The Bayou Bengals got well during their most recent visit to Starkville. The sting of the second half collapse at home against the Volunteers has all but subsided. The Tigers have the talent to win out, but tall tests with Florida and Alabama still loom large in the coming weeks.
Vanderbilt blew a golden opportunity last week by losing to Middle Tennessee for the third straight time. Vandy's bowl hopes took a big hit, but thankfully they have winnable games left with Kentucky and South Carolina. This week should be a competitive match-up if Vandy can avoid the turnover bug.
Last time the Tigers visited Vandy they escaped 7-6 as the Commodores went for two and missed late in the game. This game could be equally as dramatic, but there should be more points allowed in this one. I think Cutler and company can make it a game for three quarters, but the Tigers talent will be the deciding factor.
LSU 27 Vanderbilt 16
ULM @ Arkansas
Arkansas has never lost to UL-Monroe and things shouldn't be any different this time out. The Hogs should be able to get back to grinding the ball out on the ground. This rent-a-win should be fun for the fans to see, since the Hogs may not have many more like this for awhile.
The hot talk in Hogville is that many want Houston Nutt out if the Hog have another losing season. Some want him out regardless of the won-loss total. The grapevine says that Arkansas alum Butch Davis is ready to get back into coaching. If Nutt should stumble this season, there appears to be more than just an undercurrent to oust Nutt for the former Hurricane head man Davis.
This week, Nutt and the Hogs can run wild and not worry about the rumors, but the balance of the conference slate will prove to be very challenging for Arkansas. After this week, the Hogs get Auburn and Georgia. At this point, those look like losses, which would make the Hogs 2-5 with four to play. The Hogs would need to sweep the last four, including the battle for the Golden Boot at LSU in the season finale.
Arkansas 49 ULM 10
The Citadel @ Mississippi
The Rebs from Oxford get a chance to take out some of their frustration on the D-1AA Bulldogs of the Citadel. The homecoming crowd should have a lot to cheer for as the Rebels should have no problems putting the Citadel away early. Citadel did scare FSU for awhile, but that contest ended up being a 62-10 thrashing.
Citadel runs the spread option, but has a tough time with it. They have some decent linebackers who shined in a 17-7 upset win over nationally ranked Western Carolina last week.
Ole Miss has a pretty rough stretch ahead of them. The missed the chance to get fat on cupcakes and certainly will find the picking pretty lean in the meat of their schedule. The chances of the Rebs going bowling are remote. That proves to be a disappointment for some, as most predicted the Rebs would have a winning campaign in season-one under Ed Orgeron.
Mississippi 37 Citadel 14
Kentucky @ South Carolina
You would have to think the chances of Rich Brooks being retained at season's end aren't good. There is a very good chance that UK could go 1-10 and be winless against all D-1 teams on their schedule.
If the Cats can get hot and make hay in the middle of their schedule, they have a chance at a 5-6 season. 5-6 might get Brooks another year. Considering all of the injuries the team has had, that might be the thing to do. The Cats will have a tough time this Saturday, but the battle with South Carolina is one of the more even games remaining on the schedule. UK does have a couple of dates left with two Mississippi teams who are struggling as well. Those two will be toss-ups.
South Carolina will need a win in this one to keep their bowl hopes alive. The SEC is more than likely going to need a bowl berth from SC if the conference hopes to meet its bowl tie-ins. There are three teams in the west whose chances at winning seasons grow longer by the week. If Vandy and South Carolina stumble, the SEC would only have six bowl eligible teams. Six winning teams is a far cry from the SEC powerbroker days under Roy Kramer.
South Carolina 31 Kentucky 9
Georgia @ Tennessee
The Vols could take a big step towards Atlanta in this one. If the Vols lose this one, their hopes for a National Championship or an SEC Championship are all but gone. Georgia has a chance to put a stranglehold on the division and make it a two-team race.
Georgia still has some tough games, namely Florida and Auburn, but they would be in prime position in the East with a win in Knoxville. They need a big game on the ground, as well as Shockely's rollouts to keep Tennessee honest.
This game may come down to which QB makes "the play". Shockely and Clausen are both great stories. Shockely waited for his chance and Clausen transferred for his. Both have proven to be the straw that stirs that team's respective drink. I think the steady Clausen has the advantage in this one mainly because of the home field and the fact that they've played two top 10 match-ups already.
Tennessee 24 Georgia 21
MSU @ Florida
Shortly after MSU's decisive win over Florida in 2000, Wayne Madkin made the comment that "They had it coming." Madkin's first carry in Gainesville in 2001 resulted in a pretty severe eye gouge by an unnamed Florida defender. Apparently the Gators felt Madkin had it coming. The Gators destroyed the Bulldogs that day and will look to do the same this week.
Sometimes the lore of Florida football is more intimidating than the actual team. Bear in mind that in Florida's two most competitive games this season they scored a combined nineteen points, including just one touchdown on a Caldwell reverse to open the Tennessee game.
The Gators were thumped last week in every facet of the game by Alabama. Some have suggested that the Gators were looking ahead to paying back the Bulldogs for last season's stunning 38-31 win. If that's really the case, than Urban Meyer and his staff should be terminated immediately. The suggestion that Florida would overlook the undefeated Tide in Tuscaloosa in anticipation of playing the SEC's 6th place team three year's running is ludicrous.
Florida players should feel they have something to prove after losing in Starkville last season. The players in maroon and white have a lot to prove as well. The Bulldogs face another very talented defense this week smarting over a loss. The Bulldogs just can't get a break, but, hey, we all knew this would be a tough stretch.
This game may well wind up being a blowout. I don't think it will be as bad as some think, but if Norwood doesn't play then it could be worse. One thing that helps the Bulldogs in this game is a pretty good set of linebackers. Teams with good backers have given Meyer's spread option some problems.
With safety Mario Bobo out this week, De'Mon Glanton will be tested. LSU went at him a few times last week and found some success. Florida will attempt to follow suit. The Bulldog defense needs to create some turnovers and turn those batted balls into interceptions.
The offense will have a tough time again this week unless Woody just has Florida's number. The execution on offense must improve. Key drops killed drives last week for the Bulldogs. One other area that seems to be an issue, Joey Sanders long run last week withstanding, is that the WRs aren't picking up yards after the catch. It seems most other teams in the conference have this skill mastered, but we've been struggling with it since the departure of Kevin Prentiss, save a few plays from Justin Jenkins in 2003.
I see greener pastures ahead, but most people expected a loss in this one as soon as the schedule came out. The Dogs, barring a major effort, will be 2-4, as predicted, and must win four of the next five to achieve their first winning season since 2000. The bad news is that there's not a "gimme" on the schedule and the Bulldog offense has to get something going or we'll all be talking about basketball season and just hoping for a win in the Egg Bowl.
Florida 38 MSU 17
Until next week,
Steve Robertson writes The Robertson Report for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Steve's email address is email@example.com.