The Robertson Report - November 3rd

Week ten is here, with some huge games for several teams in the Southeastern Conference. LSU travels to Tennessee as both teams try to keep their division title hopes alive. Meanwhile, division front runners Arkansas and Florida go on the road to do battle with two squads fighting for bowl eligibility.

The 2006 Mississippi State season began with nine consecutive scoreless quarters. Bulldog offensive coordinator, Woody McCorvey was about as popular as Colonel Reb to Bulldog fans for a few weeks.

Since that early stretch of futility, the Bulldogs have averaged 23.7 points per game and have averaged 30 points in their last three contests.

Lost in last week's disappointing 34-31 loss to Kentucky was the play of Mike Henig and Tony Burks.

Henig passed for 384 yards which is the highest passing total for any SEC quarterback this year. Mike's career best total was the fourth most passing yards in a single game in MSU football history. The most since Todd Jordan threw for 370 against Florida in 1993.

To his credit, Tony Burks put up 192 receiving yards which is the fifth best day for a Bulldog receiver in the history of the program. Tony's 192 was the highest total for any Bulldog pass catcher since Danny Knight some twenty-four years ago.

Burks has five 100+ yards games receiving on the season which ties Mardye McDole's school record for 100+ yard games in a single season. The career mark is eight games, a mark held by David Smith. If Burks can stay healthy he has a good chance of breaking both records.

Another record that Tony has a good chance of breaking is the single season per catch average. His current average is easily the tops in the SEC and well ahead of any previous MSU receiver.

While it is always rewarding to get your name in the record books, I feel certain both Henig and Burks would have traded those records for an increase in the team's win/loss record. At the end of the day that is the only one that counts.

The passing game appears to be improving, but the running game thanks in large part to several injuries has begun to really lag behind. The Bulldogs are grinding out an SEC worst 78.3 yards per game.

Anthony Dixon has seven rushing touchdowns on the season which is good for second in the conference behind the SEC's leading rusher, Darren McFadden, who has eight.

Dixon has had his moments like all freshmen do. He has played much better in short yardage as the season has gone along, but this week he will return to the starting role as his backfield mates are on the mend.

The Bulldog backfield has lost two tailbacks, Stallworth and Thornton, two fullbacks, Bryson Davis and Casey Rogers and two quarterbacks, Tray Rutland and Omarr Conner all to injury.

To say that Mike Henig, Brandon Hart and Anthony Dixon need to stay healthy is an understatement. Despite sitting atop the depth chart, the trio of starters has been slowed by injuries at some point this season themselves.

The MSU offensive line did their job last week by not allowing a sack. The unit will need a similar effort this week for the Bulldogs to have a chance. As one dimensional as the offense has become it will be an increasingly more difficult task. Despite the inability to pressure the Quarterback, the Tide defense has played very well and has been very stingy especially around their goal line. Opponents are averaging just over fifteen points per game.

Henig will look to avoid making mistakes near Simeon Castille who is responsible for eight turnovers. He and Lionel Mitchell have combined for nine interceptions and Castille has recovered three fumbles.

Turnovers has been the name of the game for Alabama. Big Al's boys lead the SEC and are second in the country in turnover margin.

On offense Alabama is a little banged up in their own right. Starting quarterback John Parker Wilson has made several plays with his legs, but is bothered by an ankle injury this week. Keith Brown and D.J. Hall have both had some bumps and bruises the past few weeks, but both are legitimate homerun threats at the wide receiver position.

The Tide has scored some points in the non-conference schedule, but have not been quite as productive in the SEC. Three point wins over Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are the only conference victories to the Tide's credit, but one could easily argue that they were a play away from winning against Tennessee and Arkansas. While this is not your father's Crimson Tide, they are still a very solid football team.

The game is usually one that creates a lot of interest with those associated with the border war, but some rather tasty comments by Mississippi native and current Alabama player Jimmy Johns have dominated the media the past few days.

Johns who was considered a heavy lean to Mississippi State for months turned an about face and committed to the Tide after officially visiting the campus.

The war of words has gone on for some time with no clear winner, but to date Johns holds a 1-0 mark against Mississippi State on the field. Despite the fun of internet banter and the not so friendly smack talk, wins and losses are what matter most.

The Bulldogs (2-7) have lost three games by a combined nine points. Had the Bulldog defense lived up to it's preseason billing, the maroon and white could be 5-4 and in bowl contention.

One bright spot on the Bulldog defense has been the play of linebacker Quinton Culberson who is second only to Ole Miss' Patrick Willis on the SEC season total tackles list.

Culberson will need some help to contain the Tide and put pressure on John Parker Wilson.

Despite a game effort from Mississippi State, the Tide should be able to escape with a victory.

Alabama 24 Mississippi State 13

Florida vs. Kentucky

A suprisingly competive Vanderbilt team is rapidly running out of chances to get bowl eligible. At 4-5, the Commodores need two more to get to the magical numnber of six wins. With Florida and Tennessee sandwiched around Kentucky the odds are not in Vandy's favor.

Florida should not be truly tested the rest of the way. With Spurrier coming to town next week as well as a trip to Tallahassee scheduled for the season finale, the Gators cannot afford to let up.

Florida 31 Vanderbilt 14

Georgia vs. Kentucky

Most people, including a lot of Georgia fans, expected the Bulldogs to get blown out last week. Georgia gave Florida all they wanted, but came up just short.

Kentucky needs two wins including an SEC win to get bowl eligible and get Rich Brooks' off the proverbial hot seat. A win over UL-Monroe is a virtual given, but win number six will prove more difficult and the much needed SEC win may have to wait a couple of weeks.

Georgia 28 Kentucky 21

Northwestern State vs. Ole Miss

Ed Orgeron plays host to alma mater NSU this week. This week should provide the Rebels some much needed reps to prepare for the rivlary games with LSU and Mississippi State.

Northwestern State is located in Natchitcohes, LA. Natchitoches (pronounced Nakatish) is the home of the meat pie, the famous Christmas lights and the scene of the film Steel Magnolias. This week the Demons will get a paycheck and the chance to play in an SEC stadium, but not much else.

Ole Miss 31 Northwestern State 7

Arkansas State vs. Auburn

Auburn should have no problems with rent-a-win number four. Arkansas State is 5-3, but lost earlier this year 55-9 to SMU.

There is not a lot to say about this matchup other than how nice it would have been to see this Auburn team schedule at least on marquee non-conference opponent.

Auburn 49 Arkansas State 3

LSU vs. Tennessee

This matchup has lost a bit of it's glamour with talk of Tennessee Erik Ainge possibly sitting out this week. Ainge may try to give it a go, but who knows how honest the injury report really is. Could Fulmer be playing possum?

LSU needs this win in the worst way. They believe they are the best team in the SEC despite a pair of disappointing losses. This could be a statement game. The Tigers have only defeated Tennessee five times in their history, so nothing is a given.

LSU 24 Tennessee 17

Arkansas vs. South Carolina

If The Hogs look ahead to the game with Tennessee next week they are in trouble. The Hogs control their own destiny, but they are going to have to run the gauntlet to make it to Atlanta.

South Carolina needs just one more win to get bowl eligible and that win certainly should come against Middle Tennessee State. The other games are for bowl positioning and pride. Can the Gamecocks put together another late season run? We will get a chance to see this week.

Arkansas 28 South Carolina 27

Well, that's the week. Last week we turned in a 6-1 mark which brings the overall total to 63-10. This week has a few no brainers as well as some toss ups. It should be a great week to watch college football, but then again what weekend isn't?

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