The SEC Report
By Bob Epling
Expect the unexpected.
Hey, it’s college football.
We probably should have expected an Auburn team that has a better road winning percentage than the Harlem Globetrotters to show some pride and salvage a season headed south.
This week features blue-hot Kentucky at South Carolina for a Thursday night game. Georgia travels to Rocky Top for an SEC-East elimination game, and Florida travels to the bayou for the conference game of the year against LSU.
Here are the weekly ratings. See you at kickoff!
1. LSU … Bengal Tigers might have looked ahead just a bit, but remained unbeaten headed toward Florida showdown.
2. Kentucky … Can Andre Woodson maintain the magic at Columbia?
3. Florida … sluggish first half and inspired Auburn knocked defending champs off for second year in a row.
4. South Carolina … Gamecocks offense smelling like a rose with Smelley at QB.
5. Georgia … Dogs showed great firepower in smashing Ole Miss.
6. Auburn … big jump for Tub’s Tigers after showing pride and poise at the Swamp.
7. Tennessee … Big Orange waits on Dogs at Rocky Top after idle week.
8. Arkansas … Houston called off the Hogs in the second half and still put up 66 against North Texas.
9. Alabama … Tide offense struggled in an ugly first half as Bama eventually fell to FSU.
10. Vanderbilt … Commodores sloppy but won game they should have over E. Michigan.
11. Miss State … blocked punt blunts Bullies at Carolina and leads to tough loss.
12. Ole Miss … Rebels outplayed Georgia for more than a half, but then collapsed.
Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 34-9; 6-2 last week)
Houston at Alabama (3:00 ET)
Bama fourth quarter surge could not pull out the win in sluggish loss to FSU. The biggest problem was running the football. The Tide managed only 89 yards on the ground, and posted just three first downs and 78 total yards in the first half. QB John Parker Wilson passed for 240 yards but it took him 53 attempts to accumulate that amount. Houston lost a 37-35 thriller in C-USA Saturday night. The Cougars missed two late field goals to fall to 2-2 on the season. Expect the Tide offense to get rolling again this week.
Game Ball: Alabama
Chattanooga at Arkansas (7:00 ET)
Darren McFadden did not carry the ball in the second half and still rushed for 138 yards and 2 TDs in a 66-7 win over the Mean Green. Fellow TB Felix Jones added 132 yards another pair of scores as the Hogs grinded out 507 yards – in the first half! The Moccasins boast a great nickname and very little else. They fell to Southern Conference foe Citadel by a 46-14 score to drop to 1-3 on the season. If the Bulldogs of the Citadel can run on the Mocs, do you think D-Mac and Felix might be able to?
Game Ball: Arkansas
Vanderbilt at Auburn (12:30 ET LFS)
The Florida victory was huge for Auburn and should do wonders for the Tigers’ confidence level after earlier losses to South Florida and Miss State. QB Brandon Cox rediscovered his touch, throwing for 227 yards. Ben Tate (65) and Mario Fannin (62) provided enough rushing support to keep the Gators off balance, and Rod Smith caught nine passes for 102 yards. The Tiger defense deserves the most credit. Will Muschamp’s crew held Florida to 312 yards, around 200 less than normal. Vanderbilt continued to look solid in beating Eastern Michigan. WR Earl Bennett hauled in 9 more passes, and Vandy is within three wins of landing a bowl bid for the first time since 1982. While I’m tempted to go with the upset, the Commodores are unlikely to beat the Tigers.
Game Ball: Auburn
Florida at LSU (8:28 ET CBS)
See SEC Game of the Week article.
Game Ball: LSU
Georgia at Tennessee (3:30 ET CBS)
Georgia won a tough game with Ole Miss by the misleading score of 45-17. The Bulldogs pounded out 327 yards on the ground to move to 4-1. TB Thomas Brown was the star with 180 yards that included TD jaunts of 50 and 41 yards. Flashy freshman Knowshon Moreno added 90 more on the ground. Tennessee took the week off to prepare for the game and comes into the contest with a 2-2 mark. This is a strange series with the home team struggling. Georgia has a remarkable road record under Richt and he has never lost at Neyland Stadium. I keep expecting Tennessee to break out with a big win, so let’s give them one more call - but don’t bet on it.
Game Ball: Tennessee
Kentucky at South Carolina (7:30 ET Thursday ESPN)
A great Thursday night matchup featuring two teams trying to reach the top of the SEC East. Kentucky’s confidence level is through the roof, and Andre Woodson continues to play himself into Heisman contention. He passed for 5 TDs in a 45-17 win over a pretty good Florida Atlantic team, although his NCAA-record streak of passes without an interception ended at 325. South Carolina was the Game Day Weekly pre-season choice to win the SEC East and the Roosters are still in contention. QB Chris Smelley moved into the starting job over Blake Mitchell and responded with 279 yards and two TDs against State. The Carolina defense overcame the loss of LB Jasper Brinkley and held a strong-running MSU team to just 45 rushing in the first half. This game is the start of a brutal stretch for Kentucky so Cats better win. Here’s saying they will.
Game Ball: Kentucky
Louisiana Tech at Ole Miss (2:00 ET)
Got to see the Rebels at Sanford Stadium in a loss to Georgia and was more impressed than the 45-17 score might indicate. Ole Miss took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, then drove to the Georgia 1-yard line before botching a handoff that would have given them a two touchdown lead. Just as impressive was the opening drive of the second half. Trailing 17-10 at intermission, the Rebs used 18 plays and more than 9 minutes to tie the game. After that score, the Georgia rushing game took over and the Ole Miss defense wilted. La-Tech brings Dooley’s Dogs (Derek Dooley) to the Grove. Tech is 1-3 after falling to Fresno State and has also played Cal and Hawaii. Ole Miss should be too tough, but this is not a gimme.
Game Ball: Ole Miss
UAB at Mississippi State (2:30 ET)
Sylvester Croom’s Bullies struggled on offense at South Carolina, but still battled to take a second-half lead before losing on the road. At 3-2, this is a crucial game for future bowl chances, and State should be able to overpower the Blazers. UAB fell to 1-3 under new coach Neil Calloway, losing 38-30 to Tulsa. QB Sam Hunt threw for 2 TDs, and the Blazers rolled up 403 yards on offense, but it was not enough. State can’t overlook anybody, but should be solid enough to beat UAB.
Game Ball: State