Auburn had their chance a week ago to put a stranglehold on the SEC West. Less than one quarter into the game, the home standing LSU Tigers had Auburn completely out of their gameplan. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Auburn. The game was horribly similar to the USC game back in week one. Auburn could not run or throw and the LSU boys could have made the score far worse than it ended up.
The folks on the plains will be a little happier with the result this week, but a win this week won't get them any closer to the SEC championship game. Homecoming week brings a familiar opponent in ULM. Auburn generally blows this game way out of proportion, and this year there may be a little more venom in the Tiger's bite. Look for Auburn to get up early and have everybody but the water boy rush for 100 yards.
ULM's only win came at UL-Lafayette. ULM has been blown out by LSU and Mississippi. Another paycheck and butt whipping await this Saturday. For the folks who wonder why Division 1-A needs reform look no farther than ULM. They have no chance of being competitive at this level. A shot in a conference will help, but it'll basically be a conference full of other teams who belong in D1-AA.
Auburn 42 ULM 10
Louisiana Tech @ LSU
The Tigers from Baton Rouge are riding high after last week. It appears that the loss against Florida has refocused this talented squad. LSU has stayed away from the let down game and this week should be no exception. In La Tech's storied history they have defeated LSU once. These two schools meet for the 1st time since 1941 thanks to Skip Bertman's new non-conference in state initiative.
LSU is clicking on all cylinders and haven't let the injuries to Addai and Carey slow them down. Justin Vincent has emerged as a true playmaker. The Tigers have a wealth of talent in the offensive backfield. This week will allow the walking wounded a week off of sorts. Look for the starters to find the bench early in the 3rd quarter. Back-up QB Marcus Randall could use some reps as his play has been a sore subject among the purple and gold coaching staff.
La. Tech will counter with Luke McCown. McCown likes to sling it all over the field. He has had big numbers all season except against Miami. Back in week three, McCown led a last minute drive that resulted in the game winning play at Michigan State. This Tech team won't be intimidated, but they just don't have the depth to match their heart. Look for LSU to get up early and turn the game over to the defense.
LSU 38 La. Tech 17
Duke at Tennessee
The Vols find themselves in need of a win. Duke will serve nicely as a rent a win. Duke has 2 wins and is 0-5 in the ACC. The funny thing is that this series has been a competitive one, but that was long before UT and Duke went in different directions.
UT survived a marathon classic last week against Alabama. That win will be one for the ages and will go a long way in determining the Vols post-season bowl tie in. Tennessee is a little banged up, but it shouldn't matter this week.
Duke will look to feed their tailback and keep pressure off their freshman QB. UT is stronger at every position, especially in the trenches. This will be a vulgar display of power, but look for Fulmer to call off the Dogs late.
Tennessee 34 Duke 3
South Carolina @ Mississippi
Mississippi is off to its best start since the SEC became a super conference. The Rebels fins themselves at 6-2 and 4-0 in conference. The two losses could have very easily been wins had it not been for a dropped pass or two. The Rebel defense is playing much better and showed its new found confidence last week against Arkansas. This team is a dark horse of sorts, but if the defense continues to improve, watch out.
South Carolina has a tough time scoring points and will need to limit the touches of the Mississippi offense. If the game becomes a shootout, USC is in big, big trouble. Lou Holtz will have a plan to slow down the game and run his new gem tailback Summers. It will be very interesting to see how USC mixes it up. Mississippi bottled up Arkansas last week. In all fairness, Arkansas was without its top two runners, but the Rebels did what they had to do to win. It's not Mississippi's fault Arkansas was all beat up. These things happen during the course of the season.
The Gamecocks have a decent defense, but are a little vulnerable to the run. If Eli and company go up early, it may get ugly, but I expect an ugly hard fought game. Mississippi should win this one and secure their 1st winning season in conference in a long time. This may be their year. Two huge games are just ahead with Auburn, LSU, and don't forget the Egg Bowl.
Mississippi 27 South Carolina 17
Arkansas @ Kentucky
This game is a must win for both teams. Arkansas has dropped three straight and seem on the verge of total collapse. Matt Jones has been largely ineffective since the early going and the Hogs are just plain whipped right now. Last season, the Hogs dropped this contest at home 29-17. They've got some revenge on their minds, but their season weighs in the balance on this one. A loss and the Hogs can do no better than .500 in conference.
UK is feeling much better about their team after last week's 42-17 pasting of Mississippi State. Despite being outplayed and outmanned the first 26 minutes of the games, the Wildcats erupted for a banner day. UK could do no wrong from the halftime whistle on. The 1st touchdown drive that closed out the 1st half was aided by a blown coverage that has become almost common place this season in Starkville. Up to that point, the MSU defense had Kentucky confused and tentative. Every coach will tell you that's why you play two halves.
UK will need to mix it up this week and bring some pressure from outside on Jones. When pressure comes up the middle, Jones just tucks it and runs outside. His containment will be a key for UK. Arkansas has some weapons and they should have a few more bullets in the gun this week. Houston Nutt is a great must win coach. The jury is out on Rich Brooks. It'll stay out a week or two more.
Arkansas 24 Kentucky 21
Florida vs. Georgia
The world's largest cocktail party has huge ramifications this season. Last year, Florida handed UGA their only defeat of the season. The big play in that one was a D.J. Shockley pick that was returned for a Florida TD. That play was the difference in a closely contested game. This one will be just as emotional and hard hitting.
Georgia may have been looking ahead the past two weeks. They struggled with Vandy before putting them away late and were nearly upset last week by UAB. I am sure the Dawgs are looking forward to avenging their lone blemish a season ago and have survived the let down games. The games were far too close, but they were still wins. This UGA team may be poised to explode on the Gators. Don't turn off your TV.
Florida has to have this game. UGA will pretty much put away the field with a win this week. UGA still has Auburn on the schedule, but outside of that, it's smooth sailing. Georgia has a great shot at a national championship this year and this game will go a long way in determining the Dawg's fortunes. Look for a playoff type atmosphere and for the game to see-saw early with Michael Cooper making some plays early and David Greene making the plays late.
Georgia 24 Florida 17
Well folks, that's how I see them. The Maroon and White dogs get a much needed week off this weekend. A huge game with Alabama is set for next week. Both staffs have two weeks to prepare and get their teams healthy.
Special well wishes go out to MSU's Quinton Culberson who was lost for the season to a broken fibula. Here's wishing Q a smooth and speedy recovery.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.