Overall Record: 96-38
Last Week: 9-5
Comment: Followed up best week of season with worst. As we move toward semester’s end the assignments get tougher and tougher.
Best Pick: No real Fulbright-scholar stuff last week; Texas Tech over Kansas maybe?
Worst Pick: The USC debacle at Oregon, the Ole Miss collapse against Auburn, the Kentucky blue funk vs. Miss State … take your pick.
Here are this week’s SEC picks and national games of interest.
South Carolina (6-3, 3-3) at Arkansas (4-4, 1-4)
11:21 a.m. CT SEC Network / ESPN360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Comment: The second best game in the league gets a bacon and eggs kickoff time this week. Combining the Arkansas offense with the SC defense would make a major bowl-caliber team as the Hogs boast the top passing attack in the conference and the second best scoring average at 35 ppg. On the other side, the Gamecock defense ranks second in pass defense and fifth in scoring D, but the offense is next to last in scoring. Both teams will go bowling after the year, and the Razorbacks improve their place in the pecking order.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas
Tennessee Tech (5-3) at Georgia (4-4, 3-3)
1 p.m. ET Georgia PPV / ESPN 360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Comment: The Dogs get to play at home for the first time in over a month (who made this schedule?) and T-Tech should make a nice homecoming present. Penalties, turnovers, and plenty of lapses on both sides of the ball have plagued Georgia all season, so Watson Brown’s Golden Eagles of the Ohio Valley Conference (T-Tech is in third place in OVC) may not be a complete pushover. Close enough to one though.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia
Eastern Kentucky (5-3) at Kentucky (4-4, 1-4)
1 p.m. ET WKYT-TV / WMYT-TV / ESPN 360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Kentucky looked like a lock for a fourth consecutive bowl appearance last week, but a home loss to Miss State makes a win this week over the Colonel’s imperative. Eastern figures to be a hard-nosed visitor, making the brief drive up I-75 from Richmond to Lexington.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky
Furman (4-4) at Auburn (6-3, 3-3)
12:30 p.m. CT Auburn PPV / ESPN 360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Pat Dye Field / Jordan Hare Stadium (87,451)
Comment: Auburn continues to befuddle the professor. After starting the season on fire at 5-0, the Tigers went into a mid-season swoon and seemed destined for a 6-6 mark. Then they went and thumped Ole Miss on the Plains and now look like a threat again. Furman is a power in the venerable Southern Conference, but the alliteratively-named Purple Paladins should be out of their league.
Professor’s Pick: Auburn
LSU (7-1, 4-1) at Alabama (8-0, 5-0)
2:30 p.m. CT CBS Sports
Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,012)
Comment: Short of a potential Alabama-Florida SEC championship game, this tilt in Tuscaloosa is the biggest remaining contest on the conference calendar. LSU arrives with one blemish (a 13-3 home loss to Florida), and the least fanfare of any team ranked in the national top ten. The Tigers are last in the SEC in total offense and a shocking tenth in rushing offense (even with the talented tailback tandem of Charles Scott and Keiland Williams … QB Jordan Jefferson is a good running threat too). Defensively, the Tigers should prepare for a healthy dose of Tide RB Mark Ingram running from the Wildcat formation. Ingram’s prowess (along with the kicking of Leigh Tiffin) has been the bright spot of an Alabama offense plagued with inconsistent quarterback play by Greg McElroy for the last month. While LSU has had the upper hand in the series of late (winning five of six overall and the last four in T-Town), the Tide defense has been much stronger this season and should keep them rolling toward Atlanta for that Florida showdown.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama
Memphis (2-6) at Tennessee (4-4, 2-3)
7 p.m. ET ESPNU
Shield-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium (100,011)
Comment: For all the bluster about Lane Kiffin rejuvenating Tennessee with recruiting and bravado (the lastest claim being that him getting mentioned by rapper Lil’ Wayne gives the Vols “street cred” … isn’t it hilarious to hear Kirk Herbstreit, Brad Nessler, and Desmond Howard talk about street cred?) … even with all that, Kiffin still has not won two games in a row. The woeful Tigers from Memphis should remedy that hole in Kiffin’s credibility.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee
Vanderbilt (2-7, 0-5) at Florida (8-0, 6-0)
7:15 p.m. ET ESPN2
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (88,548)
Comment: Florida is rounding into form for the stretch national championship run. Vanderbilt has lost five in a row this season. Florida has beaten Vandy 18 times in a row, going back to 1988. Oh yeah, it’s a night game at the Swamp on national television. What do you think?
Professor’s Pick: Florida
Northern Arizona (5-3) at Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3)
6:30 p.m. CT CSS / ESPN360.com / ESPN GamePlan
Hollingsworth Field/Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: The Rebels got handled pretty easily at Auburn last week and now find themselves struggling to qualify for a bowl … any bowl. Playing their second FCS/I-AA team of the season means the Rebs have to win 7 games to be bowl-eligible. After facing the Lumberjacks this week, Ole Miss hosts Tennessee and LSU before finishing the season in the Egg Bowl at Miss State. A disappointing season would turn embarrassing should Houston Nutt’s crew not win two of these last four. They get one this week.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss
Selected National Picks
TCU at San Diego State: 4-4 Aztecs, winners of two straight, are one of tougher games left for BCS dreaming Horned Frogs. Not tough enough. Professor’s Pick: TCU
Oregon State at Cal: Two good teams with 3-2 conference marks in the underappreciated PAC-10. I’ll go with Cal but really like OSU and Mike Riley a lot. Professor’s Pick: Cal
Oklahoma at Nebraska: History and tradition alone make this game worth watching. Sooners squeak by ghosts of Devaney, Rodgers, Tagge, Osbore, Gill, et al. Professor’s Pick: Oklahoma
Kansas at Kansas State: The Sunflower Showdown is really important to K-State Wildcats as they sit atop Big 12 North. Not sure why, but I’ll go with struggling Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks in a mild upset. Professor’s Pick: Kansas
Boise State at Louisiana Tech: If Broncos are to lose, a Friday night game against (Derek) Dooley’s Dogs might be the game. But … I don’t think they will. Professor’s Pick: Boise State
Navy at Notre Dame: Irish must win out for any potential BCS bowl game; otherwise Gator Bowl seems a lock. Return of WR Michael Floyd further boosts an already explosive offense for ND, defense struggles to contain Middie option, and Irish win a closer-than-expected game. Professor’s Pick: Notre Dame
Florida State at Clemson: As odd as it seems, this game has conference title game implications. Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are up and down so flip a coin … heads-Clemson tails-FSU … mine came out heads so I guess that means Clemson is up this week. Professor’s Pick: Clemson
Oregon at Stanford: The nation’s hottest team plays against the PAC 10’s most physical squad. Letdown alert for Ducks … upset special of week. Professor’s Pick: Stanford
Ohio State at Penn State: Nittany Lions not completely out of Big Ten title picture but must handle Buckeyes to stay alive. They do. Professor’s Pick: Penn State
See you at kickoff!