ALABAMA vs. AUBURN
Who dives faster, the UM Rebels or a Tommy Tubberville team? Auburn's season took a nose dive last season in the final weeks which cost them an SEC west title. T.T. cleaned house and apparently the problem still remains as Auburn is poised to drop as low as 3rd in the west after seemingly taking control by demolishing LSU a few weeks back. Auburn cannot finish. The task is made more difficult now as the Tigers have to play their arch-rivals, who were left for dead back on national signing day. Alabama is the hottest team in the SEC. Their only two losses were to top 10 OU and UGA. The Tide probably should have won both and they nearly did. Alabama is clicking on all cylinders and were never threatened at Tiger Stadium. The Tide will send Auburn into the Independence bowl lottery with a week remaining to determine the winner.
Alabama 28 Auburn 17
MISSISSIPPI vs. LSU
To say things have been real quiet in Tiger town would be putting it mildly. The national media installed them in Atlanta way back in June. Even after Matt Mauck went down, LSU still seemed to be the team to beat. In the last three conference games the Tigers were blown out by Auburn 31-7, lucked up against UK, and were down right beat down 31-0 against Alabama. LSU is reeling and all confidence is gone, but help is on the way. The UM Rebel defense will be in town this weekend to determine which LSU player will be SEC offensive player of the week. UM cannot stop the run and LSU can run the football. LSU can't pitch and catch at all, but they can run. UM cannot run the football. Former Heisman candidate Eli Manning can throw the ball around a bit, but his much bally hooed offensive line has allowed more pressure on the youngest Manning most of the season. LSU is mad and Tiger Stadium will be packed to see if the Tigers can salvage something of what was a very promising season. Eli always packs them in, but the Tiger will be looking for a little pay back after The Football Mannings last visit. The Tigers are hungry and UM needs just one win to match their annual total of 7 wins. This will be a very hard fought game and the Rebels know they have hell to pay next week over all this cowbell and mudslinging. This one looks like UM's last chance at a win, but LSU doesn't lose consecutive home games. This one will be ugly and will still be a game late in to the 4th quarter. It's a tough one to call, but I just don't think the Rebelettes have the horses.
LSU 27 Mississippi 21
SOUTH CAROLINA vs. CLEMSON
USC completes week three of the orange crush after losing to UT and UF. USC is one of many SEC team's limping across the finish line after a long and difficult season. The USC defense still plays well, but USC cannot score. This is a rivalry game and it's always tough to call. Holtz has made the home folks happy with wins in recent memory. Clemson is just beginning to find itself after the season started with some promise. The Tigers will finish deep in the pack and have probably missed one of the better chances to shake things up in the ACC. I think this one will be ugly like most have been this year and it must be low scoring for USC to win.
Clemson 17 USC 13
TENNESSEE vs. VANDERBILT
UT is even more beat up now than ever. RB Gerald Riggs, Jr. is now out for the season after having season ending surgery. UT looked prime for the picking last week until a few turnovers fell the burnt orange way. What can you say about Vanderbilt? They just can't seem to find any continuity. QB Jay Cutler has taken his lumps and should be better in seasons to come. UT will look to piece together a team to play this week, but if you have to play third teamers, Vandy's the team to pull that against. Look for Houston and Davis to get a lot of carries for the Vols and don't expect any Vol QB to make many plays. This game has been close at times and this year should be another like that. This may be Vandy's best chance to knock off UT for a while. The Vols are young and athletic and will only get better. Vandy, well they're still Vandy. If nothing else they help graduation rates in the SEC.
ARKANSAS vs. MSU
To say the Bulldogs have taken a few on the chin would be putting it lightly. MSU, like it's gritty but battle worn QB, has seen some tough Saturdays this year. The youth movement is in full swing and the future looks bright, but we need a stepping stone to get us into the off-season with some momentum. Wins against UPig have been rare at MSU. The games have generally been close and hard fought, but the Hogs have almost always found a way to ruin our postseason plans. In 1997, with 2 to play, the Dogs lost to a poor, poor Arkansas team and stayed home for the holidays. In 1999, the Dogs seemed bound for a New Year's day bowl game but a loss at Arkansas sent the Dogs to the Peach Bowl instead. In 2000, the Dogs, in control their own destiny again with two to play, lost a 10 point lead late and dropped an ugly one in OT. The loss sent the Dogs down the stretch and cost the Dogs a bigger piece of the postseason pie by punching our tickets for Shreveport. Arkansas just ruins everything. In 1998, we got the chance to extract a little revenge and on a last minute drive by a youngster named Madkin the Bulldogs all but clinched the West. MSU gets a chance to give a little payback to U Pig this week. Arkansas needs to win out to go to Atlanta. Many are pointing to next weekend as the SEC western division championship game. I am sure that has been on bulletin boards all over campus.
Arkansas can run the ball, but the MSU defense has been much stingier as of late. The Pigs will look to grind it out on the ground. Arkansas struggled a bit last week against ULL and gave up their 1st points in three weeks. The defense for the Hogs has been stout and this week should be no exception. The Dogs need an inspired effort, but U Pig has a lot more to play for. Playing spoiler is only fun when you get to pay somebody back. Both of MSU's remaining opponents have designs on Atlanta. MSU can only go to Atlanta as spectators, but they will help determine who does get there.
Arkansas 23 MSU 17
Well folks, the season is rapidly winding down. The West is still up for grabs with 4 teams still hanging on to hope. LSU or Arkansas could win out and take the crown. Auburn needs a win over Alabama and an LSU and Arkansas loss. UM needs to win out and have Alabama beat Auburn and MSU to beat Arkansas. UM got the help they needed last week and it's possible it could happen again this week, but the Rebs have to beat LSU and root their hearts out for the MSU Bulldogs to beat Arkansas. That in itself should illustrate what a wild year it's been.
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.