Marshall Column: AU Football Notes and Picks

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about Auburn football and SEC football.

Before we get into Saturday's rather unappetizing Southeastern Conference menu, here are some bits and pieces picked up around the Auburn football complex:

*Fans seem much more concerned about Auburn's wide receivers than are Auburn's coaches. "They're doing well," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "They're obviously not as experienced as the guys we had last year, but they're sure not a liability. I'll tell you that."

*Borges and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp agree that last Saturday's 7-3 victory over LSU was as physical as any game they've witnessed in their careers.

*LSU coach Les Miles has won no friends or admirers on Auburn's coaching staff with his whining about officials' calls in last Saturday's game. Along those same lines, Auburn coaches sent tapes to the SEC office of numerous calls that they questioned.

*Pat Sims' transformation from malcontent to team leader and consistent defensive lineman could be one of the more heart-warming stories of head coach Tommy Tuberville's Auburn career. •

*Tailback Kenny Irons' determined running against LSU earned him even more respect from his coaches than last season's 218-yard performance in Baton Rouge.

*Pay no attention to rumors about Tuberville and the head coaching job at Miami. Even if Larry Coker is fired at the end of the season, Tuberville isn't interested. Period.

Tommy Tuberville

*If Auburn runs up a big score on Buffalo in Saturday's game, it'll be backups getting it done. With a Thursday night game at South Carolina looming, look for most if not all the starters to take a seat if the Tigers build a comfortable lead.

Moving on to Saturday's games:

Buffalo (1-2) at Auburn (3-0): It would be fun for the fans if every game was like last Saturday--a Top 10 showdown in the kind of atmosphere that makes college football special. It would also be crazy. The Buffalos of the world serve a valuable purpose.

Auburn and LSU get chances to take deep breaths Saturday, and both need it after an epic defensive battle that left both teams beaten and bruised.

At the top of its game, Auburn would score at will against Buffalo and Buffalo wouldn't be able to score against Auburn. But Auburn isn't going to be at the top of its game Saturday. Auburn 38, Buffalo 7.

Alabama (3-0) at Arkansas (2-1): It's a big game for Alabama. It's a crucial game for Arkansas, and particularly for Houston Nutt. An Alabama victory could start the countdown on Nutt's tenure as the Hogs' head coach.

Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain is an impressive freshman, but he's still a freshman. He'll need a lot of help from his running game and his defense to beat Alabama. Alabama, on the other hand, will need to run the ball better than it has run it in its first three games.

It could go either way, but...Alabama 20, Arkansas 17.

Kentucky (2-1) at Florida (3-0): The Wildcats are better than usual on offense, not so good on defense. Florida is coming off an emotional 21-20 victory at Tennessee.

Kentucky probably has the emotional edge and might hang around for a while, but Florida has the heavy artillery on its side. Florida 42, Kentucky 24.

Tulane (1-1) at LSU (2-1): Tulane pulled an upset last Saturday, holding on to beat Mississippi State 32-29 in Starkville. When a win over Mississippi State is an upset, that's a story in itself. LSU 49, Tulane 3.

Mississippi State (0-3) at UAB (1-2): Has an SEC team ever sunk lower than being a 10-point underdog against UAB?

The Bulldogs might have found their best way to generate some offense when they finally put Omarr Conner back at quarterback in the second half against Tulane. If I was a betting man, I'd be sorely tempted to jump on Mississippi State plus 10. In an upset...Mississippi State 21, UAB 14.

Wake Forest (3-0) at Ole Miss (1-2): Fortunately for Ole Miss, Wake Forest has serious injury problems. Fortunately for Wake Forest, Ole Miss doesn't have a good team.

In one that could go either way, I'll cast my vote for the home team. Ole Miss 24, Wake Forest 22.

Florida Atlantic (0-3) at South Carolina (2-1): If there was ever a game South Carolina could take for granted, it's this one. Florida Atlantic has lost to Clemson 54-6, Kansas State 45-0 and Oklahoma State 48-8. Then again, a team that had to hang on for dear life to beat Wofford can't take anyone for granted. South Carolina 35, Florida Atlantic 7.

Colorado (0-3) at Georgia (3-0): We don't really know yet just how good Georgia is. We do know how bad Colorado is. Georgia 38, Colorado 9.

Tennessee State (2-1) at Vanderbilt (0-3): Vanderbilt played tough at Michigan. It took Alabama and Arkansas to the wire. The Commodores should be able to cruise in this one. Vanderbilt 42, Tennessee State 10.

Marshall (1-2) at Tennessee (2-1): No school named Marshall can be all bad, but the Thundering Herd will be no match for the Vols, still smarting from a 21-20 loss at home to Florida. Tennessee 38, Marshall 13.

Last week's record was 6-2, making your fearless forecaster 21-3 for the season.

Until next time...

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