Iron Bowl Tops Slate

By virtue of head-to-head wins against Alabama and Auburn (in overtime each time), LSU will claim the SEC West title if it can handle Ole Miss this Saturday and Mississippi State next Saturday. Still, Saturday's "Iron Bowl" showdown between Mike Shula's Tide and Tommy Tuberville's Tigers figures to be one of the great games of the year in Southern football.

Being in the same league, and the same state, makes Alabama vs. Auburn one of the truly outstanding rivalries in all of college football. Their season-ending shootout provides a fitting climax to their respective regular seasons each year. The battle may be even more intense than usual this year, since both are 6-1 in SEC play and ranked in the top 15 nationally. Bama brings a 9-1 overall record into the fray, while Auburn comes in 8-2.

Adding even more drama to the game is the fact Auburn leads the SEC in scoring offense (33.4 points per game), while Bama leads the league in scoring defense (8.4 ppg). This one has all the earmarks of a classic.

Two more in-state rivalries are on Saturday's SEC schedule. South Carolina will be gunning for its sixth win in a row when it hosts Clemson, while Vanderbilt will be looking to end a 22-game losing streak in the series when it visits Tennessee.

Rockytop.com analysts Randy Moore and Jeffery Stewart found their crystal balls a bit clouded last weekend. Moore went 4-2 on his SEC picks, missing South Carolina's upset of Florida and Kentucky's upset of Vandy. Stewart went 2-4, missing those two games, plus Auburn's win at Georgia and LSU's win at Alabama. For the season Moore stands 59-14, Stewart 56-17.

That said, here are this week's picks:

Jeffery's picks:

KENTUCKY AT GEORGIA: The Kats and the Dawgs square off in a game that carries SEC title implications. Kentucky is coming off an impressive road victory at Vanderbilt last week and appears to have found new life with head coach Rich Brooks renewed for another run next season. However, the Bulldogs need a win to clinch the SEC East Division and won't be in a charitable mood after blowing a lead in the final minute against Auburn. Georgia 40, Kentucky 17.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks broke into the SEC win column last week against Ole Miss and should add another conference victory playing before the home folks in Little Rock. Arkansas 27, Mississippi State 17.

ALABAMA AT AUBURN: Bama's defense is as strong as ever but the offense lacks the pop it needed to score enough points to upset Auburn on the road. Auburn's come-from-behind victory over Georgia last week shows that the Tigers have hit their stride just in time to tame the Tide. Auburn 19, Alabama 14. LSU AT OLE MISS: LSU needs a win over the Rebels to lock up the SEC West title, and after scoring victories over Auburn and Alabama that shouldn't be too difficult. LSU 31, Ole Miss 13.

CLEMSON AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks have manage to prevail in a series of close, emotional contests against SEC opponents, but this one has the look of a letdown. Clemson 27, South Carolina 24.

VANDERBILT AT TENNESSEE: If Vanderbilt is to ever beat Tennessee again this figures to be the year. But the Dores have dropped six straight, and the Vols may just have enough left in the tank to extend their win streak in this series to 23. Tennessee 30, Vanderbilt 24.

Randy's picks:

KENTUCKY AT GEORGIA: The Dawgs might be down after their heartbreaking loss to Auburn. Even so, the Wildcats have no chance unless D.J. Shockley gets re-injured. Georgia 38, Kentucky 17

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT ARKANSAS: Given how run-oriented these two teams are, there may not be many passes thrown in this game. There may not be many fans show up to watch, either. Arkansas 17, Mississippi State 7.

ALABAMA AT AUBURN: Alabama will have a lot of emotion in this game but it won't have big-play specialist Tyrone Prothro. His midseason injury devastated the Tide offense. Auburn 17, Alabama 10.

LSU AT OLE MISS: Coming off its dramatic win at Alabama, LSU could be ripe for an upset. The problem is, the Rebels don't have enough weapons to close the deal. LSU 20, Ole Miss 10.

CLEMSON AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The ol' ball coach has made a believer out of me. South Carolina 24, Clemson 17.

VANDERBILT AT TENNESSEE: The Commodores can score points in bunches. The Vols can't. The Commodores can't make it to a bowl. The Vols can. Tennessee 27, Vanderbilt 20


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