Mark Green Picks The SEC

After a strong start in week one, columnist Mark Green analyzes this week's SEC football games.

Now see, if you'd believed in my projected overtime game between Louisville and a suddenly improved Kentucky Wildcat, you'd be better off this week than you were a week ago, correct? Andre Woodson's goal line fumble against their hated rival cost the Cats a shot at what could have been an upset of bluegrass basketball proportions, but alas, it was not to be.

This week Rich Brooks's boys face the mighty Bengals of Idaho State, not to be confused with the Vandals of Idaho, or the Red Guard of Saddam Hussein. These guys have given up nearly 600 yards to each Div 1 team they have faced the past two seasons. Sick. Chalk one up for the home team. KENTUCKY 40, Idaho State 13.

Louisiana Tech at FLORIDA

This game is as easy as it looks. Urban Meyer eased onto the Gator horizon last week by making unimpressive but efficient work of a game Wyoming Cowboy squad, intent upon embarrassing the newest god of Gatordom. And so it was the Meyer era began, not with a bang, but a whimper. And a week from Saturday the Great Pumkin and company come streamin down from the Knoxville hills to put Chris Leake the Florida spread offense to the test.

Meanwhile, though, there are Jack Bicknell III's Bulldogs to deal with. Tech not only gave up points by the bushel in '05, but as a team, they return the fewest starters in the WAC from a year ago. I know Pumkin and the Chief (Crook and Chase?) don't need any clues, but let's see what Urban can do with a soft ball thrown underhanded. FLORIDA, 45 Louisiana Tech 13.

Vanderbilt at ARKANSAS

Told y'all Jay Cutler and the 'Dores would beat the Demon Deacons! Hey, it's not like Vandy is an automatic W on the gridiron. But they are much improved in '05. Perhaps they even have a shot of confidence now that they are one eleventh of the way to a perfect record and a sixth of the way to the bowling alley.

Was it a fluke? Kinda. One thing's for sure though, Arkansas' running game will be more trouble still against a VU defense that took a 274-yard beating from Wake's second and third string running backs. The Pigs are on course to become the premiere rushing team in the league this season and have a stable of backs unmatched, perhaps, in the country.

Before the season started, everyone knew Cutler had his work cut out for him if Vandy was to succeed. So far he's proven himself worthy of the preseason hype. The kid is the Matt Jones of Vanderbilt football, for gosh sakes! But it remains to be seen just how much of a difference the tough senior can make when the odds are off the chart. ARKANSAS 38, Vanderbilt 17.

South Carolina at GEORGIA

Steve Spurrier is back in SEC action, and it won't be long before he makes his reappearance known to all who have a stake in the league title. Despite throwing half of his returning players out in the street in the pre-season, the ole Ball Coach has already found his quarterback in sophomore Blake Mitchell and worked up a couple of serviceable receivers as well. Now if we can just do something about that running game…Seeing as how Carolina returned only nine starters from a year ago, Spurrier's team is clearly a work in progress for the time being. But leave the emphasis on progress.

UGA quarterback D.J. Shockley

Powerful Georgia has apparently adapted well to senior quarterback D.J. Shockley, and the Dawgs are poised to make a run at the SEC title, so don't expect a miracle from the Gamecocks on Saturday. But do keep an eye out for signs of a South Carolina resurgence. A win in Athens would be tantamount to the Greek National Team beating the NBA-stocked U.S. Olympic team in basketball. Never happen. GEORGIA 31, South Carolina 16.


This game was supposed to be played in Baton Rouge, but that site has been turned into a base for the extensive relief efforts being waged to aid the victims of horrible Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps getting away from it all is precisely what the doctor ordered for LSU, whose opening game against North Texas was canceled last week due to the storm.

Alley Broussard will likely be missed by LSU.

In truth it has not been a good start for LSU football under new head coach Les Miles. Earlier this fall two starters, All-SEC running back Alley Broussard and linebacker E. J. Kuale, went down with what may be season-ending injuries. Sophomore quarterback Jamarcus Russell has not continued to step forward to take the position away from fellow sophomore Matt Flynn and true freshman Ryan Perriloux, though it is likely at this point that Russell will get the job regardless.

Arizona State is a team on the rise in the PAC-10. Last week's 63-point offensive outburst against Temple did nothing for the Sun Devils in the way of limp-legging LSU, but it does demonstrate that State may have already made amends for the loss of departed Andrew Walter at quarterback.

The key to this game for LSU will be the play of Russell, who may or may not get it done. Until something changes, that will continue to be the story of Bengal Tiger football. Will the real LSU quarterback please step up? Who the heck was Leon Spinks? ARIZONA STATE 24, LSU 20.

Southern Mississippi at ALABAMA

The crowing Crimson cat-called cross–state rival Auburn for losing to Georgia Tech last week, but the Tide had better get out of the gutter of narcissism and squint hard at the on-coming opponent from Hattiesburg. What might come into focus is a battering ram of reality from Southern Mississippi.

The Golden Eagles have a third-year starter at the helm in QB Dustin Almond and four experienced faces in the secondary as well. This could be an upset, but if Brodie stays healthy, it won't be. Alabama 24, Southern Miss 17.

Mississippi State at AUBURN

Last week's only loss in this column was not so surprisingly that of the home team, whose youthful enthusiasm, combined with a crime ring of ACC zebras bent on establishing an upset, caused a minor stir around SEC, and a major stomach pain for Tommy Tuberville.

Auburn's big adventure turned into an over-and-out nightmare that probably has not quite sunken in to the psyches of the '05 Tigers, who must now wake up and face much-improved Omarr Conner and his 1-0 Mississippi State Bulldogs. It may by now be a cliché, but Maroon Head Coach Sylvester Croom is doing it the right way in Starkville, and toughness is something his growing team has already learned.

Questions remain for the Tigers about a youthful quarterback and a slightly different kind of defense, but State is not the true test for this team. That will come in Fayetteville. This game may not be as easy as advertised for Auburn, but if it is, consider it a good sign for the home team, not a bad one for the visitors. It's even possible that the Tigers will bring a bit of a hangover into Jordan-Hare this Saturday morning. AUBURN 27, Mississippi State 17.

Editor's Note: Mark Green posted an 11-1 mark for a .917 percentage in his two week one columns.

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