The Tide scored its first rushing TD of the season last week when Ahmaad Galloway score on an 11-yard run against Arkansas. Alabama has one rushing TD in its last 20 quarters, dating back to last season over 10 yards. And against South Carolina, a team coming off of two impressive road wins, the Tide will be in trouble if their running does not improve.
Carolina is allowing only 107 yards per game for rushing defense. How can Alabama hope to win this game without improving its rushing offense? Bama has never lost to the Cocks; that could change this weekend.
This game is a must win for the Rebels. I say that not because there is a sense of urgency in Oxford, instead I say that looking at the remainder of the Rebel schedule. With LSU, Georgia, and Mississippi State still on the Rebel's schedule later in the season, it appears to me that in order for Ole Miss to get to a decent bowl game they need this win.
Ole Miss has won four of the last five games against the Cats and appear to have the upper hand again this season. Eli Manning is leading Ole Miss' offense to 284 yards of passing per game. With the poor Kentucky pass defense (allowing over 300 yards a contest) Ole Miss should get a win in Lexington.
The other Mississippi school, State, will have more of a challenge this weekend. Last season, the Bulldogs pulled a huge upset and beat Florida in Starkville. This season State has to travel to Florida to take on the Gators. Steve Spurrier rarely loses; it is even more rare when he loses to the same team two times in a row.
Florida has looked "impressive" in their first couple of games. But considering their competition, they should have. The Gators managed to slip from the top of the polls a few weeks ago. I don't think that a win over State will get them back on top. But it is possible that State will be a good warm-up to LSU, Florida's big match up next week.
Look for Florida to win. They will use great receivers to attack State's secondary. Jabar Gaffney ranks 5th on the SEC's active receptions leaders list. His teammate Reche Caldwell also ranks 5th on that list. The outstanding part about Gaffney is that he has done it in just over a season. Combined those two Gators are a lethal team.
Auburn has not lost to Vanderbilt since the 1955 Gator Bowl. These two teams have not played one another very much between that time and now, mainly due to Auburn's rivalries with Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
Vanderbilt's defense is terrible. It is just what Auburn needs coming off of a tough loss at Syracuse. Auburn's defense is outstanding for the most part, but cracks began to surface last weekend against the Orangemen.
But worry little if you are an Auburn fan, Vandy is not up to par when compared to the Tigers. Auburn is a very balanced team on offense. Their run to pass yardage ratio is very close to 50/50.
Last season Auburn shut Vandy out. I don't think that will happen this season, but I do expect an Auburn win.
LSU at Tennessee
LSU is sort of a conundrum; I don't know which LSU team will show up. They are talented, that much is true. But it seems that they do less with more talent than Texas. If LSU loses this game, you can safely tuck them away and never vote for them to win the SEC West when expected. However, if they win, it would appear to me that they are the team to beat in the West.
Tennessee is similar to LSU in that they have confused me over the early season. Did the rain cause the poor performance at Arkansas? There was no rain against Syracuse, what was the excuse for so-so play in that game?
The Vols dodged a bullet; they did not play Florida early. It means that they have a chance, at the end of the season, to upset Florida and to return to Atlanta as SEC East champs. But to me, that is thinking way to far ahead in the future. The Vols have LSU this week and then a return game with Georgia. I don't want to mention Bama as a possibly difficult game, but I feel forced to. Don't forget Carolina at the end of the season.
LSU is a freaking machine on offense, but they have yet to play a good team. Look for UT to slow the Tiger offense down. But when will UT's offense get on track?
Lot of folks think that this game is a preview to the SEC title game in December. They are wrong, that game will be next week.