There is an old saying in Vegas.
'If everybody is going one way, you go the other.'
With that in mind let's take a look at a compilation of picks from some of our favorites this week and then let you decide. (Most of this weekend's games are obvious. We are going to focus on the two that are not so obvious.)
Pete Fox over at VandyMania.com has Alabama winning 21-17 and Tennessee beating Florida 26-23.
Alabama 1 - SC 0
Tennessee 1 - UF 0
(We acknowledge ahead of time that everbody in the East are pulling for Vandy and Kentucky to win this weekend and Gamecock fans are included in that!)
Scott Feinstein has Carolina whipping Bama 23-20 and Florida holding serve at home over the Vols 24-20.
All tied at one each.
Howell Peiser has Bama winning the game in the Brick City over the Cocks, 21 - 20. Whew, that's cuttin' it close! And he's got the Gators eeeking one out in The Swamp 24-20.
Bama 2 - Carolina 1
Gators 2 - Vols 1
Mark Murphy has Alabama winning 23-17 in The Cock Pit. And he has Tennessee taking it from the Gators on their own home turf 28-21.
Bama 3 - SC 1
Florida 2 - UT 2
The fellas over at the Rocky Top News got together and here's how they are calling the two big games this week. They figure the Crimson Tide is going to waltz into Steve's place and lay a 20-17 loss on the Gamecocks. And no surprise that they too have it going in their Vol's favor down in the Sunshine State. UT 24 - UF 20.
Alabama 4 - Carolina 1
Tennessee 3 - Florida 2
Time for us to add our two cents.
Tennessee and Florida are going to bang it out for what many are saying is the heavyweight title in the Eastern Division this weekend. Georgia may have something to say about that down the road, but for now the Gators and the Vols are laying claim to cream of the crop status on this side of the conference.
Tennessee is loaded, we've heard it all summer. And there is no team we love to hate more here in Carolina than the Vols. Teflon Slick Phil Fulmer and his Orange Mountain Coon Dog Boys just seem to rub us the wrong way. But you have to admit, he has put together a pretty good team this year and now that he has his quarterback question answered, the Vols are going to be tough to handle from here on out. Still, this one has all the makings of a classic UT Vs. Florida showdown too early in the season.
Urban Meyer needs this win. Florida fans are expecting him to do it the old fashioned way. The Spurrier way. But unfortunately it's Tennessee's year. Tennessee 30 - Florida 27 ... and don't be suprised if Tennessee shows a bit more of an air-attack on Saturday. More of one than most of us are expecting. Phil is fat, but he ain't stupid.
Then comes the Carolina Vs. Alabama game. This one is bigger than most realize for a couple of reasons. First of all Steve Spurrier needs this win on National Television, (CBS 3:30 Eastern), to make a statement to the world that the Gamecocks are headed in the right direction. Too often teams that have moral victories one week have total collapses the next. Besides, Alabama is the one team you had better be able to run the ball against if you want to have a chance to beat them this season. And everyone and their brother knows that Carolina cannot run the ball out of a wet paper sack.
Bama needs this win to prove to the world they are back after a couple of years of probation. 99% of every single able body outside of the state of South Carolina who is making a prediction on this game is calling it the Tide's way.
Still, remember that old Vegas adage. And it sure looks like the world is on the Bama Bandwagon this weekend. So we are going the other way and it has more to do with a feeling than an obligation.
But before we do we want to hark back a few years. September 29th, 2001 in Columbia. Alabama came in as the #1 defense in the conference and the Gamecocks were #2. Neither had offenses worth mentioning and the over/under was 34. The final score was South Carolina 37, Alabama 36 in a shootout. It happens that way sometimes.
This year we expect the two offenses to try to prove their worth once again. Sparky Woods, the Bama OC used to be the HCIC in Columbia and he wants to win here as much as anyone.
Tough game to call. This is a really tough game to call. Vegas started out by saying Bama was a 2.5 point favorite. Quickly it dropped to an even -2.0 points. As of late Friday Carolina is a 1.5 point underdog and the over/under is 42.
This one will come down to the kicking game folks and Steve Spurrier has the secret weapon.
South Carolina 24 - Alabama 23.
And it the For-What-It's-Worth catagory, this late entry from Jesse Nichols, the prediction guru at BamaMag.com:
ALABAMA at SOUTH CAROLINA
Game within a game: Steve Spurrier vs. Joe Kines
It's not so much the talent that will determine the winner of this game, but the coaching. As a head coach, Steve Spurrier runs circles around Mike Shula, at least for now. Spurrier is one of the true innovators of the modern game, with his Fun 'N' Gun offense – essentially a zone passing offense, if such a thing exists – rewriting statistical record books during the 1990s when Spurrier was in Gainesville. Alabama holds an edge, either slight or large, in most match-ups in this game – quarterback, wide receiver, running back, linebacker, and so on. But South Carolina has Spurrier, and the Gamecocks have home field advantage. At Williams-Brice Stadium, home field advantage means something. Alabama spent last week getting stuck in second gear for a large portion of its game against Southern Mississippi, while South Carolina was busy giving what could be the SEC's best team, Georgia, a thorough scare in Athens. This game is going to come down to two things: How Alabama's defensive coaching staff handles in-game adjustments, and Alabama's defensive discipline and speed. Spurrier's passing offense will seek to expose holes in Alabama's multiple zone coverage looks, and how Joe Kines responds to Spurrier's moves will be critical. Alabama has better pieces, but Spurrier has proven to be the master strategist. For South Carolina, though, it won't be as simple as turning Spurrier and QB Blake Mitchell loose on the Alabama secondary. South Carolina has no running game to speak of, struggles stopping the run and doesn't return kicks well. For USC to beat Alabama, by any measure, would be an upset. By now, Alabama should have enough game film on South Carolina to figure out the Gamecocks' weaknesses, which are many. How well Alabama applies that knowledge is the key. Alabama 24, South Carolina 13
TENNESSEE at FLORIDA
Game within a game: Tennessee QBs vs. Florida secondary
Florida is getting a lot of mileage out of lopsided wins over a couple of overmatched opponents, Wyoming and Louisiana Tech. Things change drastically this week, as Florida gets the preseason beast of the east, Tennessee. Tennessee's lone tune-up game was nearly a bust, as the Volunteers struggled to get by UAB 17-10. If good quarterbacks give Tennessee trouble, the Vols might want to find something to crawl under Saturday, as Florida brings in Chris Leak. But Tennessee is stronger overall on both lines of scrimmage, at running back, linebacker and on special teams, and is no worse than tied at wide receiver. The key is the defensive backfield of both teams. Tennessee is ranked 94th, while Florida is ranked 3rd, but neither team has reached a point of statistical significance. What will be important is how each secondary handles the other's quarterbacks. In Florida's case, Leak should find success against Tennessee's secondary, which was problematic in 2004. The reverse might not be true, however. Florida's secondary was mediocre last year, but appears to be coming together better in 2005. For Tennessee, the quarterback position is still undecided. Senior Rick Clausen will start this game ahead of sophomore Erik Ainge, and Clausen's more prudent style should fit the Volunteers better. Florida's defense overall doesn't look great, but it is too good for Tennessee to simply line up and try to smashmouth the Gators down the field. Clausen must be competent against the Volunteers, but Leak needs to be superb to make up for a running game that is still learning on the job and to cover for a defense that was predicted to be average and has yet to face a stern test. Winning on the road has always been difficult in this series, but look for the Vols to pull it off, as Florida is still taking baby steps under new head coach Urban Meyer. Tennessee 24, Florida 17
Final update before game time - the game time spread is now a Pick'em. The local oddsmakers have made it a an even money pick while some Vegas lines have dropped to -1.0 in favor of Alabama.
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