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SEC Fearless Predictions, Nov. 1
Florida QB Tim Tebow
Florida QB Tim Tebow
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 29, 2008


Is Tim Tebow ready to win a really big game? A really, really big game? He has led Florida to a few big wins, but beating Georgia would pave the way to an SEC East title and keep national title hopes alive. Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 10 SEC Games.

SEC
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 | Sept. 20
- Sept. 27 | Oct. 4 | Oct. 11 | Oct. 18 | Oct. 25

How are the picks so far? SU: 42-16 ... ATS: 21-29

- SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 10, Nov. 1, Part 2 (Tenn vs. So Car.)

SEC Game of the Week

Florida (6-1) at Georgia (7-1), 3:30 EST CBS
Why to watch: Now that Vanderbilt has turned into Vanderbilt again, South Carolina has become its normal, slightly above-average self, and Tennessee and Kentucky decided not to play any offense this year, the East has come down to the two superpowers playing in what amounts to the division championship game and an elimination battle for the national title hunt. The winner will need to win out and will need a Penn State loss and/or a one-loss Big 12 champion to have a shot at the national title, but for now, just getting through the annual Cocktail Party will be enough.

Much has been made about the show-of-unity stomping done by Georgia in last year’s 42-30 win over the Gators, and it’s being used as motivation by both sides. Florida doesn’t appear to need any extra fire at the moment after stomping on LSU and Kentucky by a total score of 114-26; the offense is rolling at just the right time. The Gators lead the SEC in scoring, the defense leads the league in scoring defense, but things broke down late in the 31-30 home loss to Ole Miss that might turn out to be the difference between the national title and, if everything goes well, the Sugar Bowl.  

For Georgia, all sins from the Alabama loss can potentially be forgiven by winning out. The nation’s No. 1 team to start the season finally made its big statement by blasting LSU 52-38 in Baton Rouge. Yeah, Florida destroyed the Tigers, too, but that was in the Swamp. The Bulldogs are banged up, a bit beaten, and way too inconsistent. It doesn’t matter. This team always plays well on the road under Mark Richt, it always comes up with production when needed from key spots, like the offensive line last week, and the defense, despite the 38 hung on the board by the Tigers, is starting to shine. As good as Georgia is, it’ll be tested by more than just the tough schedule, but by the traveling. This is the second of four straight games away from home. The Dawgs will go a whopping 41 days between home games, but if they can survive, and if they can beat Bama in a rematch in the SEC Championship, they’ll play for the national title if they can get a loss from Penn State or a loss from the eventual Big 12 champion.

Why Florida might win: Don’t let Georgia’s 52 points hung on LSU fool you; two of the touchdowns came from house calls made by LB Darryl Gamble, getting the first score of the game and the last. Yeah, Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno played like the top ten draft picks they’re going to be, and Georgia does lead all SEC teams in total offense, but the yards haven’t always led to points. The Florida no-name defense (fine, so Brandon Spikes is an SEC household name) had a horrible third quarter and a one play fourth quarter brain cramp against Ole Miss, but that’s been it. No one’s throwing the ball with any regularity on the Gator defensive back seven, and the yards aren’t flowing. Georgia might be able to run or throw, but it’s not going to be able to do both.
Why Georgia might win: The really good offense Florida has faced has been … LSU? The Tiger attack is fine, but it’s not anything special. Hawaii? Not this year. Tennessee? Definitely not this year. Arkansas, Ole Miss, Kentucky? No, nope, and not until late in games. How will Florida handle being slugged in the mouth by the patchwork, but physical Bulldog defensive front, and how will it handle the first big pass play from Stafford? Georgia is every bit as athletic, every bit as fast, and every bit as good. And then there’s the quarterback factor. Outside of their own practices, the Gators haven’t faced any quarterback in the same zip code as Stafford talent-wise.
Who to watch: The two teams are loaded with incredible talent and athleticism on both sides of the ball, but this showdown will come down to the two big guns: Tebow and Stafford. For all the great things Tebow has done, he doesn’t have the signature win like Stafford has (last year’s Florida game). The national title team was Chris Leak’s, with Tebow a bruising accessory. With Tebow at the helm, Florida lost to Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Michigan last year, and while the Tennessee wins have been nice, and the LSU win this year was strong, beating Georgia would officially get the Heisman campaign back on the map while showing that yeah, he really can come through and be the type of player to win with. On the other side, consider it a near-lock that Stafford will bolt early for the NFL after this season; he’s insane not to considering the lack of pro quarterback talent in the 2009 Draft. The knock on him was that the production didn’t necessarily match the talent, but no one’s saying that anymore after a fantastic season with 1,946 yards and 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s taking more chances, opening things up a bit more, and is playing like a possible No. 1 overall pick. If Georgia wins this game, Stafford will be the guy who beat Tebow twice.
What will happen: These are two loaded teams that are each playing up to their full capabilities coming down the home stretch. This will be the most spirited Cocktail Party in years with so much on the line after what happened last year, but don’t expect anything weird to come from Florida in retaliation. Instead, expect the most creative gameplan Urban Meyer and his staff has come up with all season long. Georgia will keep up the pace, but this time, it’ll be Tebow who gets the victory as Florida goes on to win the East.
CFN Prediction: Florida 26 … Georgia 20 ... Line: Florida -5.5
Must See Rating: (5 RocknRolla – 1 High School Musical 3: Senior Year) … 5
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Saturday, November 1

Auburn (4-4) at Ole Miss (4-4), 12:30 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: Same records, different directions. Ole Miss is 4-4 and coming off a 23-21 win over Arkansas to halt a two-game losing skid, and the needle is pointing up for the Houston Nutt era with a good base of players and the potential for a bowl game in what was considered nothing more than a rebuilding season. Auburn is 4-4 but it has the wheels have come off a team considered good enough before the season to win the SEC West. The offense went nowhere, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin got canned, and the offense was just as bad. With Georgia and Auburn still to play, after a layup against UT Martin, a loss this week might mean the Tigers will miss out on a bowl game. SEC fan bases don’t like to be disappointed, and all of a sudden, head coach Tommy Tuberville, as great as he has been, could be on a major hot seat.
Why Auburn might win: Don’t blame the defense. There might be a slew of banged up players, like star corner Jerraud Powers and defensive end Antoine Carter, but the defense keeps on producing. It didn’t get any help from the offense and wore down in the second half against West Virginia. Ole Miss has an improving offense, but it isn’t anything special and it’s not going to crank out big numbers against a Tiger D that won’t give up anything through the air and will be next to impossible to run on up the middle.
Why Ole Miss might win: The Auburn offense really is bad. There was little passing game before with Chris Todd under center, and now that he’s out hurt, there might as well not be any wide receivers on the field with Kodi Burns under center. The Tigers have one of the least efficient passing attacks in America, meaning the Rebels’ biggest weakness, the secondary, won’t be exploited. It’ll also help that ...
Who to watch: … the defensive line should make plenty of big plays behind the line. All-America DE Greg Hardy will try to give it a go with his foot injury, while Peria Jerry is having a special year on the inside with three sacks in his last two games and 29 tackles overall. The pressure from the entire Rebel defensive front should be too much for Burns.
What will happen: The woes will continue for the Tigers. They’ll try to make it simple by power running on the Rebels, and they’ll have a little bit of success, but the absence of any passing game whatsoever will prove costly. Two Ole Miss turnovers will keep the game close.
CFN Prediction: Ole Miss 20 … Auburn 16 ... Line: Ole Miss -6
Must See Rating: (5 RocknRolla – 1 High School Musical 3: Senior Year) … 3
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Tulsa (8-0) at Arkansas (3-5), 2:00 EST, GamePlan
Why to watch: Okay, Tulsa, now that you’ve ripped through a soft schedule like a locomotive, let’s see what you can do versus an SEC school. Yeah, Arkansas isn’t Alabama, but if the Hurricane wants to spruce up its national image among voters, it has to prove it’s not just a product of playing in a weak Conference USA. The program has the nation’s most prolific offense and is one of five mid-majors still vying for a spot at the BCS bowl buffet. Want more storylines? The architect of that explosive Tulsa offense, Gus Malzahn, returns to Arkansas, where he had a messy divorce with the Razorbacks and was a legendary high school coach. And then there are the Hogs, lying in wait and hoping to spoil someone else’s season. Although Arkansas has played much better as the season has progressed, it hasn’t shown up in the standings and won’t likely result in a postseason game. Over the last three weeks, the Hogs have beaten Auburn and lost by a combined three points to Kentucky and Ole Miss.
Why Tulsa might win: As luck would have it, the SEC team Tulsa will face happens to have the league’s worst defense. While it’s obviously not Conference USA-bad, it has allowed 32 points a game and has been sketchy in pass defense. The Hurricane will attack, as usual, with a balanced offense averaging 267 yards on the ground and 357 through the air. QB David Johnson is on the fringe of Heisman contention, and is surrounded by a supporting cast of dynamic playmakers who can turn short hitches into long bursts through the secondary.
Why Arkansas might win: Razorback RB Michael Smith has had his way with the likes of Auburn and Florida this season. Running circles around a suspect Tulsa defense won’t be much of a problem. This is still an SEC team that can shove the Hurricane back off the line of scrimmage, creating daylight for Smith and time for Casey Dick to locate young receivers D.J. Williams, Joe Adams, and Greg Childs. It can’t be dismissed how far along the defense has come, getting more pressure on the quarterback and allowing an average of just 22 points in the last three games.
Who to watch: Even with Jonathan Luigs at the pivot, the Razorback offensive line has had problems protecting the passer all season. In fact, Arkansas is 117th nationally in sacks allowed. While Tulsa doesn’t have a great defense by any stretch, it does boast a lot of speed, and could challenge the Hog tackles with smaller, faster ends, like Moton Hopkins and Un'Tavious Scott.
What will happen: Tulsa has grown accustomed to building big leads and coasting down the stretch. It’ll have to follow a different script this weekend because Arkansas won’t be a pushover. While the Hogs will keep things close behind the running of Smith, the Hurricane offense can be contained for only so long. Even on his worst day of the season, Johnson will throw three touchdown passes and help keep Tulsa in the hunt for a BCS bowl game.
CFN Prediction: Tulsa 37 … Arkansas 28 ... Line: Tulsa -7
Must See Rating: (5 RocknRolla – 1 High School Musical 3: Senior Year) … 3
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Kentucky (5-3) at Mississippi State (3-5), 2:30 EST GamePlan
Why to watch: Kentucky tries to field a team despite a slew of major injuries making this a shadow of the team that looked so strong at times earlier this year against Alabama and South Carolina. A defense that had been so stingy and dangerous got destroyed by Florida 63-5 last week, and now, with Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee left to face, the Wildcats need to get bowl eligible … and fast. MSU has to win three of its final four games to get a 13th game. The Bulldogs have the honor of being the team that ended Vanderbilt’s early winning streak, and it also suffered the indignity of being on the wrong end of the 3-2 loss to Auburn. With a trip to Alabama up next, the Bulldogs can’t afford a loss this week. However, with Arkansas and Ole Miss to finish up, there’s a chance to go on a nice overall run to close out the regular season.
Why Kentucky might win: The Mississippi State offense is exactly the tonic the banged up Kentucky defense desperately needs. It’s not running particularly well, the passing game is non-existent, and if the defense isn’t generating turnovers or if Anthony Dixon isn’t busting free, points are hard to come by. MSU isn’t going to throw the ball on the UK secondary, and the O line should have a nightmare of a time with the UK pass rush, but …
Why Mississippi State might win: … Dixon should go nuts. The Wildcat defense that was such a brick wall against the run early on is struggling through all the major injuries. Star tackles Ricky Lumpkin and Myron Pryor are far less than 100%, linebackers Johnny Williams and Braxton Kelley are trying to fight their way though shoulder injuries, and Micah Johnson is out with an ankle problem. Arkansas RB Michael Smith ran for 192 yards on the Wildcats two weeks ago, Florida ripped off 214 yards and five rushing scores last week, and Alabama’s Glen Coffee ran for 218 yards and a score. Dixon is coming off a 126-yard, three touchdown day against Middle Tennessee and has two 100-yard games in the last three weeks.
Who to watch: The torch started to get passed over to Kentucky freshman QB Randall Cobb, who was the hero of the Arkansas win with two receiving scores, and now it’s his job. He didn’t do much against Florida, completing just 9-of-18 passes for 78 yards while rushing for 52 yards, but he adds more of a spark than Mike Hartline. MSU will have to focus everyone on the defensive front on stopping Cobb’s running ability, and the chances will be there for deep plays to open up. Cobb has to prove he cane make things happen with his arm on a consistent basis, while Hartline will be inserted from time to time in a rotation to try to get the passing game moving.
What will happen: The first score wins? Kentucky isn’t getting everyone back, but it’s starting to get just enough players back from injury to be solid again on defense. The offense will be just a wee bit better than the MSU attack, but not by much.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 17 … Mississippi State 13 ... Line: Mississippi State -3
Must See Rating: (5 RocknRolla – 1 High School Musical 3: Senior Year) … 2.5
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- SEC Fearless Predictions, Week 10, Nov. 1, Part 2 (LSU vs. Tulane)