The SEC Report
By Bob Epling
The ground may still be shaking in Tuscaloosa.
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide lost a 31-10 lead against Arkansas, then rolled back for a last-second 41-38 win. Saban was last seen being carried toward Montgomery to be installed as Governor.
The only person in the SEC matching Saban for popularity among his fans is Florida coach Urban Meyer. The Gators crushed Tennessee in the year’s most impressive outing.
It was a great week for LSU fans.
The Tigers won again (a shutout of course), and Michigan also won, meaning the “Les Miles to Michigan” stories may slow a bit. For a week.
Let’s look at our power ratings after 3 weeks of conference play as published in Game Day Weekly … and remember our poll changes based on results, not just when somebody loses.
See you at kickoff!
1A. LSU … Just three weeks until mammoth showdown with Florida, but don’t overlook the Roosters.
1B. Florida … After that dismantling of Tennessee, you cannot rank the Gators less than Number 1.
3. Alabama … If Tide gets past Dogs, an 8-0 record for late-season showdown with LSU is realistic.
4. South Carolina … defense will have to carry Gamecocks down on the bayou.
5. Kentucky … Big Blue whipped Louisville and now has to handle Hogs.
6. Arkansas … The Hogs made a great comeback in a hostile environment in loss to Tide. They must regroup against UK.
7. Georgia … Dogs need to grow up quick because Capstone will be electric this week.
8. Mississippi State … Croom’s Bullies should move to be 3-1. Who would’ve thunk it?
9. Vanderbilt … Plenty of offensive weapons for Dores. WR Earl Bennett is one of the best.
10. Tennessee … Vols have given up 52.5 points per game in losses to Cal and Florida.
11. Auburn … Tigers are 1-2 with difficult part of schedule still ahead.
12. Ole Miss … Didn’t you expect more from Rebs against Vanderbilt?
Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 23-5; 6-2 last week)
Georgia at Alabama (7:45 ESPN)
See SEC Game of the Week.
Game Ball: Alabama
Kentucky at Arkansas (6:00 ESPN2)
These two come off emotional games, a win for Kentucky and loss for Arkansas. UK beat in-state rival and Top 10 Louisville 40-34 in the Battle of the Bluegrass. QB Andre Woodson finished 30 of 44 for 275 yards and 3 TDs, and has now thrown an SEC-record 257 passes without an interception, just 14 short of the NCAA record held by Trent Dilfer. Arkansas must recover after a devastating loss at Alabama. The Hogs rushed for 301 yards and overcame a 31-10 third-quarter deficit to take a late lead, before allowing a Tide TD with 8 seconds left. Ouch. This could be another scoreboard scorcher. Let’s go with Hogs rushing attack to outscore Wildcats’ passing game.
Game Ball: Arkansas
New Mexico State at Auburn (7:00)
Auburn’s had as bad a month as Britney Spears. The Tigers lost to Miss State 19-14 and sowed the seeds of a quarterback controversy by benching struggling QB Brandon Cox after two early interceptions. Freshman Kodi Burns provided a small boost running an option-style attack, but when State adjusted after halftime, Cox finished the game. He got the Tigers inside the 10 in the last minute but his fourth-down pass fell incomplete. The pass-happy Aggies from the land of enchantment are 2-1 and led by former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme. QB Chase Holbrook is top-notch, averaging over 300 yards passing per game with 11 TD passes on the year. No gimme for Tub’s Tigers.
Game Ball: Auburn
Florida at Ole Miss (12:30 LFS)
Can anybody slow down the mighty Gators? Florida crushed Tennessee last week by a 59-20 rout. QB Tim Tebow passed for 299 yards, rushed for 61 more, and accounted for 4 TDs as the defending national champs showed few weaknesses. Big plays were the norm, and included Brandon James’ 83 yard punt return for a TD and a big fumble recovery return for a TD by LB Dustin Doe. Ole Miss disappointed in a 31-17 loss to Vandy. The Rebels could not block the Commodores up front, allowing 6 sacks and grinding out just 54 yards on the ground. Ole Miss fans better enjoy the scenery at the Grove because not much else figures to be pretty about this one.
Game Ball: Florida
South Carolina at LSU (3:30 CBS)
This battle on the bayou should be fun. LSU’s defense is stingier than Jack Benny, allowing only seven points through three games. The Tigers pounded Middle Tennessee 44-0; this is the same Blue Raider team that gashed Louisville for 42 points. Starting QB Matt Flynn was held out of the game to rest a sprained ankle, but backup Ryan Perrilloux was more than adequate, passing for 298 yards and rushing for 37 more. The Gamecocks come into the game undefeated, but less impressive. Carolina struggled throwing the ball against SC State, but both Cory Boyd (132) and Mike Davis (102) went over the century mark rushing. SC’s defense will have to hold up against all those LSU weapons for the Roosters to have a chance. Might be closer than you expect.
Game Ball: LSU
Gardner Webb at Mississippi State (7:00)
Keep Michael Vick out of Starkville because there is going to be a dog fight. Sylvester Croom won a second straight game in his home state of Alabama when the MSU Bulldogs handled Auburn 19-14 to move to 2-1 on the season. State jumped out to an early 13-0 lead then held on as the Tigers last-second drive ended in the shadow of the Bulldog goal line. The State rushing attack was impressive as Anthony Dixon gained 103 yards and Christian Ducre added 63 more. Starting QB Michael Henig broke his throwing hand in the game. State will have to handle the battling Bulldogs from Boiling Springs, NC, as Gardner Webb arrives at the Junction with a 1-1 mark. GW held Jacksonville to only 12 yards rushing last week, while Bulldog RB David Montgomery gobbled up 145 yards on the ground. MSU should win, but Croom’s canines are not good enough to overlook anybody.
Game Ball: Miss State
Arkansas State at Tennessee (7:00)
The Big Orange is seeing blue after getting thrashed 59-20 on the road by Florida. The Vols better recover quickly however, because a roving band of Indians from Jonesboro is on the way to Rocky Top. UT battled Florida into the third-quarter but big plays by the Gators squashed any chance of victory. QB Erik Ainge passed for 249 yards with one TD and one INT, but the no-huddle attack never controlled the game as planned. ASU will be no cupcake for UT. They lost 21-13 at Texas to open the season, and jumped all over SMU on the way to a 45-28 win this past weekend. A pair of sophomores leads the balanced Indian attack; QB Corey Leonard passed for 266 yards and 2 TDs against SMU, while TB Reggie Arnold added 156 yards on the ground. May be a struggle.
Game Ball: Tennessee