Professor’s Picks and Around the SEC Week 3

Vandy Bowling …?

Normally, Vanderbilt is about as adept at bowling as Barack Obama (call him Mr. 37), but that comparison may be about to end.

Bobby Johnson’s Commodores looked like a dandy in handling favored South Carolina in a Thursday night game to move to 2-0. Vandy is aiming for its first bowl appearance in more than two decades and now needs only four more wins to qualify. Rice (this week) and Duke later in the year look like good chances, but Vanderbilt will probably be underdogs in the other eight games … still, it should be fun to watch.

Fun is gone from the old fun and gun offense of Steve Spurrier.

The Cock ‘n Fun at South Carolina might be more accurately known as the Cock ‘n Bull as SC’s offensive struggles continued against Vanderbilt, with new/old/sometime QB Chris Smelley tossing two interceptions and getting sacked four times in a 24-17 defeat. It was a second consecutive loss to Vandy for Spurrier, coming after the head ball coach whipped the Commodores 14 straight times at Duke, Florida, and with SC.

Ole Miss came agonizingly close to a signature win for the program (and another notch in the SEC belt) but lost on a last-second field goal at Wake Forest.

Rebel’s QB Jevan Snead turned in one of the early season’s most exciting plays as he weaved right, left, and right again before tossing a 5-yard fourth down TD pass to Cordera Eason with just over a minute left. The Rebels could not close the deal, but will be a factor in the SEC West soon.

I attended the Georgia-Central Michigan game Saturday, and the Bulldogs looked like a complete team.

QB Matthew Stafford puts up efficient (if not overwhelming) numbers, and tailback Knowshon Moreno is special. The Dogs have some issues with run blocking and with kickoff coverage, but otherwise appear a legitimate contender.

The division races begin in earnest this week with Auburn going to Mississippi State and Georgia taking on South Carolina in Columbia.

Down in Austin, Arkansas was to visit Texas but Hurricane Ike is hitting the Lone Star coast and the game was postponed until September 27th. I don’t guess Bobby Petrino will have taken another job by then, but it does give him a chance. All of us old-timers remember some of the great Southwest Conference shootouts between these two and the game is always worth seeing.

Finally, September 20th is shaping up as a mammoth weekend so stayed tuned.

Enjoy!

Game Day Weekly Conference Ratings

1. LSU … a hurricane might be the only thing that slows down the Tigers.

2. Georgia … balanced Bulldogs crushed Central Michigan in tuneup for South Carolina.

3. Florida … Gators get a week off – they better use it to find a running game other than Tim Tebow.

4. Auburn … Tigers have not shown all their cards on offense yet.

5. Alabama … Crimson Tide had let down against Tulane – this year they are good enough to win anyway.

6. Ole Miss … A tough road loss to Wake will not keep the Rebs from being a factor out west.

7. Kentucky … Bluegrass backers usually only see defense like this on the hardwood.

8. Vanderbilt … Six wins and a bowl suddenly look possible for the 2-0 Commodores.

9. Tennessee … Offense struggled and defense got outflanked against UCLA in opener.

10. Mississippi State … Bullies begin defense of Alabama state title against Auburn this week.

11. South Carolina … Gamecocks must find some offense to beat Georgia this week.

12. Arkansas … Is there an uglier 2-0 team in America?

Professor’s Picks

(Last Week’s Record 7-2)
(2008 Record 15-6)

* All times Eastern

Western Kentucky at Alabama (7:07 9/13)
The Tide ebbed a lot in a lackluster win over Tulane, so the Hilltoppers cannot be overlooked completely. WKU whipped rival Eastern Kentucky 37-13, limiting the Colonels to just 27 yards rushing. Bama gained only 172 total yards, while giving up four sacks, missing two kicks, and fumbling once.
Game Ball: Alabama

Auburn at Mississippi State (7:00 9/13 ESPN2)
See SEC Game of the Week
Game Ball: Auburn

Georgia at South Carolina (3:30 9/13 CBS)
Georgia looked powerful in dispatching a good Central Michigan team with ease by a 56-17 score. QB Matthew Stafford tossed two TDs and star tailback Knowshon Moreno ran for 186 yards and 3 TDs. Georgia traditionally struggles to score against SC (averaging just over 15 ppg the past three seasons) but usually win. Let’s say that trend holds.
Game Ball: Georgia

Middle Tennessee at Kentucky (7:00 9/13)
This game looks a lot more dangerous since MTSU knocked off Maryland Saturday night. The Kentucky defense has given up only 3 points total in two games. Watch for Wildcat freshman QB Randall Cobb as he sparked the UK offense in a 38-3 win over Norfolk State.
Game Ball: Kentucky

North Texas at LSU (8:00 9/13)
The Bengal Tigers continue to be one of America’s strangest teams to follow because of the weather. The LSU-Troy game was moved to November 15th due to Hurricane Gustav, this after the season opening win over Appalachian State was moved to a morning kickoff. Bayou Bengals look pretty good night or day, and should handle the Mean Green who looked anything but mean in a 56-26 loss to Tulsa.
Game Ball: LSU

Samford at Ole Miss (7:00 9/13)
Rebels lost a heart-breaker but found a playmaker at quarterback in Jevan Snead in the tough loss to Wake Forest. The Wild Rebel formation gave Wake trouble so expect more of the same. Samford and coach Pat Sullivan have looked impressive in getting to a 2-0 start. The Bulldogs rolled up 374 yards rushing in smashing Faulkner 62-0. Ole Miss has an even better background with another Faulkner and should beat the Bulldogs.
Game Ball: Ole Miss

UAB at Tennessee (12:30 9/13 Raycom)
Tennessee is still licking its wounds after blowing the Labor Day night game with UCLA. The Volunteers controlled most of the game, picking off Bruin QB Kevin Craft four times in the first half, but could not get the Bruins off the field after intermission and lost 27-24 in OT. QB Jonathan Crompton will have to play better. The Blazers of UAB are 0-2 and giving up 47 ppg.
Game Ball: Tennessee

Rice at Vanderbilt (7:00 9/13)
Vanderbilt is fresh off a big win over South Carolina. The Dores are not a juggernaut on offense or D, but have done enough to get to 2-0. Rice is also 2-0 and the Owls have put up big points against SMU and Memphis. Vanderbilt will be much tougher on defense, but I see the Owls hooting out a win.
Game Ball: Rice

Open: Florida

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