The NFL previews in two sentences or less are on the shelf this week due to the holiday week and college games on Friday. They will return next week at the regularly schedule time and date. On to the picks...
Made spanning two nights......
Last week: 3-1
LSU at Arkansas
Nothing sends Tiger fans into a state of dementia quite like a home loss to Alabama, an escape at home against Troy and a public beating by Ole Miss at home. Listening to the LSU call-in show on the way out of town last Saturday, you would have thought LSU was on their way to their third straight 6-6 season. Callers were not just questioning the coaching, which is understandable, but they were questioning whether Les Miles was leading their program into the crapper. Seriously. The same guy who won those ungrateful bastards a national championship about 11 months ago.
Now, I'm all for questioning moronic coaching, and certainly Les Miles deserves some of flak he gets, but destroying the LSU program he is not. He's cleaned up in recruiting since he's been there and, oh yeah, won the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP last season. I agree with LSU fans when they say there's plenty of talent on defense and this co-defensive coordinator business is just stupid, but when you're opening the season with a Harvard transfer, yes, a Harvard transfer, and a redshirt freshman as your top two quarterbacks, you're going to have problems on offense. Major problems.
If there's one certainty about the SEC, it's that if you don't have a an experienced, semi-talented quarterback (or say an Eli Manning-like talent that doesn't have to be experienced to be good) your offense isn't going to be so great all the time. Take a look at the teams that stink or at times have struggled in the SEC this year. State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Ole Miss have all had quarterback issues this season, whether it has been for the entire year or a stretch of games. All of these teams have either a first year starter or someone who isn't very good.
So LSU's problems aren't related to Les Miles doing a hack coaching job. Their biggest problem is inexperience behind the center. Give Jarrett Lee (if he doesn't suffer a mental breakdown) or Jordan Jefferson another year or two and LSU will probably be looking at another trip to Atlanta.
At this point, I think it's impossible for someone to lead the LSU program into the crapper, unless they dust off Gerry DiNardo. They've set up a dominant recruiting base in talent-rich Louisiana and can go into Texas to get even more good players. Talent will never be a problem at LSU. However, I do believe Les Miles is nothing more than a mediocre coach and will eventually leave or be run off (for 8-4 or 9-3 seasons), but his replacement, as long as he's competent, will win right away.
Now that we're 445 words into this post, I suppose I should actually get to this game. I expect Arkansas will rebound from their brutal loss to State and give LSU a game. And, thanks to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Troy and Ole Miss, Arkansas has a pretty good idea as to how they should attack and defend LSU. The problem for Arkansas is that one of the brothers Dick will be playing quarterback and their defense actually has to play. Both of those are definitely not good times for Arkansas.
I also found out from my trip to Baton Rouge that LSU hates, and I mean hates, going to Little Rock. So that's one more advantage for Arkansas. There's nothing like a playing a team that doesn't want to be there. But, in the end, I believe LSU will come out of this one with a win. They've got more talent and are still playing to go to Dallas or Orlando and, let's face it, Arkansas just lost to State. I see an ugly, gross game in which LSU pulls away late.
Georgia Tech at Georgia
This game will probably mark the last appearances of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno in Athens, until they're standing on the sideline at a game during their off weeks in the 2009 NFL season. So Georgia fans will get one last great performance out of those two and a mediocre performance from the team as a whole. It's amazing to me that in just about every Georgia game Stafford and Moreno come away with big numbers, but Georgia doesn't dominate. Everywhere else in the sporting world when your stars play well, your team wins big. It's like Georgia is in the bizzaro sporting world. Down is up. Hello means goodbye.
I don't know much about Georgia Tech other than they run an old school option offense. They're also in the ACC, which, this season, means they've beaten teams they shouldn't have and inexplicably lost to teams they shouldn't have. So nothing they do makes sense. We could see the Tech team that destroyed Miami or the team that lost to Virginia at home. The possibilities are endless with this team.
Georgia Tech hasn't seen on offense like the one they'll see on Friday and I don't think Georgia will have a problem moving the ball. However, Georgia's defense can easily be classified as shaky, meaning Tech should have some success as well. Even thought Georgia's defense isn't that great, when an SEC defense faces a one dimensional offense, they'll usually come out on top. I can see a little back and forth in this game, but I'm taking Georgia to put them away late.
*I wrote about the two games above on Wednesday night with full intentions of writing as much for the rest of the games on Thursday. However, Thanksgiving festivities limited me from doing so, but here are the rest of the picks of the week in a much shorter fashion.
South Carolina at Clemson
I would think a 4-4 team in the SEC is better than a 4-4 team in the ACC. And in a semi-related story, the two starting quarterbacks for this game, Chris Smelly and Cullen Harper, have combined for 23 interceptions on the year. You'll get the chance to watch this bloodbath on ESPN2 Saturday night. I'm taking Spurrier in a game that is the complete opposite of compelling and rich.
Florida at Florida State
Florida State has won eight games? Welcome to the 2008 ACC! Florida continues its Michaels and MacElroy "freight train from hell" run.
Auburn at Alabama
I did see that the weather in Tuscaloosa should be a little nasty on Saturday, which could make this game a little closer than expected. But even with bad weather and a few gift turnovers from Alabama, Auburn doesn't have enough of anything. Alabama will get away with hiding John Parker Wilson for one last game.
Kentucky at Tennessee
This game is worse than the time the raccoon got caught in the copier. Kentucky sends Phil Fulmer into unemployment with one last loss.
Vanderbilt at Wake Forest
I would think a 4-4 ACC team is better than a 4-4 SEC team. Especially one that is ranked in the 110s in at least one major offensive category. And one that lost to a Tennessee team that threw 9 passes for 21 yards. I still can't believe Ole Miss lost to this Vanderbilt team.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
I expect this game to be tight early, but I think Ole Miss is out for blood against State. After last year's meltdown in this game and playing now for a potential trip to the Cotton Bowl, I look for the Rebels to hammer the Bulldogs. State's defense should hold up for a little while, but they'll get no help from their offense and will eventually collapse. No word on whether Houston Nutt plans to grab an Ole Miss flag and run around the field like a high school kid if Ole Miss is to win on Friday.