SEC Preview and Predictions

Southeastern Conference Previews and Predictions – Week Nine

Last week's record: 6-0 (100.0%)
Season record: 56-8 (87.5%)

No key matchup this week for Alabama, simply because no one knows what to expect out of an FIU team that has lost 18 players from the unit that played Miami two weeks ago. FIU has no running back with any experience, the entire starting secondary is gone and there are key losses at receiver and on the defensive line. This is a game where Alabama can expect to play everyone in a crimson uniform, and given the relationship between Alabama's Mike Shula and FIU's Don Strock, look for Alabama to try to lessen the blow to FIU as much as possible. Alabama should still blow out the Golden Panthers, but this game should be out of FIU's control in the first quarter. The rest of the game should serve as Jimmy Barnes' coming out party. Alabama 45, FIU 0

FLORIDA vs. GEORGIA (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Matchup to watch: Florida spread-option game vs. Georgia front seven
All of a sudden, Georgia can't stop anyone, as the Bulldogs managed to follow back-to-back losses to Tennessee and Vanderbilt with a near-loss performance to Mississippi State that made State look almost dangerous. Florida finally ran out of gas against Auburn, but took last week off and is well-rested for this game. The key for Georgia is getting its defense plugged back into sanity, because with Florida's spread-option attack, Georgia can't come into this game with its collective brain turned off. Unfortunately for Georgia, the Bulldogs appear to be a team without confidence at the moment, and that's deadly against an opponent that would like nothing better than to blow out their rivals. Florida 34, Georgia 17

Matchup to watch: MSU QB Michael Henig vs. Kentucky secondary
With Michael Henig back from a collarbone injury and under center against Georgia, Mississippi State nearly pulled off an upset. But in the end, it was just another disappointment for the Bulldogs. This week, they get a Kentucky team hungry for a bowl trip. To get there, Kentucky needs to win this game, or it will be forced to upset a much tougher opponent down the stretch. The key will be for the Kentucky secondary to shut down Henig, who threw for 234 yards – but also 2 interceptions – against Georgia. Kentucky is ranked 110th in pass defense and 105th in pass efficiency defense, however, so stopping Henig may be easier said than done. The trump card for the Wildcats, though, is their offense is far more potent than MSU's. Kentucky 30, Mississippi State 21

Matchup to watch: Tennessee's mindset vs. Steve Spurrier's aura
Last year's South Carolina team carried on a long tradition of Steve Spurrier haunting Tennessee football. The Volunteers lost to the Gamecocks in Knoxville, 16-15, and this year South Carolina brings in a stronger team. Unfortunately for Spurrier, so does Tennessee. The key on-field matchup will be Tennessee QB Erik Ainge against a very tough Gamecock secondary, but the real entertainment will be watching Spurrier match wits with Tennessee's Phil Fulmer – a matchup Spurrier rarely loses. Talent-wise, however, the Vols are just too much, and with a reborn offense, Tennessee should be able to pull of a close road win. Tennessee 22, South Carolina 16

Matchup to watch: Duke running game vs. Vanderbilt front seven
Duke's M.O. against tough teams seems to be to run the football directly at them if the Blue Devils sense a soft front. Vanderbilt is 84th in rushing defense, which makes the Commodores vulnerable. Duke's passing game is getting better, and is just good enough to keep the Commodores from completely stacking the line and selling out against the run. Duke nearly upset a depleted Miami team at home last week, but even given Miami's troubles, the Hurricanes at 80 percent strength were still more talented than Vandy. Vanderbilt needs this win badly if it has any hopes at making a bowl game, but it cannot overlook Duke, despite the 0-7 record. Vanderbilt 19, Duke 16

Not much to see here. Arkansas will steamroll the Indians. Arkansas 57, La.-Monroe 10

Matchup to watch: Auburn front seven vs. Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer
For all the talk about Ole Miss RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, QB Brent Schaeffer is the straw that stirs the drink in Oxford. When teams let Schaeffer run around unfettered, such as Alabama, he can make plays and be a major thorn in a defense's side. This one is always entertaining, if for no other reason than to watch Ole Miss fans steam over Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville. But this game won't come down to grudges; it will come down to the fact that Auburn is miles better than the Rebels, who may be headed to another three-win season. Unless Auburn simply blows it against Schaeffer, Ole Miss has no chance. Auburn 34, Ole Miss 10


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