To recap last week, I went 7-1, only missing Ohio State in the Next Best 3. Not bad, but as many have pointed out, I was taking a bit of a chance picking Michigan State to begin with. Some games didn't go as planned. I thought Arkansas would put up a better fight. I thought LSU wouldn't have as much trouble with an FCS school, and I definitely didn't expect UGA-Tennessee to be such a high scoring affair. But I can't really complain after back to back one loss weeks.
As for this week, there are only 6 SEC games, but we have two of the most anticipated matchups of the year on Saturday. LSU travels to Gainesville to face the well rested Gators, and Georgia travels to Columbia to face a big threat for the SEC East crown.
And through 5 weeks, my first impressions of the new additions of the SEC are mixed. I've been impressed by A&M, who picked up their first conference win last week hosting Arkansas. They lost a close game to Florida, but hindsight tells us that's nothing to be ashamed of. They have given Florida their biggest challenge of the year so far, only losing by 3, and had a lead in the 4th quarter. A&M's offense is good enough to scare most any SEC team not named Alabama. They have a favorable matchup to earn their second SEC win this week.
On the other hand, I haven't been very impressed with Missouri. They kept thing close for 3 quarters against Georgia, but ultimately wound up losing by 3 touchdowns at home, and they didn't even put up a fight against South Carolina. Starting conference play 0-2 likely eliminates them from any hope of competing in the SEC East, having already lost the tiebreaker against the two favorites to win the division, they do however have a chance to get their first conference win this week.
On to the games
Alabama- They could use the rest
Tennessee- After last week's heartbreaker, and traveling to Mississippi State next week, they definitely need the rest
Eh, At Least They're Conference Games
Arkansas at Auburn- Really there's not a lot riding on this game. Both teams are 0-2 in SEC play. Arkansas has lost 4 in a row, and their only win was against Jacksonville State. Auburn's only win was an OT win against UL Monroe. Auburn has looked terrible offensively every week. They managed to stay in the game against LSU, but still only put 10 points on the board. Arkansas has been a complete mess this season. Their defense is arguably the worst in the SEC, and their offensive line hasn't given Tyler Wilson or Knile Davis a chance to succeed. As for the game, Auburn has at least shown some promise defensively, and it doesn't take a good offense to put up points against Arkansas, and the game is in Auburn. Tough time to be an Arkansas fan. Arkansas loses its 5th straight. 21-10 Auburn
Mississippi State at Kentucky- Kentucky managed to shock South Carolina early, and jump out to a 17 point lead. But the celebration was short lived as South Carolina went on to outscore Kentucky 38-0 the rest of the game. I went on record last week calling Kentucky the worst team in the SEC, and I stand by that statement. I'm going on record now and saying Mississippi State will finish second in the SEC West. Mississippi State isn't as good as Bama, but their defense has been impressive this season, and they seem to have put last year's disappointment behind them. I won't take much to beat Kentucky, and Mississippi State is by far the more talented team. 32-6 Mississippi State
Mildly Interesting Conference Games
Vanderbilt at Missouri- Personally, I've been disappointed in both teams. Both have started off conference play 0-2, all be it against the same two teams, but I expected Missouri to contend for the SEC East and I expected Vanderbilt to build on their bowl appearence last season. Looks like neither is happening, but the plus side for both teams is, one of them has to win their first conference game of the season this weekend. Vandy kept things interesting against South Carolina and Northwestern, but were badly embarrassed by Georgia. Missouri kept things interesting for 3 quarters against Georgia, but were badly embarrassed by South Carolina. As for the game, I have been more impressed with vanderbilt's defense, but Georgia exposed it a bit, and I've been more impressed by Missouri's offense. In the end, I have to pick the home team. I think Missouri will be able to put points on the board, and 3 touchdowns will be too much for Vandy to compete with. Missouri earns their first SEC conference win. 27-17 Missouri
Texas A&M at Ole Miss- Ole Miss already has 3 wins on the season, and I have been impressed with their offense. They managed to hang 30 on Texas, but allowed over 60 in the loss, and they managed to put 14 on the board against Bama, something only they and Michigan have been able to do this season, but their defense has been down right terrible. Their offense is good enough to put points on the board against any team, but their defense is so bad that their offense won't be able to keep up against good teams. A&M and Manziel have impressed so far in their first year of SEC play. A&M's offense is tied with UGA for the most points per game in the SEC, and that's all I need to hear to pick this game. Ole Miss will score some points, but the results will be about the same as the Texas game. 52-35- Texas A&M
Co Game of the Week
LSU at Florida- I don't think I have to tell you the importance of this game. LSU needs this win to not only remain undefeated and in the hunt for the National Championship, but they must win this game to silence the critics about their previous two lackluster performances against subpar competition. This is also a must win for Florida. They must win this game to keep pace with the winner of the Georgia-South Carolina matchup, and to remain undefeated and in the hunt for the National Championship.
I've harped on LSU's struggles the past two weeks quite a bit, but only beating Auburn by two points raised some eyebrows, and allowing 22 points tow FCS Towson raised even more questions. Mettenberger has not been the answer at QB that I thought he would be. He still has time to turn it around, and he'd better do it now, or it'll be too late. And LSU's defense, while it has been good, it hasn't been near as dominant as last season.
Florida on the other hand hasn't looked better since Tebow was behind the center. Florida's defense has been one of the best in the SEC, and while their offense hasn't put up the numbers UGA has, it's been more than good enough to get the job done. Driskel has been just what the Gators needed at QB, and I've been very impressed with Gilislee running the ball.
As for the game, I think Florida matches up with LSU very well defensively. With LSU's offensive struggles the last couple of weeks, Florida has to be amped up for this game. I don't think Mettenberger will be able to get much going against Florida's defense, and Florida's run defense has been outstanding. I do think LSU's defense is good enough to keep Florida in check, and this is by far Driskel's biggest test as a QB, so this is a tough game to call. In the end, I'll take the home team, the team coming off a bye, the team with more momentum, and the team that has performed the best so far this season. Close game, but Florida wins 24-21
Game of the Week
Georgia at South Carolina- A battle of two top 10 teams, and the two favorites to win the SEC East. The importance of this game speaks for itself. The winner of this game has an inside track to winning the SEC East, as the winner will have the tiebreaker over the other. This game also has a lot of national championship implications. If either team runs the table and beats Bama(I am assuming a bit, but I don't think many will disagree) in the SEC Championship game, they will be playing for the National Championship. A loss here pretty much ends it for either team.
The score of the Tennessee-Georgia game was a bit misleading. Tennessee scored 30 first half points. 7 came off a pick 6, 6 came from an Aaron Murray fumble deep in UGA territory, 3 came off a Brandon Marshall fumble deep in UGA territory, and 3 resulted from a mishandled kickoff return that pinned UGA on it's own goal line. Georgia's defense didn't perform great, but they did play better than the scoreboard would indicate. The way I see it, UGA's defense allowed 25 points. Georgia's offense and special teams allowed 19, and the defense forced 3 big turnovers in tennessee's final 3 drives to seal the win. Georgia has been one of the better offenses in the country, scoring just under 50 points per game, and scoring at least 40 in each of their first 5 games, and they lead the nation in plays of 20+ yards. Aaron Murray has distinguished himself as the best QB in the SEC, and once again I have to brag on the outstanding play of the two true freshmen running backs, Gurly and Marshall. They have filled a void that has largely been missing since Knowshon Moreno went pro.
South Carolina's offense has been inconsistent at times, but their defense has been outstanding thus far. My biggest knock on South Carolina is their lack of competition. Missouri is the only team they've faced with a winning record, and the Vanderbilt game was a lot closer than it should have been. But Lattimore is back, and performing well, and Connor Shaw has came a long way as a QB. This is arguably the biggest game in South Carolina's SEC history. They've had good teams before, but this is the first year where they have been seriously talked about as a National title contender. I'm definitely interested to see how Shaw responds.
As for the game, I think it's all in the hands of Aaron Murray. His sloppy play along with sloppy play of a few others resulted in letting Tennessee back in the game last week. That can't happen this week. I have no doubt in my mind that Georgia can and will put up a lot of points, but the team simply can't afford to give South Carolina points like they did Tennessee. Georgia's run defense has been a bit shaky, but their pass defense has been solid, and the defense as a whole has stepped up in the second half of games, and evenmoreso when the game has been on the line. South Carolina with Lattimore will be able to move the ball and put up points. In the end, I think Georgia's two headed monster at RB, their massive O-Line and the best QB in the SEC will do the job against South Carolina. The defense will give up some points, but they are just now getting key players like Alec Ogletree back from suspension. I think this game will be a shootout, and in a shootout, I have to favor the team that has the better offense. Georgia wins 45-38
The Next Best 3
West Virginia at Texas- Really I think this game could go either way. Both can put up a lot of points, but if I had to pick who had the better defense, I would say Texas. I'm not a Big 12 expert, but I have Texas winning 55-45
Nebraska at Ohio State- Ohio State and Northwestern are the only remaining unbeatens in the Big 10. Ohio State has been impressive this season, but I can't say I've been impressed with Nebraska. Ohio State has a solid defense, and Braxton Miller has been one of the better QBs in the B1G. Ohio State wins 28-21
Washington at Oregon- Washington is coming off a big upset against Stanford, who had just upset USC the week before. I think asking for two upsets in a row is a lot to ask of Washington. They are a solid team, but I don't think they will be able to score enough points to keep up with Oregon's high powered offense. Oregon wins 55-31