Marshall: Tigers Need To Be Ready For Rebels

Columnist Phillip Marshall makes his SEC picks for week nine of the college football season.

There are reasons to believe Auburn will blow out Ole Miss on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

* The Rebels are 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Its only two victories are over Memphis and Louisiana Tech.

* They are 0-10 in SEC road games in Ed Orgeron's three seasons as coach * They looked woeful in losing 44-8 at home to Arkansas last Saturday.

* They have won just three out of 21 SEC games in Orgeron's tenure, those coming over bottom-feeders Mississippi State, Kentucky (at the time) and Vanderbilt.

* Auburn has better players and better coaches than Ole Miss.

* Ole Miss is last in the SEC in rushing defense, last in rushing offense, 10th in pass defense, last in total defense and 11th in scoring defense.

And there are reasons to believe Auburn could have its hands full.

* Already this season, the Rebels have scared the dickens out of Florida, losing 30-24, and Alabama, losing 27-24.

* Last season, two weeks after being blown out 38-3 by Arkansas, they took LSU to overtime before falling 26-23 in Baton Rouge. LSU had to score on the final play of regulation just to get it to overtime.

* Though they insist they have put it behind them, it is certainly a possibility that Auburn players could suffer from an LSU hangover after last Saturday's last-second 30-24 loss in Baton Rouge.

No one knows, of course, how Ole Miss will react to being crushed by Arkansas or how Auburn will react to the crushing loss at LSU.

Auburn players, though disappointed, know beyond any question they can play straight-up against the best teams in college football. They proved it in Gainesville and they proved it again in Baton Rouge. They know they have an opportunity to finish with four straight wins.

My gut feeling the Tigers will be ready to play when Ole Miss comes to town. And if they are, they'll win.

Auburn 31, Ole Miss 10.

Your fearless picker was 4-2 last week, but who could have guessed Vanderbilt would go to Columbia and beat South Carolina? I also picked Tennessee over Alabama. Who would have guessed Tennessee would decide not to cover a single pass receiver? For the season, the record is 43-16.

FLORIDA (5-2, 3-2) vs. GEORGIA (5-2, 3-2): It's one of the more inexplicable realities in SEC football. In the past 17 seasons, Georgia has won exactly twice in the game they call the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

A lot of good Georgia teams, even championship Georgia teams, have been unable to solve the Gator dilemma. Even Ron Zook had Georgia's number. Go figure.

Saturday's game in Jacksonville has great significance in the wild, wild East, where five teams have two conference losses apiece. The winner emerges as a strong contender, probably the favorite, to get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

Can Georgia pull off an upset? Yes. Will it? Nope.

Florida 28, Georgia 20.

Mark Richt is just 1-5 versus the Gators, but that's not any worse than his predecessors. Jim Donnan was 1-4 in the rivalry from 1996-2000 and Ray Goff was 1-6 from 1989-1995.

SOUTH CAROLINA (6-2, 3-2) at TENNESSEE (5-3, 2-2): How bad is Tennessee's defense? It gave up 41 points to Alabama last Saturday, and that wasn't its worst performance of the season. It wasn't even second worst. Florida got 59 and California 45. How bad is South Carolina's offense? It couldn't score a touchdown in a stunning 17-6 home loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday.

Tennessee has the homefield advantage. South Carolina has Steve Spurrier, who has long been in Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer's head.

This one, too, will have a significant impact on the East Division race.

South Carolina 24, Tennessee 17.

KENTUCKY (6-2, 2-2) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-4, 1-3): Kentucky is coming off a brutal three-game stretch that included a trip to South Carolina and home games against LSU and Florida. The Wildcats are very, very good on offense. On defense? Not so much.

Mississippi State is better than it has been in recent years, but it still has lots of holes. Kentucky should win, but something tells me the Bulldogs are going to put together something special.

In a super, duper upset special...

Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 27

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (0-7) at ARKANSAS (4-3, 1-3): Maybe Florida International will be able to save the equipment.

Arkansas 63, Florida International 0.

MIAMI OF OHIO (4-4) at VANDERBILT (4-3, 2-3): The Commodores are two wins away from being bowl-eligible for the first time since 1982. They aren't going to take anybody lightly.

Vanderbilt 34, Miami of Ohio 14.

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