SEC Previews and Predictions

Last week's record: 4-2 (66.7%) Season record: 59-20 (74.7%)



Game within a game: Florida State QB Drew Weatherford vs. Florida secondary

There may not be two teams playing as poorly as these two that will meet in a game of such significance this weekend. Florida is coming off a 30-22 loss to South Carolina in which the Gators were badly outplayed and outcoached. Florida State has lost back-to-back games against middling opposition (North Carolina State and Clemson), and must travel to Gainesville for this game, a site at which the Seminoles don't seem to play well at all. On the line for Florida in this game is the Gators' bowl destination, which could swing wildly depending on what happens here. Lose, and Florida could be in Nashville or Shreveport. Win, and Florida could feasibly jump all the way to the Outback Bowl, given the right set of circumstances on selection day. Florida State is already locked into the ACC Championship game, even with a loss here. There is little to play for other than state pride for the Seminoles, who are out of the national picture at this point. And when the Seminoles are out of the national picture, they have a history, particularly lately, of folding. The key on the field for Florida State will be the play of QB Drew Weatherford versus the Florida pass defense. Florida State doesn't run the ball well (97th nationally), so if Weatherford struggles against a good Florida pass defense (ranked 19th nationally), Florida State has little chance to win. This is also a rivalry where home field advantage means a ton. Florida 24, Florida State 17



Game within a game: Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball vs. Georgia secondary

After unimpressive wins over Clemson and Wake Forest and a defeat at the hands of Virginia, Georgia Tech somehow managed to upset the Miami Hurricanes, a team that was playing at a level no worse than second-best in the country to Texas at the time it happened. Now, Tech gets to host Georgia in its traditional intrastate rivalry, and all of a sudden the outcome of this game is seriously in doubt. With Georgia running behind QB D.J. Shockley again, the Bulldogs look like a well-oiled machine. The key to this game is whether Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball is up to the challenge of matching Georgia. In most all of the key categories, these two teams are statistically similar until you get to passing offense, where Georgia is ranked 43rd (including the stats from the one-week Joe Tereshinski episode) and Tech 88th. Shockley is 11th nationally in passing efficiency, whereas Ball is 93rd. Ball will scramble more, but Shockley may be just as good or better at it. Georgia must avoid the letdown from clinching the SEC East division last week, but it's a good bet they'll do that easily. This game could go either way, but Georgia is a more consistent football team and Ball isn't likely to strike gold two weeks running. Georgia 24, Georgia Tech 16



Game within a game: Kentucky offensive output vs. Tennessee focus

Over the last four weeks, Kentucky has averaged 25.5 points per game and the offense has occasionally shown evidence of competence. The Wildcats also beat the same Vanderbilt Commodore team that upset Tennessee in Neyland Stadium Saturday, and Kentucky will host this affair. There are two areas where Kentucky could surprise Tennessee, which despite being 4-6 and not eligible for a bowl, is still the better team even with all its personality flaws: Kentucky plays very good special teams, and Tennessee has nothing at all to play for. Typically, when the wheels go off for a team like Tennessee, a team tied up very much in its ego and with a fractured coaching staff that will not be intact beyond the end of the year, the wheels go completely off. Even though Kentucky is probably the league's 11th best team, the extraneous stuff surrounding this game makes the two almost equal. Kentucky, 3-7 at the moment, wants to be 4-7 a lot more than Tennessee wants to be 5-6. The Volunteers may also be playing without RT Albert Toeaina, who head coach Phil Fulmer threatened to suspend if he was found to have spat on a sideline cameraman as he was accused of doing. Even so, it's hard to pick for Kentucky in any game, as the Wildcats can often be just as flighty as Tennessee. One thing's for sure – this is the most entertaining 3-7-versus-4-6 matchup in college football in a long time. Tennessee 21, Kentucky 17



Game within a game: Arkansas QB Casey Dick vs. LSU secondary

One of the under-the-radar stories of the second half of the SEC season has been the emergence of Casey Dick at quarterback for Arkansas. Dick has passed for one more touchdown than Robert Johnson in less than half the attempts, showing that it's not always instant success to go with a mobile quarterback who has questionable skills in other areas. Dick isn't going to wow anyone with his raw abilities, but he's been accurate and makes fewer mistakes than either Johnson or Alex Mortensen did in earlier trials. He'll get a tougher test against LSU than in previous weeks, but Arkansas has a good offensive line and LSU's secondary isn't the most explosive. If Dick can have some success early against Tiger DBs, it will back safeties off the line and make Arkansas' 6th-ranked rushing offense even that more formidable. On the line for LSU is the SEC West title; a win, and LSU goes to Atlanta to face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. A loss, and Auburn goes in LSU's place and the Tigers likely end up in the Cotton or Outback bowls. Were this game being played in Fayetteville, an upset pick would be a possibility, but LSU is at home and has simply too much talent for the Razorbacks, especially in the matchup of LSU's offense versus Arkansas' defense. The only worry for LSU on offense is for QB JaMarcus Russell to play simply an average game. Average or anything better gets LSU through to the conference championship. LSU 24, Arkansas 14



Game within a game: Ole Miss passing game vs. MSU secondary

There aren't words to describe just how terrible these two teams are, so let the stats do it: Combined, over their last five games each, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have been outscored 252-92, are 1-9, and both teams have serious quarterback issues. Micheal Spurlock may be back under center for Ole Miss this week. The Bulldogs are apparently going to sink or swim with Michael Henig, as Omarr Conner's only appearances against Arkansas came at wide receiver. Things got so bad for the Bulldogs that Brett Morgan actually took some snaps under center. There really is no winner to pick in this game, as neither team is going to claim even a decent season. The performance matchup to watch is whoever Ole Miss puts under center against the Bulldog secondary, as someone will need to throw the ball successfully at some point in order to claim victory. The biggest matchup, though, may be which team has quit the most. That seems to describe the Bulldogs more so than the Rebels. Ole Miss 13, Mississippi State 10


IDLE: Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

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