2009 SEC Fearless Predictions - Week 7
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
Posted Oct 15, 2009

It's danger week for the SEC's big boys. While the world is focusing on Oklahoma vs. Texas and USC at Notre Dame, Arkansas and its passing game could throw a scare at Florida, while Stephen Garcia and South Carolina have the potential to give Alabama a rough time. Check out the SEC Fearless Predictions for Week 7.

2009 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 7 ... Oct. 17 Games

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

South Carolina (5-1) at Alabama (6-0), 7:45 EST, Saturday, October 17, ESPN

Why to watch: No one's playing better than Alabama at the moment, and that includes Texas and Florida, and it appears to be careening toward the SEC title game to face Florida. Not only is the team air-tight with no major problems, but the schedule is starting to work out even better with three straight homes games and four in the next five. While South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU are hardly layups, if the team plays as well as it has over the first six weeks, those aren't going to be problems. However, South Carolina has also been playing at a high level and has enough athleticism and enough on defense to make this interesting. The offense has been inconsistent and it took a fight to be Kentucky, but the Gamecocks were able to beat Ole Miss, just like Alabama, and have a nice win at NC State under its belt. Unlike Bama, who gets to hang around home for a while, the Gamecocks play three road games in the next four with Tennessee and Arkansas coming up. Throw in dates with Florida and Clemson, and the second half of the year isn't going to be all that easy. This game might be the toughest of the bunch.
Why South Carolina might win: The defensive front should be able to hold up against the Alabama running game. This isn't a brick wall of a USC run defense, Kentucky was able to rumble for more than 200 yards last week, but the teams that have been able to move the ball on the ground did it with quirky speed plays. UK WR Randall Cobb ran for 89 yards and Ole Miss didn't get its running game working until the diminutive Dexter McCluster got hot late, finishing with 85 of the team's 139 yards. No one has had much success powering the ball on the Gamecocks, and that's what Alabama likes to do. The USC pass defense has been terrific, while Alabama QB Greg McElroy is coming off his roughest outing of the year completing just 15-of-34 passes for 147 yards.
Why Alabama might win: The fourth quarter of South Carolina's 16-10 win over Ole Miss. The Gamecocks had the game well in hand, and then Ole Miss turned its defense up a notch, forced the USC offense off the field time and again, and had a chance to pull the win out late. South Carolina's offense isn't explosive and it doesn't have a top running game, and it doesn't do any one thing well to bother the Alabama defense. The Tide should be able to get to QB Stephen Garcia early and often; the Gamecocks aren't good in pass protection.
Who to watch: Is it time to put Mark Ingram in the Heisman race? He's one of the front runners for the Doak Walker Award, and while it's giving him too much credit to say he's carrying the Bama offense, he has been incredible with 140 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky and 172 yards and a score against Ole Miss in the last two weeks. He's running with power, a purpose, and with a flash of speed and quickness when he gets into the open, and while he'll be beaten up by the South Carolina defense, he'll get the full attention of Steve Spurrier and the coaching staff.
What will happen: Garcia won't make a slew of huge mistakes, but he'll be sacked at least five times and will have a hard time getting the offense rolling. Alabama will also have problems, but McElroy will bounce back from his mediocre performance against Ole Miss and will outplay Garcia.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 24 … South Carolina 10 ... Line: Alabama -17
Must See Rating: (Bored To Death 5 … My Monkey Baby 1) … 4
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Georgia (3-3) at Vanderbilt (2-4), 12:21 EST, Saturday, October 17

Why to watch: The season has been a big bag of disappointment for both teams, but for different reasons. Georgia was supposed to be just good enough to have an outside chance of winning the SEC East, if everything broke the right way, but the running game has decided not to show up this year, the defense has been stunningly bad, and there hasn't been a turnover that the offense hasn't liked to give away. While the 3-3 start might stink, the losses have come to Oklahoma State, LSU, and at Tennessee. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, has lost four of its last five games with the win coming against Rice and is coming off an inexcusable overtime loss to Army. A second straight bowl season is all but out of the question unless the Commodores pull off a few miracles and can finally get the offense going. Georgia might be out of the SEC title chase after last week's loss, but it can still make some noise with Florida coming up two weeks after the Vandy game.
Why Georgia might win: Vanderbilt's offense is next-level bad. Georgia's defense has decided to stop playing the pass, but fortunately, the Commodores haven't done anything through the air. Vandy is averaging a mere 147 passing yards per game and only Army is less efficient. In a game like this, 17 points should get the job done, and as poor as the Georgia offense has been at times, it has just enough pop to get a few early scores. If Vanderbilt has to try to play catch-up in any way, this is over. The only way Vandy wins is if …
Why Vanderbilt might win: … it's +3 in turnover margin, and it just might be. There might be major problems with the Commodore offense, but it has only lost the ball nine times and has forced 14 takeaways. Meanwhile, Georgia's defense isn't doing anything to take the ball away with a mere five takeaways, only Nevada has fewer (3), while the offense has given it away 16 times. No one has been able to put up points on the Vandy defense, with LSU and Ole Miss doing the best job so far scoring 23 each. The secondary has been excellent while the run defense bends, but doesn't break. Georgia can't run the ball at all meaning Joe Cox needs to have one of his best, most efficient games this year.
Who to watch: Cox will give up the ball at least once, and Vandy has to take advantage. The Georgia senior has had some nice moments, throwing for 375 yards and five touchdowns against Arkansas, and throwing for 242 yards and a score against Arizona State, but he has thrown an interception in every game this year, and he threw two picks against both ASU and Tennessee. With the running game so ineffective, the offense is on Cox's shoulders game in and game out, and while he's not good enough to carry the team, he can't afford to make a slew of big mistakes. It's his job to get the ball to A.J. Green, make a few big throws on third down, and get out of the way.
What will happen: It's not going to be pretty. Vanderbilt's defense will keep this from getting out of hand, but a desperate Bulldog team will swarm the Commodore offense to keep it under 200 yards.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 20 … Vanderbilt 6 ... Line: Georgia -8
Must See Rating: (Bored To Death 5 … My Monkey Baby 1) … 2.5
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Mississippi State (2-4) at Middle Tennessee (3-2), 12:30 EST, Saturday, October 17, ESPNU

Why to watch: Mississippi State has been decent, at least compared to the last few years, but it can't seem to pull off wins, while Middle Tennessee has been mediocre, but it's 3-2. The Blue Raiders are coming off a rough 31-7 loss at Troy that all but ended their Sun Belt season before it could really begin, but they have a chance to go on a nice run with five of the next six games at home. Beating a below-average SEC team is hardly out of the question, considering MTSU is used to playing BCS teams tough and has a win over Maryland this year. Meanwhile, The Bulldogs are trying to get back on track after losing three straight home games. An inability punch it in from the one cost them the LSU game, and while they played well against Georgia Tech and Houston, they lost. There's still time to get to a bowl game with no mistakes against teams like Kentucky and Ole Miss (yeah, it's okay to throw the Rebels under the bus), but this is a must win for any realistic hope of getting a 13th game.
Why Mississippi State might win: MSU and Anthony Dixon should be able to run all game long. Troy ripped apart the Blue Raider defense for 264 yards last week, while Clemson ran for 202 yards in week one. Not coincidentally, those are MTSU's two losses, while the team is 3-0 when holding teams under 200. The Bulldog offensive line is playing well and the running game is getting production from the quarterbacks as well as Dixon, who's averaging 112 yards per game with four straight 100-yard games. MSU runs for 226 yards per game and was only under the 200-yard mark twice, in losses to Auburn and LSU. Middle Tennessee isn't Auburn or LSU.
Why Middle Tennessee might win: Turnovers. Mississippi State is the better team, but it could play down to the competition by giving the ball away. The Bulldogs have lost ten fumbles and eight interceptions, with three picks and a fumble proving to be costly against LSU and four fumbles and a pick a big problem against Georgia Tech. Middle Tennessee's five interceptions came in two games, both against the ACC teams (Clemson and Maryland), and there have only been three fumbles. The Blue Raider D is great at going after the ball with 12 forced fumbles.
Who to watch: MSU QB Chris Relf was suspended for a game and isn't expected to be a major part of this week's game. Whether he's in the mix of not, Tyson Lee will likely take on the biggest role in the offense even though he has thrown six interceptions in the last three games. He ran for 68 yards against Houston, but he only completed 15-of-23 passes for 160 yards with the two picks, and while he's a multi-talented veteran who has seen plenty of action, he's not necessarily a winner. He was able to beat Middle Tennessee last year with a 17-of-25, 197-yard game with a rushing touchdown, but he has to prove he can keep his mistakes to a minimum.
What will happen: Middle Tennessee will provide a big push with QB Dwight Dasher bouncing back from a rough outing against Troy, but the Bulldogs will run for over 250 yards and will control the game from the start.
CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 34 … Middle Tennessee 24 ... Line: Mississippi State -3
Must See Rating: (Bored To Death 5 … My Monkey Baby 1) … 2
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- Week 7, Part 2 (Arkansas at Florida, and more)