Professor’s Picks and SEC Report

The SEC Report

Make room at the top.

Not for LSU, although the Bengal Tigers took another step toward a possible BCS title game appearance with a gritty, mistake-prone win over Alabama.

Not for Tennessee, Georgia, or Florida, although those three East Division contenders seem set to provide us a November race to remember.

Not even for the conference as a whole, not forgetting that the league is on the verge of qualifying a remarkable eleven of twelve teams for bowl eligibility.

Instead, make room at the top for Darren McFadden, a player for the ages.

McFadden rushed for 321 breathtaking yards in a 48-36 Arkansas win over South Carolina. That total is a record for an SEC game and ties the all-time conference record for any game.

D-Mac now belongs in the company of Herschel and Bo, Majors and Cannon, Sinkwich and Trippi.

Enjoy the last few games of this great player’s college career because the immortals don’t come around often.

In those conference races, LSU will not share room at the top of the SEC West with any other team.

The Bengal Tigers quit committing penalties (14 for 130 yards) just long enough to subdue opportunistic Alabama 34-27 and stake a claim to the West division crown. LSU needs only to beat either Ole Miss or Arkansas to win a trip to Atlanta.

While the division crown looks safe, the sloppiness of the Tigers may cost them in the BCS polls eventually. That may be the race for LSU that goes down to the wire.

In the East, if Tennessee wins out the Vols get to Atlanta. Should UT stumble once, Georgia takes the division by beating Auburn and Kentucky. If both Tennessee and the Dogs lose a game, Florida can take the crown by beating South Carolina because the Gators would have the best divisional record.

Our weekly ratings:

1. LSU … Tigers their own worst enemy, but keep winning.

2. Tennessee … Vols control quest for trip to the ATL.

3. Auburn … Tommy Tub needs to make like Roger Miller again … King of the Road.

4. Georgia … Dawgs Knowshon Moreno is special freshman.

5. Florida … Mighty Gators still in conference title chase.

6. Mississippi State … Croom had week off to prepare for alma mater.

7. Alabama … No rest for Tide or they’ll get bullied.

8. Arkansas … D-Mac ranks just below Herschel and alongside Bo in my book.

9. Kentucky … Rick Brooks honored at former home Oregon last week, now back to work.

10. Vanderbilt … Commodores need one for a bowl and Big Blue may be best bet.

11. South Carolina … old ball coach could lose final five games.

12. Ole Miss … lonesome Rebels may be only non-bowl qualifier.

Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 60-15; 7-0 last week)

Alabama at Mississippi State (12:30 ET LFS)
This is a trap game for the Tide. After losing a bruising, emotional game to LSU, the Red Elephants now have to be ready for a morning kickoff in Starkville. LSU gave the Tide every opportunity to win the Miles-Saban grudge match, and for a while it looked as if they’d take advantage. QB JP Wilson was only 14-40 passing (234 yards) but threw 3 TDs. His late fumble on a sack set up the game-winner for LSU. Alabama’s receivers could find room against State. Croom’s Bullies had a week off to prepare for this one. State plays stout and physical on defense, and close to the vest on offense counting on power running and an occasional play-action pass. Tide passing attack and special teams should be too much.
Game Ball: Alabama

Arkansas at Tennessee (12:30 ET LFS)
Arkansas exploded offensively against South Carolina, rushing for a jaw-dropping 541 yards. Both Felix Jones and Darren McFadden went over the 1000 yard mark for the season, and McFadden was singularly spectacular, sprinting for an SEC record 323 yards and also throwing a TD pass. When the Hogs offense is clicking it is great fun to watch. Tennessee dominated 1-8 LA-Lafayette 59-7. The Vols control their destiny in the SEC East but will likely need to win out over Arkansas, Vandy, and Kentucky to hold off Florida and Georgia. They may not get the first one.
Game Ball: Arkansas

Auburn at Georgia (3:30 ET CBS)
The South’s oldest series is unique in that the visiting teams often win. Georgia easily whipped the favored Tigers on the Plains last season, and Auburn would love to return the favor this go round. Nobody (with the possible exception of Georgia coach Mark Richt) is better on the road than Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. The key matchup will be Georgia’s offense against the rugged Auburn D. Since freshman TB Knowshon Moreno moved into the leading role due to injuries, the Dog offense has played well and is very balanced. QB Matthew Stafford hurt Auburn running last season, so watch for those read options. Tiger QB Brandon Cox suffered a horrible game last season and will be looking to avenge the loss. The Tigers are most likely out of the division race, so a win would be all about bowl positioning for them. Auburn is strong, but Dogs have more to play for.
Game Ball: Georgia

Florida at South Carolina (7:45 ET ESPN)
See SEC Game of the Week
Game Ball: Florida

Kentucky at Vanderbilt (2:00 ET)
You know the league is having a great year when the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game has bowl implications. The Wildcats took a much needed week off after several emotional games. Now, the Commodores are the team that has played a difficult five game stretch that included games with Auburn, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. While Vandy’s defense is solid, expect Kentucky to put up points and stymie Vandy’s bowl hopes for another week.
Game Ball: Kentucky

Louisiana Tech at LSU (8:00 ET)
LSU must stand for Lackadaisical State University. The Tigers have great talent, great grit and guts, but must be a maddening team to root for. They continually gave Alabama chances to beat them last week, but somehow pulled together at the end and forced a crucial fumble for a late touchdown. Les Miles makes some head-scratcher calls (trying a gimmick play on a 4th quarter fourth and inches play?), but things seem to work out. I now question whether this is a BCS title quality team. For Tech, first-year coach Derek Dooley has done a nice job and the Bulldogs should put up a nice effort.
Game Ball: LSU

Ole Miss (Idle)
Next Game: vs. LSU November 17

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