Mark Green Picks the SEC Week Six

After a perfect week of predictions, Mark Green is back to analyze this week's SEC football matchups.

Mark Green

Editor's Note: After a 7-0 week, Mark Green's record for the season is 36-8 (.818).


VANDERBILT AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Don't Care College is still looking for its confidence like Ichabod Crane is looking for his head. The search continues this Saturday in Starkville, where the battle of the basement pits the two worst SEC programs, one from each division, in the country-time climate of Scott Field. Hmmmm doggie!

Winless and wounded Mississippi State has some real offensive weapons in the persons of WR Justin Jenkins and RBs Jerious Norwood and Nick Turner. And Bulldog QB Kevin Fant has done well against inferior competition. Also aiding and abetting the Dogs is the sad fact that Vanderbilt's defensive line does not have the personnel to prevent State scores.

But does MSU's own pitiful defense have the wherewithal to fend off a likely air assault from Commodore quarterback Jay Cutler? Stay tuned. Some say the outcome of this game could determine the head coaching future of State's Jackie Sherrill. But I don't believe that for a minute. He's already gone. MISSISSIPPI STATE 34, VANDY 27.


OLE MISS at FLORIDA

The Gators escaped Lexington last week with a 24-21 victory that seemed more like contraband than earned income. Kentucky is fast becoming a Vanderbilt wannabee, building up hope only to dash it by blunderous play at crunch time.

Florida, though, is as psycho as they come, annihilating the San Jose States of the world while struggling against better teams with better coaching. Last season, the Crocs lost to Ole Miss in Oxford. So this one figures to have a major revenge angle. But with Ron Zook at the helm in Gainesville, I wouldn't count on anything. Ever. FLORIDA 31, OLE MISS 30.


ALABAMA at GEORGIA

Well, we told you. Last week this column went undefeated (7-0, 5-0-1 against the points). And the real big hit was watching Arkansas rev it up in the fourth quarter to overpower a wilting Alabama defense. That was no accident. Depth is not just next year's concern in Tuscaloosa.

This week the Tide travels to Athens to take on once-beaten Georgia in what has become a must-win for both teams. That's bad news for Alabama whose injury list now includes not only DE Antwan Odum, but also starting quarterback Brodie Croyle. What to do? Pray. And give the ball to Shaud Williams early and often. Maybe Dawg QB David Greene will give way to mistake-prone backup D. J. Shockley just in time to stop the excessive bleeding. Oh, and hope that star Georgia WR Fred Gibson doesn't return from injury until next week. GEORGIA 34, ALABAMA 21.


TENNESSEE at AUBURN

It's time to play football. Auburn, born again and coming off a spiritual revival against Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky, gets a second chance at redemption this Saturday night when the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers venture into Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on the Tigers in front of the watchful eye of ESPN. Having already squandered a previous audition for national respect against Southern California in August, Auburn gets this one last opportunity to restate its case as one of the nation's premiere teams.

The Tiger offense, so inept and confused against USC and Georgia Tech, seems to have regained its confidence in recent weeks by simply disguising its intentions. Consultant Zeke Bratkowski, among other things, advised the Auburn offensive staff to vary its formations while continuing to run many of the same plays. That way, the other team doesn't know which play you are going to run. Presto! Plays, yards and plenty of points. Sheer coaching genius. Hey, nobody ever said football was rocket science.

And what of the Big Orange, ripe and ready for an Oktoberfest which includes dates with Auburn, Georgia and Alabama with Miami later on? Can the steady and business-like Vols just march into Auburn for another in a long line of Vol Kilmer (Casey Clausen) road victories? Is it really all that easy to make Auburn nothing more than another entry in the Volunteer win column? Don't fall for that silly notion. It's time to play football. AUBURN 31, TENNESSEE 16.


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