Previewing Week Eight Of SEC Football

The Southeastern Conference has a solid schedule with a mix of conference and non-conference football games this weekend.

Here are this week's football matchups across the Southeastern Conference:

Florida (4-2, 2-2) at Mississippi State (1-5, 0-3)

11:30 a.m., JP Sports / ESPN GamePlan

It's a shame there won't be any other good games around the country during this time slot because the only way this Gators versus Bulldogs matchup will be interesting is if Chris Leak sets some passing records.

State seems to get worse and worse every week, and those who said Alabama should have hired Croom over Mike Shula are getting quieter and quieter. While Florida can't seem to pull out a big win this year, it at least beats the teams it should. This week shouldn't be any different.

Eastern Kentucky (3-3, 3-1 Ohio Valley) at Vanderbilt (1-5, 1-3)

1 p.m., No television

Can Vanderbilt pull off the trifecta of losses to non-conference foes Navy, Rutgers and Eastern Kentucky? With a victory, the Commodores would have a chance for their first three-win season since 2000 when they visit Lexington on Nov. 13.

The Colonels are riding a three-game winning streak and another one over Vanderbilt would make the Commodores the second SEC team in 2004 to lose to a Division I-AA opponent. There probably aren't any SEC schools outside of Starkville and Nashville capable of that feat.

Alabama (5-2, 2-2) at Tennessee (5-1, 3-1)

2:30 p.m. CDT, CBS Sports

This rivalry has become more about hatred and bitterness than a football game. The Volunteers have won eight of the last nine games in the series, which only adds to the Crimson Tide's frustrations. The Alabama football program was found guilty of major infractions nearly three years ago, however, some fans would like to blame Phillip Fulmer and other Volunteers for the Tide's problems. Things got so heated that Fulmer skipped out on SEC Media Days in Birmingham before to avoid getting subpoenaed.

Despite all the background noise going on between the schools and their fans, there will be a football game played Saturday. Alabama will travel to Neyland Stadium at 5-2, but very much unproven. Its' five wins have come against Utah State, Ole Miss, Western Carolina, Kentucky and Southern Miss. Tennessee on the other hand, has beaten Florida and Georgia in its five wins.

Since the loss of Brodie Croyle, the Crimson Tide offense hasn't been able to maintain any sort of balance. Both of his backups--Mark Guillon and Spencer Pennington--have had a tough time accomplishing much of anything through the air. Although Tennessee's defense isn't great, it should be good enough to slow a one-dimensional offense.

Alabama quarterback Spencer Pennington

Alabama's defense has been statistically good in 2004. It is ranked third in the country in yards allowed per game, but that is probably more of a result of the opponents played than anything else. It looks like Tennessee has finally settled in with quarterback Erik Ainge, and he has done well throwing to talented receivers and handing off to Cedric Houston and Gerald Riggs Jr.

Alabama already has losses to Arkansas and South Carolina, and neither of those teams is as good as the Vols. Tennessee should be able to extend its dominance in the series to nine out of ten games.

Georgia (5-1, 3-1) at Arkansas (3-3, 1-2)

6 p.m., ESPN2

It seems as if Georgia could be more focused on the game in Knoxville than the one in Fayetteville. Head Coach Mark Richt went as far as saying "Roll Tide" during his weekly press conference, hoping that Alabama will beat Tennessee on Saturday to move his Bulldogs into first place in the East. However, even if the Vols lose, another SEC loss for Georgia would all but guarantee Tennessee a trip to Atlanta.

The Razorbacks are usually tough at home, but they've allowed 65 points in the first half of their last two games against Florida and Auburn. Quarterback Matt Jones, who injured his groin against Auburn, is expected to play Saturday. Also, in one of the more amazing comeback stories in recent memory, fullback Peyton Hillis has been cleared by team doctors to play less than a month after suffering three broken bones in his lower back.

Arkansas tailback Peyton Hillis made a strong start to his first collegiate season..

Although the Hogs are 3-3, they could have and probably should have beaten Texas earlier this year in Fayetteville. The Dawgs also showed two weeks ago that they are capable of a playing poorly, but they have more than enough talent to get the job done.

Troy (3-3, 1-2 Sun Belt) at LSU (4-2, 2-2)

7 p.m., Pay per view television / ESPN GamePlan

LSU teams have typically struggled early in the season under Coach Nick Saban, but they usually find a way to get things going as the season progresses. A last-minute win in The Swamp two weeks ago could be all the Fighting Tigers needed to get things rolling in 2004. They should be heavily favored playing at home in their next four games before taking a road trip to Arkansas.

Troy surprised some people early in the season beating Marshall and Missouri, but has since gone downhill. Last week the Trojans lost 13-9 to Arkansas State, a team that LSU beat 53-3. There's no reason why LSU shouldn't win and win big.

Kentucky (1-5, 0-3) at Auburn (7-0, 4-0)

1:30 p.m., No television

The first BCS rankings of the season were released Monday, and despite a 7-0 record with wins against Tennessee and LSU, Auburn found itself ranked fourth. The three teams ranked higher than the Tigers--USC, Miami and Oklahoma--have a solid chance of being favored in all of their remaining games. However, it's too early to be worrying about not making it to the Orange Bowl if the Tigers win out. Last year's split national champs, USC and LSU, were seventh and 12th in the initial release of the rankings. If that were the case again this year, Utah and Purdue would be crowned. Auburn just needs to worry about Auburn, and those things could work themselves out.

Heading into the eighth game of the 2004 season, the schedule for Tommy Tuberville's Tigers seems to have taken shape pretty well as they still haven't played two good teams back-to-back. After playing Arkansas last week, the Kentucky Wildcats visit Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday. The Cats aren't very talented and might be without senior quarterback Shane Boyd. Freshman signal caller Andre Woodson, who's had trouble holding on to the football, could make his first collegiate start against one of the nation's best defenses.

Kentucky may be without the services of senior quarterback Shane Boyd on Saturday.

While Auburn doesn't seem to have any major weaknesses, Kentucky doesn't appear to have any major strengths. Kicker Taylor Begley has played well this season, but that's about it. The Wildcats might as well take their lumps and get ready for a game they have a more realistic chance of winning--next week against Mississippi State.


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