The Robertson Report November 10th

Week ten provided a good lesson in why they play the games. With annual contenders Georgia and Alabama losing to Kentucky and Mississippi State, it just goes to show that there are no givens in the SEC.

We can only imagine the emotion that Mississippi State Sylvester Croom felt after knocking off Alabama last week in Tuscaloosa.

The Tuscaloosa native has run the gambit with the University of Alabama. Growing up in the shadows of Bryant-Denny stadium, Croom certainly played several sandlot games with friends where he scored the game winning touchdown to give the Tide a big win.

Those dreams of playing for Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide were realized when Sly won a national championship as an All-American center during his collegiate playing days.

All of the memories of supporting the Alabama Crimson Tide as a fan, player and former assistant coach more then likely provided the coach with a mixed bag of emotions when he was eventually passed over for the Alabama head coaching job.

The entire saga has been over explained in more words than I ever care to write, but you have to know the win last week meant something more than special for a coach he has had more than his share of frustations.

For one Saturday, fans saw a glimpse of what Sylvester Croom is trying to establish at Mississippi State.

A Mississippi State team that can win on both sides of the line of scrimmage, a Mississippi State team that plays with passion and a Mississippi State team that can impose their will on an opponent when the game is on the line. All of those things were evident when Michael Henig took a knee on the Tide's home turf to secure the huge win.

The Bulldogs did not get into a war of words in the media. The Bulldog response was basically no response. One might even wonder if they were aware of several derogatory comments made in the print media in the days leading up the game. Make no mistake, the Bulldog players were aware of the comments, but chose to do their talking on the field.

When you look back over the legacy of Bulldog quarterbacks several have that signature win they are always remembered for. When you think John Bond, you probably think MSU 6 Alabama 3. When you think Don Smith you can probably still see him streaking down the Neyland Stadium sideline in a win over Tennessee. When you think Eric Underwood you probably remember chanting "Underwood for Heisman" after Eric led MSU to a win over Southern Miss and Brett Favre in Hattiesburg the week after the Golden Eagles beat Florida State. How about a true freshmen kid named Madkin making big play after big play on the final drive to beat Arkansas and take over control of the SEC west?

Was this past weekend the "big one" Mike Henig is remembered for? It's tough to say because I believe Mike has a few more tricks up his sleeve. He appears to be coming in to his own. I certainly would not want to sell the sophomore starter short, but the win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa was certainly one to remember, if for no other reason than the timing.

The Bulldogs get the weekend off to rest and heal as well as come out of the clouds to prepare for a very good Arkansas team.

Georgia vs. Auburn

To say it's been a disappointing year in Athens would be putting it mildly. With upset losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky the natives are restless, but be assured Dawg fans your program will be fine.

Auburn is still playing for a championship and a possible BCS bowl berth. A win over Georgia will not give the strength of schedule boost it normally would, but a win is a win. Factor in that a win over Alabama, a likely 6-6 team, and Auburn will need some help.

This week's contest will be a little better than advertised. Georgia still has a lot of pride and to expect them to lay down would be foolish.

Auburn 28 Georgia 14

Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky

Well, well, well. A Vandy/UK matchup with bowl implications for both teams. The last time both teams had this much on the line was in 1999 when both teams entered the contest at 5-4. Kentucky won that game 19-17 and went on to the Music City Bowl while Vandy stayed home. Could this season be a repeat?

Kentucky has a very good chance at seven wins this season and with Alabama and Georgia both looking like six win teams the seventh win could lead to a very nice bowl game.

This one is a very even contest and could go down to the wire. In the end I believe the home field advantage will put the Cats over the top.

Kentucky 21 Vanderbilt 17

South Carolina vs. Florida

The Gamecocks will be bowl eligible, but it will likely take another week to get there. The Gamecocks three SEC wins have all come on the road, but a trip to the Swamp is a lot different than most of the venues South Carolina has visited this season.

Urban Meyer and the Gators will wrap up SEC play this week and will look to close out the season with West Carolina and Florida State. With their spot in the SEC championship game secure, Florida is now playing for seeding and a possible chance to play in the national title game. The schedule plays in their favor from a win/loss standpoint, but their strength of schedule in the non conference leaves a lot to be desired.

Spurrier will have a great game plan and will his team ready to play, but in the end Florida just has too much talent for a South Carolina team that is in the building process.

Florida 31 South Carolina 17

Tennessee vs. Arkansas

This weekend's contest is perhaps the biggest home game for Arkansas since Tennessee visited in 1998. In that game, Arkansas had the lead and the ball when Razorback Clint Stoerner stumbled and laid the ball on the turf. The Vols' Billy Ratliff recovered the fumble, which lead to the game winning score. The rest, as they say, is history.

Quarterbacks will be the focal point in the contest. Erik Ainge, one of the conference's best, will be on the shelf as red shirt freshman Jontahan Crompton will get the start. For Arkansas, Casey Dick will resume his place behind center in lieu of freshman sensation Mitch Mustain.

Arkansas is banged up, but everyone is this time of year. The Hogs will certainly do their best to play through them and force Tennessee to throw the ball. If the Hogs can get pressure on the Vols and Crompton they should be in good shape.

Arkansas 24 Tennessee 21

Alabama vs. LSU

Has LSU underachieved? The table appeared to be set for the Tigers this season, but they find themselves two games out of the SEC west race with three games to play. If Arkansas wins their next two then the "Battle for the Boot" between Arkansas and LSU will be for nothing more than bragging rights.

Alabama has had a lot of success in Baton Rouge over the years. The Tide has won all, but two games in Tiger stadium since 1969. A Tide team smarting from an upset home loss to Mississippi State will look to get things back on track, but it would be easy to project that the Tide could lose out.

The Tide has to find a way to run the football when it matters most. We are ten games into the season and Kenneth Darby has yet to score a touchdown. I will not get caught up in conjecture, but there is something really wrong when your bell cow cannot get into the end zone.

The Tigers will look to exploit mismatches in the secondary and get the passing game going early to set up the run. Alabama has a lot of problems sacking the quarterback, but LSU leads the league in the same category. It will be very interesting to see how the Tide responds this week.

LSU 31 Alabama 10

Well that's the week. Last week's uspet wins by Kentucky and Mississippi State gave us a 5-2 mark for the week and brings the overall record to 68-12.

With the SEC East race decided, the SEC western race and the race for bowl eligibilty will be the focus in the remaining weeks. The conference is expected to have nine teams with six wins or more, so there is a chance someone gets left home for the holidays.

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