Thursday, September 24, 2009

SEC Picks of Week 4

Made while staring at a clock that just won’t get to 6:30 fast enough…

Last week: 8-1
Season: 24-3 (.889)

Ole Miss at South Carolina
For months now, this is the game I’ve been pointing to as the make or break game for Ole Miss’ season. Win and the Rebels probably win 10 games. Lose and that total will be closer to seven or eight. And for months I’ve been simply terrified of this game. On the road, first real game of the season and the Thursday night home underdog’s amazing ability to pull off wins (I have no evidence to back this up other than I vaguely remember reading that the home underdog has an outright winning record. I guess you’ll have to trust me.).

Well, we’ve finally arrived at the day of reckoning and I’m strangely calm after being miserably worried Sunday through Tuesday. Sometime Tuesday morning I had some sort of an epiphany and feel no worry as the game nears. Now, I will certainly be filled with that nervous nauseous feeling once the game starts, but that cannot be helped. Yes, I do understand that it’s completely insane to get so worked up over the actions of 18-22 year olds, but screw you for judging me.

Anyway, here’s why I like Ole Miss to win and, as of now, feel no worry:

-Ole Miss has better players. Seriously, look up and down both rosters. Ole Miss will hold an edge at a majority of the positions. South Carolina doesn’t have what Ole Miss has on offense and hasn’t shown much on defense.

-The Ole Miss defense is not the same defense South Carolina destroyed last year. Yes, many of the same players are there, but that defense that lost became something much greater as the season went on. The Gamecocks haven’t played the current defense and I don’t think they can handle them.

-The Ole Miss offense, which has been much more chunky than smooth, has run absolutely nothing filled with any sort of creativity or strategy. It’s been all basic plays that rely on nothing but superior skill. Pure skill doesn’t work when conference play starts and that’s why you’ll see a much more diverse and creative offense tonight.

The bottom line is that if Ole Miss doesn’t turn the ball over, they’ll win. In fact, that will be the story for pretty much the rest of the year. The only team that can beat Ole Miss straight up is Alabama. Everyone else will need help and even if South Carolina gets a little help, they can’t win.

LSU at Mississippi State

In the days of old, as in just two years ago, this skull dragging would be over with by the second quarter. However, LSU doesn’t have the offensive firepower they once had and their defense isn’t the F5 tornado it once was. I’m very interested to see how the LSU defense plays in this one. It’s a game they should dominate, much like Auburn dominated State, but if they don’t, some serious questions need to be asked about this defense. State doesn’t have enough of anything to win this game, so I don’t think the outcome will ever be in doubt, but I think this is a great opportunity to find out if LSU really is an elite team in the SEC.

Arkansas at Alabama
I said earlier this week that I’m fascinated by the coaching match up in this game. Nick Saban’s defense going up against Bobby Petrino’s offense. Saban has had basically two weeks to get ready for this game (since North Texas preparation was most likely kept to a minimum) and I like his chances with that much time to get ready. Plus, if he just looked at the Georgia film and did the exact opposite of whatever they did, he’d already be doing much better.

Arkansas has no defense and everyone knows it. Look for Alabama to pound away via the ground game and keep the Arkansas offense off the field. With Alabama’s ability to run and then mix in the play action they love so much, I think they’ll put plenty of points on the board. Arkansas can’t stop them and they’ll have to play a perfect game on offense to have a chance, but they won’t. Alabama wins.

Florida at Kentucky
A perfect chance to add validity to my belief that Rich Brooks is a good coach. Tennessee showed everyone how to play this Florida team and I expect Brooks to follow suit. He’s got a little more offensive talent so he can be a little more aggressive than the Vols, but it’s not enough to win. I just want to see Kentucky keep it within a few scores and make it a mildly competitive game.

Arizona State at Georgia
Can Joe Cox live the good life for another week? It probably doesn’t matter. As long as Georgia avoids massive quantities of turnovers, they win. And remember when there was a contingent of Ole Miss fans (a contingent made up Pete Boone and Robert Khayat) who thought Dennis Erickson should become Ole Miss’ next head coach? What an outstanding idea. Granted, he certainly would have been better than Ed Orgeron initially, but so would have an eight-year old.

Ball State at Auburn

I’ve got $20 that says Kodi Burns can’t complete more than five passes.

Ohio at Tennessee
I’ve got another $20 that says Jonathan Crompton can’t complete 15.

Vanderbilt at Rice
One of a handful of times Vandy will play a team that’s actually worse than they are. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. Vandy wins.

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