SEC Insider

EAST DIVISION

FLORIDA
Some teams would look at a trip to Tennessee's 104,079-seat Neyland Stadium as a lost cause. Florida just isn't one of those teams.

The Gators have won their last two games in Knoxville and overall, have played very good football away from home since third-year coach Ron Zook's arrival.

"I have been asked that a bunch of times (about winning on the road)," Zook said, "and I think it is just how the schedule has fallen. You love to play at home when you can, but our team has to be able to stay focused on the task at hand."

Florida opened the season with a 49-10 win against Eastern Michigan last week after having its originally scheduled season opener against Middle Tennessee State postponed until Oct. 16 because of Hurricane Frances. With Hurricane Ivan now closing in on the Gulf area, the Gators are again trying to stay tuned into football despite the distractions.

"It's not been a problem for us really," Zook said. "We've had a lot of rain. Some of our players' families were involved.

"It's been a distraction, but our team has stayed focused. Other than moving practice around, we haven't really missed a beat."

GEORGIA
The Bulldogs will look to continue an 11-game nonconference winning streak when they play host to Marshall on Saturday.

"I just think we are excited about playing this game and having some down time," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "We have an open date after that and I think the players are looking forward to that."

Georgia needed a late score and a defensive stand to pull out a 20-16 win at South Carolina last week. The victory gave senior quarterback David Greene six career come-from-behind wins as a starter.

"(David's) personality is one not to get too excited one way or another," Richt said. "Sooner or later a quarterback needs to have a defining moment is his career. That gives him confidence and everyone believes in him. David had his as a freshman, and he has built on that during the years. That Tennessee game (during his freshman year) was his no doubt."

KENTUCKY
Suddenly this week's opponent for Kentucky looks much tougher than originally anticipated. The Wildcats host Indiana Saturday and the Hoosiers (2-0) are coming off a 30-24 upset win at Oregon.

"This is a game of different proportion now that Indiana upset Oregon last week," said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "We need to get back on track especially offensively, after we put up a goose egg against Louisville."

The Wildcats had last week off after starting the season with a 28-0 loss to the Cardinals. Indiana leads the series 17-16-1, but has lost eight of the last nine meetings with Kentucky.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Lou Holtz called his team's 20-16 loss to Georgia a game the other team won, not one his team lost. Now the Gamecocks will try to put the tough defeat behind them as they get ready for South Florida this week.

"We have a lot of respect for South Florida," Holtz said. "I am more worried about how our team will bounce back from the Georgia loss.

"The kids were hurting because they expected to win that game and wanted to win that game."

Holtz said sophomore running back Demetrius Summers -- an SEC Coaches All-Freshman back in 2003 -- hasn't practiced all week and is doubtful for Saturday's game.

TENNESSEE
The Volunteers (1-0) have had two weeks to prepare for Saturday's showdown with Florida, which will be televised by CBS at 7 p.m.

"Our preparation has gone well," said Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. "When you play against Florida, there is a lot at stake is this football game. These are two teams that look a lot alike on tape, and it will be a fun weekend."

While Hurricane Frances and now Hurricane Ivan have caused the cancellation of several college football games in the southeast, one wouldn't expect a game in Knoxville to be affected. But school officials are keeping a close eye on the weather to determine if Saturday's game will be played.

"I think we will play the game, I know there have been some discussions," Fulmer said. "The weather could change. (Hurricane Ivan) could go east or west of us."

Florida and Tennessee have split their last six meetings. The Vols haven't beaten the Gators in Knoxville since 1998.

VANDERBILT
With nearly two weeks gone since its last game -- a 31-6 loss to South Carolina in the season opener -- Vanderbilt has had plenty of time to get ready for Saturday's opponent, Ole Miss. The Commodores have also have lots of time to put the opening loss out of their minds.

"It was pretty tough to (have an open week), but South Carolina is gone forever," said Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson.

Ole Miss has switched quarterbacks this week, replacing Michael Spurlock with Ethan Flatt. But Johnson doesn't expect the change to affect his team's game plan for the Rebels too much.

"I don't think they have two offenses down there, one for Michael and one for Ethan," Johnson said. "Or at least I hope they don't."

WEST DIVISION

ALABAMA
The Crimson Tide are off to its first 2-0 start since 1999 after last week's 28-7 win against Ole Miss and will have a strong shot at 3-0 when Western Carolina visits Tuscaloosa Saturday, barring any postponement due to Hurricane Ivan.

"We have had one day of work yesterday," said Alabama coach Mike Shula. "We have some issues with the weather and the hurricane coming. We've talked to our players about continuing to be focused.

"As a coach and a player you want to play this game. Also, we are very understanding and there is a lot of factors involved they we don't know about. My answer is a little bit biased, but if there is any chance of playing it we want to play it."

Alabama junior quarterback Brodie Croyle now has 25 career touchdown passes, ranking him ninth on the all-time school list along with Joe Namath.

The Tide and Catamounts will be meeting for the first time Saturday.

ARKANSAS
The Razorbacks swallowed a huge pill with their 22-20 loss to Texas last week at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The defeat was the first nonconference loss in the Houston Nutt era, breaking a 21-game winning streak against non-SEC foes.

"The team came back with a very good attitude after a disappointing loss," Nutt said.

Picked last or next to last in the SEC Western Division, Arkansas has been a surprise to many -- including perhaps even Nutt -- with how well it has played in the first two games

"We have been picked last every year except for one, so we are accustomed to it," Nutt said. "I am very happy that our guys have stepped up. We know we signed a good group but we didn't think we would be this far along."

Arkansas plays its first of two games this season at War Memorial Stadium when Louisiana-Monroe visits Little Rock on Saturday at 6 p.m.

AUBURN
The Tigers are set to take on defending co-national champion LSU in a nationally televised 2:30 p.m. game Saturday on CBS. But it will happen only if Hurricane Ivan stays out of the way.

"It's one of those things you can't control," said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. "I think our guys have done a great job focusing. As of today after lunch, they will spend the next 48 hours together as a team.

"It has been a distraction, but not just for us. For both sides."

For the fifth time since 1992, both Auburn and LSU are ranked in the Top 25 when the two teams square off.

"Most of the time whoever wins this game has gone to the championship game," Tuberville said. "For us two, the winner will have a definite advantage over the other. We have a little bit of momentum after Mississippi State. We all want to play it, and we'd love to keep going on a regular schedule and hopefully this thing will blow over and we can play on Saturday."

LSU
The No. 5 Bayou Bengals steamrolled Arkansas State, 53-3, last week and will head on the road for the first time this season Saturday with a trip to Auburn.

"Well we thought our team made progress in the last game and gained some confidence," said LSU coach Nick Saban. "We've got so many young guys in so many spots. I think at this point in time we need to focus on what we need to do to get better. It's a linear season, but we want to continue to do that."

Like Auburn, LSU is going on as planned this week. But with the threat of a cancellation because of Hurricane Ivan, Saban knows his team could get distracted.

"I think the game is insignificant to the storm," Saban said. "There are a lot of issues around playing a football game in a situation like this.

"We want to play the game if it's safe for our fans and from a security standpoint. I also think there are issues about travel and our fans. Ultimately we want to play the game."

MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bulldogs' first SEC game under Sylvester Croom resulted in a 44-13 home loss against Auburn last week. Now Mississippi State will look to fight back against Maine this week.

"We are getting ready to entertain Maine on Saturday night," Croom said. "Last weekend our guys played hard, they just didn't play well and didn't execute well."

While the Division I-AA Black Bears (1-1) wouldn't appear to pose much of a threat, Croom insists there will be good talent on the other side of the field Saturday.

"The thing that I noticed in watching tape of Maine, they are a well-coached football team," Croom said. "As far as the talent, they are a bit smaller on the line and that's where the biggest difference is. But their skill players can play on this level."

OLE MISS
With the offense struggling in the first two games, Ole Miss (0-2) is making a switch at quarterback. Michael Spurlock is out and Ethan Flatt is in as the Rebels prepare to host Vanderbilt in an 11:30 a.m. game being televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"The rationale (behind the change) is we haven't played very well as a team on offense. It's been a dismal start," said Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe. "You never know in these tough situations whether you are doing the right thing or not.

"I haven't made a final decision yet. But early or late we will get Michael in the ball game."




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