IT Analysts Pick Key Contests

Two of the biggest games of the season are on this weekend's SEC slate. Unbeaten Auburn visits unbeaten Tennessee and defending national champ LSU visits unbeaten Georgia.

Two more quality intraleague games are on tap -- Arkansas at Florida and South Carolina at Alabama. Meanwhile, bottom-feeders Mississippi State and Vanderbilt meet at Nashville in a game that should be competitive, if not compelling.

InsideTennessee.com analysts Randy Moore and Jeffery Stewart fell victim to regional pride last weekend. Both mistakenly picked Ole Miss to win at Wyoming. Moore also erred by picking Vanderbilt to win at Navy. Stewart's 9-1 week gives him a 33-7 record for the season and a one-game lead over Moore, who vows to keep picking Vandy until the Dores win a game or the Earth is destroyed by a flaming meteor ... whichever comes first.

There are two non-league games on this week's slate -- Ole Miss hosting Arkansas State and Kentucky hosting Ohio.

As usual, we've included some non-SEC games in order to boost the total to 10 contests because, frankly, Randy and Jeffery seem less confused by round numbers.

Here are this week's picks:

Randy Moore's picks

AUBURN AT TENNESSEE: The Vols couldn't slow down Auburn's Cadillac last year and they probably won't this year, either. Tennessee may have enough horsepower to outlast the Tigers, however. Tennessee 27, Auburn 24.

ARKANSAS AT FLORIDA: Florida relies heavily on QB Chris Leak but Arkansas relies even more heavily on QB Matt Jones. The Hogs have the better coach but the Gators have more experience and the homefield advantage. Florida 24, Arkansas 14

. ARKANSAS STATE AT OLE MISS: The Rebels are 1-3 after losing at Wyoming, so Arkansas State couldn't have picked a better time to show up on the schedule. Ole Miss 31, Arkansas State 21.

OHIO AT KENTUCKY: How can a team that scores at will against Indiana be shut out by Louisville and manage just three points against Florida? Oh, well. That's the Big Blue. Kentucky 34, Ohio 17.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT ALABAMA: Alabama rolled to a 3-0 start before hitting a speed bump last week at Arkansas. This game represents a road block. South Carolina 24, Alabama 10.

LSU AT GEORGIA: LSU won both meetings last year but is getting inconsistent play from its quarterbacks this year. Georgia hasn't been playing like gangbusters, either, but the Dawgs are tough to beat between the hedges. LSU 20, Georgia 17.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT VANDERBILT: This game is to TV viewing what moldy bread is to dining. You tolerate it if there's nothing else available, then try not to barf. Vanderbilt 27, Mississippi State 20.

PURDUE AT NOTRE DAME: Purdue's air of invincibility disappeared last weekend but the Boilermakers remained unbeaten. The Irish are playing pretty well after losing the opener to Brigham Young. Notre Dame 27, Purdue 24.

MIAMI AT GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets upended Clemson a few weeks back but the Hurricanes simply have too many athletes. Miami 31, Georgia Tech 21.

NAVY AT AIR FORCE: The Midshipmen are 4-0 after vanquishing Vanderbilt but their high-flying days could end against the Flyboys. Air Force 31, Navy 28.

Jeffery Stewart's Picks

Up to now I've coasted along on some pretty easy pickings, but this week's slate has some too-close-to-call challenges that would test the best pigskin prognosticators. For instance: Navy-Air Force, Tennessee-Auburn, Notre Dame-Purdue, Georgia-LSU and South Carolina-Alabama are games the oddsmakers rate virtual tossups with the teams separated by less than a field goal in each case. With that qualifier out of the way, I say: Damn the cliffhangers, full speed ahead.

AUBURN AT TENNESSEE: Tigers caught the Vols at the right time last season and embarrassed Tennessee's run defense which has long been a staple under the command of John Chavis. UT is looking for payback with a solid run defense in addition to a better balanced and more powerful offense. Add a considerable homefield advantage and a suspect Auburn road record under Tommy Tuberville and it spells a Tennessee victory. If Vols leverage their edge in the kicking game and keep the turnover ratio at least level, it just might be easier than it looks. Tennessee 26, Auburn 17.

ARKANSAS AT FLORIDA: This battle features SEC total offense leaders Matt Jones and Chris Leak in a potential shootout at the Swamp. It's the Razorbacks first game away from home this season and a must-win situation for the Gators who are 1-1 in the conference. Arkansas has been better than many expected this season with solid contributions from newcomers like freshman fullback Peyton Hillis. But this is the best offense the Hogs have seen so far and Florida's speed on defense will cause Arkansas running game problems. Florida 30, Arkansas 22.

OLE MISS AT ARKANSAS STATE: Life without Eli Manning has been no bowl of cherries for the Rebels who are 1-3 and going nowhere in a hurry. Fortunately, for David Cutcliff's crew the Indians offer the last best chance for victory until the annual Egg Bowl at the end of the season against equally downtrodden arch enemy Mississippi State. Ole Miss 34, Arkansas State 21.

OHIO AT KENTUCKY: Ohio has only won seven games in the three seasons prior to 2004 and appear to be just what the doctor ordered for a Wildcat offense that blows hot and cold. Kentucky hasn't been a sure thing against MAC opponents but figure to prevail in this one with a little breathing room. Kentucky 38, Ohio 20.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT ALABAMA: Talk about an intriguing coaching match-up: This game offers up Mike Shula who is entering his 18th game as a college head coach against Lou Holtz, who is serving as head coach in his 382nd collegiate contest. Shula would have to coach 12 games a season to the year 2034 just to come within four games of Holtz's current figure. Even though Bama is at home after a loss, I like Lou better calling the shots. South Carolina 20, Alabama 16.

LSU AT GEORGIA: This is a rematch of last year's rematch in the SEC championship game. LSU won both of the 2003 meetings en route to conference and national titles. These teams have struggled in the early going of 2004, but Georgia has a strong revenge factor and is between the hedges with an experienced field general in David Greene against a green signal caller in JaMarcus Russell. Georgia 27, LSU 21.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT VANDERBILT: Vandy fans have waited a long time for an SEC team this bad to show up for a game in Nashville not wearing black and gold uniforms. Enter the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who have managed to lose at home to Maine before being beaten by a half-a-hundred in Baton Rogue last week against an offensively challenged LSU squad. Finally, someone the Dores can bully. Vanderbilt 30, Mississippi State 17.

PURDUE AT NOTRE DAME: The home team usually has the upper hand in this Hoosier State series and the Fighting Irish have put together three impressive victories against Michigan, Michigan State and Washington since dropping it's opener at BYU. Purdue is a slight favorite but I like Notre Dame playing in the shadows of Touchdown Jesus. Notre Dame 23, Purdue 20.

MIAMI AT GEORGIA TECH: The Hurricanes blow into Atlanta with plenty of rest and an open date on tap. Miami played last Thursday against Houston which was preceded by a easy win over Louisiana Tech and another open date. That's bad news for the Yellowjackets. Miami 34, Georgia Tech 20.

NAVY AT AIR FORCE: The Midshipmen are undefeated but they always seem to struggle against Air Force, losing four of the last five meetings. That trend and the Jet Set's homefield advantage is enough to make me go with the Falcons. Air Force 27, Navy 22.


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