IT Picks SEC

The SEC football season is barely a month old, yet three games that qualify as big-time showdowns highlight this week's schedule.

Kentucky (5-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) and South Carolina (4-1, 2-1) start things off with a Thursday night shootout in Columbia. The winner takes a big step toward challenging for the Eastern Division title.

The game of the week, of course, pits defending national champ Florida (4-1, 2-1) and top-ranked LSU (5-0, 2-0) in Baton Rouge.

Another game with championship implications finds Georgia (4-1, 2-1) visiting Tennessee (2-2, 0-1). The loser of this game probably drops out of the East Division race.'s Jeffery Stewart went 7-1 picking last week's SEC games and stands 36-7 for the year. Cohort Randy Moore went 6-2 and stands 34-9. Their projections for Week 6 are as follows:


KENTUCKY AT SOUTH CAROLINA (Thursday night): It's the Kats and the Cocks in a showdown of early season Cinderella clubs that is critical to the SEC East Division race. South Carolina has the league's top ranked pass defense and No. 4 overall defense against a schedule that includes Georgia and LSU. As good as Kentucky has looked to this point solid defense generally stops a hot offense especially when playing before a boisterous crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium crowd. As good as Steve Spurrier is at winning shootouts he's even better at setting tempo. And this one will be much slower than most expect. South Carolina 24, Kentucky 20.

HOUSTON AT ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide get a much needed break from a killer slate and if there's no letdown they should roll to victory. Two consecutive defeats and a home crowd will provide plenty of motivation against a Cougar squad that is better than many realize. Alabama 34, Houston 19.

CHATTANOOGA AT ARKANSAS (in Little Rock): The Razorbacks can always be counted on to play their best in Little Rock while Chattanooga figures to do its usual flop and fold against D-I competition. Arkansas 55, Chattanooga 6.

VANDERBILT AT AUBURN: Very interesting. The Tigers are riding high after last week's shocker in Gainesville while the Dores are coming in under the radar. Add the fact Auburn has already lost a pair of home games and this one could be very competitive. However the Tigers have a 16-4 record against SEC East teams the last six years and Vandy is probably the least of the beast in the East. Auburn 23, Vanderbilt 17.

FLORIDA AT LSU: It doesn't get better than this. The defending national champions taking on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation for SEC supremacy. Auburn exposed weaknesses in the Gators defense that LSU can fully exploit. The Tigers also have a superb defense that will limit Florida's big play offense while maintaining pressure on Tim Tebow. The Tulane tune-up will leave plenty of high-octane fuel in the Tigers tank while the Gators are coming off a couple of closely contested physical games that should prove draining. LSU 30, Florida 21.

LOUISIANA TECH AT OLE MISS: Special Ed Orgeron, who is 8-20 at Ole Miss in his third year, is seeking his second win of 2007. If he doesn't get it he's unlikely to get a fourth season in Oxford. Fortunately for him the Cajuns don't offer a lot of resistance. Ole Miss 30, Louisiana Tech 16.

ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs don't have a strong offense (No. 12 in the SEC) but they have a power running game and solid defense that is tailor made for the Blazers, who lack the depth to withstand four quarters of pounding. MSU won last year's game 16-10 in overtime and should show even better on Saturday. Mississippi State 20, UAB 12.

GEORGIA AT TENNESSEE: This is a must-win game that the Vols are certainly capable of taking. The problem is Georgia is an outstanding road team while the Vols haven't been a dominate home team in the last seven seasons. As I see it this looks to be a close game which should favor the Bulldogs who have split two such contests against South Carolina and Alabama. Conversely, UT has yet to play a game closer than 15 points this season. Georgia 34, Tennessee 30.


KENTUCKY AT SOUTH CAROLINA (Thursday night): The Big Blue has been winning a lot of shootouts, and Steve Spurrier rarely loses shootouts. Still, the Wildcats have more firepower. Kentucky 27, South Carolina 24.

HOUSTON AT ALABAMA: The Tide is smarting after back-to-back losses to Georgia and Florida State. Obviously, Nick Saban can't walk on water but his Bama boys should be able to walk all over the Cougars. Bama 31, Houston 17.

CHATTANOOGA AT ARKANSAS (in Little Rock): Razorback head man Houston Nutt is coming off a 66-7 annihilation of North Texas, and now he gets to massacre the Moccasins. Does the man have no shame? Arkansas 51, Chattanooga 10.

VANDERBILT AT AUBURN: The Commodores are good enough to beat the Tiger team that lost at home to Mississippi State in Week 3. They are not good enough to beat the Tiger team that won at Florida in Week 5. I'm guessing Auburn will be closer to its Week 5 form than its Week 3 form. Auburn 20, Vanderbilt 13.

FLORIDA AT LSU: Urban Meyer, 26-5 in two-plus seasons at Florida, is considered a genius. Les Miles, 27-4 in two-plus seasons at LSU, is considered a goofball. Reckon Les will be up for this game? LSU 27, Florida 17

LOUISIANA TECH AT OLE MISS: Except for a Nov. 3 game with Northwestern State, this may be Ed Orgeron's last chance to notch a victory as head coach of the Rebels. Ole Miss 34, Louisiana Tech 14

ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs already spanked Tulane and Gardner-Webb. Knowing which non-conference opponents to schedule might be MSU's greatest strength. Miss. State 27, UAB 17

GEORGIA AT TENNESSEE: The 11th-ranked Bulldogs are 3-0 in their last three visits to Knoxville. The Vols are 2-8 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents. The numbers add up to one conclusion: Georgia 31, Tennessee 27.

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