IT Picks the SEC

After staging games on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays in Weeks 1 and 2, the Southeastern Conference reverts to its traditional Saturday-only format for Week 3.

Eight games involving SEC teams are on tap this Saturday, including a couple of intriguing intra-divisional showdowns – Georgia at South Carolina and Auburn at Mississippi State.

As usual, analysts Jeffery Stewart and Randy Moore are eager to offer some insights, wisecracks and predictions regarding the conference slate. Moore went 8-1 on last week's picks and stands 17-4 thus far. Stewart went 7-2 last week and stands 15-6 to date.

Here are their predictions for this week.


WESTERN KENTUCKY AT ALABAMA: We saw a high Tide in Bama's opener (a 34-10 blowout of favored Clemson) and a low Tide in Game 2 (a lackluster 20-6 defeat of Tulane). The Righteous Brothers had a big hit in 1965 with "Ebb Tide." That's when the tide is receding. It's amazing what you can find on The Internet. Alabama 31, Western Kentucky 7.

ARKANSAS AT TEXAS: Postponed due to Hurricane Ike.

AUBURN AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: This would be a real trap game for the Tigers if they hadn't suffered an embarrassing home-field loss to MSU last year. When will Tommy Tuberville's offense break loose? Not this week, I'm guessing. Auburn 20, MSU 10.

GEORGIA AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The Dawgs are overrated and the Cocks are smarting from a humiliating loss at Vanderbilt. Is that an upset special I smell? South Carolina 27, Georgia 24.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY: The Wildcats' defense allowed just two points in Game 1 and three points in Game 2. The big question this week is: Can the Blue Raiders reach double-digits? Kentucky 24, Middle Tennessee 10.

NORTH TEXAS AT LSU: Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Mean Joe Green attended North Texas, which was known as North Texas State when it stunned Tennessee 21-14 at Knoxville in 1975. You now know everything I know about North Texas ... except that it is due a butt-kicking in Baton Rouge. LSU 41, North Texas 7.

SAMFORD AT OLE MISS: Samford is not to be confused with Stanford, which features a goofy-looking tree mascot. Samford also is not to be confused with Sanford and Son, which featured Redd Foxx as a wisecracking garbage man. Most of all, Samford is not to be confused with a big-time program. Ole Miss 31, Samford 7.

UAB AT TENNESSEE: I'm not a numbers guy but the Blazers surrendered an average of 47 points per game in their first two outings, which seems significant to me. Tennessee 47, UAB 13.

RICE AT VANDERBILT: I've always wondered what Uncle Ben's converted rice was before its conversion ... Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Buddhist? Regardless, the Commodores will be on the Owls like white on rice. Vandy 31, Rice 10.


WESTERN KENTUCKY AT ALABAMA: Western plays the role of statistical lamb as the field of Bryant-Denny Stadium runs Crimson with touchdowns. Alabama 42, Western Kentucky 7.

ARKANSAS AT TEXAS: I predict this game will be postponed due to the arrival of Hurricane Ike and will rescheduled for Sept. 27.

AUBURN AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs broke a six-game losing streak to the Tigers last season with a 19-14 upset at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Look for Auburn to end the losing streak at one. Auburn 24, Mississippi State 13.

GEORGIA AT SOUTH CAROLINA: No matter how good Georgia is or how bad South Carolina is these teams play each other close. This year the Bulldogs are significantly better than the Gamecocks, but you might not know it from the outcome. Georgia 27, South Carolina 19.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY: The Blue Raiders invade the Blue Grass State to take on the Big Blue of Kentucky. The Wildcats defense has grown claws this year and, even if the offense has lost some of its potency, Kentucky may be a better team than last year's 8-5 squad. There's no chance UK will overlook MTSU. It is coming off a victory over Norfolk State, has an open date next Saturday and plays Western Kentucky. Kentucky 30, Middle Tennessee 17,

NORTH TEXAS AT LSU: What some teams won't do for a paycheck. What some teams won't do for a breather. Put the two together and you get one very bad game. LSU 52, North Texas 6.

SAMFORD AT OLE MISS: The Rebels narrowly missed knocking off Wake Forest on the road last week and should be able to easily handle Samford in Oxford this week. Ole Miss 37, Samford 10.

UAB AT TENNESSEE: Most Big Orange fans don't know how good the Vols are after the loss to UCLA to open the season. They won't know anymore after the Vols rout UAB, but they'll feel better about their chances against Florida. Tennessee 44, UAB 10.

RICE AT VANDERBILT: Break up the Dores, who have bolted from the gate with a 2-0 mark after last week's upset of South Carolina. Rice will make it as interesting especially if Vandy is looking back at the win over S.C. or looking ahead to Ole Miss. The winner earns a bid to the GE College Quiz Bowl. Vanderbilt 24, Rice 20.

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