Out of the Black and into the Blue. Can the Big Orange actually lose its last two? Without doubt there is more to this question than meets the eye. But how can there be more to see than the blazing glow of the Great Pumpkin under the stress of a still-in-progress losing season? Red and Orange are fit for the Thanksgiving table, but on the gridiron, show much amiss.
Apparently the corn is out of the jar on Rocky Top, and the entire football program appears to be under the influence. Extremely offensive tackle Albert Toeaina spat in the face of the cameraman after Saturday's 28-24 embarrassment at the hands of, of all teams, Vanderbilt. Several other Vols were seen to throw their helmets down in anger.
The only thing firing former offensive coordinator Randy Sanders did was shine the spotlight of shame directly in the face of the Great Pumpkin himself. The disgusting, puffed visage of the naked emperor has just now popped up in my mind's eye…
Coach Phillip Fulmer's Vols will not be going to a bowl game this season.
No. Away, vile image! I don't know if the Cat defense can make a game of it or not, but one has to believe that Tennessee is in no condition to play football in Lexington this weekend. Kentucky 30, Tennessee 27.
The Egg Bowl kicks off Saturday in Starkville featuring two of the three most inept offensive teams in the SEC. There is no way to predict turnover margin, but if you could in this game you could count on a coinciding scoreboard winner.
The home team will at least have most of the crowd behind it, and Head Coach Sylvester Croom desperately needs a victory to convince in-state recruits that he, not the Oaf of Oxford, is the future of football in the land of cotton and casinos. Take the points and roll the dice. Mississippi State 12, Ole Miss 10.
Here we have a "middle of the road" ACC team coming home to play its rival after a huge upset conference win in Miami. SEC Eastern Division Champ Georgia has had an easy time of it this season, despite losing two conference games. The Dawgs were default winners of a division whose biggest story was the emergence of an old ball coach and his undermanned chicken ranch-dwelling cocks.
Meanwhile the Yellow Jackets have used an aggressive and opportunistic defense to upend some rather impressive opponents, including Auburn in the season opener. On the other hand, Tech embarrassed itself in Blacksburg a month ago, getting body slammed by powerful Virginia Tech. So who's the real Jacket? The sticky bug on the plastic grid of the swatter or the flying hurricane hunter of a week ago? Let's go with ole Mo. Georgia Tech 24, Georgia 23.
The Urban Legend has exposed himself mightily this season. First there was the image-buster in Tuscaloosa. Next we saw a tearful response to a five-turnover gift loss in Baton Rouge to LSU. Then there was the zebra-enhanced hand-holder against Vanderbilt in Gainesville. And finally there was the submission to Coach Superior in Columbia, a loss that created more embarrassment than running the wrong way for a would-be touchdown in the Rose Bowl. So what's a slick-o new Gator Coach to do for an encore?
Well, there is the little matter of dealing with state of Florida recruiting leviathan FSU this Saturday in Gainesville. Fortunately for the Legend, the real legend is struggling himself. This game will be more interesting for its loser than it will be for its winner. My, how times have changed. FLORIDA 24, Florida State 17.
Saving the best for last, Friday's matchup in Baton Rouge is supposed to be the coronation of new Bengal Coach Les Miles' first Western Division Championship. After a somewhat rocky start, the hurricane-tossed and Volunteer-smeared LSU Tigers have regained a measure of momentum in their quest for a conference title, and last Saturday's 40-7 smashing of part-time rival Ole Miss in Oxford alerted the media to the idea that Arkansas would not spoil the victory parade any more than Katrina had.
Freshman quarterback Casey Dick will try to lead the Razorbacks to an upset win in Baton Rouge.
But, let's not put Mardi Gras before New Year's Eve. The French Quarter is still under repair, and so is the Arkansas offense which put 41 first-half points on Mississippi State last Saturday in Little Rock. New Pig quarterback Casey Dick appears to be a difference-maker, something the already daunting Razorback running game has desperately needed all season.
Could this be the first big upset of the year in the SEC? Considering the pressure on the home team, it could be. But the odds are way against it happening. Close, but no cigar. LSU 26, Arkansas 24.
Editor's Note: Mark Green was 5-1 last week and his record for the season is 62-18 (.775).