Mark Green Picks The SEC

Columnist Mark Green analyzes this week's Southeastern Conference football matchups.

Mark Green

Editor's Note: Mark Green posted a 4-2 mark last week and his record for the season is 50-12 (.806).

Connecticut at VANDERBILT

The same old Vanderbilt will now attempt a nearly impossible feat by taking on--and trying to defeat--Big East bottom-feeder UCONN in Nashville this Saturday. The Dores are up to their old tricks of late, losing as often as possible in every way possible, and new Coach Bobby Johnson, like many before him, can't seem to figure out what's gone wrong since VU beat Furman in the second week of the season.

Dare we pick the Commodores to win a football game? Well, if they don't win this one, which of their remaining games with Alabama, Florida, Kentucky or Tennessee will get them to par at 2-10? Hmmm. Yes, Vandy, this is it. Your last chance. So cherish it, hold it dear, build on it. But, by all means, don't bet on it. VANDY 27, UCONN 24.


Eli Manning peered into the abyss in Tuscaloosa last Saturday and didn't like what he saw. After much hope and much talk of an SEC West Championship, the Rebels and their star QB were crash-landed 42-7, and don't appear to have the strength to carry on this week in Fayetteville.

The Pigs, for their part, grunted around the Pig Pen last week against Kentucky and succumbed to the visiting Wildcats 29-17, despite 298 yards rushing. Meanwhile, star Hog defensive lineman and team captain Jermaine Brooks became the first arrested Razorback to have to miss a game when he was dismissed from the team this week following an arrest for marijuana possession. Having already lost a starting defensive end to a severe hip injury, Arkansas is thinning out on the defensive front, and chances for a Razor return to Atlanta this year are nil.

The game Saturday is a rematch of last season's game of the year, a seven overtime thriller in Oxford, and the Rebels would like some revenge for that season-destroying defeat. But it's not likely Arkansas will oblige such a well-guarded fantasy as that. ARKANSAS 33, OLE MISS 31.


Grab a Coke and a Moonpie and settle back for this mid-afternoon CBS encounter of the third kind. The Great Lorenzen sets his sights on the SEC's most celebrated team, Georgia, fresh off a 48-17 conquest of blunderdog Vanderbilt last Saturday in Athens. Georgia remains one of the country's few unbeatens, but the Dawgs now have a bulls eye painted squarely on their back, and will have it there for the rest of the season.

Kentucky, meanwhile, returns home to Lexington after shocking Arkansas 29-17 in Fayetteville last week. The 'Cats are looking for even bigger game this time out. And they may get it as Coach Guy Morriss and his crafty defensive coordinator, John Goodner, have proved proficient at making the most of what they have, compiling a 5-2 record with what is normally a 2-5 team. If WR/KR Derek Abney has any say in the matter, Georgia may find itself in a horserace for the SEC East Title by nightfall.

Holding back the Bulldogs still more will be the notable absence of All-SEC WR Fred Gibson and All-SEC tackle Jon Stinchcomb. Those are two pretty big names, but WRs Terrence Edwards and Damien Gary join now-healthy QB D.J. Shockley as star-power performers who could help out big-time if called upon to do so.

UK missed a couple of its chances in the East earlier this season against Florida and South Carolina, but something tells me this one may be closer than some believe, possibly even an upset. GEORGIA 23, KENTUCKY 20.


The Crimson Toads visit the Hall of the Mountain King for their annual soda-pop sweet kiss of Death from the Orange Lips of Punkin Bubba and the Prince of Doom, spike-haired QB Casey Clausen. Clausen may not play, but a big surprise may be in store for the highly-anticipatory Toad, however, as she awaits her oft longed-for meta-biological transformation on top of Ole Smokey.

Vol Freshman QB James Banks' big-play skills may awaken old Rip Van just in time for an eighth straight jilting of Fran's new-found Crimson Frogs, who still haven't won a big game at Alabama, and may never win one again, unless the lights go out in the third quarter or some coach refuses to sign his contract. For the Tide, this hillbilly fairytale may well have the sickest of outcomes. TENNESSEE 31, ALABAMA 24.


Speaking of sick outcomes, Auburn's horrid 30-23 OT loss to Florida in Gainesville last Saturday night shook the already-unstable Tigers to the core. And that's no way to feel with the nation's top-ranked defense invading Jordan Hare this Saturday morning.

AU also lost the services of all-world TB Cadillac Williams, but found a stalwart replacement in sophomore Ronnie Brown who only needed playing time to prove his worth. The Tigers also lost a kicker this week when All-American Damon Duval gave way on field goals to Philip Yost, who has been more than patient in awaiting his turn to make threes for the Orange and Blue. On the plus side for Auburn, the LSU Tigers will be minus the services of big-play safety Damien James and outstanding DE Marcus Spears, and that could help the Auburn cause considerably.

The key to a Bengal victory may well be the steadiness of new starting QB Marcus Randall, who played brilliantly against South Carolina in his debut last Saturday night in Red Stick. After leading 14-3, the Cocks deflated like a pin-pricked parade float, as Randall and the Bengal backs ran wild, churning out a 24-point win. Randall displayed good option skills and that is not good news for AU.

Auburn fans would love more than anything to take this game, especially after last season's rude encounter with the Bengals in Baton Rouge. QB Jason Campbell, who was heavily recruited by LSU, has finally become a player capable of using his considerable skills to win ball games, and he'll likely see significant playing time after relieving Daniel Cobb last week. As good as Campbell is though, this game will be the toughest test of his young career, and will more likely to be remembered as a baptism by fire rather than a post-game champagne party. LSU 23, AUBURN 17.

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