IT Analysts Tackle SEC Slate

The SEC East title could be settled this weekend, as Tennessee visits South Carolina and Georgia plays Florida in Jacksonville.

f Florida and Tennessee win, the Vols all but wrap up the division title. They'd have a one-game lead over Georgia (plus the tiebreaker of a head-to-head win) and a two-game lead over Carolina and Florida. The Vols would need only a split against Vandy and Kentucky to win the division.

If Florida and South Carolina win, the Vols, Gamecocks and Dawgs would be tied for the top spot with 4-2 records. UT still has an edge because of a softer remaining schedule (at Vandy, vs. UK) than Carolina (vs. Arkansas, at Florida) and Georgia (at UK, at Auburn).

If Georgia and South Carolina win, the Bulldogs would hold a one-game lead over UT and Carolina. However, if Georgia loses to Auburn Nov. 13, while the Vols and Cocks win out, a three-way tie at 6-2 appears likely.

If Georgia and Tennessee win, they remain tied for the division lead at 5-1 but the Vols still hold the tiebreaker. And, as mentioned earlier, they face an easier remaining schedule (at Vandy and vs. UK) than the Dawgs (at UK, at Auburn).

Can the Gators win one for the Zooker? Can Tennessee bounce back following two listless performances? Can the Dawgs recapture the magic they showed against LSU? Can South Carolina finally win a big game?

Clearly, this is a huge weekend for the SEC East. It's also a huge weekend for InsideTennessee.com pickers Randy Moore and Jeffery Stewart. Randy's coming off an 8-2 mark last weekend that raised his season record to 55-25. Jeffery went 6-4 last weekend and now stands 59-21.

That said, here are this week's picks:

Randy's picks:

TENNESSEE AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The Vols have been living dangerously the past two weeks -- playing just well enough to win -- and they'll encounter an all-out ambush at Columbia. Both coaches tend to play conservatively on offense when their defense is playing well, so this could be a 6-3 game ... or another overtime game. Tennessee 13, Carolina 10.

KENTUCKY AT MISS. STATE: I'm glad I have to pick this game and not watch it. Although the Bulldogs upset Florida last weekend and cost Ron Zook his job, these clearly are the two worst teams in the SEC. With the homefield advantage and a carryover from the Florida game, Sylvester Croom's crew should prevail. Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 14.

FLORIDA AT GEORGIA (Jacksonville): The Gators reportedly are determined to send their lame-duck coach out with a bang. Sometimes a team gets too emotional, however, and makes overly aggressive, stupid mistakes. I think that's what will happen to the Gators. Georgia 27, Florida 20.

AUBURN AT OLE MISS: The Rebels already shocked South Carolina and nearly did the same to Tennessee, so they're no pushovers. Still, nobody in college football is playing as well as Tuberville's Tigers. Auburn 31, Ole Miss 14.

VANDERBILT AT LSU: The Commodores haven't fared too well against upper-echelon SEC teams, losing 31-6 to South Carolina and 33-3 to Georgia. I'm guessing that trend will continue. LSU 27, Vanderbilt 7.

OKLAHOMA AT OKLA. STATE: The No. 2 Sooners (7-0) and the No. 20 Cowboys (6-1) have one of the most intense rivalries in college football. I'm awfully tempted to take the home team but Oklahoma is playing a little too well for me to go out on that limb. Oklahoma 27, OSU 21.

N.C. STATE AT CLEMSON: Two of the ACC's fair-to-middlin' teams get together for what should be an entertaining game at Death Valley. I hear the Tigers are smelling another Peach Bowl bid. Clemson 27, N.C. State 24.

TEXAS TECH AT KANSAS STATE: Win or lose, the Red Raiders are fun to watch because of their wide-open style of attack. I look for them to bounce back from last weekend's loss to Texas. Texas Tech 31, Kansas State 27.

FLORIDA STATE AT MARYLAND: Bobby Bowden's record in ACC competition is as imposing as Ralph Friedgen's waistline. The Seminoles have had some close calls this year, though, and this could be one of them. Still, FSU should prevail. Florida State 27, Maryland 17.

PENN STATE AT OHIO STATE: Joe Pa has become the poster boy for mandatory retirement. He isn't the coach he used to be and the Nittany Lions aren't the program they used to be. Maybe PSU should adopt ''Auld Lang Syne'' as its fight song. Ohio State 24, Penn State 14.

Jeffery's picks:

TENNESSEE AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The Vols keep winning although they aren't winning converts, as is vividly reflected by the polls and the virtual toss-up status this game is getting from oddsmakers. That's just fine with coach Phillip Fulmer who seems to thrive when his team is placed in the underdog role. On the other hand, Lou Holtz would love to be the one who shakes the shackles of S.C.'s 11-game losing streak in this series and he's had two weeks to ready his troops. Tennessee plays its best ball on the road and appears more capable of raising the level of its game. The Vols might even score three touchdowns. Tennessee 23, South Carolina 13.

KENTUCKY AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Two days after defeating Florida in Starkville, the Bulldogs get hit with NCAA penalties for recruiting violations between 1998-2002. Since 2000, MSU has a record of 9-33 which raises a compelling question: Isn't a team supposed to get better by cheating? I thought that was the reason you took the risk. The Kats roughed up the Dogs 42-17 last year in Lexington which gives Sylvester Croom's club an emotional edge coming off a big win and playing at home. Mississippi State 20, Kentucky 14.

FLORIDA AT GEORGIA (Jacksonville): Zook has led the Gators to consecutive victories in this series and would like nothing more than to make it three straight. Maybe that's the reason Florida officials couldn't afford to wait to the end of the season to fire him. Reports have Gator players upset by the decision and its timing so expect Florida to come out with both barrels blazing. However this game means more to Georgia, besides if the Gators really wanted to save their coach why did they play so poorly against motley Mississippi State? I'm going with the better defense and the team that has more to lose. Georgia 27, Florida 16.

AUBURN AT OLE MISS: The Tigers are on the prowl and haven't been pressed by an opponent since a narrow win over LSU in week 3. Ole Miss has had two weeks to prepare for this game, but can the Rebels really be prepared for what Auburn will bring? The underdog has done well in this series since Tommy Tuberville switch jobs. Don't look for that trend to continue on Saturday. Auburn 34, Ole Miss 13.

VANDERBILT AT LSU: Nick Saban's squad has struggled at home vs. Oregon State and most recently Troy State, but that should just provide incentive for the Tigers vs. Vandy. Look for LSU to turn up the defensive heat and for the Dores to implode on cue. LSU 38, Vanderbilt 6.

OKLAHOMA AT OKLAHOMA STATE: The Sooners showed a little slippage last week vs. Kansas and they haven't fared well as an away favorite in this series. The Cowboys could be in position to spring an upset but OU has superior personnel and coaching. When it doubt go with the better players. Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma State 21.

N.C. STATE AT CLEMSON: I went against Clemson last week and lost, as the Tigers held the home turf against the Terps, 10-7. Never one to worry about squandering someone else's money, I'll go against the home team again and pick the Pack to prevail in another close contest. N.C. State 21, Clemson 17.

TEXAS TECH AT KANSAS STATE: The Red Raiders high-powered offense rolled snake eyes against the Longhorns last week and now they have to travel to Manhattan for Kansas State's homecoming. The Wildcats are favored but if I took underdog Red Raiders against Texas why wouldn't I take them against K-State? Texas Tech 35, Kansas State 31.

FLORIDA STATE AT MARYLAND: The Seminoles were taken to the limit by Wake Forest last week and are having problems getting their passing game into gear. But FSU's defense is tough and talented and it's running game strong. Furthermore, the Seminoles are a perfect 14-0 against the Terrapins who have an assortment of offensive woes of their own this season. Florida State 24, Maryland 9.

PENN STATE AT OHIO STATE: These pigskin powers are proof positive that having a 100,000-seat stadium in state's teeming with blue chip football prospects and membership in a storied football conference aren't guarantees of annual success. Yet, there are those that expect Phillip Fulmer to do just that in a state with limited prospects. What does that have to do with this game? Nothing, but I thought as long as I was picking I'd pick on the feckless rabble. Now back to the game. The Nittany Lions scored twice last week against Iowa and both scores were safeties. That makes Penn State more of a threat when it doesn't have a ball. Joe Paterno is 0-5 in Columbus and his biological clock is in snooze mode. Ohio State 18, Penn State 10.


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