can solidify himself as a top ten pick, assuming he’s leaving early, with a second straight strong game against LSU. He was a monster in last year’s 30-24 loss in a game that shot him up everyone’s draft board. Now he’ll be a marked man and the first player LSU has to focus on stopping.
What will happen: Welcome back to the 10th Annual CFN Not-At-All-Clever Lock of the Century pick … the Tigers will win. It’ll be a great defensive battle with each team’s quarterback play spotty at best. LSU has the better offensive personnel by far, but the Auburn defense will keep the game close until one of the LSU quarterbacks, Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee are each expected to play, throws a key interception that’ll be the razor-thin difference.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 16 … LSU 14 ... Line: LSU -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 5
- Click here to receive ATS Consultants FREE selections   

Saturday, Sept. 20

Mississippi State (1-2) at Georgia Tech (2-1), 12 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: If you rue the day that the forward pass was invented, this week’s game in Atlanta was scheduled just you. For everyone else, the first meeting between Mississippi State and Georgia Tech since 1929 won’t exactly be a must-see event. Although the Yellow Jackets suffered their first defeat of the season, a 20-17 nail-biter to Virginia Tech, being 2-1 at this point is a full game better than expectations. With Duke and Gardner-Webb to follow, a win here to start the three-game homestand should have Tech at 5-1 before traveling to Clemson on Oct. 18. The Bulldogs have the distinction in taking part in one of the ugliest SEC games ever, a 3-2 loss to Auburn last Saturday. Having already lost to Louisiana Tech, they can ill-afford to drop to 1-3 and still have a serious shot at another bowl invitation.
Why Mississippi State might win
: The reason the Bulldogs have been in every game is because the defense can play. They’ve allowed just one meaningful touchdown all season and have been unbeatable through the air. With DT Jessie Bowman and LB Dominic Douglas bolstering the front seven, Mississippi State has owned the line of scrimmage, racking up 17 tackles for loss. As long as this unit keeps playing lights out, the Bulldogs will be in every game no matter what the offense produces.
Why Georgia Tech might win: The Yellow Jackets defense has been every bit as good as the Bulldogs through three games, shutting down passing lanes and generating constant pocket pressure. Wesley Carroll’s problems at quarterback will be exacerbated by Darryl Richard, Derrick Morgan, and Vance Walker, who’ll be in his grill all afternoon. Bad offenses, like the one from Starkville, have little chance of moving the ball on this seasoned front seven.
Who to watch: Sophomore QB Josh Nesbitt is evolving into a nice fit for the Tech offense. He leads the Yellow Jackets in rushing and is coming off his best game, a 260-yard, two-touchdown effort in Blacksburg. When he and B-back Jonathan Dwyer are clicking on the option, the ground attack can wear out even quality defenses.
What will happen: Even after losing to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech is a confident group that’s getting better with more time in the new system. It’ll be another tight defensive struggle for the Yellow Jackets, who’ll survive on the strength of a defense that’ll shut the door on Mississippi State.
CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 20 … Mississippi State 12 ... Line: Georgia Tech -7.5
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 3
- Click here to receive ATS Consultants FREE selections  

Alabama (3-0) at Arkansas (2-0), 12:30 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: These two SEC West foes have played some terrific games over the years with three of the last five decided by a total of seven points. Arkansas is looking for its first big statement win to get the Bobby Petrino era rolling, while Alabama is looking to make some SEC noise after still enjoying the buzz from an opening day stunner over Clemson. Alabama showed that the struggles in a 20-6 win over Tulane might have been a blip on the screen with a dominant 41-7 win over Western Kentucky, while Arkansas got an extra week to prepare after Hurricane Ike forced the showdown against Texas to be moved to next week. Unfortunately for the Hogs, that means a murderous slate of games in a row with at Texas, Florida, and at Auburn to follow the visit from Bama. The Tide doesn’t have it any easier with a trip to Georgia next week.
Why Alabama might win: Arkansas has had a nightmare of a time protecting QB Casey Dick. The Hogs have had issues on the offensive line, it wasn’t exactly put together to protect the quarterback on a regular basis, but allowing eight sacks to Western Illinois and UL Monroe is still not a plus. Alabama might not have a killer pass rush, but there are enough athletes to get into the backfield on a regular basis and do some damage.
Why Arkansas might win: The pressure if off. After struggling to get past WIU and ULM, and with the pieces not in place to make any sort of a run at the SEC title, expectations are relatively low this year for the Hogs. A bowl game is attainable with any big wins certain to be a positive step forward. Alabama is supposed to be a major player for the SEC title, and if the defense that leads the nation against the run starts to get slammed around a bit by a Hog O line that’s built to run block, the momentum could be on the Arkansas side early on. For all of Arkansas’ problems so far, it’s a bit more battle tested than Bama with two tight wins, while the Tide hasn’t had to deal with a tough fourth quarter yet.
Who to watch: Before this year, Dick had only thrown for more than 200 yards in two games. Once was last year in a blowout over North Texas, and the other came in a tight win two years ago against South Carolina. He hadn’t been within sniffing distance of a 300-yard passing day, and then comes Petrino and here come the stats. Dick has been ultra-efficient in his first two games throwing for 318 yards and two scores against Western Illinois, to go along with two rushing touchdowns, and threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns against ULM. Tulane’s Kevin Moore was able to throw for 225 yards, and Dick should blow well past that.
What will happen: The Alabama defensive front will come up with six sacks while holding Arkansas RB Michael Smith to under 75 rushing yards. The Tide offense won’t be pretty, but it’ll take advantage of a few key opportunities to get a tough road win.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 27 … Arkansas 16 ... Line: Alabama -9.5
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 3
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Florida (2-0) at Tennessee (1-1), 3:30 EST CBS
Why to watch: This continues to be one of the marquee matchups and circle games of the SEC season, but Tennessee needs to pull off a win or the luster might fade a bit. Florida has won the last three in the series, including a 59-20 blasting last year, but the Vols were the ones playing LSU for the 2007 SEC championship. Phil Fulmer and the Vols got past UAB 35-3 last week, but now the emotionally-charged opening weekend overtime loss to UCLA doesn’t look so acceptable after BYU blasted the Bruins 59-0. Of course, a win over Florida would erase all the issues from the loss in Pasadena. The Gators have been nothing short of dominant, at least defensively, in the first two wins over Hawaii and Miami. The big question coming into the season was whether or not the secondary could improve, and it allowed just 260 yards in two games while the defense has given up just 390 total yards of offense and 13 points so far. Considering Ole Miss and Arkansas are rebuilding. Florida should be 5-0 going into the LSU showdown if it can get out of Tennessee alive. The Vols go to Auburn next week and have to travel to Georgia after a sandwich date with Northern Illinois. A loss to Florida could mean an 0-3 SEC start and a toasty seat for Fulmer, however, the second half of the year eases up bit.
Why Florida might win: The little things. The offense hasn’t hit its stride yet with a few key injuries keeping the attack under wraps, while the defense has been magnificent. The talent level is good enough to win most games without an issue, but it’s the way everything else is working that’s making Florida special in the early going. The Gators lead the nation in turnover margin, taking away 10 while losing just one interception. The special teams have been fantastic, and while penalties have been a problem, they haven’t been a killer. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s punting game has been awful. The last thing the Vols need is for Florida to win the field position battle.
Why Tennessee might win: Yeah the Florida defense has been great, but it’s not like it has faced a living, breathing offense yet. Hawaii’s attack is a mere shadow of its former self when Colt Brennan and the boys were winging it around. Miami has the potential to be good … in 2010. Tennessee’s offense has been a bit inconsistent and it hasn’t been able to find the right balance for a full four quarters, but it’s been productive averaging 457 yards over the first two games. The Tennessee running game has speed, power, and options to keep QB Jonathan Crompton from having to carry the attack, while the passing game will be the first real test for the Florida secondary.
Who to watch: Florida WR Percy Harvin vs. Tennessee safeties Eric Berry and Demetrice Morley. Harvin finally appears to be over a foot problem that kept him out of the Hawaii game and limited him a bit against Miami, even though he ran for a touchdown. This is the game when the coaching staff will take the wraps off and use him in a variety of ways. Meanwhile, Berry has lived up to his All-America potential so far with 10 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, while Morley has eight stops and a fumble recovery. Harvin will get his touches, but it’ll be up to the Tennessee DBs to keep the medium gains from becoming home runs.
What will happen: It’ll be up to the Tennessee defensive line. It hasn’t generated much pressure so far, and if it’s not getting to Tim Tebow on a regular basis, the Vol secondary, as great as it is, will still get picked apart. Tennessee will get its shots in, but Florida will have too many weapons and too much athleticism as it pulls away in the fourth quarter.
CFN Prediction: Florida 28 … Tennessee 17 ... Line: Florida -7.5
Must See Rating: (5 Dr. 90210 - 1 Biggest Loser: Families) … 4.5
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- SEC Fearless Predictions, Week Four, Part 2