Phillip Marshall's SEC Football Predictions

Phillip Marshall predicts the winners and losers in week five of the Southeastern Conference football season.

There are lots of reasons to believe Florida should take care of Auburn with little trouble Saturday night in The Swamp.

The Gators have one of the nation's top offenses, led by the strong arm and the churning legs of quarterback Tim Tebow. They are the defending national champions and have not lost since falling 27-17 at Auburn last season. They have not lost a home game since Urban Meyer took over as head coach in 2005.

Auburn, on the other hand, has struggled through its first four games. It has lost to South Florida, which probably would be a middle-of-the-pack SEC team, and Mississippi State, which would probably be a middle-of-the-pack Conference USA team.

But something tells me Auburn has a chance to make this a game. I've seen Tommy Tuberville's teams rise up in games like this too many times. Of course, none of those teams had three true freshmen starting on the offensive line in one of the most intimidating venues in the college game.

Ole Miss exposed some chinks in Florida's armor in last Saturday's 30-24 loss in Oxford. The Gators don't play the best pass defense. They'll be without senior Andre Caldwell, their most reliable receiver. Sophomore Percy Harvin, the SEC's most electrifying player, suffered a hip pointer and hasn't practiced. Meyer says he'll be full-speed by Saturday night, but I don't believe it.

Despite their rough start, Auburn players have confidence that comes from winning 11 of 12 SEC road games and eight of nine against teams ranked in the top 10. If the Tigers can avoid the turnovers that plagued them through their first three games and not give up easy touchdowns, I expect them to be in the game in the fourth quarter. If they go back to turning the ball over and give up easy touchdowns, it'll be gruesome.

I see Auburn playing its best game of the season, but the Gators, playing at home with revenge on their minds, will be too much in the end.

Florida 28, Auburn 20.

Your fearless picker struggled again last week. Though the record was 5-2, I missed on Georgia's win over Alabama and Kentucky's win over Arkansas. For the season, the record is 24-9.

On to the rest of the SEC:

ALABAMA (3-1) vs. FLORIDA STATE (2-1): There'll be a lot of interesting storylines when the Tide and the Seminoles get together in Jacksonville. Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was at Florida State last season. Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher spent five years with Alabama coach Nick Saban at LSU. Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden is a Birmingham native who once dreamed of being Alabama's coach.

Florida State's offense has struggled almost as much early in Fisher's tenure as it did under unpopular Jeff Bowden last season. Alabama's defense isn't going to scare anyone. Florida State's defense, on the other hand, is strong. Same goes for Alabama's offense.

A shaky vote for...Florida State 23, Alabama 21.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-1) at SOUTH CAROLINA (3-1): These two teams might have equal records, but there's nothing equal about them. Mississippi State can't count on another favorite playing as poorly as Auburn did two weeks ago. South Carolina 31, Mississippi State 9.

OLE MISS (1-3) at GEORGIA (3-1): Did Ole Miss show in losing a close one at home to Florida that it is ready to turn the corner?

Nah.

Georgia 27, Ole Miss 13.

LSU (4-0) at TULANE (1-2): It's Tulane's home game, but it will be LSU's crowd in the Superdome. Not that it matters.

LSU 42, Tulane 3.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (3-1) at KENTUCKY (4-0): Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger returns to the school where he played. But this is a different breed of Wildcat. Kentucky 38, Florida Atlantic 17.

Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson is off to a terrific start for the Wildcats as a senior.

NORTH TEXAS (0-3) at ARKANSAS (1-2): Arkansas has given up 83 points the past two weeks in losing at Alabama and to Kentucky at home. The Mean Green should be just the tonic the Razorbacks need to get back on track. Arkansas 49, North Texas 7.

EASTERN MICHIGAN (2-2) at VANDERBILT (2-1): Vanderbilt showed some life in beating Ole Miss two weeks ago. Past Commodore teams might have lost a game like this one, but maybe this season is different. Vanderbilt 35, Eastern Michigan 14.


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