Phillip Marshall: SEC Football Picks

Phillip Marshall previews and picks the winners in week 10 of Southeastern Conference football games.

In many ways, how homecoming Auburn's game against Tennessee Tech goes on Saturday will be up to Watson Brown.

And I believe he has better sense than to get beat by 70.

In 2003, Louisiana-Monroe's coach insisted on throwing the ball around on offense and blitzing on defense against the Tigers. The result was a 73-7 Auburn victory. If Brown, in his first season as Tennessee Tech head coach, were to do the same thing, the result would be similar. But it's not likely he'll do that. I suspect his team will run the ball and try to shorten the game.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, on the other hand, will have no interest in embarrassing the Division I-AA Golden Eagles. That's not his way. All he wants is a big early lead, rest for his starters going into next Saturday's showdown at Georgia and plenty of playing time for his reserves.

My guess is that quarterback Kodi Burns and friends will be in the game in the second quarter. When the game is over, most of the fans will have long since left for their homecoming parties.

Auburn 42, Tennessee Tech 7.

Your fearless picker was just 3-2 last week, nothing to brag about. But I do have to brag about picking Mississippi State to knock off Kentucky in Lexington. For the season, the record is 46-18.

LSU (7-1, 4-1) at ALABAMA (6-2, 4-1): For all the times I've read this week about how Les Miles is winning with Nick Saban's players, I haven't read that Saban is playing with Mike Shula's players. That will only happen if Saban starts to lose.

All the hype aside, this is a very interesting game. You have to give Saban credit for having the Tide two wins from the SEC Championship Game. But you have to temper that with the knowledge that Tennessee is the best team the Tide has beaten, and Tennessee is about as bad as it gets on defense.

LSU could easily have lost its last three games, but it found a way to come from behind at home against Florida and Auburn. It did lose on its only road foray in that stretch, falling 43-37 to Kentucky in triple overtime. Of those three games, only against Auburn did LSU have wide receiver Early Doucet. Anyone who was there knows how much difference he made. Without him, LSU would not have won. He's full-speed for this game.

With Ryan Perilloux suspended, Matt Flynn will shoulder all of the quarterback load for LSU.

The five Alabama players who were suspended in a textbook scandal weren't missed against Tennessee, but anyone who believes center Antoine Caldwell won't be missed against LSU's defense is not being realistic. He'll be missed and missed badly.

LSU coach Les Miles has done some crazy things in recent weeks. The pass to the end zone with one second left against Auburn, though it worked, might have been the dumbest call I've ever seen in college football. No, that's not right. Georgia coach Mark Richt's orders for his players to get a penalty after the first touchdown against Florida holds that distinction. If there'd been a fight when the entire Georgia team ran onto the field, what would he have done then?

Anyway, if this game is close, who knows what Miles might do? Sooner or later, those senseless calls are going to start to catch up with him. But the more I've thought about it, the more I don't think this one will come down to a coach's decision at the end of the game. The bottom line is that LSU has better players. LSU 31, Alabama 17.

SOUTH CAROLINA (6-3, 5-3) at ARKANSAS (5-3, 1-3): South Carolina let one get away at Tennessee last Saturday and lost at home to Vanderbilt without scoring a touchdown a week earlier. It's pretty clear that the Gamecocks' No. 6 national ranking of a few weeks back was bogus.

Arkansas could easily have won all three SEC games it lost. It led all three in the fourth quarter. The Razorback defense struggled early but seems to have gotten better in recent weeks. And South Carolina probably won't have an answer for tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Arkansas 28, South Carolina 24.

VANDEBRILT (5-3, 2-3) at FLORIDA (5-3, 3-3): Florida's defense was shaky from the start of the season. Ravaged by injuries, it's worse than shaky now. That's why Georgia scored 42 points on the Gators, not because of a silly celebration after the first touchdown. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is playing hurt, which is no surprise since he's spent much of the season pretending to be a fullback.

Vanderbilt was robbed on its trip to Gainesville two years ago, its opportunity to try to win the game on a two-point conversion taken away on a celebration call that was one of the worst I've ever seen. The Commodores played the Gators tooth-and-nail in Nashville last season.

This game could be and probably should be close. But it's still Vanderbilt. Florida 34, Vanderbilt 27.

TROY (6-2) at GEORGIA (6-2, 4-2): This is a classic sandwich game for Georgia, between rivalry games against Florida and Auburn. The Trojans could win. Don't doubt it.

Georgia is getting a lot of love after its 42-30 win over Florida. But did Georgia score 42 because its offense has suddenly become dynamic or because Florida's defense is not very good and getting worse? I'd say it's more the latter than the former.

But in the end, the Trojans and the Bulldogs still live in different football worlds. Larry Blakeney's men will give a good account of themselves, but they won't have enough to get it done. Georgia 34, Troy 21.

NORTHWESTERN STATE (3-5) at OLE MISS (2-7, 0-6): The Rebels will get a chance to win one before closing out their season with losses to LSU and Mississippi State to go 0-8 in the SEC. Ole Miss 38, Northwestern State 10.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (1-7) at TENNESSEE (5-3, 3-2): Even Tennessee's defense ought to have a good day in this one. Tennessee 42, ULL 10.


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