Rivalry Games Scheduled Across the SEC

Auburn is trying to keep its perfect record, Tennessee is trying to clinch a divisional title and other SEC teams are playing traditional rivalry games in week 12 of the conference football season. The following are previews of games around the league.

South Carolina (6-4, 4-4) at Clemson (5-5, 4-4 ACC)

11 a.m. CST, JP Sports / ESPN GamePlan

The biggest story in the Palmetto State this week seems to be the coaching carousel going on in Columbia and questions about the coaching job being done at Clemson. The Steve Spurrier to replace Lou Holtz gig seems to be a done deal, and after Clemson's loss to Duke last week Tommy Bowden some Clemson fans would be happy to send Bowden packing as well. There's still a football game to be played and there's no telling what will happen there.

Lou Holtz is getting ready to exit stage right from the position of head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Behind junior quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, the Clemson offense was supposed to be the real deal in 2004. But that not-so-high-powered attack is 109th in the country in total yards at only 293.9 per contest. The Gamecocks started off nicely this season at 4-1 and ranked in the Top 25, but haven't played well since. The South Carolina players still remember last year's 63-17 drubbing at the hands of the Tigers and would love to get revenge. If that happens, they can send out Holtz as a winner.

Tennessee (7-2, 5-1) at Vanderbilt (2-8, 1-6)

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

Tennessee can officially clinch the SEC East and a rematch with Auburn in Atlanta at the SEC Championship Game with a win over the Commodores. It's been a long time--21 years to be exact--since the last time Vanderbilt beat its cross-state rival, and in the last three meetings Tennessee has outscored Vanderbilt 110-0.

It's a one-sided rivalry and Saturday's game shouldn't be any different.

Arkansas (4-5, 2-4) at Mississippi State (3-6, 2-4)

1:30 p.m., No television

Although these teams are tied at 2-4 in league play and only one win separates their overall record, Arkansas appears to have a much better team than State. The Razorbacks five losses have come from three tough SEC East foes--Florida, Georgia and South Carolina--plus Auburn and Texas. The Bulldogs only have three overall wins against a schedule that includes Tulane, Maine, Vanderbilt, UAB and Kentucky.

State has made steady improvement since the early season, but its run defense is still one of the worst in the league, which is bad news facing an Arkansas team averaging 200 yards per game on the ground.

Florida (6-4, 4-4) at Florida State (8-2, 6-2 ACC)

6:45 p.m. CST, ESPN

This rivalry game has definitely lost a bit of luster in the last few seasons. Prior to 2001, both teams were ranked in Top 10 for 13 consecutive meetings. This year's game features a 6-4 Florida team with an already-fired head coach against an 8-2 Florida State team which lost to Maryland and struggled to beat Wake Forest and North Carolina State in recent weeks.

Coach Ron Zook and his Gators will be looking to change the trend in the series vs. FSU.

Thanks to several officiating blunders last season the Seminoles were able to win in The Swamp, and have won six of the last seven meetings. Florida State is favored by a touchdown, but it wouldn't be surprising to see either team win by three touchdowns. The Seminoles have played extremely inconsistent football all season while the Gators have been playing that way ever since Zook arrived in Gainesville three years ago.

Ole Miss (3-6, 2-4) at LSU (7-2, 4-2)

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

While the Ole Miss bowl hopes were squashed 35-3 in Fayetteville last week, the Fightin' Tigers are still fighting for bowl position. An LSU win over the Rebels would keep the momentum going into next Friday's Battle for the Golden Boot with Arkansas and be a big step toward its fourth straight New Year's bowl game.

Due to the 5-1-2 conference schedule alignment put in place in 2002, Ole Miss will be traveling to Baton Rouge for its third time in four years. However, the Rebels have pretty good luck in Tiger Stadium, winning three of their last four visits. This year might be a little tougher for the Rebels, who are riding a three-game losing streak. Since losing to Florida last season, LSU hasn't lost a home game and is looking to make it 10 straight in Tiger Stadium.

Auburn (10-0, 7-0) at Alabama (6-4, 3-4)

2:30 p.m., CBS Sports

The hay is in the barn and it's time for college football's most intense football rivalry. This is one that many Alabamians live for. For the fans, it's their year-around obsession. It's their pride and bragging rights. For the players, it's their memories. It's their championship game even if they're 10-0 or 6-4. For the coaches, it's their careers.

This year's edition of the Iron Bowl doesn't get any bigger for Auburn with the Tigers in a must-win situation to keep alive hopes of playing in the Orange Bowl for the BCS national championship. Auburn has a solid shot at making it three straight wins in the series against the probation-ridden Crimson Tide. For Auburn, only two games and six computers stand in the way of a shot at the 2004 National Championship.

Defensive end Bret Eddins and the other Auburn seniors want to keep their momentum going with a victory over their archrival.

While Bama may boast "the second-best defense in the country" because of stats built against weak offensive teams, Auburn has the better coaching, depth, chemistry and better players at practically every position. The Tide has played gutsy football in 2004 reaching six wins with its second-team backfield for most of the season, but the Tigers have simply handled everybody but LSU with no fourth quarter stress. Since the one-point win over LSU in mid-September, the Tigers have beaten every team they've played by at least 18 points. Ole Miss is the only team still in the game by halftime.

Auburn hasn't beaten Alabama by more than 10 points since 1969, but that statistic could very easily be changed Saturday night if the Tigers play like they have in earlier games this season. Coach Tommy Tuberville is looking to improve his personal record to 4-2 vs. the Tide and enter the SEC Championhsip Game in two weeks with plenty of momentum.


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