Professor’s Picks and Around the SEC

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Next.

Not more turkey and dressing (yet). We are referring to next in line for a shot at the national championship.

Contenders are getting gobbled up like the last piece of pecan pie.

Oregon and Oklahoma turned turkey this past weekend.

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The Oregon and Oklahoma losses came after injuries knocked out Dennis Dixon and Sam Bradford, the starting quarterbacks for the two squads.

Dixon’s loss (a season-ending knee injury) could also cost him a potential Heisman Trophy. Bradford’s concussion ended the Sooners BCS title hopes.

As we move into rivalry week, here is our analysis of BCS conference races.

ACC: Boston College will play the Virginia Tech at Virginia winner. No ACC team has a shot at the national title. BCS Bowl Projection: Virginia Tech.

Big 12: Kansas-Missouri winner takes the North and stays alive in the national championship picture. In the South, Oklahoma must beat OK State. Should the Sooners lose, Texas takes the division by beating Texas A&M. BCS Bowl Projection: Oklahoma.

Big East: West Virginia plays the U Conn Huskies on Nov. 24. Conn clinches with a win, but West Virginia would need to beat Pitt on December 1st. Mountaineers still in national title talk too. BCS Bowl Projection: West Virginia.

Big Ten: Ohio State clinched the title with win over Michigan. Don’t count the Buckeyes out of the BCS title game picture yet. BCS Bowl Projection: Ohio State.

PAC 10: Arizona State controls the conference but must finish ahead of Oregon because of a loss to the Ducks. ASU has USC and Arizona, while the Ducks play UCLA and Oregon State. USC is lurking. BCS Bowl Projection: USC.

SEC: LSU will play Tennessee or Georgia for the SEC title. If the Vols beat Kentucky they are in … if they lose, Georgia goes. LSU reaches BCS title by beating Arkansas Friday and winning the SEC title game. BCS Bowl Projection: LSU.

Around the Nation

The Big 12 offers up a game that could determine the BCS title game matchup.

Unbeaten #2 Kansas plays #4 Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium. Winner takes the Big 12 North, advances to the conference title game to play Oklahoma or Texas, and moves within a win of reaching the BCS title game.

Rejuvenated Texas plays at Texas A&M on Friday in what will likely be Dennis Franchione’s last game as Aggie coach. Oklahoma welcomes OK State in Bedlam Series.

Out West, USC plays at Arizona State on Thanksgiving night. The Sun Devils can win the league by beating the Trojans and Arizona, but expect SC to play with renewed vigor as Rose Bowl is potentially in reach. The PAC-10 also has banged up Oregon on the road at UCLA. The Ducks cannot afford another conference loss.

The Big East title is likely to be determined when West Virginia hosts U Conn. The Mountaineers are in good shape for a potential BCS title game appearance if somebody above them falters.

Around the South

The SEC East will be determined in Lexington when Kentucky hosts division leader Tennessee. The Vols, like a cat with nine lives, need a win to get to Atlanta.

Top-ranked LSU hosts dangerous Arkansas on Friday afternoon and the Miles to Michigan rumors should be in full swirl by that time.

There are several good ACC-SEC pairings. Florida State visits Florida at the Swamp. Georgia plays Georgia Tech at the Flats in Atlanta. Clemson travels to Columbia to play South Carolina. Vanderbilt gets one more shot at bowl eligibility when the Commodores host Wake Forest.

In Conference USA, Tulsa can wrap the West by beating Rice, while East Carolina needs to beat Tulane to win a tie-breaker in the East over Central Florida. Memphis and Southern Miss both became bowl eligible last week.

See you at kickoff!

SEC Report

Turkey, dressing, and … football!

Happy Thanksgiving and what a feast of games the SEC provides.

This holiday weekend offers a television schedule stuffed with more offerings than grandma’s dinner table at noon on Thursday.

Try to choose from a smorgasbord that includes old-time state rivalries in the Iron Bowl and Egg Bowl (which returns to the tube after a couple years hiatus). Not enough? Try an East division-deciding game from the bluegrass pitting resilient Tennessee against Kentucky.

Still not full? How about the nation’s top team (LSU) trying to fend off the nation’s top running back (Darren McFadden of Arkansas) in a Friday afternoon game that might be Houston Nutt’s last as head Hog.

Need more? Top things off with a trio of bowl type games matching ACC and SEC teams with Georgia taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Clemson visiting South Carolina, and Florida State’s Seminoles getting it on with the Florida Gators at the Swamp. Vanderbilt also welcomes Wake Forest to Music City, but the game is not televised.

Here are our weekly ratings – Thanksgiving style!

1. LSU … Tigers thankful the upset bug hasn’t bitten them yet, but fretting over a vacancy that might take “the Hat” to Ann Arbor.

2. Georgia … Dawgs thankful for a coach whose name doesn’t get linked to every coaching opening.

3. Florida … Gators thankful for Tim Tebow, college football’s first sophomore Heisman winner?

4. Tennessee … Volunteers are thankful for staying in championship chase another week.

5. Auburn … Tigers thankful that LA-Monroe gave them bragging rights over Bama a week early.

6. Arkansas … Hog fans thankful for D-Mac, Felix, and the Nutter because it may be the last go round for all three.

7. Kentucky … Wildcats thankful for Andre Woodson and the boys in blue who will go bowling again.

8. Mississippi State … Bullies thankful for a bowl game and redemption shot in Egg Bowl.

9. South Carolina … Roosters thankful turkey is the bird of Thanksgiving.

10. Vanderbilt … Commodores thankful for last shot at bowl eligibility.

11. Ole Miss … Rebs thankful for Jevan Snead, the QB transfer from Texas.

12. Alabama … Tide thankful Tuberville only has 10 fingers.

Pigskin Picks (2007 Record: 69-18; 5-1 last week)

A great slate of TV games are scheduled over Thanksgiving weekend … enjoy.

Alabama at Auburn (8:00 ET ESPN) (Saturday)
Auburn goes for a sixth straight win in the Iron Bowl. Expect Tommy Tuberville’s name to be associated with several jobs as teams go on the traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping spree but I doubt he goes anywhere except the bank with the pay raise he’ll leverage for his staff. Alabama has more to worry about after embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Monroe in Tuscaloosa. The Tide is 6-5, has dropped three in a row, and may be playing their way out of bowl contention. Expect the game to be close.
Game Ball: Auburn

Arkansas at LSU (2:30 ET CBS) (Friday)
Reports are that Houston Nutt will be out as head coach of the Hogs after this game. Emotional most all the time, expect him to be frothing this week which makes the Razorbacks dangerous. D-Mac will also have a last chance to impress Heisman voters so watch for him to have a big game. LSU’s defense has not played up to its reputation, but the Tigers keep finding ways to win.
Game Ball: LSU

Florida State at Florida (5:00 ET CBS) (Saturday)
Gator QB Tim Tebow became the first player in NCAA history to tally 20 TDs rushing and 20 TDs passing, but Florida was eliminated from the SEC East race with Georgia’s win over Kentucky. Get ready for Urban Meyer vs. Ron Zook-Illinois hype to begin for the Capital One bowl. The Seminoles won a convincing victory over a good Maryland team and come to the Swamp playing their best ball of the season. Should be fun to watch.
Game Ball: Florida

Georgia at Georgia Tech (3:30 ET ABC) (Saturday)
The Bulldogs finally came down emotionally a bit from the two stellar performances against Florida and Auburn, but still managed to right themselves and chew up a pretty good Kentucky team. Tech also got a win last week with a late field goal against North Carolina. Expect Tech’s defense to blitz (meant as much to stuff the run as to pressure the passer) and for Georgia to counter with screens and deep seam passes. Georgia must stop outstanding RB Tashard Choice while Tech has to contend with Dawg duo of Moreno and Brown. GT head coach Chan Gailey’s job may be on the line too, so tremendous emotion (as always) will be evident. Dawgs could get a BCS bowl bid (likely Sugar) with a win and a trip to SEC title game (if Tennessee loses) even with a loss.
Game Ball: Georgia

Tennessee at Kentucky (1:30 ET CBS) (Saturday)
The Volunteers are tougher than the turkey sandwich I’ll reheat in the microwave Saturday night. UT overcame a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Vanderbilt 25-24, and moved within a victory of a trip to the SEC title game in Atlanta. Kentucky jumped to a 10-0 lead at Georgia, but couldn’t run with the Dogs for four quarters and lost 24-13. Everybody keeps expecting Tennessee to lose, but they may still be expecting it when the Vols arrive in the ATL next week to play LSU.
Game Ball: Tennessee

Ole Miss at Miss State (12:30 ET LFS) (Friday)
The Egg Bowl, annually one of my favorite games of this holiday weekend, returns to television screens across the South the Friday after Thanksgiving. This should be an old-time southern slugfest because both teams are extremely physical and come into the game with angry intentions after losses. State should be favored and will be playing for bowl positioning (expect the league to take care of the Bullies should they beat the Rebs), but Ole Miss has come close to breaking through on several occasions this season.
Game Ball: Miss State

Clemson at South Carolina (7:00 ET ESPN2) (Saturday)
Clemson lost the Atlantic Division title of the ACC to Boston College in a game the Tigers probably should have won. Tommy Bowden’s teams have a tendency to be streaky good or streaky bad, so that loss might linger a while. The Gamecocks had a week off and needed it after four straight losses. I’ll go with the old ball coach in an upset with the extra prep time, but don’t feel real good about it.
Game Ball: South Carolina

Wake Forest at Vanderbilt (2:00 ET) (Saturday)
The only SEC member not being televised this week, Vanderbilt has much to play for … a win gets them to the magic six win total and bowl eligible. The Commodores should have qualified last weekend but let Tennessee come back from a 24-9 deficit to beat them. Wake hammered a decent NC State team and probably should win this game. Still, Vandy in a bowl is too good to pass up.
Game Ball: Vanderbilt

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