Last week was judgment day for a lot of teams. Mississippi showed the familiar warning signs of the late season swoon in a blow out loss to the Crimson Tide. I wish Coach Fran would have scored a hundred. The funny thing is as bad as the Mississippi D line is, he might have done it had he tried. Florida put away a game Auburn squad that will be without the services of its best player for the rest of the season. Arkansas fumbled away a chance to keep pace in the West, by giving UK chance after chance after chance. This week, things will come into focus for most teams. Teams like LSU and Georgia have a chance to put a stranglehold on their respective divisions.
Alabama vs. Tennessee
Casey Clausen is hurt. UT finally admitted it after dodging the issue for several days. UT is not the same squad. And with Kelley Washington under-performing this is not the team many expected at season's start. UT seems to be in a state of disarray. Things won't get any easier despite the fact that the Vols are at home. The home crowd will keep the game closer, but Alabama is rolling. They can run and they pass effectively. Brodie Croyle gets better every play. The Bama front 7 is awesome and looked great again last week, by holding former Heisman candidate Eli Manning without a TD pass for the 2nd time in three weeks. Alabama won't have to work quite that hard this week in the secondary. The Vols must win this game or it's all over but the shouting as far as the SEC East is concerned.
Alabama 28 Tennessee 17
Mississippi vs. Arkansas
Rebel fans welcome back to reality. The U of M isn't as good as many thought and for that matter Florida is a lot worse than many thought. I know Alabama has some type of curse against the red and blue, but last weekend was painful. UM will look to bounce back this week against a UPig team steaming after a poor showing against UK. The Hogs are at home and they play well there, while UM doesn't play very well away from the friendly confines of Vaught-Hemingway. UM continues a stretch against 6 teams that should beat them. Week #2 will bring loss #2. Arkansas has the special formula for beating the Rebels, a running game. Jones and Talley may go for 400 in this one. Coach Nutt may not call more than a dozen pass plays the whole game and why should he have to? The Hog secondary is pretty good and they will hit you if you get too close. Look for Eli to get a little early, but he'll get plenty of pine time late as the Hogs run wild in the 2nd half.
Arkansas 31 Mississippi 21
LSU vs. Auburn
For LSU it's another week another lost starter. 1st it was Teaux, then Mauck, now starting safety Damien James. James has quit the team for undisclosed reasons. James was having a very solid campaign and more than a few are puzzled at his decision. LSU has looked better each week regardless of the adversity they've faced. The 2nd half last week the dam busted loss and the Tigers manhandled the 'Cocks and gave Georgia a full leg up on the SEC East title. Auburn is on the ropes after seeing the Cadillac get totaled by a broken ankle. Auburn can't throw it, but Jason Campbell showed great leadership by bring the Tigers back and forcing OT at Florida. Campbell should get the nod this week, but Tubby will try any combination to generate some offense. The LSU defense is extremely tough and their national ranking won't suffer any damage this week. Auburn has a committee of replacements at tailback, but they're nowhere near Carnell Williams' ability.
LSU 21 Auburn 13
Georgia vs. Kentucky
In what is being billed as one of the most important home games in Kentucky's history, the 'Cats need some help. Georgia has won some very close and ugly games. UK has lost some very close and ugly games. UK struggled to move the ball most of the last three weeks, but thanks to some superb special teams play by Derek Abney the 'Cats stole one from the Hogs. The 'Cats will be hit or miss, but this one could be a nice upset. UK needs to start quick. UGA has the talent, but they can't make the mistakes the Hogs made such as turning the ball over. As long as UGA protects Greene and keeps the Battleship Lorenzen on the sidelines, they'll keep marching to Atlanta and cause the BCS all kinds of problems.
Georgia 31 UK 24
Vanderbilt vs. Connecticut
This is the Commodores last real chance to win a game. The Huskies went 2-9 a year ago, and have been brutalized all season this year. Vanderbilt needs a win in the worst way. While Vandy fans are used to losing, they expected a little better showing from Coach Bobby Johnson than a late loss to MTSU. Vandy needs to score some points and fast. They put up big numbers against Mississippi, but since that time they have struggled to find the endzone on a consistent basis. Dan Stricker needs a big day and he'll have it. Vandy may not be much, but they better be better than UCONN who is still a new kid in D1.
Vanderbilt 26 UCONN 17
Well that's how I see them. The Bullies, Gamecocks, and Florida all get a much needed week off before very important games. MSU hosts UK, USC hosts the Vols, and Florida plays UGA. Next week is huge for all involved. MSU has a chance to pull even with 4 to play. USC needs a win to move into a higher SEC seed for bowl pairings. Florida will need their best effort to derail the Richt express en route to Hotlanta. This week will prove to be a tell-tell week for many, but next week should define the season for most. If the three teams with off week's can't win next week the rest of the way could be a struggle. Imagine the tyranny; Florida in the Independence Bowl.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.