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2009 SEC Fearless Predictions - Week 8
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
Posted Oct 22, 2009

LSU is still in the hunt for the national title. It's a tough road, but if the Tigers win out, they'll play Florida for the SEC championship and a shot at Pasadena. But first, they have to come up with a big division win over Auburn. Check out the SEC Fearless Predictions for Week 8.

2009 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 8 ... Oct. 24 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

Auburn (5-2) at LSU (5-1), 7:30 EST, Saturday, October 24, ESPN2

Why to watch: LSU still controls its national title destiny … sort of. There might need to be losses from Iowa and Cincinnati, and … whatever. That’s 17 steps down the road, and for now, LSU just needs to take care of itself, improve on the lines, get more production from the passing game, and find a way to go on a run. And yes, if LSU wins out, it’ll play for the SEC Championship and will get a rematch against Florida, and then the chips would fall from there. However, there’s still a trip to Alabama to deal with and there’s still a road game at Ole Miss to play, and first, the Tigers have to beat the other Tigers, who are trying to get back their mojo after losing two straight. Losing to Arkansas was one thing, it was a road game and there were a few key turnovers, but losing 21-14 at home to Kentucky has all but soured the 5-0 start that had everyone so excited. The passing game has struggled and the defense has failed to come through clutch, but there’s still time to turn things around and win the West by winning out and getting a second Alabama loss. After this it’s three home games in the final four, and a win in Death Valley would show that Gene Chizik has Auburn back to being Auburn.
Why Auburn might win: 295 yards per game. That’s what LSU’s offense, the worst in the SEC, is averaging. The passing game is efficient, but not consistent, and the running game has been all but non-existent at times. This isn’t a team equipped at the moment for a firefight with all the top players failing to produce, and if Auburn can win the battle on the lines all game long, it has a chance. Florida challenged LSU’s manhood by running dive play after dive play on the way to 195 hard rushing yards, and while Auburn won’t be looking to power the ball Tebow-style, it has the ground game, and the O line, to rip off at least 200 yards on a defense that’s getting by more on reputation than production.
Why LSU might win: The Auburn passing game has gone bye-bye. So efficient and so dangerous at the beginning of the season, Chris Todd has completed just 25-of-52 passes for 213 yards with an interception over the last two games. By comparison, he only threw for fewer than 218 yards once in the first five games. LSU doesn’t generate a pass rush, but the secondary has done a very nice job against a slew of mediocre passing games. Auburn doesn’t have the wide receivers to throw anything scary at the Tiger corners, while the front seven should be able to force a few turnovers. LSU doesn’t give the ball away, while Auburn lost three fumbles against Arkansas two weeks ago. Auburn doesn’t turn the ball over on a regular basis, but even being -2 in a game like this could be disastrous; LSU will win the turnover margin.
Who to watch: Auburn RB Ben Tate suffers from being in the same conference, and the same state, as Alabama’s Mark Ingram, but he has been every bit as effective and even more consistent. The Tiger senior has rushed for 100 yards or more in five of the first seven games, and even in defeat he was able to carry the offense with 184 yards and two scores against Arkansas and 132 and a score against Kentucky. However, he has shouldered a massive workload, carrying the ball 150 times so far with 31 carries against Kentucky. Star freshman Onterio McCalebb will start to get more work.
What will happen: It’s the 12th Annual CFN lame line lock of the year … the Tigers will win. Neither offense will be consistent, but there will be a stretch in the second half when the two teams will break through the defensive struggle to trade some big punches. Auburn will start to play better and will be sharper than it was against Kentucky, but LSU QB Jordan Jefferson will answer the call to start doing more for the offense and will lead the way to two fourth quarter scoring drives to finally put the game away.
CFN Prediction: LSU 23 … Auburn 17 ... Line: LSU -8
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 4
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Arkansas (3-3) at Ole Miss (4-2), 12:21 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: It’s time for Ole Miss to show why everyone thought it was supposed to be such a strong contender for the SEC title. The talent is still there, and even with losses to South Carolina and Alabama, the season hasn’t been a total disaster so far and the potential is there to go on a nice run over the second half of the year. Four of the next five games are at home coming off a 48-13 win over UAB that finally showed that Jevan Snead can play a little bit of quarterback. But the Rebels have to deal with a hot Arkansas team that pushed Florida to the final moments last week. The Hogs didn’t play all that well in Gainesville, but they still managed to come within a bad call and a few other penalties from possibly beating the No. 1 team in America. Ryan Mallett and the passing game have been explosive, while the running game stepped up against the Gators. But for all the good things Arkansas has done, it’s 1-3 in SEC play and is out of the title hunt, but with four home games in a row after this week, the potential is there to go on a tremendous run with an upset in Oxford.
Why Arkansas might win: The Ole Miss run defense can be powered on and run around. UAB, and QB Joe Webb, ran for 230 yards last week, and Alabama rumbled for 200 yards the week before. Earlier in the year, teams tried to throw the ball, and Arkansas certainly isn’t going to stop chucking it, but with the way Dennis Johnson was able to power the ball for 107 yards and a score on 15 carries against Florida, and with Michael Smith good enough to crank out a big day if his hamstring heals up in time, there should be a good balance to the Hog attack. Ole Miss might be eighth in the nation in pass defense, but those teams on the schedule that could throw the ball, did. Arkansas won’t have a problem hitting the 200-yard mark through the air.
Why Ole Miss might win: The Arkansas offensive line is fine, but it’s not special. It did a nice job against the Florida defensive front last week, but even though the Gators have NFL first round talents in Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap on the ends, they don’t have the pass rush that Ole Miss has. Alabama got into to the backfield from several different areas, including two sacks from CB Javier Arenas, and was able to shut down the Hog attack cold. While a steady pass rush isn’t a lock to stop Mallett, Texas A&M got torched even though the Arkansas line struggled against the Aggie front four, it’s a plus, and Ole Miss can get to the quarterback as well as anyone in America. Mallett will be under pressure all game long and he’ll have to get better play out of his receiving corps than he got against the Gators.
Who to watch: It’s NFL scouting time to see where Mallett and Snead fall in the pecking order. Snead has been miserable at times this year throwing seven interceptions in two games against Vanderbilt and Alabama, but he bounced back with an effective 15-of-22 day for 240 yards and three scores against UAB last week. But that was UAB. He still needs to show he can produce against a defense with a pulse, and he can’t press so much. As long as he’s taking the short to midrange throws that are there, and he’s not trying the thread the needle deep, he should be fine. Mallett has been terrific with 14 touchdown passes and just three interceptions, and even though he completed just 12-of-27 passes against Florida, he was plagued by drops and he was able to make the deep throws to keep the pressure on the Gator secondary. Simply put, whichever quarterback plays better will likely get the win.
What will happen: Arkansas will be on a letdown after coming so close to pulling off the upset against the Gators, but Mallett will be better than Snead. The Hogs will be +3 in turnover margin on the road as they come up with a nice win in a shootout, and then they’ll go on a roll with a blowout of Eastern Michigan next week.
CFN Prediction: Arkansas 38 … Ole Miss 34 ... Line: Ole Miss -5.5
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 3.5
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Tennessee (3-3) at Alabama (7-0), 3:30 EST, Saturday, October 24, CBS

Why to watch: Tennessee wants to beat Florida. The division rivalry is big, and the war of words between Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer has taken things up a notch. However, there’s a segment of old school Tennessee fans that would take more joy in beating longtime rival, Alabama, and not just because it might ruin a dream season. This is a nasty, angry battle every year that’s always intense, always hard-hitting, and always entertaining in one way or another, and this year, it takes on even more meaning. If the Vols can pull off the upset, it would show just how far the Tennessee program has come in a short time under Kiffin. The defense has been great, the offense exploded on Georgia, and with two weeks off to prepare, this is a very, very dangerous team that could run the table after this week with a favorable second half schedule. For Alabama, it’s time to look and act the part of a No. 1 team. After a shaky win over Kentucky and with the passing game struggling against Ole Miss, the team, outside of the rushing of Mark Ingram, was less than impressive in a 20-6 win over South Carolina. The offense hasn’t been as explosive as it needs to be, and while the defense has been a rock, Tennessee has the ground game to push the nation’s No. 3 run defense a little bit.
Why Tennessee might win: The Tennessee defense has been terrific over the last few years. It’s been the offense that’s the problem, but with a secondary that’s playing at a high level, allowing just 162 yards per game, and with Greg McElroy and the Alabama passing game having problems, gaining just 92 yards with two interceptions against South Carolina last week, the Vols will send everyone at Ingram to try to slow down the running game. Tennessee gave up 208 rushing yards to Florida and 224 to Auburn, no one else has gained more than 100 yards and the defense is well rested and well prepared. Ingram might get his yards, but he’s going to have to earn them. Offensively, the line has done a great job in pass protection and should neutralize the nation-leading Alabama pass rush.
Why Alabama might win: The Alabama defense has given up just seven touchdowns on the year and has allowed just one touchdown, one, since the opening day win over Virginia Tech, and hasn’t given up more than one touchdown pass in a game. South Carolina had its chances, and came up with just two field goals. Ole Miss wasn’t even close, and came up with a mere field goal. Tennessee’s offense has become far better over the last few weeks with excellent balance and an improved passing game, but the two times the attack faced a defense, Florida’s and UCLA’s, the offense stunk in losses. Tennessee has to be absolutely perfect and can’t turn the ball over, and it won’t be. Tennessee has been better at holding on not giving it away, but Alabama forced mistakes. That means the spotlight will be on …
Who to watch: Is Jonathan Crompton for real? The much-maligned Tennessee senior quarterback turned his career around after a miserable first three games by throwing eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions over his last three outings, and going over the 200-yard mark in each, topping out with a 20-of-27, 310-yard, four touchdown day, with a pick, against Georgia. He has been far more careful with his throws, the receivers are helping him out, and the light appears to have gone on. Alabama is fantastic at picking off passes, and Crompton will throw at least two picks, but he has to make up for the bad plays by keeping the chains moving on third downs. He doesn’t have to be amazing, but he can’t be a detriment.
What will happen: It’s the CBS afternoon SEC game … it will be good. It will be a tight, tough defensive battle with Tennessee in it up until the end. Ingram will be held in check, the Alabama passing game will fizzle for stretches, but Crompton will throw two bad picks and the Tide will take advantage.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 23 … Tennessee 10 ... Line: Alabama -16
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 4
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- Week 8, Part 2 (Florida at Mississippi State, and more)