Professor’s Picks for SEC Week 3

Looks like LSU and Florida are on a collision course.

The teams most everyone picked as conference favorites have opened the season impressively, while a couple of darkhorses may be emerging in Alabama and South Carolina.

Here are our first SEC power ratings of the year.

See you at kickoff!

1. LSU … Bengal Tigers defense is stronger than a spicy bowl of gumbo. A national title contender at this point.

2. Florida … Defending champs are clicking on offense, but face first real challenge with Tennessee coming to the swamp.

3. Alabama … the only thing Nick Saban is missing for Bama fans is a houndstooth hat. Like those fans, Nick wants to win – now.

4. Arkansas … Hogs get this position by default after playing only one game. Can’t wait to see D-Mac and Felix Jones challenge Tide D this week.

5. South Carolina … Gamecocks are winning with defense. If Spurrier gets the offense playing, watch out.

6. Kentucky … can the Wildcats stop anybody? Who cares … the offense is as pretty as a Kentucky thoroughbred.

7. Tennessee … Vols can heal wounds from early Cal loss by gigging the Gators this week.

8. Georgia … young offensive line haunted Dogs against SC, but still plenty of bite left in Athens.

9. Ole Miss … Rebs offense has moved the ball, and defense has potential. Ole Miss may contend for a bowl.

10. Auburn … Tigers faced tough two non-conference games to open the season … they rarely play well in those.

11. Vanderbilt … Commodores must get offense untracked fast because they have some tough road games coming up.

12. Mississippi State … Sly Croom’s Bulldogs needed the win over Tulane because look at the schedule, there may only be one or two more wins there.

Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 17-3; 7-2 last week)

Arkansas at Alabama (6:45 ET ESPN)
The magic carpet ride continued last week for Alabama and Nick Saban as they rolled over Vanderbilt 24-10. For the second straight week, Tide running back Terry Grant scored on the team’s first offensive play, this time a one yard touchdown plunge after a long Javier Arenas punt return. Grant finished with 173 yards rushing. Arkansas poses the first big threat to the Saban regime. The Razorbacks were off last week, but played sluggishly on defense against the spread attack of Troy in the opener. This will be a return to traditional smash-mouth SEC football. Until they lose, stick with Saban and the Red Elephants.
Game Ball: Alabama

Mississippi State at Auburn (12:30 ET LFS)
Auburn survived one upset bid in the opener with Kansas State, but could not overcome five turnovers against South Florida and lost 26-23 to the Bulls in overtime. QB Brandon Cox struggled mightily, going 16-35 for 165 yards and two interceptions. Tiger tailback Mario Fannin added some excitement, but also fumbled a couple of times. In New Orleans, State outscored Tulane 21-0 in the second half and pulled away for a 38-17 win in the Superdome. Anthony Dixon rushed for 131 yards and 2 TDs. Expect a low scoring game, but it’s hard to see Auburn losing two in a row.
Game Ball: Auburn

Tennessee at Florida (3:30 ET CBS)
See SEC Game of the Week.
Game Ball: Florida

Western Carolina at Georgia (1:00 ET)
Georgia fans are seeing red after losing to arch nemesis Steve Spurrier and South Carolina by a 16-12 score. The Dogs failed to cross the goal line for a touchdown for the first time since 2001 (also against Carolina), and QB Matthew Stafford suffered a poor game going just 19-44 for 213 yards. He was sacked three times as the young offensive line for UGA could not blunt the Gamecock pressure. Georgia should get well this week against the Catamounts. Western Carolina gave up 326 yards rushing in a 45-21 loss to Eastern Kentucky.
Game Ball: Georgia

Louisville at Kentucky (7:30 ET ESPN Classic)
Make sure the bulbs are all changed in the scoreboard for this battle of the Bluegrass. Kentucky and Louisville are averaging over 50 points each, and their defenses play butter to any offense’s hot knife. The Wildcats were shaky on pass protection in a 56-20 win over Kent, so Big Blue ran for six touchdowns. They were sliced for 324 yards rushing by the Golden Flashes. Louisville also couldn’t contain a spread option attack and won a Thursday night shootout over Middle Tennessee by a 58-42 count. Cardinal QB Brian Brohm passed for 401 yards and 5 TDs. Both are glad they will see no option this week. Instead the sky will be raining passes. Let’s go with an upset.
Game Ball: Kentucky

Middle Tennessee at LSU (8:00 ET)
Everybody seems to be struggling against the spread option attack, so let’s see how the nation’s best defense plays it. LSU looked terrific in dismantling Virginia Tech 48-7. Normally hostile LSU fans gave a cordial welcome to the Hokies, but on the field the Tigers showed no interest in any more southern hospitality, pounding their way to a 327-40 advantage in total yardage in the first half alone. RB Keiland Williams was one star among many with 126 yards and 2 TDs. The Blue Raiders gave Louisville fits in a Thursday night game. MTSU rang up 555 yards of offense and 42 points, but still fell short by a 58-42 margin. LSU’s defense is just a bit better than that of Louisville.
Game Ball: LSU

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (6:00 ET)
Ole Miss spotted Missouri a 21 point lead and despite a nice effort, the Rebels could not overcome that deficit and lost 38-25. Reb QB Seth Adams passed for 305 yards and 3 TDs, and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis rambled for 226 yards rushing. The Ole Miss defense was gentle as an early autumn breeze, allowing Mizzou QB Chase Daniel to pick them apart with 5 TD passes. Vanderbilt struggled on offense in a 24-10 loss to Alabama. Banged up QB Chris Nickson was only 5 of 18 for 67 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter. This is a tough call because Vandy should be able to pass against Ole Miss, but the Rebels may control the game on the ground.
Game Ball: Ole Miss

SC State at South Carolina (7:00 ET)
The old ball coach is at it again. After claiming his team was ready to compete for a division title, Steve Spurrier backed it up by taking his SC Gamecocks between the hedges and handling Georgia 16-12. The Gamecock defense shut down Georgia and shut them out of the end zone, holding the Bulldogs to four FGs. SC gets another bunch of Bulldogs this week, and the Gamecocks should avoid looking ahead to a showdown with LSU on September 22 because this will be an emotional game for SC State. The state’s historically black college has never met the state university on the football field. SC State prepared by beating Bethune-Cookman 24-13.
Game Ball: South Carolina

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