Professor’s Picks and Around the SEC

This zaniest of college football seasons stayed true to form last week when yet another highly rated team lost.

Ohio State, ranked #1 the past several weeks, fell at home to Illinois, in all likelihood knocking the Buckeyes out of the national championship race.

Still, in this unpredictable season, we should never count anybody out.

The Ohio State loss moves LSU back to the top of the heap.

The Bengal Tigers, one of ten (!) SEC teams now bowl-eligible, have a clear path to the title game.

If they get past Ole Miss, Arkansas, and the SEC East champion, the Tigers and all their fans can make the short drive to New Orleans for the BCS title game.

Who would LSU play?

For weeks in this column, we’ve predicted a LSU-Oklahoma national championship game so we’ll stick with our pick. However, several one-loss teams are still in contention … and don’t forget that Kansas is still unbeaten.

Here is our latest analysis of the BCS conference races (remember we go to print before the latest BCS polls are released).

ACC: No ACC team has a shot at the national title. The winner of Virginia-Virginia Tech will represent the Coastal division. The winner of Clemson-Boston College will represent the Atlantic. BCS Bowl Projection: Virginia Tech.

Big 12: Three conference teams have legitimate national title hopes: Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. Oklahoma should represent the South. The winner of the November 24th Mizzou-Kansas game will represent the North. The winner of the Big 12 title game has an excellent chance to reach the BCS championship. BCS Bowl Projection is Oklahoma.

Big East: West Virginia has an outside shot at reaching the national title game. The Mountaineers and the U Conn Huskies control their destiny and can win the league by winning out (they play on Nov. 24). Cincinnati and Pitt are mathematically alive with 2 conference losses. BCS Bowl Projection: West Virginia.

Big Ten: Ohio State has a remote shot at a national title game appearance. The winner of Ohio State and Michigan this week wins the Big Ten and trip to the Rose Bowl. Bowl Projection: Ohio State.

PAC 10: Oregon has the best chance at a national title game, with Arizona State holding an outside hope. The Ducks control the league courtesy of beating the Sun Devils. I have a feeling a Big 12 team will jump Oregon at some point. BCS Bowl Projection: Oregon.

SEC: LSU will reach the BCS title game if the Tigers win out. LSU has won the West, and will probably play Tennessee or Georgia in league title game. BCS Bowl Projection: LSU.

Around the Nation

Oregon plays at Arizona on Thursday. The Ducks need to make a big splash because they are vying for votes with all the other one-loss teams trying to get to the title game.

At Ann Arbor on Saturday, Ohio State visits Michigan with a trip to the Granddaddy on the line. Both teams are coming in off losses, but this is one of America’s great sporting spectacles.

In the Big 12, Oklahoma plays at high-scoring Texas Tech so Sooners need to watch out. Mizzou and Kansas play K-State and Iowa State respectively a week before their big showdown.

Cincy at West Virginia is the premier Big East game.

Around the South

#1 ranked LSU visits Ole Miss as the Tigers try to run the table to a BCS title game.

Georgia welcomes Kentucky and Tennessee takes on Vanderbilt in SEC East games.

The ACC Atlantic division champion will most likely be crowned when Boston College visits Death Valley to play Clemson this weekend.

In Conference USA, Southern Miss makes a run to the border to play UTEP, while East leader Central Florida visits woeful SMU.

See you at kickoff!

The SEC Report
By Bob Epling
November 11, 2007

A perfect 10?

With Mississippi State’s win over Alabama, the SEC now has ten teams eligible for bowls this season. Should Vanderbilt beat either Tennessee or Wake Forest, the Commodores would make it eleven of twelve.

Those figures are great news for the conference, and an indicator of the overall depth and strength of the league. However, the number also poses a potential problem.

Who stays home?

The SEC has tie-ins with eight bowls. Once the conference fills those, there are no guarantees.

With so many bowls having automatic bids, it is questionable whether all conference members would garner an offer.

Here is a fluid set of predictions for SEC-linked bowls with two weeks left in the season:

BCS Title Game: LSU vs. Oklahoma

Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Kansas or Missouri

Capital One: Florida vs. Michigan

Outback: Tennessee vs. Illinois

Cotton: Alabama vs. Texas

Peach (Chick-Fil-A): Auburn vs. Clemson

Liberty: Mississippi State vs. Houston

Music City: Vanderbilt vs. Florida State

Independence: Kentucky vs. Texas A&M

If those predictions were accurate (of course they won’t all be) … the league would be trying to place South Carolina and Arkansas.

In the SEC title race, the East Division is still up for grabs.

Tennessee can win the division by beating Vanderbilt at home and Kentucky on the road.

If the Vols falter once, Georgia can take the crown by whipping Kentucky.

Florida could still get to Atlanta if the Vols lose twice and Georgia loses to the Wildcats

Here are our weekly ratings:

1. LSU … Tigers thumped LA Tech, and will head to the Grove ranked #1.

2. Georgia … Dogs blacked out Auburn and looked good doing it.

3. Florida … Tim Tebow accounted for 7 (!) touchdowns against SC.

4. Tennessee … Vols did what they had to do against Arkansas.

5. Mississippi State … Bullies are Alabama state champs after stemming Tide.

6. Kentucky … Big Blue still a factor in East race.

7. Auburn … Tubby lost some negotiating power between the hedges.

8. Alabama … Tide gets cupcake (LA-Monroe) before Iron Bowl.

9. Vanderbilt … Commodores need a win to go bowling.

10. Ole Miss … Rebels move up by not playing.

11. South Carolina … a week off before Clemson finale.

12. Arkansas … any rumors of Tuberville to Fayetteville yet?

Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 64-17; 4-2 last week) Only two TV games this week … most unusual.

LA-Monroe at Alabama (2:30 ET)
With Auburn grudge match looming in a week, Tide might have overlooked the Indians until losing at Mississippi State. Expect Nick Saban to get everybody’s attention in Tuscaloosa this week and Tide to roll into Iron Bowl with a big win.
Game Ball: Alabama

Mississippi State at Arkansas (2:00 ET)
Mississippi State whipped Alabama 17-12 to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2000. The Bullies are stout defensively, and can run the ball on offense. Arkansas is already eligible for the post-season and it’s a good thing because the Razorbacks folded the tent on Rocky Top and did not compete in a 34-13 loss. The heat is sure to go up on Houston Nutt this week, but that’s when his teams usually respond.
Game Ball: Arkansas

Auburn (Idle)
Next Game: vs. Alabama on November 24.

Florida vs. Florida Atlantic (12:00 Noon ET)
The Mighty Gators blew out South Carolina with QB Tim Tebow accounting for 7 TDs (5 rushing, 2 passing) and 424 yards of total offense. The sophomore sensation continues to make a strong Heisman case. The Owls of Howard Schnellenberger are no joke at 5-4, but expect Florida to whip a Hall of Fame coach for the second straight week.
Game Ball: Florida

Kentucky at Georgia (12:30 ET LFS)
Georgia looks like the best team in the East right now. The Bulldogs are on quite a roll with convincing victories over Florida and Auburn sandwiched around a nice win against Troy in the past three weeks. A win over Kentucky and a Tennessee loss would put Georgia in Atlanta for the SEC title game. The Wildcats are under the radar a bit but very dangerous. Expect the two offenses to determine the game … the one that seizes control wins the game.
Game Ball: Georgia

LSU at Ole Miss (3:30 ET CBS)
See SEC Game of the Week (posted by Thursday each week)
Game Ball: LSU

South Carolina (Idle)
Next Game: vs. Clemson November 24

Vanderbilt at Tennessee (2:00 ET)
Why is this game not being televised? The Volunteers did what they had to do in dispatching Arkansas at home last week. While they may be the third or fourth best team in the East right now, the Vols are the only team in the division to control their own destiny. Beat Vandy and Kentucky and punch your ticket to Atlanta. This one is a close call, but the Tennessee title hopes live another day.
Game Ball: Tennessee

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