2009 SEC Fearless Picks, (SC at Tenn, & more)

Posted Oct 29, 2009

Previews and Predictions for the Week 9 SEC Games, Part 2

2009 SEC Fearless Predictions

Week 9 ... Oct. 31 Games, Part 2

East | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt 
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- Week 9, Part 1

Georgia Tech (7-1) at Vanderbilt (2-6),7:30 EST, ESPN360, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: Short of Georgia playing and losing, it would have been hard for Georgia Tech to enjoy a better weekend than the one that just passed. On the same day that the Yellow Jackets ended their nearly two-decade Charlottesville dry spell, whipping Virginia, Miami got stunned in overtime by Clemson. And voila, Tech is now the Coastal Division alpha dog and the ACC's highest ranked team in the BCS standings. Just two wins over Wake Forest and Duke put the program in the league championship game. The only thing that's going to end the nightmare for Vanderbilt is when the final regular season game is played. The Commodores have been miserable since getting past Western Carolina in the opener, losing all but the trip to Rice and sinking into the SEC cellar. They've fought, like in last week's 14-10 loss to South Carolina, but the results have remained the same.
Why Georgia Tech might win: While Josh Nesbitt and the triple-option have been making most of the headlines in Atlanta, this is a week for the defense to shine. The group has played well over the last two weeks, a trend that won't change versus a Vanderbilt offense that has no passing game and has averaged 10 points over the last month. Tech will get after the Commodores with DE Derrick Morgan, the ACC sack leader, and rover Morgan Burnett, a pick-pocket with four interceptions. This is a chance for head coach Paul Johnson to work on some of the defensive wrinkles that'll benefit Tech in November.
Why Vanderbilt might win: If there's any hope for the upset, it'll have to come from a defense that's somehow endured through impossible circumstances. Despite being on the field way more than any unit should, the Commodores have held all but one opponent to no more than 23 points. With loads of help from linebackers Chris Marve and Patrick Benoist, and cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Myron Lewis, Vandy ranks a solid No. 23 nationally in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. It's a different animal, naturally, but it's seen the option this year, holding Army to 16 points.
Who to watch: Nesbitt has been the sparkplug and Jonathan Dwyer leads the team in rushing, but Georgia Tech is getting backfield support from other runners. Anthony Allen, for instance. A 230-pound back, with the acceleration to go the distance, he's coming off his second 100-yard effort of the season and is averaging just under 11 yards a carry. Too much focus on Nesbitt and Dwyer could mean more daylight for No. 18 to explode through.
What will happen: Georgia Tech ought to be very careful in this spot. With a break in the ACC action, it wouldn't be improbable for the Yellow Jackets to get caught looking ahead, especially considering the opponent. It'll take a while to get the Ramblin' Wreck out of first gear, but Nesbitt will eventually pop off a big play to build some breathing room, and the defense will keep Vandy in check.
CFN Prediction: Georgia Tech 27 … Vanderbilt 13 ... Line: Georgia Tech -11.5
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 2
-Free Expert Football Predictions

South Carolina (6-2) at Tennessee (3-4), 7:45 EST, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: The No. 2 spot in the East is still up for grabs, and South Carolina is still alive in the race for the SEC title. All Steve Spurrier's team can ask for is to be in a position to win it, and while it will take Florida losing a game before the November 14th showdown in Columbia, there's still hope. The Gamecock offense has decided to take a midseason nap scoring just 20 points in the last two games, and while playing Alabama and Vanderbilt (who can play a little D), the attack needs to find something that works again, and fast. Meanwhile, Tennessee continued its erratic season by doing everything to beat Alabama last week but block Terrence Cody. The offense has stopped handing the ball over to the other team on a regular basis, the defense has continued to be terrific, and a bowl game is there for the taking with a relatively easy second half of the season. The date at Ole Miss will be tough, but the Vols will likely be favored in the other three games (Memphis, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky) with a chance to end the year on a high note and a bowl game. This has been another interesting week for Tennessee with head coach Lane Kiffin getting honked at by the SEC for criticizing officials, but the team seems to do well with controversy. With Kiffin's complaints and Spurrier yelling at Alabama for using tape on the football for field goals, gamesmanship isn't a problem for the coaching staffs. This should be fun.
Why South Carolina might win: Tennessee is going to be very one dimensional, very quickly, and while that one dimension, the running game, is a good one, the success and the production over the last few weeks has come from a balanced attack with QB Jonathan Crompton opening up the passing attack. That's not going to happen against a South Carolina secondary that hasn't allowed more than 156 yards through the air over the last five games and has given up a mere two scores in the same span. The Tennessee passing attack has improved by leaps and bounds, but it's not going to be consistent enough to put up big numbers if the ground game isn't working against a strong Gamecock defensive front.
Why Tennessee might win: The South Carolina offense is moving the ball, it came up with 431 yards against Vanderbilt and has shown a little bit of balance, but the points aren't coming. The O had a hard time scoring on South Carolina State and tends to go for extremely long stretches where it shuts down entirely. Tennessee's defense, like South Carolina's, is terrific against the pass helped by a strong push from the defensive front. South Carolina's Stephen Garcia is a baller and he'll make several nice plays when he should be shut down, but he's going to be under pressure all game long behind a mediocre line and against a nasty UT pass rush.
Who to watch: Tennessee WR Gerald Jones was a disappointment last year, and made just two catches for 13 yards against South Carolina, and this year it took him a while to get going. And then came the last few weeks as he has emerged as Crompton's favorite, most dangerous target. He caught 30 passes all of last year and has 19 grabs in his last three games with two scores against Georgia and a touchdown grab against Alabama last week. Tennessee's offensive talent is at running back, and the more safety help needed to deal with Jones, the more room there will be for Montario Hardesty to work.
What will happen: South Carolina finds ways to make things happen. The defense is timely, the offense has been coming up with just enough production to get by, and the team's makeup is there to pull off the key road win. But Tennessee will be better. The Vol pass rush will be the difference hammering Garcia all game long in a tough, entertaining battle.
CFN Prediction: Tennessee 23 … South Carolina 16 ... Line: Tennessee -5
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 4
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Tulane (2-5) at LSU (6-1),8:00 EST, ESPN Gameplan, Saturday, October 31

Why to watch: Tulane and LSU meet in Baton Rouge in a series that has been predictably dominated by the Tigers. While not a rivalry, there is a little extra local interest when these two Louisiana schools hook up. LSU is coming off what was arguably its best game of the season, a 31-10 demolition of Auburn. Despite the loss to Florida earlier in the month, the Tigers are still in the SEC West hunt, getting a crack at front-running Alabama next week and Ole Miss later on in November. Games, like this one, give Les Miles an opportunity to tinker with both sides of the ball before the trip to Tuscaloosa. Prepare to toe tag the Green Wave because it hasn't shown signs of life in a month. Tulane has dropped three consecutive games, all by at least three touchdowns, a sign that the offseason has already begun for parts of the program.
Why Tulane might win: Even against lesser competition, the Tigers have not been as scary as their record, struggling to fend off the likes of Washington and Mississippi State. The offense, in particular, has been sporadic, ranking 106th nationally and averaging only 24 points a game. The Green Wave will try to out gun LSU with its top two skill position players, bruising RB Andre Anderson and big-play WR Jeremy Williams. They are the two players on the Tulane roster most likely to make the Tigers pay for looking ahead to next week's crucial showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Why LSU might win: Now that the Tiger offense has located a much-needed spark, it'll look to capitalize against a toothless Tulane D that's yielded 87 points over the last two weeks and has just six sacks all year. For as long as they play, QB Jordan Jefferson, RB Charles Scott, and WR Brandon LaFell will all have moments, padding their numbers without much resistance. Without the same attention as, say, Florida or Alabama, the LSU defense has been a rock, allowing less than 14 points a game. LB Harry Coleman, S Chad Jones, DE Rahim Alem, and the rest of the unit will be brutal on Green Wave redshirt freshman QB Ryan Griffin.
Who to watch: Is Tulane about to get a heavier dose of LSU backup QB Russell Shepard? The dynamic true freshman has been used in select spots and only in running situations, where his athleticism is most dangerous. He had a 69-yard touchdown run in the Auburn win, an indication he could be used more liberally in the second half of the year.
What will happen: Get the win and get the regulars off the field as quickly as possible. That'll be the goal of the LSU players and coaching staff, with the ‘Bama game casting a tall shadow over Baton Rouge. The Tigers will treat this like an exhibition game, building more confidence on offense and getting ample reps for the second and third-stringers.
CFN Prediction: LSU 41 … Tulane 10 ... Line: LSU -36
Must See Rating: (The Damned United 5 … Cougar Town 1) … 2
-Free Expert Football Predictions

- Week 9, Part 1