[Premium article] Steve Robertson picks the winners and losers in week 9 of SEC play.

Well folks, I don't know where to begin. At the risk of offending some people, I have to get a few things off my chest in regards to the MSU football team. Something is dreadfully wrong in Stark Vegas. I have never seen a bigger flop than this. The 1998 LSU team underachieved, but they beat us that year 41-6. The 2000 Alabama team bombed, but they beat South Carolina. This installment of the SEC West flop of the year shows no signs of beating anyone much less a bowl-bound team like USC.

We have some guys on the team that appear to take this all personally, but there are others who reportedly are late to team meetings. We have finger pointing on the sidelines and in the locker room. This team is more like a group of "I"s. Outside of Zo and Kevin Fant there aren't many players I can say even care on offense. I have seen a few O lineman playing every down, but I know that gets difficult when you do your job, just so a receiver can drop a pass. I am not a coach by any means, but somebody somewhere would lose a scholarship if they couldn't hang on to the football. We had some problems early in the season with over throws, but the past three weeks we have seen drop after drop after drop. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed that the WRs had a little more success catching Fant's balls than Madkin's. I don't quite understand this since most of the drops were right in the hands. Maybe there's more to it that we don't know about.

Our defense has played well in spots and there are several players who have played hard. The turning point in the game last week was after the great defensive stand to start the 2nd half, we fumbled. Nothing against Ray Ray, because I still think he'll be a star, but when LSU cashed that one in we were done.

I was very pleased with the play of Kevin Fant most of the night and I believe he should start the rest of the season. Wayne, sorry pal. You've done a lot for us in four years, but we're playing for next year now. I say put the young kids in and let them take their lumps while it doesn't matter. Who knows they may get on a roll and actually win a few down the stretch. I'm sure they'd play with more heart than we've seen in the last few weeks. After a great four years, I'm not that bitter, but a change has to be made now so that we can compete next year in what is an increasingly difficult division. Auburn and Ole Miss seem set for next year at QB. We could join their ranks and be ahead of the LSU's and Arkansas' of the West if we let Fant get the bulk of the playing time down the stretch, besides he owes Ole Miss a little payback.

Only a few games on the schedule this week, but four of them are going to be good ones. This is a bowl positioning weekend. Without further a do, here are this weeks picks.

Vanderbilt @ Duke

Duke is the Vandy of the ACC. They got destroyed last week and they don't seem to care. I guess you play football at Duke, because you're a basketball fan. Vandy needs this game just to taste some success. Their season, like ours has been over for a while. Just think, Vandy may have a better record than us after this week. Zolman and Stricker are too much for the Blue Devils under any circumstances. The weather may be a factor though.

Vanderbilt 27 Duke 3

Auburn @ Arkansas

What happened to that great Tiger defense last week? La Tech roared back and took them to OT the week after AU knocked off the #1 team in the nation. I guess a let down was in order. AU has had problems holding on to a lead against team's that could throw the football. Maybe that explains our loss a few weeks ago. Arkansas has the defensive talent to play with Auburn and keep it close, but unless the defense can score AU wins again. It'll be a good one, but it looks like Tommy T is the best coach in the West, so he'll have his kids ready after last week's narrow escape.

Auburn 21 Arkansas 10

South Carolina @ Tennessee

This has the makings of a minor upset. The biggest problem is the fact that the Gamecocks are visiting Neyland stadium. USC has a decent offense, but they do not have the guns to win a war of attrition against the front wall of the great orange D. This one should be low scoring and close, but UT is much deeper than USC. USC has the defense to make UT earn it and it won't be as easy as running Travis Stephens on every 1st and 2nd down. Look for Lou to have a few trick plays to steal away the momentum as well as take the crowd out of it. USC will make a play in the kicking game to scare the Vols, but it's still Knoxville.

Tennessee 17 USC 16

Ole Miss @ LSU

Ole Miss could take a very big step towards an SEC West championship this week. They still need Auburn to lose, but they could eliminate the Bayou Bengals this week. This one is tough to call. If there was anyway they could both lose I would be happy. LSU is the worst team in college football against the pass. Eli Manning should have a field day against LSU. If the Ole Miss defense can bottle up Josh Reed, which no one has been able to do, the game is theirs. LSU proved last week that they could dominate even when they can't run it with dominance. This one should be high scoring, but the Tigers have lost 3 of 4 to the Rebs. Call me crazy, but I see this as Eli's coming out party. I know they beat Bama, but this one may be the biggest SEC contest for the Rebs in decades. If LSU loses it will be competing against Bama for the right to the Independence bowl.

Ole Miss 38 LSU 28

Florida vs. Georgia

The annual slugfest in Jacksonville is upon us. This could symbolize a changing of the guard in the SEC East. Georgia may be the most improved offense in the conference and they are young. This one should be entertaining, but Spurrier has had two weeks to pout and prepare. UF will be out to send a message. The Gators are now tied with virtually everybody in the East. This game has more meaning this year than it has in more recent contests. I think UGA will give them a game for 3 quarters and then Spurrier will erupt in the 4th. The score may be bad late, but Richt and company will earn some national respect again this week. UGA is the program on the rise. They will unseat Florida within 2 years.

Florida 42 Georgia 28

Well at least the Bulldogs won't lose this weekend. Some reports had us as a 7 to 7 1/2 point underdog to "open date" this week. I just can't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Basketball season is just around the corner and we have some big time recruits coming in and we have some key players back from last year. Man, let me shut up before I jinx the basketball team too!

Until next week,

Steve Robertson

P.S. It's still ok to be a Dog fan even when we lose. Wear your colors proudly and remember, losing stopped Ole Miss from being obnoxious! (:

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

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