The Dye-Log: Looking at Tigers vs. Tide Game

College Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye comments on SEC football games including this week's contest featuring unbeaten Auburn vs. twice-beaten Alabama.

The SEC West matchups over the weekend proved to be really good ones as Arkansas held on to beat Mississippi State and LSU came back to win at home vs. Ole Miss. Both of those were great football games.

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The Mad Hatter (LSU head coach Les Miles) went down to the wire again and came out on top. You can say what you want to about the guy, but he gets his players to play hard and he has great athletes to coach. They just seem to have a knack for winning the close games by making a big play at the end.

I was surprised that Mississippi was that close to LSU at the end with a chance to win in Baton Rouge, but Houston Nutt has a history of getting his teams ready to play against LSU?and has had success in those games. He came close to winning again.

Those LSU vs. Ole Miss and Arkansas vs. Mississippi State games are the kind of hard-fought games that we have come to expect in this conference that SEC fans enjoy watching.

The other game of significance in week 12 was Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt. The Commodores made a little charge late in the game, but came up short and now Tennessee has a chance to become bowl eligible with a win this week against Kentucky.

Even though Tennessee gets to play Kentucky in Knoxville this week and even though the Vols' young quarterback is playing better, I think Tennessee will have a hard time winning that game because of Kentucky's offense.

There were three no contest games last week in the SEC with Georgia State at Alabama, Troy at South Carolina and Appalachian State at Florida.

A game that interests me this week is the matchup between Florida and Florida State. Florida has struggled and Florida State has been up and down. Playing in Tallahassee it won't surprise me at all if the Seminoles win. I?think Jimbo Fisher and his staff at Florida State are going to give Urban Meyer some problems his Florida teams haven't had in the past few years vs. Florida State.

Georgia has to win this week in Atlanta to become bowl eligible, which seems unusual considering the Bulldogs have been going to bowl games year after year. That will be a big football game for both schools. Georgia having a week off should get the Bulldogs fresher for this game while Georgia Tech played last week vs. Duke.

That leaves the big one in Tuscaloosa on Friday. They don't get any bigger for Auburn. Alabama doesn't have as much riding on this game as it did last year when it came to Auburn trying to stay unbeaten, but nothing would make them happier than to beat Auburn and knock the Tigers out of the national championship game.

The game is going to be pretty evenly matched. Alabama is good on defense, but the Tigers are moving the ball and scoring points on everybody they are playing and they have been especially strong on offense the last half of the season.

Alabama is certainly capable offensively. I would say the kicking games are even. (Marquis) Maze probably gives Alabama an edge comparing punt returners, but I wouldn't say he is better than Auburn's kickoff returners and Auburn's speciality teams have done an excellent job in coverage all year long.

It remains to be seen how much effect Auburn having to sit out Michael Goggans and Mike Blanc in the first half will have on the defensive playing rotation, but I am sure the coaches will have a plan on how they will handle that.

I think this game will be close enough that the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win, and when I say mistakes I am talking about turnovers and penalties. If it is a close game, I don't know if Alabama has been as strong of a team in the fourth quarter as Auburn has. The Tigers have played well all season and have been particularly strong in the final quarter.

Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

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