Professor’s Picks and SEC Report

Get ready for another separation Saturday.

In a season that gets wackier every week, teams are constantly trying to separate themselves from the pack and move into bowl contention.

Three more teams got separated from the Top Ten this past weekend.

South Florida’s dream season got whacked in Jersey by Rutgers.

South Carolina could muster only six points against Vanderbilt to tumble from atop the SEC East.

Kentucky lost to resourceful Florida and sophomore sensation Tim Tebow.

A few more teams may be separated from the rankings this week.

The most likely victim? Try #2 rated Boston College. The Eagles fly to Blacksburg for a Thursday showdown with once-beaten Virginia Tech.

Another potential suspect … how about Ohio State? The Buckeyes travel to Happy Valley to play Joe Pa and Penn State in a prime time telecast.

Finally, watch those PAC-10 teams. Oregon hosts Southern Cal, and Arizona State welcomes dangerous Cal to Tempe.

Here is our latest analysis of BCS conferences and teams with the best bowl prospects from each.

ACC: The winner of the BC-Virginia Tech game will be the only conference team with a chance to reach the BCS title game. The loser has an unlikely shot at reaching a BCS bowl.

Big East: West Virginia is the only team that could reach the BCS title game (sorry South Florida). The Mountaineers travel to Soprano land to face Rutgers.

Big Ten: Ohio State is the only team that can get to the title game, but the Buckeyes are just getting to the meat of their schedule. Think they’d be undefeated in the SEC? Me either. OSU or Michigan should earn the BCS (non-title for UM) bowl bid … have we seen that before?

Big 12: Oklahoma has a great shot to reach the title game, but played poorly against 1-7 Iowa State. Kansas keeps rolling along. If the Sooners or Jayhawks win out, they could get to the title game. Texas has a chance at a BCS bowl bid.

PAC 10: This race is a jumble. Oregon is certainly in good shape with the ratings, but I expect USC to beat them this week. Arizona State is undefeated, and the Sun Devils, USC, and Oregon are all in contention.

SEC: LSU would likely get to the title game if the Bayou Bengals win out. Florida has a good chance for a BCS bowl, and a remote shot at returning to the title game.

At this point, I’m sticking with a title game between LSU-Oklahoma, but both are shaky.

The SEC Report

In this zaniest of seasons, the SEC is proving to be the cake taker.

Consider.

Five teams are tied in the loss column for the East Division lead. The other team (Vanderbilt) is one game back and just beat the team (South Carolina) that had been atop the standings.

The top two teams in the West (LSU and Alabama) just posted signature victories, have more bad blood between them than a Halloween horror flick, and now take a precious Saturday off to heal and prepare for their mammoth showdown game in two weeks.

Consider.

LSU avoided a loss to gritty, gutsy Auburn by throwing a last second touchdown pass. Les Miles would have had some explaining to do if the clock had run out with the Bayou Bengals needing only a field goal for the win.

Alabama’s Nick Saban, whose head seemed about one second from exploding when the Tide gave Tennessee a field goal before halftime, has toughened this bunch into a conference title contender in his first season at the Capstone. The future may be now for Bama.

Consider.

Florida’s Tim Tebow could become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He made like Superman against Kentucky, willing his Gators back into SEC title contention.

Vanderbilt beat #6 ranked South Carolina in Columbia and it hardly seemed an upset. Like Steve Spurrier said … Vandy could have played three easy teams instead of Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia, and been right up there with Ohio State in the BCS rankings.

Consider.

In this crazy season, a two-loss team might still be in the running for a BCS title game berth.

The last team to win a title with two losses was Minnesota in 1960. That was also the only year Notre Dame started a season 1-7. Will Urban Meyer get a chance to try a Billy Donovan repeat?

Unlikely, but in this season … something to consider.

Here are our SEC Rankings:

1. LSU … Bengal Tigers escaped Auburn but were a bit lucky to do so.

2. Florida … Gutsy Gators outclassed a game Kentucky squad.

3. Alabama … Let the LSU countdown begin … 14 days, 13 days, 12 days …

4. Auburn … Tigers continued brilliant road play, but fell one second short.

5. Kentucky … Big Blue proving to be thoroughbreds, but MSU Bullies are no nags.

6. Georgia … Bulldogs have lost 15 of 17 to the Gators.

7. Vanderbilt … Commodores beat a Top Ten team and we are not really shocked.

8. South Carolina … Gamecocks can still win East, but trip to Rocky Top is tough.

9. Tennessee … Fulmer’s Vols are like a roller coaster … up and down and scary.

10. Mississippi State … Croom’s Dogs no match for a beast from the Big East.

11. Arkansas … Houston Nutt beat Ole Miss in the coaching carousel game.

12. Ole Miss … Coach O and the Rebels regressed in loss to Hogs.

Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 48-14; 4-2 last week … missing Alabama and Vanderbilt wins)

Alabama (Idle)
Next game: hosting LSU November 3rd

Florida International at Arkansas (2:00 ET)
Arkansas won for the third time in four games by dominating Ole Miss 44-8. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones both went over the century mark rushing, and QB Casey Dick had a nice game with 3 TD passes, although he only accumulated 96 yards through the air. The Hogs have beaten up on bad teams, so they should feel right at home in the slop of the FIU game. The Golden Panthers are 0-7 after falling 28-14 to Louisiana-Monroe. Hogs make bacon in this one and move closer to being bowl eligible.
Game Ball: Arkansas

Ole Miss at Auburn (6:00 ET)
The Tigers lost a 30-24 heart breaker at LSU even though Auburn controlled the game for more than a half. QB Brandon Cox carried the offensive load for Auburn, passing for 199 yards and two scores. His TD toss to Rod Smith with just over 3 minutes left gave the Plainsmen a chance to win, but the defense could not stop LSU on the last drive. At Ole Miss, things blew up against Arkansas – literally – in a 44-8 loss. A problem with halftime fireworks caused a transformer to blow and knock out power to much of the campus. It didn’t affect the Rebel offense because they had no power to lose. Don’t know what happened to Rebs, but it was not pretty.
Game Ball: Auburn

Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville (3:30 ET CBS)
See SEC Game of the Week.

Mississippi State at Kentucky (12:30 ET LFS)
While State could not slow down West Virginia in a 38-13 loss, do not be surprised if the Bulldogs pull off an upset here. Kentucky has had three tough, emotional games in a row (SC, LSU, Florida) and must be mentally and physically taxed at this point. The Starkvillians are physical and scrappy, and this season anything is possible. Wildcats should be a bit too good, but …
Game Ball: Kentucky

LSU (Idle)
Next game: at Alabama November 3rd

South Carolina at Tennessee (7:45 ET ESPN)
Separation Saturday takes center stage on the banks of the Tennessee River. The winner stays alive in the SEC East race while the loser most likely can start planning for a bowl trip to Shreveport, Memphis, or Nashville. The Volunteers got trounced 41-17 by Alabama in a game sure to bring howls from the Tennessee hills, while South Carolina got shut down in a home loss to Vanderbilt. The head ball coach has had good success against Tennessee, but I’ll go with Big Orange in a tight call.
Game Ball: Tennessee

Miami (Ohio) at Vanderbilt (2:00 ET)
The Commodores need two more wins to become bowl eligible, and the 4-4 Red Hawks of the MAC just lost to Temple. Vandy jumped to a 17-0 lead in the big win over South Carolina, then held on the rest of the way for the 17-6 win. The defense was outstanding, and needed to be because the offense managed only 201 yards. Miami fell behind the Owls 24-7 in the fourth quarter but battled back before falling 24-17 in their first conference loss. No game is automatic this season, but Commodores should win.
Game Ball: Vanderbilt

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