Mark Green Picks the SEC: Week Four

Mark Green takes a look at this week's slate of football games involving Southeastern Conference teams and picks the winners and losers.

Richmond at Vanderbilt

The SEC East leading Vanderbilt Commodores have a chance to make it 4-0 this weekend in Nashville when they take on the I-AA Richmond Spiders in what should be a breather for the home team.

The last time Vandy started out 4-0 the 'Dores beat Alabama and lost five of their last six. Could this season be a repeat performance? That's a Vandy kind of question. But one we are all compelled to ask. Good thing this week's opponent is Richmond, and not MTSU. Vanderbilt 30, Richmond 23.

Vandy coach Bobby Johnson's team is 2-0 in the SEC as it leaves the league for a week to play the Spiders.


Wyoming at OLE MISS

The Boys are back in town, and looking for a SEC scalp to steal. The first try this year in Gainesville two weeks ago left 'em low, but Coach O and the 1-1 Ole Miss Rebel-rousers are an appealing opportunity for a rebounding Wyoming program under the direction of Joe Glenn. Last week, wide receiver Jovon Bouknight, et. al., took advantage of an undersized Air Force defense for a one-point Mountain West win. No big thing.

The Rebs may be without starting quarterback Michael Spurlock and star middle linebacker Patrick Willis, both of whom broke the middle finger on their left hand in the loss to Vandy last week. Makes you wonder if the Commodores proactively rebuffed some of Coach O's pre-game obscene gestures.

Last season, Wyoming beat the Rebels in a wild mistake-filled shootout in Laramie. The Pokes don't win on the road too often, but they did go bowling last year, surprising heavily favored UCLA in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl, 24-21. This year...in Oxford...Wyoming 24, Ole Miss 21.


Troy at SOUTH CAROLINA

The Gamecocks of USC retreat back into the soft belly of their schedule this Saturday after getting plucked by Alabama last week 37-14. A nekkid chicken is nothing to sneeze at, but if you want to, you can point, sneer and cackle. For now, Emperor Steve has no clothes. Since neither of these teams can either run or stop the run, expect Cock quarterback Blake Mitchell to make a few deciding plays. South Carolina 30, Troy 17.


Florida at KENTUCKY

The Urban spread offense kind of melted off the Pumpkin bun last Saturday, but nevertheless managed a crucial fourth-quarter game-clinching drive against the self-destroying Tennessee Volunteers in Gainesville. Someone left the cake out in the rain. But Florida Defensive Coordinator Charlie Strong kept the rats out of the kitchen by humbling the UT running game and making a mess of the efforts of dueling Vol quarterbacks Eric Ainge and Rick Clausen.

Steve Spurrier (left), Urban Meyer right.

Meyer is being touted as the new ball coach in Gainesville, supplanting in style, grace and football acumen the old one who now coaches at South Carolina. (Nobody counts Zook). Gator success is being media- guaranteed everywhere under Meyer, and the next stop on the campaign trail is Lexington, Kentucky, where Wildcat Head Coach Rich Brooks now works anxiously down at Kinko's, holding a stack of newly printed resumes with his name on them.

By Saturday, he'll be back on the sidelines watching his soon-to-be-former team take a beating from yet another SEC opponent. Florida 38, Kentucky 10.


Georgia at MISSISSIPPI STATE

After last season's shocking upset of Florida in Starkville, Mississippi State is forever being suspected of improvement under second-year Head Coach Sylvester Croom. After all, no coach wants to go through the Ron Zook treatment. So don't expect Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs to wade into Starkville without caution.

This game will be a test for both packs of Dogs, as Georgia continued to fade at home last week against Louisiana Monroe, struggling with the visiting Louisiana Bulldogs until the fourth quarter. State, meanwhile, picked up what may prove to be a very important win in Shreveport, fending off the upset-minded Tulane Green Wave, who had rallied to tie that game late in the contest.

If Croom has indeed made progress with his Bullies, you will see it this weekend. The problem for State, though, is that they lack offensive firepower at running back and wide receiver. Tailback Jerious Norwood is struggling with an injured shoulder and backup Derek Ambrose is out for the season with an injury. Talented quarterback Omarr Conner simply cannot go it alone. Georgia 30, Miss State 17.


Arkansas at ALABAMA

The Pink Pigs wallowed in self-pity in Los Angeles last weekend, just long enough to cover themselves in points, shame and embarrassment. Talk about a deliverance. The Pig Squeal was muted after a point, as the Hogs found sadistic satisfaction in their Hollywood role as a receptacle for repeated Trojan thrusts into the soft pink underbelly, right underneath the hair of their chinny chin chin. No prisoners. Not even any robbery. If they'd wanted Arkansas' money, they'd have taken it. It was truly sick. You don't think Vandy rubbed off on them do you?

Question: How can a team which played with so little self-respect a week ago get it up for a fight this Saturday in Tuscaloosa against a rejuvenated Alabama team that, despite beating no one this season, nevertheless believes it's the second coming of the New England Patriots? Answer: They can't. Alabama 31, Arkansas 15.

Tennessee at LSU

Good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise, LSU and Tennessee will now get together Monday night (6:30 CST) in Baton Rouge, drying off just after Hurricane Rita slips past to the immediate West (we hope!). The circumstances are fitting.

Without the usual offensive input, Rocky Top has flat-lined in the first two games this season, as the Vols have managed but three touchdowns in two games. Where are the glory days of Peyton Manning and Jamaal Lewis? As usual, Vol Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders is shouldering the bulk of the blame for lack of scoreboard punch, and as usual, a cornered Volunteer will come out firing in adverse circumstances.

What makes this game particularly interesting is that SEC West favorite LSU is coming off a horrendous defensive performance two weeks ago in Arizona where the Tigers escaped with the help of their kicking game. Currently, LSU ranks dead last in total defense in the nation, an unheard of statistic. Aberration or a post-Saban trend?

The loser of this game probably will not win a division championship in 2005, so yes, this should be some kind of fight. SEC Monday Night Football. Has a ring to it. Tennessee 31, LSU 30.


Auburn running back Carl Stewart and his Tigers will be looking to improve their record to 3-1 on Saturday.

Western Kentucky at AUBURN

The Hilltoppers sit atop the NCAA I-AA rankings with a 2-0 record on the young season. Ball State they are not, allowing less than 60 yards per game on the ground. It may be self-delusion, but Western plans on winning the game this Saturday at Jordan-Hare. Expect a fight, but not necessarily to the finish. Auburn 37, Western Kentucky 13.

Editor's Note: Mark Green posted a 6-2 record last week and his record for the season is 22-5 (.815).


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