While Auburn may have proven they have some issues in the kicking game, they also proved they're a pretty good football team in a narrow loss to LSU. The Tigers of the Plains will be looking to take out some frustration this week on the Rebs. A win is important here, as always, but a statement game would be fitting.
Before you get too excited and decide to skip the J.P. game this week, hear me out. Tommy Tuberville and Ole Miss head man Ed Orgeron share some history. Orgeron worked with Tubby at the University of Miami, so I'd be surprised if Auburn tried to run up the score. Nothing surprises me about Tommy Tuberville. He might look to hang half a hundred on the Rebs, but I doubt it.
Auburn has the conference's most prolific offense as well as the highest scoring offense. Kenny Irons had a huge coming out party last week in Death Valley and has helped in the development of QB Brandon Cox. Irons will be a factor this week, but he better find a way to avoid Patrick Willis, one of the best linebackers in the country.
Ole Miss scores just over half the time they enter the red zone, which is the worst in the conference. The biggest problem to date has been the place kicking. The Rebels have missed more FGs (9) than they have made (8). If they have any chance they need a big game from Willis. And the Reb offense has to find a way to move the ball against the best pass defense in the conference. You can only toss sweep to Mico McSwain so many times. Look for Auburn to out-athlete the Rebs early and then put on the breaks late.
Auburn 31 Ole Miss 9
Utah State @ Alabama
The Tide rolled on last week with an emotional win over Tennessee. The game was ugly, but I'm certain the scoreboard was a beautiful sight to Tide fans after all the off the field issues between the two schools. At some point the Tide must find a playmaker to take up some of the slack due to Tyrone Protho's absence. In the past two games the Tide has managed just one touchdown and a mere nineteen points. Hardly the stuff of dominant teams, but a win is a win.
Utah State will play the part of a glorified scout team in a scrimmage of sorts, where the Tide offense tries to get on track. The Tide defense has been nothing short of phenomenal. The defense is only giving up just over 10 points per game, so if the offense can generate just a little spark they should be in most games down the stretch. They must do better if they expect to beat LSU and Auburn. This week, they have no problems if they can avoid the injury bug.
Alabama 49 Utah State 7
Florida vs. Georgia
D.J Shockley's injury changes everything. I am sure Joe Tereshinski is a heady guy with a bright future, but he is in a pretty tough spot this week. Florida is coming off a bye week and this is "the game" to Bulldog fans. Tereshinski is a Bulldog legacy and he certainly knows the importance of beating Florida, but that's a lot of pressure for a first-time starter. It's Florida, it's an unexpected start and oh, by the way, a Georgia win clinches the SEC Eastern division title.
Florida's season certainly hasn't gone according to script, but a win over Georgia coupled with an earlier win over Tennessee and the Gator natives won't be so restless. The Gators and Urban Meyer need a signature win. While a win over Tennessee is always nice, the Vols aren't as potent as usual. A win over Georgia would be huge for the program especially in recruiting.
I like Danny Ware and the Bulldog running attack, but everyone knows the Gators will stack the box and dare Georgia to throw the football. Mark Richt has had great success with drop back passers, so he'll have Tereshinski as ready as he can be. I just don't think Georgia can make the plays to win with their top playmaker on the shelf.
Florida 17 Georgia 14
South Carolina @ Tennessee
Had the Vols not lost last week, this one might be the upset special. Spurrier can break down a defense like nobody's business. There aren't a lot of secrets between Spurrier and the Vols. Fulmer still plays with a serviceable quarterback, runs the ball and plays good defense. Spurrier likes to throw it and run the stretch play. The difference for now is that Spurrier doesn't have the horses he's accustomed to.
A name to watch is Gamecock WR Sidney Rice. The freshman wideout is among the league leaders in yards and scoring. His emergence has kept defenses honest and from harassing Syvelle Newton. Rice has scored nine TDs, which tallies to fifty four points. The kid is even outscoring most kickers in the SEC. He is worth a little attention.
Blake Mitchell has completed an SEC best 64.1% of his passes. If the defense can hold Tennessee and Gerald Riggs at bay we may have a ballgame. With the Spurrier gameplan, Mitchell and two great passing targets, South Carolina is streaking down the stretch and they will beat somebody they're not supposed to, just not this week.
Tennessee 31 South Carolina 20
North Texas @ LSU
Current MSU assistant Freddie Kitchens did some of his best work at North Texas. Two of Coach Kitchens' biggest finds will visit LSU this Saturday. UNT features the last two year's NCAA leading rushers, Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas. The Mean Green offensive line hasn't been so mean this year. In fact they have been down right hospitable. The Greenies have a tall task this week trying to make hay against LSU, but, hey, Kenny Irons lit LSU up last week.
LSU has some issues and is a long way from being a great team, but they are a very, very good team. They very easily could have lost last week, had Auburn not missed five field goals. One could argue though if LSU's talented receiving corps could find the handle on the football the missed field goals would have been academic.
The big story this week in Baton Rouge is whether or not Ryan Perrilloux will redshirt. One school of thought is that if he redshirts he may end up transferring, because even if he sat out one year he would have three more years of eligibility. If he plays some this week and next week against Appalachian State then the issue is a moot point. It appears that Les Miles is leaning towards the redshirt, but that would still leave RP as an understudy behind JaMarcus Russell for two more years. Is a player as good as Perrilloux willing to sacrifice two seasons to play two?
LSU 56 UNT 10
MSU @ Kentucky
MSU fans in attendance at last week's homecoming game got to see a bit of history as Jerious Norwood rushed for more yards in a single game than any other Bulldog has in the history of the program. The Dog fans making the trek to Lexington should get to see a bit more history this week as Norwood needs just 54 yards to become the all-time leading rusher in school history.
The Bulldogs are in desperate need of a win, any win. If there has been a better chance to win a road game in the SEC in recent memory for the maroon and white dogs I cannot remember it. Kentucky is struggling in all aspects of the game, but did manage to keep the score respectable against Ole Miss. The Rebs did their part to keep the score down by missing on four field goal attempts.
The Cats have had all kinds of problems turning the ball over, in fact they are the worst in the conference. MSU could certainly use the help if Kentucky wants to continue that trend. The UK defense is giving up thirty-four points per ball game which is dead last in the conference, but the Cat offense is averaging just under ten points better than the visiting Bulldogs. The best news of the day is that Kentucky is downright dreadful against the run. Since MSU's only consistent offensive weapon is running back Jerious Norwood, the Dogs should be able to get some things done.
The Cat defense has only recorded seven sacks on the season, but that stat is eerily similar to the single digit the Cougars of Houston had before crashing the homecoming party in Starkville.
In a lot of ways this game is a mirror image of the game last week except it's on the road. This is a game that MSU should win, but we should have won last week. UK and MSU are on equal footing from a talent standpoint on paper, but the Cats are banged up and the Bulldogs have Norwood. If we can make a play here or there, we can pull this one out, but having UK's help certainly couldn't hurt matters.
MSU 17 UK 13
Well, that's the week. I think the Bulldogs will win the battle of cellar dwellers and have something to build own for the home stretch. The margin for error is now zero or the Bulldogs will have their fifth losing season in a row. Coach Croom gets to play host to "mama" next week and it will be a great atmosphere. We'll talk about that one next week, but the Tide have stubbed their toe a time or two when they have overlooked the Bulldogs.
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.