The SEC Report
By Bob Epling
Few words grab and hold the attention of a college student more quickly than that one. Late night parties get put on hiatus for a week, video game marathons go dormant for a few days, and study binges boost sales at the local Waffle Houses and IHOPs.
Welcome to the annual SEC midterm grades from Game Day Weekly and The Campus Game.
Every year we post grades halfway through the season, and grade inflation is a dirty phrase to us.
We do not allow makeup exams. There are no excused absences in our grading scale, and don’t even ask about extra credit.
Make the grade and you might be rewarded with a New Year’s trip to New Orleans, another BCS site, or the sandy beaches of Florida.
A failing mark means staying home for the holidays, or perhaps a mid-December trip to a city where the water is not naturally salty.
Overall, this is as strong a class as we have had in a while.
Grades are posted alphabetically by division.
Alabama: A strong student who got a bit overconfident after acing some early quizzes. Could still pull an A, but will need to finish strong. Grade: B+.
Arkansas: Answers a lot of easy questions, but falters when faced with more complex tasks. Tough assignments coming up will tell us much. Grade: C.
Auburn: A student that must have had too much fun over the summer because was not ready for the start of season. Has buckled down and come along nicely though. Grade: B.
LSU: Star student could earn some major post-graduate prizes, but barely passed last exam. Hope pressure of high expectations is not too much. Grade: A+.
Ole Miss: Just not bright enough to pass the major tests and there are plenty coming up over the next three weeks. Could still pull a passing grade, but it will be a challenge. Grade: D/C-.
Miss State: A nice hard-working type, but wonder if capable of competing with some of the honor students enrolled in these courses. Grade: B.
Florida: A very bright student that overlooked one test then came up just short on another. Seems a bit fatigued at the midterm. Grade: B+.
Georgia: Never know what to expect with this one … looks to know all the answers one week then sleeps through class the next. Grade: C.
Kentucky: A pleasant, if mildly surprising performer, who scored a little low last week. Some tough assignments ahead. Grade: A-.
South Carolina: Cocky, but pretty sharp too. Pass a few more tests and might earn top marks for the semester. Grade: A.
Tennessee: After a sluggish start, really starting to catch one to the material. Has completed toughest tasks already, and could manage the rest of them to rank at the top of the East. Grade: B+.
Vanderbilt: Sharp as a tack, but not as gifted as some fellow classmates. Should pass, but cannot overlook any tests. Grade: C.
Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 41-10; 7-1 last week)
Our midterm pigskin prognostications garner about a B. Top pick was probably calling Kentucky to beat Louisville (before the Cardinals imploded) or Tennessee over Georgia (Mark Richt had never lost at Neyland Stadium); worst pick was probably taking Ole Miss over Vanderbilt (Rebs didn’t show up) or Tennessee to beat Cal (Bears too fast).
Alabama at Ole Miss (12:30 ET LFS)
See SEC Game of the Week article.
Game Ball: Alabama
Auburn at Arkansas (7:45 ET ESPN)
Auburn comes into this one with as much momentum as Hillary Clinton. The Tigers showed no emotional letdown after the big Florida victory, and soundly smacked Vanderbilt 35-7. QB Brandon Cox was an efficient 14 of 17 passing for 165 yards in three quarters, and Brad Lester returned from suspension to join fellow tailbacks Ben Tate and Mario Fannin in helping Auburn outgain Vandy 324-66 in the first half. Arkansas played sloppily against Chattanooga but handled the Mocs 34-15. Darren McFadden (122) and Felix Jones (141) both went over the century mark rushing again, but McFadden fumbled twice. These two have split the past six, but Auburn has won the last two in Fayetteville. Lingering visions of D-Mac and Arkansas running over Auburn on the Plains last season may be affecting my judgment, but on a hunch I think Hogs win.
Game Ball: Arkansas
Next Game: At Kentucky on 10/20/07
Georgia at Vanderbilt (6:00 ET ESPN2)
What if they played a game and neither team showed up? That’s what happened with these two squads last week, and it’s a good thing they weren’t playing each other. Georgia snoozed through the Tennessee game, falling behind 28-0 before losing 35-14. Both lines were completely overmatched, and the Dogs showed little fight. Vanderbilt also fell behind by four TDs and never made a contest of the 35-7 loss to Auburn. Georgia’s motivation should be to avenge a home loss to the Dores last season; Vanderbilt is playing to reach a bowl-eligible plateau … I’ll go with the Dogs just on the revenge factor and pride (if either team has any left).
Game Ball: Georgia
LSU at Kentucky (3:30 ET CBS)
Letdown alert! # 1 ranked LSU battled back for an emotional win over Florida late Saturday night, and the Tigers have to be drained. Had Kentucky not fallen to South Carolina last Thursday night, this would have been a matchup of undefeated Top 5 teams. Big Blue QB Andre Woodson suffered through a poor game against the Gamecocks, much of the performance due to SC defensive pressure. If Kentucky could not block Carolina, the Cats should certainly have problems if LSU shows up ready to play. The Bayou Bengals have a clear path to the BCS title game, but cannot overlook anybody. Expect Kentucky to scare the Tigers. Expect LSU to survive.
Game Ball: LSU
Tennessee at Mississippi State (2:30 ET)
The Volunteers played one of their soundest games in years by thrashing Georgia 35-14. It was not that close, as UT sprinted to an easy 28-0 lead and then sat on it. I believe Tennessee is the favorite to win the SEC East at this point with road games remaining in Starkville, Tuscaloosa, and Lexington, plus home contests with South Carolina, Arkansas, and Vandy. That is manageable. The Vols cannot overlook Sly Croom’s Bullies. MSU trailed UAB after three quarters, and then ground down the Blazers for a 30-13 victory. This game looked much more winnable for State a couple of weeks ago, but Tennessee sure impressed vs. Georgia. Might be close, but Vols a little too good.
Game Ball: Tennessee
South Carolina at North Carolina (3:30 ET ABC)
In my mind I'm gone to Carolina ... but North or South? Both teams come off significant victories. The Gamecocks knocked off previously undefeated Kentucky in an ESPN Thursday night game behind SEC and National Defensive Player of the Week Eric Norwood. The big sophomore defensive end from Acworth (GA) returned two fumbles for touchdowns and recorded five unassisted tackles in the 38-23 victory. The Roosters now lead the SEC East. UNC also rammed out a big win as head Heel Butch Davis beat former team Miami by 33-27 score. The victory moved the Heels to 2-4 on the year. This is a nice inter-conference pairing and could be a nice upset for the maligned ACC, but let's go with SC in a close one.
Game Ball: South Carolina