Alabama vs. Vanderbilt
Vandy always shows up for this one. No matter what the situation is Vandy always seems to give Bama fits. Bama usually finds a way to win late, but this one is always interesting. The Dores have a lot of issues that need addressing, but a win over Bama would certainly make the season a little more worthwhile. Alabama has proven to most that they are the best in the West, but they won't get to celebrate that fact in Atlanta unless it's as spectators. Santonio Beard continues to make the most of his chances with the ball. Look for a running clinic from the Tide. Vandy will make them earn it, but Alabama will keep on rolling this week. And the way Bama's been running the ball this one should have a larger margin of victory.
Alabama 28 Vanderbilt 10
Troy State vs. Arkansas
Arkansas looked like an NFL team last week after pulverizing the University of Mississippi. Mississippi has made most offenses look good and all have suddenly found their stride when the Rebels take the field. Troy State has a top ten defense nationally and despite the fact that they have a losing record, their defense continues to play every down. Arkansas should be able to use every member of the conference's top rushing team in this one. Matt Jones should be able to rest the 4th quarter. The Hog offensive line has suddenly found themselves and look to get the Pigs back into the thick of things in the SEC West. After an 0-2 start, the Pigs have won 2 of 3 and should not have lost to UK. Arkansas is 2-3 in conference, but with the remaining conference games being played somewhere in the Razorback nation, the Hogs have reason to feel good about their chances to make some noise. Arkansas will make noise in this one, but it won't be a cakewalk like last week was; these guys from Troy State actually play defense.
Arkansas 23 Troy State 9
Auburn vs. Mississippi
Tommy T is 2-1 against his old employer and always seems to take great pride in putting the Rebels away. Former Heisman candidate Eli Manning is said to be entertaining thoughts of turning pro after this season. That may be a clever notion considering that the Manning revival hasn't lived up to the unrealistic expectations of the tobacco lawyers. The Rebels haven't had much success against Auburn in the last several years; in fact they are 1-6 in the last 7. Auburn can still run the pigskin despite the fact that their Cadillac is up on blocks. Chris Brown has emerged from his spot as backup to be a force. Auburn took SEC West frontrunner LSU behind the woodshed last week in almost high school homecoming fashion. Mississippi hasn't been able to slow anyone down on offense that can run the football. Look for Auburn to establish physical dominance in the trenches. Auburn is a little banged up along the defensive front wall, but their talented linebackers will be able to take up most of that slack. This is a must win for the Rebelettes, and true to form for UM athletics, they'll continue their annual end season nosedive. How depressing it must be to be a Rebel when the QB recruit everybody wanted comes to school and they still can't get over .500 in conference. For any Rebels looking to jump ship, Southern Miss could use some help.
Auburn 24 Mississippi 16
Florida vs. Georgia
Talk about a reversal of fortunes. This game usually features a UGA squad fruitlessly attempting to step into the big time and a Florida squad in search of another conference title. This year Georgia nearly has their ticket punched for Atlanta and Florida is playing for their postseason lives. UF is 3-2 in conference and has Vandy, South Carolina, and FSU to go. It is feasible to think that Florida will be 4-4 in conference and 6-6 overall. Florida needs this game in the worst way and Georgia is looking to put another nail in the coffin of the corpse of SEC's past. Knocking off Florida would be huge for recruiting and would set the tone for the next couple of years. UGA is very young and UF is nearing the end of a talent cycle that will require a complete overhaul of the offense. This could be the season that everybody looks back to and identifies as the end of the SEC East's lack of parity. UGA has much bigger dreams and needs some help to get higher in the BCS. I think it's awful to say that the SEC Champion may go undefeated and not have a chance to play for the national title. It just shows how down the conference is this year and how beating each other up hurts the SEC's chance for a national title. Georgia needs Virginia Tech to run the table and OU to stumble along the way. Then it could be UGA vs. Va Tech for all the marbles. That would be a nice title game, but first the Dawgs must put the Gators down in Jacksonville. Florida will show up and it will be a good one, but UGA should pull it out.
Georgia 31 Florida 27
Tennessee vs. South Carolina
These two teams are as beat up as anybody in the nation. UT's dream season has been derailed by injury after injury. K. Washington is still sidelined with injuries and Casey Clausen is still not 100%. The defensive line has two starters out as well. USC has some stars on the shelf as well; none bigger than Ryan Brewer. Brewer is the sparkplug for this squad and he hopes to be back next week for UPig. This one should be ugly and that's the way USC likes it. They play at their best when they can get the opposition into a penalty-filled, turnover riddled, melee. USC is at home, but they have had difficulty scoring points and they looked vulnerable against the run their last time out. Look for UT to run the ball and not ask Clausen to do too much. UT should have just enough to pull this one through, which complicates the SEC East picture even further.
Tennessee 21 USC 16
Kentucky vs. Mississippi State
Don't look know, but here come the Bulldogs. MSU, winners of two straight, have suddenly found a way to defend the pass. MSU leads the conference with 12 picks, and 11 of those have come since the lineup change in the secondary. MSU is giving up a razor thin 150 ypg through the air. UK will come out and test this secondary, but will use Artose Pinner to loosen up the box and pull the Dog safeties in a little closer for run support. The most critical part of the defensive strategy has to be to get UK to throw the football. I know that sounds crazy, but if they throw it 30 times we're going to catch some of those too. The MSU offense has had an additional week to mend and add a wrinkle or two to the gameplan. The offense is overdue for a huge game and many MSU fans have grown impatient after the success late in the season a year ago. Many expected a much higher octane offense than has been seen to date. Last year the Dogs started hitting on all cylinders following a close win over UK in a slop fest. Look for JLD to turn the Dogs loose and rattle the Battleship Lorenzen. Unlike many of the experts, I think with the game at home, the bye week last week, and the fact that UK played in a very physical loss to Georgia last week that MSU wins this one. Fant needs to rally the troops and the Dawgs will be .500 with 4 to play. This team still has a chance to make a run and have a decent season. It was about this time last year when the offense got going. Here's hoping for a similar late season jump start.
MSU 27 Kentucky 21
Well folks, that's how I see them. The season is winding down and not much has been established in conference. UGA should take a stranglehold on the SEC East with only 2 conference games left. LSU has the week off, but they could use some help to hold off the pursuers. LSU is in trouble and they have the meat of their schedule to go. The West is nowhere close to being won. It's still up for grabs and Auburn has a chance to step back into the thick of things after a win over UM. Things will start to shake out this week, but it may boil down to which team in the SEC West can have a winning conference record.
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 email@example.com.