JW: Let's see: A satisfying Vanderbilt win over an SEC opponent? Check. A huge underdog SEC team upsetting a traditional powerhouse? Check. Notre Dame losing? Check. A high-scoring shootout between two talented teams? Check. Tennessee getting beaten to a bloody pulp? Double check. Few weekends of college football have been as satisfying as last Saturday was for me as a college football fan. While this week's slate of games isn't as impressive, there are definitely some interesting match-ups. With Vanderbilt taking a bye week and few national games of note, Mike and Jay's College Picks is also taking a bit of a breather this week. But don't worry - we're still providing you with our "unique" brand of prognostication for this week's SEC slate, as well as one national game to round things out. Be sure to check back on Sunday to tally up just how wrong I was!
MO: I have to agree – I have to say I wasn't this excited about a past weekend of football since the end of 2005, which featured both our win over UT and my own personal streak of picking the first nine New-Year's-or-later bowls correctly. The last was Texas beating USC in the Rose Bowl, a fact that still makes me scowl when I watch Vince Young. Patting one's self on the back aside, there are few games of interest outside the SEC this week, so we will indeed be taking it a little easier this week. While the quantity is less, the quality remains the same shabbily-researched, hairbrained analysis you know and love! Onto the picks….
Kentucky @ Arkansas
JW: So, Kentucky enters the polls for the first time in a very long time after an exciting win over a top ten team, and yet they come into their next game against an SEC rival as a serious underdog? I know, Arkansas has been ranked, and they took Alabama to the wire. Honestly, the Razorbacks shouldn't hang their heads about losing to the Tide, because all that hype about Bama might be at least somewhat true. In fact, I don't think they deserved to fall completely out of the polls. This game looks to be a high-scoring affair, as the Kentucky defense is horrible against the run, and Arkansas is Darren McFadden, while the Arkansas defense isn't so strong against the pass, so Andre Woodson must be looking forward to airing it out. This one's hard to pick, because both teams are motivated (albeit for different reasons), and both teams have their strengths matched up against their opponent's weaknesses. Ultimately, I think Darren McFadden shows his Heisman credentials and wills his team to victory in a high-scoring but close game. Hogs by 4.
MO: You know, I think that Andre Woodson has a little something to say about Heisman credentials, and if John Parker Wilson can put up 40 on the Hogs defense, so can he. Kentucky does have its flaws on defense, though, and the fact that it's turned into bounceback game for Arkansas, as well as a home game, it's hard to pick against them. I'll do just that, though. I think that Woodson comes into his own here, stepping into the spotlight cast so brightly on McFadden and keeps Kentucky unbeaten. Wildcats by 8.
Florida at Ole Miss
MO: It's simply a tale of two cities. In Gainesville, Gator fans are praising the play of a national champion who was expected to drop a peg this season after losing their starting quarterback and other key players, and revelling in a huge, dominating victory over a hated rival. In Oxford, Rebel fans are hanging their collective head after watching Vanderbilt win in dominating fashion, with the Commodores passing them by and giving them the key to the SEC cellar. After their loss Saturday, "Coach O" now stands for "O no! There's a Vanderbilt lineback in my backfield again!" Tim Tebow is starting to generate some Heisman buzz after mandhandling a suddenly suspect Tennessee defense, so look to him to light up the field all day long. Rebels are surely Gator bait, as Florida rolls to win by 27.
JW: Alright, I know how it looks. Florida has been pretty dominant, and Ole Miss has pretty much rocketed to the bottom of the SEC, while even rival Mississippi State has passed them by. Florida has a great coach, a great quarterback, a whole lot of confidence, and a pretty good defense. Ole Miss has none of these. But I think Florida is prime for a letdown game, and Ole Miss might just step up their game for a big SEC battle in Oxford. Stranger things have happened in college football, even this year, so I don't think this is outside the realm of possibility. I think BenJarvus Green-Ellis gets his mojo back after being embarrassed by the Vanderbilt defense, and runs wild on the Gators. Now before you have me committed to the local asylum, I'll reassure you - Florida still wins. It just won't be as big a blowout as everyone thinks. In fact, the Gators will be happy to leave Oxford with a win when time expires. Florida by 4.
Gardner-Webb @ Mississippi St.
JW: Wow. What a win for Sylvester Croom and the Bulldogs. You can say all you want about Auburn underperforming, but that was an impressive win by MSU. But hey, how about Gardner-Webb's big 27-6 win over Jacksonville? The Runnin' Bulldogs (as opposed to the Plain Ol' Bulldogs of Mississippi State) must be riding a high as well after that big win. What looked at the beginning of the season to be one of State's best chances at a win at all is now just a rest-up period after knocking off a traditional SEC power. Mississippi State still has a long way to go before they can convince me they have a shot at a bowl (let's not be too quick to forget the LSU debacle), but things are certainly looking up in Starkville. This'll be an easy tune-up game for Croom and company before getting a shot at an up-and-coming South Carolina team. Bulldog fans have a fever...and the only prescription is more cowbell. Sorry...I had to do that. MSU by 25.
MO: Turns out Mississippi State can knock off decent opponents, even if they only throw for a scant 41 yards. Before last week, this had all the makings of the Greatest Joke Game in Mike and Jay's College Picks History. Now it's simply another cupcake game against a half-decent SEC squad. Thanks a lot, Sylvester Croom. Way to get a win and ruin all our fun. MSU by 21.
New Mexico St. at Auburn
MO: At first glance of this game, my only thought was "What funny and/or tasteless comment can I make to blow this game off?" Then I remembered – Auburn is 1-2 on the season, despite not having played away from home or anyone from the SEC aside from Mississippi St. (who beat them!!). What's going on at Jordan-Hare? Is it something in the water? Is it the football gods getting back at Tuberville for some karmic reason *coughcoughOleMisscoughcough*? Are they paying tribute to their golf teams by trying to score less than their opponents? Yes, indeed – those were the tasteless comments I came up with. As for the game, I expect Auburn to domintate most aspects of the games, though I don't expect their passing game to allow them to put all that many points. Auburn by 17.
JW: Those were some pretty tasteless comments, if you ask me. Here's mine - if Auburn keeps performing the way they've been performing this season, Tuberville is going to get run out of Auburn faster than you can say War Eagle. Then he'll tuck tail and head back to Ole Miss, who just so happens to be looking for a new head coach. Then Ole Miss turns him down in favor of someone who, you know, has a little loyalty to his school, and Tubs ends up an assistant coach in the Big 12. Sure, the chances of all that happening are pretty slim, but a man can dream, can't he? Now, back to reality. As for the game, Auburn is finishing what should have been an easy four-game warm-up at home before heading to Gainesville, but now is just hoping to limp into the Florida game at .500. Sure, Auburn's down, but they're facing a WAC team. If Auburn doesn't win this one easily, it'll be, uh, WAC. Wow, talk about tasteless. Tigers by 20.
Arkansas St. @ Tennessee
JW: If I didn't hate UT so much, I'd take my fifth year of college eligibility down to Knoxville and suit up for the Vols' defense. They clearly need all the help they can get after being embarrassed again, this time by Tim Tebow. Now the Volunteers play host to an Arkansas State team that scared the bejeezus out of the other UT, a team which, by the way, wouldn't be in the top ten if we didn't rely so heavily on preseason polls. Sure, Arkansas State isn't particularly good, but they're no slouch, either. As much as I am currently reveling in the schaddenfreude that is Tennessee's season so far, I just can't go so far out there and predict an Arkansas State victory. Tennessee has some talent, and Phil Fulmer knows that if he drops this one, he won't make it out of Knoxville alive. The orange faithful will surely voice some of their displeasure with their coach and team this weekend, but in the end, Tennessee gets the win. But it certainly won't be pretty. Vols by 13.
MO: Speaking of Heisman credentials, Tebow's skyrocketed last week, especially against a Tennessee defense that is respected by half the media. Tennessee will win this week, and win handily but at the following cost. Every sack they make, every point they don't allow, every big play they get out of their defense only solidifies what a great game Tim Tebow had and how dominant a team Florida is. Man, it's fun to take away a little piece of orange happiness like that. Tennessee will run the score up against Arkansas St., if only to get the bad taste of last week from their mouths, but it will still be an empty victory. In the end, they still have 51 more weeks to live with the fact that Florida is simply a better team. Vols by 24.
Georgia Tech @ Virginia
MO: Another tale of two cities here – Georgia Tech is coming off of a disappointing loss to Boston College, while Virginia's on the upswing, winning twice since a surprise loss to Wyoming. The Cavaliers had to stop a 2-point conversion by North Carolina to preserve their last win, so I'm not holding out much hope that they'll be a match for Georgia Tech, who's averaging 5.7 yards per carry. I'll take the Yellow Jackets by 13.
JW: So Georgia Tech loses to a very good Boston College team, and that's enough for them to fall completely out of the polls? Ok, fine, their win over Notre Dame isn't as impressive as it was at the time, but come on, give the Yellow Jackets a little respect. They're a good team, and they'll show it against a Virginia team that's won against Duke and North Carolina, and not very convincingly, either. I think the Cavaliers' supposed "upswing" is more a product of their cupcake early schedule than anything else. And sure, while Georgia Tech has only beaten bad teams as well, at least they've beaten those bad teams convincingly, and their one loss was to a really good team. Tech wins this one easily, by 17.
Georgia @ Alabama
JW: Did the Georgia offense finally figure things out, or was Western Carolina just that bad? We'll find out this week as Georgia heads west to Tuscaloosa to take on Nick Saban. That's right, just Nick Saban. The latest reports out of Alabama state that Saban plans to play every single position on both sides of the ball for Bama. In fact, I think Saban's defensive scheme involves a wall of money blocking the end zone. Ok, I promise this is my last snarky comment about Nick Saban for at least two weeks. Bama's back in the polls, and everything seems to be going right in the Heart of Dixie, at least for the time being. Georgia, on the other hand, is trying to shake off the memory of the South Carolina loss and score its first SEC victory. The problem for Georgia for this game in particular is its youth. This is the team's first away game of the season, and Bryant-Denny Stadium is going to be full of rabid fans clad in crimson, many of whom are convinced their team can run the table. If this game was taking place in Athens, I might think differently, but Alabama has too much going for it to slow down against the Bulldogs. I'm going with the Tide by 10.
MO: While the young bulldogs are used to a stadium full of red, this particular subset of fans will be graced by helmets adorned with toilet paper and laundry detergent. If that's not disorienting to a young player, I don't know what is. The fact that Bama blew a 21-0 first quarter lead scares me a little, expecially against a decent Georgia team. But I have to agree – this Bama team is playing with renewed passion thanks to an energized fanbase and lowered expectations from anyone not in crimson. Let's be honest – they're a lot better than we thought they'd be, and that will extend through this week as well. I think Georgia will jump out to an early lead, but the Tide will take control late and roll to a 13-point victory.
South Carolina @ LSU
MO: LSU once again finds itself in a Top 25 match-up, validating Coach Les Miles' statement that their road to the national title game would be harder than that of USC's. It promises to be a battle of strength vs. strength as the vaunted Tiger defense takes on a Steve Spurrier offense, a prospect that should make this a great game. Unfortunately for us fans, I'm guessing LSU's defense will domintate. I owe them that much, anyway, after taking them less seriously early in the season. While Blake Mitchell has yet to lose this season, he hasn't exactly looked impressive, and could have a long night with his butt on the ground rather than his fist in the air. I'll take the Bayou Bengals here by 14.
JW: Like most SEC fans, I love to see Steve Spurrier knocked off his high horse. That's why this season has been difficult for me so far. Luckily, the Gamecocks now head into Baton Rouge to take on an LSU team that, if I was an opposing SEC coach, would give me nightmares. The Tigers have been absolutely dominant, and while Les Miles' comments about USC probably weren't the best idea in the world, he's got a good point. LSU has played some pretty good teams, and summarily beaten them to a pulp. While USC took down Nebraska, they still have a long way to go to convince me they're better than LSU. Anyway, the Gamecocks are in for a rude awakening down on the bayou, as there's just no way they can match up well against LSU. Sure, they might score more than a touchdown against the vaunted LSU defense, but not much more. I'll take LSU here by 24.