Saturday, 20 September 2003

SEC Week 4 prognostications (and Week 3 recap)

Last week's picks (home in CAPS, TV and record in brackets, in kickoff order):
TEXAS [1-0] 31, Arkansas [1-0] 17
Actual score: 28-38. Arkansas pulls off the major upset in Austin; although Texas is hampered with a one-dimensional offense, it was still quite unexpected. Arkansas could be the team to watch for in the SEC West, especially compared to its performance last season that saw the team basically luck its way into the championship game.
VANDERBILT 17 [1-1/0-1], Auburn [0-2] 16 [JP/GamePlan]
7-45. Vanderbilt reverted to form, and Auburn figured out how to score touchdowns again.
GEORGIA [2-0] 35, South Carolina [2-0] 24
31-7. USC got blown out between the hedges.
FLORIDA [1-1] 62, Florida A&M [1-1] 3
63-3 (ooh, so close!). FAMU did soundly win the halftime, though.
OLE MISS [1-1/1-0] 42, Louisiana-Lafayette [0-2] 7
59-14 (would have been 62-14, but Cutcliffe was feeling merciful). The news of the game was Jamal Pittman's solo 69-yard, 9-play touchdown drive. Oh, and Manning had an obscene QB rating.
ALABAMA [1-1] 31, Kentucky [1-1] 20
27-17, more or less as expected. The Pillsbury Throw Boy was no match for Mike Shula's team in his first Tuscaloosa win.
LOUISIANA STATE [2-0] 65, Western Illinois [2-0] 14 (revised)
35-7. Again, more or less as expected, although you might have expected LSU to put up more points. Maybe they're saving them for Georgia...
TULANE [1-1] 56, Mississippi State [0-1] 54 (6 OT)
31-28. Tulane, as expected, pulls off the "upset". MSU's skid is now at 8 weeks, and counting.

Conference standings: Georgia currently has sole posession of the SEC East lead, while Ole Miss and Auburn are tied for first in the West (with undefeated Alabama ineligible for postseason play). No teams are yet mathematically eliminated from a division title, but Vandy is trying very hard to be the first.

This week's games, highlighted by a CBS double-header. Fans of other teams will have to listen to the radio. You know the drill...

FLORIDA [2-1] 31, Tennessee [2-0] 21. [CBS]
The traditional SEC East powers line up for their first conference games of the season in Gainesville. UT has looked unimpressive in its two wins, so I go with Florida because of (a) home field and (b) playing Miami tough (but demerits for getting outscored 28-0).
Georgia [3-0/1-0] 24, LOUISIANA STATE [3-0] 17. [CBS]
LSU is somehow favored in this contest, mainly due to the legend of "Death Valley." However, they don't call it Death Valley when it's a 2:30 kickoff, and UGA looks unstoppable as of late.
Kentucky [1-2/0-1] 41, INDIANA [1-2] 10.
Kentucky takes out its frustrations on perennial Big Ten punching bag Indiana in Bloomington, where it's a fair bet that Wildcat fans will rule the stands.
ALABAMA [2-1/1-0] 35, Northern Illinois [2-0] 14.
Alabama isn't Wisconsin. Shula now has a winning record in Tuscaloosa.
TEXAS CHRISTIAN [2-0] 35, Vanderbilt [1-2/0-2] 17.
The Vandy team that lost to Auburn last week probably couldn't beat SMU, much less TCU.
SOUTH CAROLINA [2-1/0-1] 38, Alabama-Birmingham [1-2] 7.
Lou Holtz convinces his team they're actually facing Alabama-Tuscaloosa, so they go out and pulverize the opposition. (Lou's mistake last week: the team thought he said they were playing Georgia Tech.)
HOUSTON [2-1] 38, Mississippi State [0-2] 31.
The Bulldogs somehow find a way to blow a fourth-quarter lead for the second game in a row as they work through I-A trying to find a team they can beat. Unfortunately for State, Louisiana-Lafayette isn't on their schedule this year. Or should that be "unfortunately for ULL"?

Two teams have the week off:

NCAA Infractions Committee [∞-0] $12,000/player, AUBURN [1-2/1-0] 0.
Tommy Tuberville's gang spends the off week under a cloud as former coach Terry Bowden is on record saying that boosters paid signing bonuses to Auburn recruits in the 1980s and early 1990s. Apparently that's against the rules... go figure!

OLE MISS [2-1/1-0] spends the week preparing for pass-happy Texas Tech to come to Oxford for the team's second night game in a row, as there will be no TV for the game (ESPN2 is instead opting to show the humiliation of Mississippi State by LSU). Continued noises from the coaching staff suggest that sophomore RB Jamal Pittman, who accounted for a large chunk of Ole Miss's second-half yards against ULM, will be in the starting lineup.

Tech's game against NC State will be televised Saturday at 11 CDT on ESPN2. As NC State's offense is similar to that of Ole Miss, although perhaps even more pass-oriented, it may be a good preview of how the game in Oxford is likely to turn out.