Cocktail Party Pits SEC Rivals

They call it "The World's Largest Cocktail Party," but Saturday's Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville could be the largest game of the season in Southeastern Conference football.

The Bulldogs, 7-0 overall and 5-0 in SEC play, can clinch the East Division title if they beat the Gators (5-2, 3-2). Conversely, a Gator victory would force Georgia to beat Auburn Nov. 12 and Kentucky Nov. 19 — both games are in Athens — to guarantee it the East championship. Interestingly enough, injuries at quarterback are hampering both teams. Georgia will be without D.J. Shockley, who strained a knee in last Saturday's defeat of Arkansas. Florida QB Chris Leak, meanwhile, has been bothered by a shoulder injury in recent weeks.

Rockytop.com experts Jeffery Stewart and Randy Moore continue their nip-and-tuck battle in forecasting the SEC outcomes. Stewart went 5-1 on last week's picks (missing only on Mississippi State's loss to Houston), while Moore went 4-2 (missing on Mississippi State and also on the Auburn-LSU outcome). Stewart stands 45-10 for the year, Moore 44-11.

LSU, Arkansas and Vanderbilt are idle this Saturday, so only five conference games are on tap. That said, here are this week's SEC picks:

Jeffery's picks:

UTAH STATE AT ALABAMA: Although Alabama is coming off a physically and emotionally draining struggle against UT and is only 4-4 against WAC opponents, it shouldn't be a problem for a Tide team that figures to go into its final two games of the regular season against LSU and Auburn undefeated. Bama's schedule-maker deserves a game ball. Alabama 37, Utah State 10.

OLE MISS AT AUBURN: This will probably be a pretty good game for a half, but Auburn's superior numbers and talent will eventually take over from a game Rebel squad. The visiting team in this series has gone 8-1 against the spread since 1995 so this may not be the 20-point margin oddsmakers are projecting. Auburn 27, Ole Miss 13.

GEORGIA VS. FLORIDA (JACKSONVILLE): Florida is coming off its first bye week of the season while Georgia was taken to the limit by Arkansas. The loss of D.J. Shockley should be instrumental to the outcome, but Joe Tereshinski should perform much better with a week to prepare for the game. Even with a loss the Bulldogs will have the inside track on the SEC East, while Florida has dropped two of its last three and plenty of incentive. Florida 24, Georgia 20.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT KENTUCKY: This one is like choosing between liver and onions or brussel sprouts for an ice cream topping. The Kats have the home field advantage but MSU is a little more athletic and are playing alittle bit harder than Kentucky. (Not that anyone is likely to notice the difference.) Mississippi State 26, Kentucky 21.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE: Only Steve Spurrier could turn victories over Central Florida, Troy, Kentucky and Vanderbilt into an epic individual achievement. No wonder the ol' ball coach is the butt of every dumb-ass joke they tell in the NFL these days. Get back to us at the end of the season Steve-O. Tennessee 30, South Carolina 14.

Randy's picks:

UTAH STATE AT ALABAMA: Coming off its emotionally draining 6-3 defeat of Tennessee, the Tide is sure to be flat against Utah State. I can't imagine that it will matter, though. Alabama 34, Utah State 7

OLE MISS AT AUBURN: The Tigers lost in overtime at LSU because their kicker missed five of six field goal tries. Ole Miss should be so lucky. Auburn 27, Ole Miss 7

GEORGIA VS. FLORIDA (JACKSONVILLE): Chris Leak will be hurting but D.J. Shockley will be watching. That could be the difference in the game. Florida 20, Georgia 13

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT KENTUCKY: These are the SEC's two worst teams, by far. Fans who pay to watch this game should get free tickets to the Big Blue's basketball opener. Kentucky 21, Miss. State 20

SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE: Steve Spurrier's porous defense can't stop the Vols, but that's OK. The Vols do a bang-up job of stopping themselves. Tennessee 20, South Carolina 17


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