Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week 4: SEC Preview

There's not a whole lot of really outstanding games this weekend, but I'll give you what I've got. The interesting story-line here is that there are 4 SEC East teams going on the road to face SEC West teams. I've never noticed any East-West rivalry within the SEC, but if you feel it, watch out for how that shakes out.

Florida at Ole Miss, 11:30am Lincoln Financial: Sign #1 that this is not a great week is that this game is on television. The good news is that it's my first chance to lay eyes on Ole Miss. The bad news is that Florida is so much better than Ole Miss that we won't really get an opportunity to gauge how good Ole Miss is. Florida, of course, runs a lot of 5 receiver sets, the purpose of which is to make the opponent throw a lot of defensive backs in the games. Most teams don't have 5 or 6 really good defensive backs, allowing the offense to find the mismatches and exploit them. I think Florida will be able to find a LOT of mismatches. Still, I'll be watching.

Kentucky at Arkansas, 5:00pm ESPN2: Darren McFadden is hurt. I don't know if he's a go for this game or not. If he is, he will run all over Kentucky. If he's not, they'll have to run all over Kentucky with Felix Jones. Kentucky gives up a lot of points. Of course, Kentucky also scores a lot of points. They have good skill position offensive players and can really put some points on the board. Bama really exposed Arkansas' defensive backs last week, and Kentucky is a much better passing team than is Bama. This could be a very high scoring game.

New Mexico State at Auburn, 6:00pm GamePlan: Arkansas is reeling and looking really really bad early in the season. I have heard some talk that NMSU is not exactly a patsy. They have a pass-happy offense that puts up an average of about 37 points per game. Of course, they also give up a lot of points per game, and it remains to be seen that they can move the ball against a defense as good as Auburn's. If they can figure out how to score 3 touchdowns against Quentin Groves and company, they have a chance to win.

Gardner Webb at Mississippi State, 7:00pm XOS Webcast, whatever the hell that is: Alright, I think MSU is better than expected. I said more than once pre-season that I would be surprised if they won a conference game. Never let is be said that I have a problem admitting I got something wrong. They simply look better on defense than I ever expected. Now, considering how they looked against Auburn, and even against LSU, I think they have a SHOT against everyone left on their schedule except West Virginia. No, I'm not saying they'll end the season 10-2, but I don't think you can pencil a check in the loss column for anyone else they play. It really wouldn't surprise me at all if they figure out how to get 2 more conference wins, which, combined with wins against OOC opponents Gardner Webb and UAB, could get MSU into a bowl game. It's amazing what one unexpected win can do. They'll have a relatively easy one this week going against D-1AA opponent Gardner Webb. The drive to 6 wins is on.

Arkansas State at Tennessee, 6:00pm GamePlan: Arkie State is the team that pushed Texas on opening weekend. I don't know if that means Arkansas State is any good or not. I know one thing though: Tennessee's team is quitting on Philip Fulmer.

Georgia at Alabama, 6:45pm ESPN: Once again, Bama is the subject of one of the most interesting matchups of the week. I think it's because there are a lot of teams in the SEC that are approximately as good as Bama. Arkansas was one of them, and Georgia is another. They key to this game is Georgia's young, talented, but inconsistent quarterback Matthew Stafford. When he's good, Georgia is a very good team. When he's bad, Georgia is a rather bad team. He was good against Oklahoma State and bad against South Carolina. If Bama's defense can keep him off balance, they'll have a good weekend. If they let Stafford get into a good rhythm and stay there, it's going to be a long night.

Around the country:

There are interesting games on Thursday and Friday with TAMU going against Miami and OU going against Tulsa. I don't know much about these teams, but OU's supposed to be a national championship contender.

Penn State at Michigan, 2:30pm ABC and GamePlan: The Lloyd Carr watch continues. A loss here against 10th ranked Penn State would put another nail in Carr's coffin. I have nothing against Lloyd Carr, but I'd much rather he be fired this year than hang around another year or two with the vultures circling. If Les Miles is going to leave, let him do it now rather than have his standing at LSU questioned for years. If Carr leaves Michigan and Miles isn't hired to replace him, we'll know we have Miles for a while. That's certainly what I want, but if I can't have that, I'd rather get settled in with a new coach as soon as possible.

Washington State at USC, 7:00pm ABC: If you're on a national championship/USC/Joe McKnight watch, tune into this game. Washington State is 2-1 right now, having lost to top 10 Wisconsin. Can they give USC a game? I guess so. Will they? Probably not, I guess.

East Carolina at West Virginia, 11:00am ESPN: It will be interesting to see if ECU can do to West Virginia what they did to Virginia Tech. That is to say, if ECU can throw off West Virginia offense, keep the score low, and have a chance to win it late. I doubt it, because WVU hass a lot more dynamic of an offense than does Virginia Tech.

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