The SEC currently has six teams bowl eligible, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina. They will jockey for position over the coming weeks, but the chances of the SEC meeting its eight bowl tie-ins are remote at best. Ole Miss, Vandy and Tennessee all need to win out to reach the elusive sixth win. Vandy and Tennessee still have to play, so the loser of that contest will be eliminated. The Rebels need wins over Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State. That order just got a bit taller thanks to an invasion of the injury bug.
Florida @ South Carolina
This is a huge game and I, for one, can't wait to see how this thing turns out. South Carolina has won four in a row including road wins at Tennessee and Arkansas. Road wins in this conference come at a premium, so what Steve Spurrier has done at South Carolina is nothing short of remarkable. The Gamecocks have an excellent shot at finishing out the regular season at 8-3, including five conference wins. With a win this weekend, Carolina would be 4-1 in the division, which could be best in the East.
The Gators had better be ready for a wild crowd in Williams Brice on Saturday. After a close loss to Georgia and a win over Tennessee, South Carolina is ready to put the SEC Eastern big boys on notice. Florida escaped with an overtime win over Vanderbilt this past Saturday that was marred by a very questionable celebration penalty. The penalty prevented the Commodores from attempting a game-winning two-point conversion.
Florida did get the offense back on track last week, but they also gave up a season-worst forty-two points. This is a must win for Florida in a lot of ways. They have to win to keep any hopes of winning the Eastern Division alive. They also have to beat Steve Spurrier or the city of Gainesville might break out in hysteria. Florida has everything to lose in this game, while South Carolina has nothing to lose. The ole ball coach has them playing very well down the stretch and I see another upset special this week for the Cocks.
South Carolina 27 Florida 24
Arkansas @ Ole Miss
This game has lost a bit of its luster due to the injuries to the entire Rebel linebacking corps. Who knows? The Rebs could be playing possum and laying a trap for the Razorbacks. If the Rebs hope to slow down the running game from Arkansas they have to have a healthy Patrick Willis. With their bowl hopes on the line, I am certain a competitor like Willis will give it a go. If he is unable to play, the injured Garry Pack will move into the middle. Pack is a solid player, but he is no Patrick Willis.
Arkansas saw a much needed win slip away last week due to some very baffling decisions by the Razorback coaching staff. Going for it on 4th down inside your own 30 in the first quarter? Getting a bit too cute on 1st and goal from the one and having to settle for a field goal? Oh, there were others and decisions like these have many in Fayetteville screaming for a coaching change. New starting QB Casey Dick didn't lose the game and played well all things considered. The loss last week falls squarely on the shoulders of the Arkansas coaching staff.
Arkansas seems to keep a stable of tailbacks, and freshman sensation Darren McFadden is the best of the bunch. McFadden leads the SEC with 108 yards per game on the ground. The Reb front four will be as formidable as any front he has faced this year with the exception of USC. Once McFadden breaks contain, he could have a very big day if the Rebels are forced to play backups at linebacker. Despite being a slight favorite, the bubble will burst this weekend for the Rebs without Patrick Willis.
The Hogs also have the benefit of facing a quarterback making his first start of the year, Ethan Flatt. Flatt had a pretty rough outing last season in a 35-3 loss against Arkansas. After that loss, Rebel fans saw Robert Lane take most of the snaps behind center. Flatt has something to prove, but this is a tough assignment for a player seeing his first meaningful snaps of the season.
Arkansas 20 Ole Miss 14
Kentucky @ Vanderbilt
With Vandy needing to win out, this is probably the easiest of the remaining games. Hopefully they will focus on Kentucky and not have a hangover over from last week's loss to Florida. Vandy played well enough to win and probably deserved to win the game. This week, Jay Cutler and his mates could have a field day. Cutler leads the SEC in passing yards per game at 262. Kentucky is 11th in the league against the pass. This one could get ugly.
It was announced earlier this week that Kentucky Head Coach, Rich Brooks will be back for at least one more season. Considering the injuries the Wildcats have had, it was probably the right thing to do. The Cats will need all hands on deck this weekend as Vanderbilt has everything to play for. A win this week puts Vandy in a position to get bowl eligible next week and knock in-state rival Tennessee out of the bowl picture. It could hardly be any sweeter for a Commodore. They have to make it through Kentucky first. Man, that loss to Middle Tennessee sure looms large now. A win in that game would have the Dores just one win away from bowl contention.
This one will more than likely see Vanderbilt pressing a bit or perhaps looking ahead to next week. It will probably be your typical Vandy/Kentucky game, but Vanderbilt has the talent and the drive to pull this one out.
Vanderbilt 31 Kentucky 17
Memphis @ Tennessee
This was supposed to be the tune up for the regular season finale of a championship season for the Volunteers, but instead it is a must-win contest to keep the hopes of a winning season alive for Coach Phil Fulmer. It's been quite a while since the Vols have had so much riding on a game with Memphis.
Memphis is down to the bottom of the depth chart as far as QBs are concerned thanks to two broken legs. The Tigers still find themselves alive for a bowl berth at 4-4 with three to play. Of the three games, this one should prove the most difficult. Memphis has been to two straight bowl games and if DeAngelo Williams and company hope to extend that streak it will require a stellar performance from Williams.
This one will not be a pretty game and who knows what will happen with the Tennessee QB carousel. Is Ainge the guy or will Rick Clausen make another appearance? The Vols need an impressive win to quiet the restless natives in Knoxville. The season won't be anything like it was hyped to be, but they could certainly get some momentum into the off-season by winning out. Four-game losing streaks are foreign to those who hail from the land of checker board end zones. The streak will end this week, finally.
Tennessee 35 Memphis 14
LSU @ Alabama
Most SEC fans have looked ahead to this ballgame for some time. It just won't get any better as far as good ole fashioned football. Alabama has had a very difficult time scoring in the SEC without Tyrone Prothro. It took a couple of gift touchdowns off turnovers to put away pesky Mississippi State last week. The Tide has managed just one touchdown in their last thirteen quarters of SEC play. That won't get it done this week. The Tide should feel downright disrespected. When was the last time an undefeated Alabama team was an underdog at home?
LSU has had two weeks of fattening up on cupcakes, but had more than a little problem last week against "Appy State". The good news for LSU in that ballgame was a season low two penalties and no turnovers. That's outstanding no matter who the competition is. The Tigers have been plagued by penalties, 12th in the SEC, and turnover margin, 11th in the SEC. They won't have to play perfect this week, but they cannot afford to beat themselves.
Maybe Alabama has been looking ahead, but other than Ken Darby breaking a few runs here and there they have been stagnant on offense. MSU got to Brodie Croyle last week and forced him into some mistakes. Croyle turned the ball over three times including two interceptions. LSU has the talent to do the same. Facing a backup center, LSU's Kyle Williams could have a huge day. If LSU can avoid some self-inflicted wounds and the opening surge from the rolling Tide they should win by more than one score.
LSU 21 Alabama 13
Auburn @ Georgia
This should be the best game of the week. Who knows how rusty D.J. Shockley is. That will be the tale of the tape. Can Shockley pick up where he left off? If so, it will be a nice day for Georgia. The Dog defense is giving up just under 14 points per contest. They must hold Auburn close to that to win this one. When Auburn has been held to 17 points or less, they have gone home with a loss.
Georgia is coming off of an open date and Auburn a thrashing of Kentucky. The loser of this game's chances of playing in Atlanta will take a serious hit unless they get some help, so it will certainly be a spirited contest. Auburn can certainly plan a sleepover for the football complex for SEC Championship weekend if they lose. It would be extremely difficult for the Tigers to catch LSU, but they could catch the Tide.
Brandon Cox has proven to more than capable of running the Tiger offense and the emergence of Kenny Irons as one of the conference's best rushers has made Tiger fans' separation anxiety from Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown a lot easier to deal with. A win this weekend will be huge for either program, but with Shockely apt to be a little less mobile and the Auburn offense clicking along I believe Auburn can slip out of Athens with a hard-fought win.
Auburn 27 Georgia 24
Well, that's the week and it will be one of if not the most interesting week of the season. The Bullies get a much needed week off before closing out the season. Next week Mike Henig goes on the road to where MSU football dreams have gone to die, Arkansas. The extra week of preparation will be good for Henig and who knows what we will see from Omarr Conner.
The Robertson Report's Results:
Last week 5-1 (83.33%)
For the season 55-12 (82.10%)
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.