This year the two worst teams in the conference reside in the Eastern division. While that seems comfortably familiar, Vanderbilt has been competitive in most contests and has shown some promise. Promise or not many in Nashville are labeling this year as a huge disappointment.
Kentucky is horrible and contrary to early exit poll results appears to be the least talented team in the conference. Who knows what will happen at season's end, but Rich Brooks still plans on being there. Kentucky has a numbers problem as well as a talent problem. Cat fans better be in it for the long haul, because it certainly seems like the work in progress has only just begun.
Last year Vandy beat UK to end their SEC losing streak. It was a bit of surprise, but this year if Kentucky wins it would be an even bigger shock. Last week Vandy had Florida on the ropes, but couldn't put them away. If Vandy has a hangover, UK could make this one interesting, but I look for Vandy to seize the chance to win two conference games for the first time since 1999 when the Commodores beat Mississippi and South Carolina.
Vandy 27 Kentucky 17
South Carolina vs. Florida
South Carolina is back in the postseason for the first time since 2001 when the Gamecocks won their second consecutive Outback bowl. A surprising come-from-behind win against Arkansas clinched the all-important sixth win of the season for Lou Holtz and company. The game last Saturday was without a doubt one of the most entertaining of the season and may be one Gamecock fans talk about for years to come.
Florida won last week despite trailing a game Vanderbilt team for quite some time. Last week I cautioned you that Florida would win, but it may be in humiliating fashion and indeed it was. The Gators took another step, but find themselves in a must-win situation this week. The chances of Florida beating FSU are not good, so the Gamecocks may be the last best chance to win a game period.
Who knows if South Carolina will be content after earning a bowl berth. Will the Cocks be looking ahead to earning some revenge over Clemson after last year's blowout loss? Florida seems to be on a mission to help lame duck coach Ron Zook save some face. I think they'll find a way to win this one and get into the postseason, but it will not be easy.
Florida 31 South Carolina 21
Mississippi vs. Arkansas
This week in Fayetteville, Mississippi and Arkansas will square off in what amounts to a loser-leaves-town match. The Hogs and Rebs both already have five losses, so whoever loses this game will have a losing season and be eliminated from postseason contention.
Most prognosticators expected the Hogs to struggle this season, but there was a lot of hype regarding the 2004 Rebel Express. To say the Rebs have failed to live up to their preseason billing would be an understatement, but in all fairness there seems to be one of those type teams every year in the SEC West. Perhaps it was just the Rebels turn to have the short straw.
This is not a good match-up for the Rebels. Arkansas likes to score a lot of points and Mississippi seems to give up quite a few, no matter if it's Auburn, Alabama or Wyoming. Down the stretch a year ago the Rebel defense may have been the best in the conference. This year the Rebs lead only Kentucky in scoring defense and have the worst pass defense in the conference and are eighty-eighth nationally.
Arkansas doesn't like to throw it a lot, but that may change slightly this week. The Hogs have won six of seven from the Rebs in Fayetteville. After seeing a game that was all but won go down the tubes on an ill-advised Matt Jones pass, you should see a focused Razorback team. The Rebels have had a season filled with off-the-field distractions and saw another player dismissed from the squad just this week.
Arkansas 31 Mississippi 20
Alabama vs. LSU
There's an old Alabama cliché that says, "The Tide don't lose in Baton Rouge". For the most part that's been the case. Alabama seldom loses in Tiger Stadium. Mike Dubose lost in 2000, but that was the first loss in decades. The last Tide visit was in 2002 when Coach Fran lit up the Tigers to the tune of 31-0.
Folks in Baton Rouge are frustrated despite being 6-2. Nine games into the year the QB situation is still in disarray. All-SEC Center Ben Wilkerson was lost for the season on the last play of the game against Vanderbilt. Instead of taking a knee, Nick Saban decided to call a play and now the O-Line is shuffling due to the loss of Wilkerson. The Tigers have been very unimpressive in their last few outings. Vanderbilt and Troy were just out-toughed in the end, but both showed that perhaps Death Valley is a far more friendlier place than it once was.
Alabama has history here and they also have a stud running back in Kenneth "KD" Darby. Darby looks like an NFL caliber back, who is starting merely by happen stance.
If Darby can grind it out and Pennington can avoid the turnovers, Alabama could knock off the Tigers who seem ripe for a loss. LSU just seems to have lost their way and now rumors are circulating that there is dissension on the team.
If Alabama can shorten the game and get the crowd out of it early, it should be one the Tide puts in the win column. The LSU folks are just looking for a reason to vent their frustration with what many consider a disappointing season.
I like Alabama in an upset, but how big of an upset will it really be?
Alabama 20 LSU 13
Georgia vs. Auburn
Without a doubt this is the game of the week around the nation. Auburn's national championship hopes hinge on a win over Georgia on the plains. The Bulldogs were very impressive in the trouncing of Kentucky last week, but no one expected anything less.
Auburn had the week off to heal and prepare for what will be a huge game with BCS implications for both teams. If the Georgia Bulldogs were to win out and someone other than Georgia won the SEC title, the conference would have two BCS berths. If the SEC is to have a participant in the BCS title game, the best chance lies with Auburn.
The fact that the Tigers are playing at home and the fact that they are coming in after an off-week are both huge advantages. If Williams and Brown can perform up to their abilities, this one should see the Tigers emerge victorious.
Auburn has that look and with results like these perhaps more Athletic Directors will sneak off to hire Bobby Petrino as their head coach.
Auburn 17 Georgia 14
Well, that's the week. The MSU Bulldogs enjoy an off-week this week and hopefully it will prove to be just the tonic the Bulldogs need for a strong finish. The Bullies have a chance to win four SEC games this year and the off-week last time led the Bulldogs to two straight wins in the conference. Here's hoping for similar results this time out.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson writes The Robertson Report for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Steve's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.