Professor’s Picks and Around the SEC Week 5

“I smoke old stogies I have found,
short, but not too big around.
I’m a man of means by no means … king of the road.”
Roger Miller

SEC head coaches Bobby Johnson, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Nick Saban, and Les Miles probably don’t smoke old stogies (or even new ones for that matter). And they definitely are men of means … by all means.

However, last week the whole bunch was similar to at least one of the lyrics in that great old Roger Miller song.

They were kings of the road.

Johnson led his undefeated Vanderbilt team to a come from behind 23-17 win over Ole Miss in Oxford. The Commodores are 4-0 and need only two more victories to become bowl eligible for the first time since Ronald Reagan was president.

Meyer and the fleet Florida Gators rocked Tennessee 30-6 in Knoxville.

The Gators scored by land, air, and (if they’d had a snorkel) probably could have by water from the nearby Tennessee River. The Volunteers struggled offensively as UT head man Phillip Fulmer fell to 5-12 against Florida.

Richt took his Georgia Bulldogs to the desert where they easily handled Arizona State 27-10. The win moved Richt’s road record to a mind-numbing 27-4. Bulldog freshman WR A.J. Green had a coming out party with eight catches for 159 yards and one TD.

Saban and the Red Elephants of Alabama readied for a trip to Georgia by thundering past Arkansas 49-14. Six of the Tide’s seven touchdowns came on plays longer than 25 yards. Two of the scores were interception returns for touchdowns.

Of all the great road wins, none was better than the victory by Miles and LSU over Auburn.

The Bengal Tigers overcame a loud crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a concussion to starting QB Andrew Hatch, and a fearfully bad interception toss by backup QB Jarrett Lee that resulted in an Auburn touchdown.
Still, LSU found a way late when Lee redeemed himself by throwing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell with just over a minute remaining.

The final was LSU 26-Auburn 21.

So, what happens this week?

The Alabama-Georgia showdown has national implications, but is not the only big game of the week.

In the West, Auburn must try to bounce back at home, this time against inconsistent Tennessee.

Florida and LSU try to avoid letdowns against Magnolia State teams in home games with Ole Miss and Miss State respectively.

Finally, the SEC achieved an enviable feat last week when five of the league’s teams made the Top Ten rankings. That’s kind of like half of the Atlanta Braves starting for the National League All-Star team, or maybe the Beatles having five of the top ten hits on the Billboard list.

Enjoy the games!

Game Day Weekly Conference Ratings

1. LSU … Tigers showed toughness and creativity to overcome Auburn on the road.

2. Florida … Ole Miss traditionally plays Gators well.

3. Georgia … Dogs leap Tide on this list but Bama gets chance to beat them between the hedges.

4. Alabama … Crimson Tide is farther along the championship path than most figured this early.

5. Vanderbilt … Highest Dores have reached in our ratings since we started them a few years ago.

6. Auburn … Difficult home loss leaves Tigers no wiggle room in division race.

7. Kentucky … Wildcats have no losses but get no love either.

8. South Carolina … These ratings would be better if they could stop at #7,

9. Ole Miss … turnovers, turnovers, turnovers cost the Rebels against Vandy.

10. Tennessee … I would rate them lower but I actually saw the next two teams play this week.

11. Arkansas … Hogs coming down to earth was not pretty; Texas in Austin may not be either.

12. Mississippi State … State’s offense couldn’t score if they took Brad Pitt out to meet girls with them.

Professor’s Picks
(Last Week’s Record 6-1)
(2008 Record 28-8)

Alabama at Georgia (7:45 ESPN)
See SEC Game of the Week.
Game Ball: Georgia

Arkansas at Texas (3:30 ET ABC)
The Longhorns are quietly playing themselves into the national championship conversation and will be a solid Top Ten team when these two meet. Arkansas is anything but solid and Bama roasted the Hogs last weekend. Old timers will remember great battles between these two in the old Southwest Conference. It’d be fun to see another classic but Hogs chances may be like the league – gone.
Game Ball: Texas

Tennessee at Auburn (3:30 ET CBS)
Auburn’s loss to LSU was as tough to swallow as a dose of castor oil. The Tiger defense was strong for most of the game, but faltered late. The big problem is offense where the “system” looks mostly like read options and gimmick pass plays. It can work for a while, but not for a season. Tennessee is deeper in the doldrums than a Wall Street banker. The Volunteers really failed to compete with Florida … even after some of the Gators called them out as quitters in last season’s game. It may get a little ugly for Fulmer on Rocky Top.
Game Ball: Auburn

Ole Miss at Florida (12:30 ET Raycom)
The mighty Gators looked deceptively good against Tennessee. QB Tim Tebow put up modest passing and running numbers (96 passing and 26 rushing) but he didn’t have to do more because Tennessee kept making mistakes. The Volunteers twice drove to the Gator 1-yard line in the first half, but a fumble and an interception led to no points. Ole Miss dropped another close game, and this was of the Rebels own making. Six turnovers and 82 penalty yards cost the Rebs a chance to win the programs 600th victory and also marked the team’s ninth straight SEC loss. This week will be #10.
Game Ball: Florida

Mississippi State at LSU (7:30 ET ESPN2)
What are the odds State gets across midfield in this one. The Bullies got absolutely embarrassed on the road at Georgia Tech in a 38-7 loss, but hey they did score a touchdown. LSU won the grudge match with Auburn and should have plenty in the tank to beat State.
Game Ball: LSU

UAB at South Carolina (7:00 ET)
South Carolina could not put away tiny Wofford until late in the 4th quarter last week so no game is a gimme for the punchless Gamecocks. UAB won its first game of the year by pounding Alabama 45-10. Oh wait, that was Alabama State.
Game Ball: South Carolina

Western Kentucky at Kentucky (7:00 ET)
Kentucky should remain unbeaten although the WKU Hilltoppers will not be a pushover. UK will get another week off next Saturday before facing Alabama on the road Oct. 4th. We’ll find out how good the Cats are then.
Game Ball Kentucky

Open: Vanderbilt

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