2009 SEC Fearless Predictions - Week 2
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
Posted Sep 9, 2009

Previews and Predictions for the Week 2 SEC Games.

2009 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 2 ... Sept. 13 Games

East | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
West Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | LSU | Ole Miss | Miss State
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SEC Fearless Predictions
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- Week 2 Part 2 (Vandy at LSU, MSU at Auburn, FIU at Bama)

Game of the Week

South Carolina (1-0) at Georgia (0-1), 7:00 EST, Saturday, September 12, ESPN2

Why to watch: There's ugly, and then there's what South Carolina and Georgia came up with in the opening weekend. The Gamecocks won a 7-3 snoozefest at NC State, and while it might not have been the offensive showcase that head coach Steve Spurrier and USC fans hoped for, it was a tough, hard-fought win that the team likely would've lost last year by throwing a pick or making a huge mistake at the wrong time. Meanwhile, Georgia was just plan flat. The defense was popping and the effort appeared to be there in the loss to Oklahoma State, but there was no offensive explosion, no consistency, and awful play by both lines. It's now or never for the Dawgs with no true breather, considering the Arkansas and Vanderbilt games on the road, until the Tennessee Tech game in early November. For South Carolina, a win would set the bar at a whole other level with an apparent layup against Florida Atlantic next week to kick off a run of four straight home games. It's a stretch to say the loser is out of the SEC title hunt, but there will be little to no margin for error the rest of the way.
Why South Carolina might win: Oklahoma State, who couldn't generate a lick of a pass rush last season, was in the Georgia backfield most of last week registering two sacks while holding the Dawgs to just 95 rushing yards. That was Oklahoma State; that wasn't South Carolina. The Gamecock D camped out behind the line in the NC State win cranking out six sacks and nine tackles for loss, and now it doesn't have to deal with Georgia OT Trinton Sturdivant, who's out for the year with a knee injury. The Dawg line has more talent than it showed last week, but if it's not jelled, it's going to be yet another ugly day for inconsistent attack.
Why Georgia might win: South Carolina managed just seven points last week and only got those because NC State screwed up and turned the ball over on its own 14. Without the turnover, that game seemed like it could've had 20 quarters and South Carolina wasn't going to threaten to get in the end zone without getting a takeaway. Unlike NC State, Georgia has some living, breathing firepower that wasn't unleashed in Stillwater. A.J. Green is a fantastic receiver who was kept under wraps, catching just four passes for 52 yards, while the running game should get a big boost helped by …
Who to watch: ... the return of Caleb King. Georgia has talented backs to form a nice rotation, but the best of the lot is supposed to be King, even though he hasn't been able to show it off yet because of injuries. He missed the Oklahoma State game with a hamstring problem, but now he's back to 100% and he could provide the spark that the offense was so desperately missing in the loss. If he's not stellar, then the offense falls on the arm of Joe Cox, who struggled to make anything happen completing just 15-of-30 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown with an interception. On the other side, South Carolina's Stephen Garcia threw just one interception against NC State. That's significant because the Gamecocks were killed last year by multiple interception games. Able to run well and with a gunslinger's mentality, he's a pure baller who's the type of player who finds ways to get the job done, even if it's not pretty. However, he can't start turning it over this week if the Gamecocks are going to have a shot.
What will happen: It's not going to be a shootout. Georgia isn't going to come up with a clunker two weeks in a row, and while the offense is hardly going to roll, it'll be a bit better. The Dawg defense will control the game, while King and the running game will do just enough to get by.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 23 … South Carolina 10 ... Line: Georgia -8
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 3 ... Free Expert Football Predictions

Troy (0-1) at Florida (1-0), 12:20 EST, Saturday, September 12, ESPN GamePlan

Why to watch: It's not Charleston Southern, but it's not exactly supposed to be a big test for the No. 1 team in the country after Troy got blown away by Bowling Green last week. The Trojans, considered by most to be the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt title, couldn't handle the Falcon passing game and got inconsistent play from the offense. Even so, the team is used to playing in hostile conditions and isn't bad at playing the big boys tough from time to time. The last time they were in an SEC stadium was last season, when they had LSU on the ropes before getting their doors blown off in a wild fourth quarter. Florida did what it was supposed to do last week to Charleston Southern in a nice exhibition, and while it'll try to do the one-game-at-a-time thing, Tennessee comes to town next weekend.
Why Troy might win: While it didn't show it last week, the Troy offense has the type of experience and talent to potentially give the Gators a bit of a scare. The Trojan offensive line should be the best in the Sun Belt, while the defensive front, led by Brandon Lang, has enough speed and quickness to potentially be disruptive in the backfield. Troy is used to seeing the spread every day in practice and it's not going to see Florida do anything different. If the Trojan offense can find a little balance and keep the chains moving, something it couldn't do against the Falcons, this might be a little bit of a battle.
Why Florida might win: Bowling Green's passing game ripped through the Trojan secondary. The Troy defensive front seven has the potential to be fantastic, but the secondary is the weak link, and it showed with Freddie Barnes catching 15 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and Tyler Sheehan throwing for 339 yards and two scores. Florida won't just win using the passing game; it'll be able to turn decent plays into big ones once the speedy backs get past the second level.
Who to watch: Florida's Brandon Spikes is the favorite to win the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker, but Troy's Boris Lee isn't far off. Having to do more over the first two games with his all-star running mate, Bear Woods, suspended, Lee has to be all over the field and he has to be the one who keeps Tebow and his backfield in check. Last week, Florida ran for 369 yards and five touchdowns helped by several big plays. Lee, who made ten stops in last week's loss, has to change that and be the first line of defense.
What will happen: Troy will make this interesting for just over a half, and then the woes on offense will be too much to overcome. Florida will go on a nice run in the third quarter and allow everyone to start focusing on how to properly yell at Lane Kiffin.
CFN Prediction: Florida 45 … Troy 10 ... Line: Florida -36.5
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 2 ... Free Expert Football Predictions

UCLA (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0), 4:00 EST, Saturday, September 12, ESPN

Why to watch: The beginning of the Rick Neuheisel era got off to a thrilling start last season with a 27-24 overtime win over Tennessee in the 2008 opener. Little did anyone realize at the time that UCLA would end up being so inept, while Tennessee would also go into the tank and become one of the season's greatest disappointments. The UCLA offense finished 111th in the nation and was 109th in scoring, while Tennessee finished 115th in yards and 110th in points. This season, each team is trying to rebuild anew and will be looking to make big statements that the times really are changing. For the Bruins, another win over Tennessee would bring a whole new measure of respect, at least compared to last year's victory. After beating San Diego State to open the season, and with what looks like a relatively easy road over the next few weeks, if Oregon really is as lousy as it played against Boise State, a win in Knoxville might be the start of a big run for the Bruins. For the Vols, everyone will be pointing to next week's showdown at Florida in what should be one of the nastiest games of the year. Blowing Western Kentucky out of the water in a 63-7 waxing might be a bit cathartic and might have been a nice start to the Lane Kiffin era, but this is a needed step up the ladder to show that the program has improved since almost 365 days ago. With five home games in the first six, this is when Tennessee has to take advantage of the schedule breaks, and it has to go into Gainesville next week roaring.
Why UCLA might win: While it didn't necessarily show it last week, especially early on when San Diego State was able to put up 14 points in the first quarter, highlighted by a 78-yard pass play for an Aztec touchdown, the UCLA defense really should be good. This is a young group, but it's a talented one with good athleticism and nice upside. The D put the clamps down over the last three quarters against SDSU, and it didn't allow any sort of a running game. Tennessee might lead the nation in offense after one game, but UCLA isn't Western Kentucky. The floodgates opened when the Hilltoppers started screwing up, so if the Bruins could hang on to the ball, this might turn out to be a bit of a slugfest.
Why Tennessee might win: The UCLA offense is still awful, while the secondary is a concern. With the loss of starting corner Aaron Hester to a broken leg, the Bruins are very thin, and very small in the defensive backfield. The Tennessee passing game clicked against WKU, and if the bigger receivers can exploit the size advantage, and if Courtney Viney doesn't shine in Hester's place, Vol QB Jonathan Crompton could have a second straight big game. If Tennessee gets any sort of a lead, UCLA doesn't have the matured firepower to keep up. It'll be a year or so before the strong 2009 recruiting class pays off, and as shown against SDSU, UCLA still has an inefficient passing game and little ground attack. Defensively, there wasn't much of a pass rush, and that has to change in a big hurry or else ...
Who to watch: … Crompton could have another big game. A disaster last year, throwing four touchdown passes and five interceptions as the starter over the first four games and with a smattering of time late, Crompton came up with five scoring passes on a 21-of-28 day against WKU. He only threw for 233 yards and gave away two interceptions, but he showed a more accurate passing touch, came through with the big throws needed to make the game a laugher, and he took a great step forward to possibly being the leader who could make this a promising season. For UCLA, Kevin Prince threw two interceptions and a touchdown pass, and only threw for 176 yards, but the coaching staff liked his accuracy, completing 18-of-29 passes, and there was promise that he could be the steady playmaker under center that the Bruin attack missed so much last year.
What will happen: Tennessee won't explode like it did against WKU, but it'll have a balanced offense that utilizes RB Bryce Brown more and only makes Crompton throw the short-to-midrange passes with the hope for the receivers to make things happen against the thin Bruin secondary. UCLA won't be able to run, Prince will throw four picks, and the Vols will have the win they want before battling Florida.
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 30 … UCLA 17 ... Line: Tennessee -8
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 3.5 ... Free Expert Football Predictions

- Week 2 Part 2 (Vandy at LSU, MSU at Auburn, FIU at Bama)