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2009 SEC Fearless Picks, Week 5, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 30, 2009


Previews and Predictions for the Week 5 SEC Games, Part 2

2009 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 5 ... Oct. 3 Games, Week 2

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 5 Part 1


Georgia Tech (3-1) at Mississippi State (2-2),7:30 EST, ESPN360, Saturday, October 3

Why to watch: Facing an early must-win situation, Georgia Tech delivered for Paul Johnson, handling North Carolina, 24-7, and bouncing back from an awful effort against Miami. The Yellow Jackets located their identity at just the right time, controlling the ball for over 42 minutes and kick-starting the ground game. Does last week’s performance mean Tech is also ready to start fulfilling heady preseason expectations? A road trip into SEC country will provide some answers. While Mississippi State is clearly a more viable competitor in Dan Mullen’s debut season, it’ll have to learn how to close out better teams when it has a chance. Last weekend, for instance. The Bulldogs were on the brink of a monumental upset of LSU, but failed in four attempts to punch in the game-winner from inside the two. While "no moral victories" was the edict from Mullen, you can’t help but notice the silver lining in the 30-26 defeat.
Why Georgia Tech might win: If the triple-option has indeed been corrected, Mississippi State could be in for a long evening. Not being in the ACC, it’s not the type of attack the Bulldogs are used to seeing. Against a very good North Carolina defense, the Yellow Jackets really clicked, rushing for 317 yards, including 158 from RB Jonathan Dwyer and 97 from QB Josh Nesbitt. Getting Dwyer back on the rails for the first time in 2009 was an encouraging development. The Tech defense is also fresh off its best game of the year, and won’t have to worry about stopping the nation’s 112th-ranked passing game.
Why Mississippi State might win: Since getting shredded by Auburn, the Bulldogs have been stout in run defense, a must for this week’s opponent. Spearheaded by linebackers Jamar Chaney, K.J. Wright, and Chris White, Mississippi State held Vanderbilt and LSU to just 63 rushing yards on 60 carries. On the flip side, it should have success running the ball with north-south road-grader Anthony Dixon, who’s gone over 100 yards in consecutive games. Don’t forget that before last week, Georgia Tech had problems defending the Clemson and Miami ground games. It will give up yards.
Who to watch: While both teams will lean heavily on the running game, who pops the occasional big play through the air? Nesbitt completed 7-of-11 passes last Saturday, and has a genuine game-breaker in well-sized Demaryius Thomas. Tyson Lee has been equally inconsistent as a passer, but has found a big-play weapon of his own in explosive TE Marcus Green. If either quarterback can make a few early connections, running room will be more abundant his backs.
What will happen: Playing in Starkville against a Mississippi State program with renewed confidence will be a very tough road test for visiting Georgia Tech. Just ask LSU. In a physical, run-dominated game, the Yellow Jackets will barely survive on the strength of their resurgent running game. Dwyer will go over the century mark for a second straight week, wearing down the back seven of that Bulldog defense.
CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 27 … Mississippi State 21 ... Line: Georgia Tech -4.5
Must See Rating: (Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami 5 … The Jay Leno Show 1) … 2.5

Texas A&M (3-0) at Arkansas (1-2), in Arlington, Texas, 7:30 EST, Saturday, October 3. ESPN2

Why to watch: If this isn’t the most fun game you’ll watch this weekend, and possibly this season, then it’ll be close … guaranteed. Neither team is all that great. They’re both good enough to end up in bowl games and they’re both good enough to knock off a big boy, but they’re fun-bad. Arkansas got shut down and almost shut out by Alabama last week in a reality check of a 35-7 loss, but that’s Alabama; that might be America’s best team. QB Ryan Mallett and the offense are going to chuck it all over the field, and the woeful secondary will give up yards just as quickly. Texas A&M will happily take them with the nation’s No. 1 offense, averaging 574 yards per game, to go along with an aggressive defense that will do whatever it can to get to the quarterback. The Aggies have played one of the softest schedules of any BCS team, facing a miserable New Mexico, Utah State, and UAB, and now they get to see if there’s any reason to get excited about the potential of the Mike Sherman era in year two.
Why Texas A&M might win: The Arkansas secondary hasn’t even been close. The Hogs have a little bit of a pass rush, but not enough of one to bother A&M QB Jerrod Johnson for a full sixty minutes. Arkansas made Georgia’s Joe Cox look like Joe Montana, while Bama’s Greg McElroy had a breakout game last weekend throwing for 291 yards and three scores. The Hogs give up passes short, deep, and in the middle, and A&M can move the ball all three ways. The tremendously efficient Aggie passing game should do whatever it wants to. However …
Why Arkansas might win:… the Aggie defense will finally face someone who can throw a forward pass at a high level. It’s one thing to face a high-powered offense every day in practice, and it’s another deal with Mallett and the way he can stretch a defense both vertically and horizontally. If Utah State’s Diondre Borel could throw for 334 yards, then Mallett should be able to get to 400 with a few flicks of his wrist.
Who to watch: Texas A&M’s Von Miller could end up being the difference maker. Whichever quarterback plays better will almost certainly get the win, and Miler could have something to say in the debate. The nation’s leading pass rusher with eight sacks in three games, he has been an unstoppable force able to change a game at any time. Mallett has a world of talent, but he’s not mobile and was susceptible last week to blitzes and the Bama pass rush, getting sacked three times and completing just 12-of-35 passes for 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He’ll have to account for Miller on every play or he’ll end up getting flattened.
What will happen: A&M has yet to prove itself, and it’s not going to have to prepare for a little bit of adversity, but the pass rush will make a huge difference and the solid running game will help take the pressure off Johnson. Expect close to 1,000 yards of combined total offense.
CFN Prediction: Texas A&M 45 … Arkansas 40 ... Line: Arkansas -1
Must See Rating: (Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami 5 … The Jay Leno Show 1) … 4
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Auburn (4-0) at Tennessee (2-2), 7:45 EST, Saturday, October 3, ESPN

Why to watch: It’s statement-making time for two power programs looking to get back to a lofty status. Auburn has been magnificent over the first four games of the Gene Chizik era showing wonderful offensive balance, a good enough defense to get by, and compared to last year when the offense was as awful and as painful any attack in America, there are points. Lots of them. Auburn finished last year averaging just over 17 points per game scoring 207 on the year. In just four games with Gus Malzahn running the attack, the Tigers have scored 181. And it’s not like the production has all come against cream-puffs. Mississippi State can play a little, West Virginia could end up winning the Big East, and Louisiana Tech is better than it has been playing and could be a factor in the WAC race. But all the wins have come at home. This starts a run of three road games in the next four, while Tennessee needs to take advantage of the opportunity and come up with the first big win of the Lane Kiffin era. Beating Ohio and Western Kentucky doesn’t exactly get the crowd jumping, and although the loss to Florida was a moral victory, it was still a 23-13 defeat. A win over the Tigers wouldn’t mean that Tennessee is back, but it would be a huge step forward.
Why Auburn might win: Interceptions. Tennessee throws them, and Auburn takes them. With an offense that doesn’t have the pop to keep up with Auburn, Tennessee has to be absolutely perfect, and it won’t be. The Tigers have forced 12 turnovers including eight interceptions over the first four games, and they’re all but guaranteed to get several chances to make a few big picks against Jonathan Crompton and a Vol passing game that has thrown seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions. The Vols will try to establish the run, and while Auburn can be shoved around a little bit, it’s not going to give up the 200+ rushing yards Tennessee will need.
Why Tennessee might win:Tennessee can play a little defense. Mississippi State and West Virginia aren’t bad defensively, but Tennessee’s secondary, led by the incomparable Eric Berry, will keep the efficient Auburn passing game under wraps for long stretches. Florida was able to run for 208 yards on the Tennessee D, but that was at the expense of doing much of anything through the air. It’s one or the other against the Vols; Ohio threw for 319 last week but ran for 21. Tennessee will take away one element of Auburn’s offense, most likely the ground game, and force the passing attack to get a big day from …
Who to watch: … Chris Todd. The senior isn’t going to provide any sort of running threat, that’s what Kodi Burns is for when he’s not playing receiver, but he has been a steady, near-flawless passer with just one interception and 11 touchdown passes including nine in the last two games. He’ll have to quickly be used to the hostile environment and the noise, and he can’t make any errors to give the woeful Tennessee offense any breaks. For Auburn, the ground game needs to help the coaching staff keep Crompton hidden, and that means Montario Hardesty has to build on his 140-yard day against Ohio. The senior has scored one rushing touchdown in each of the first four games and has carried the offense with 485 yards. If he’s not fantastic, Tennessee can’t win.
What will happen: The Tennessee defense will play an inspired game, but Crompton will be awful with his interceptions giving Auburn the breaks needed to take control of the game. It might not be pretty, but this will be when Auburn officially sheds its status as one of 2009’s biggest sleepers.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 23 … Tennessee 16 ... Line: Tennessee -1.5
Must See Rating: (Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami 5 … The Jay Leno Show 1) … 4
-Free Expert Football Predictions

- Week 5 Part 1