The big game this weekend is the Saban Bowl in Baton Rouge. There will be hugs and kisses all around when Nick walks into Death Valley, I'm sure. Georgia/Kentucky, Arkansas/South Carolina, and Florida/Vanderbilt figure as games where we might see an upset or two.
Check out our friend's blog The Ghost of Chucky...Mullins, That Is for more previews.
Georgia at Kentucky
Last time the Dawgs went to Lexington, Andre Woodson and the Cats punched Georgia in the mouth and sent Mark Richt and Co. home with a loss. That was in the middle of Georgia's tough 2006 season, when the Dawgs were also blown out at home by Tennessee, beaten by Vandy, and didn't pick themselves up until they upset a highly ranked Auburn team the week after losing to the Cats.
Obviously, this is a different Georgia team. Matthew Stafford and friends are all grown up now, and while this year has not lived up to lofty preseason expectations, the Dawgs are still a very good team. Kentucky, on the other hand, has struggled a good bit since starting the season 4-0 and almost picking off Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Cats are bowl eligible, but they were thorougly embarrassed by Florida and needed late-game heroics to defeat bottom feeders Arkansas and Mississippi State. Kentucky's defense has played well, but myriad special teams gaffes and an offense that, after an injury to talented RB Dicky Lyons, has puttered to levels only known by the likes of Auburn, Tennessee, and Mississippi State have made things difficult for the group from the Bluegrass State. Kentucky may be able to use their excellent defensive front to keep UGA from scoring many points. Maybe they will even be able to force a turnover or two and take an early lead. However, I just do not think they will be able to score enough points to win this game, even if they play their best. I'm taking Georgia in this one.
Arkansas at South Carolina
More on this one soon.
Wyoming at Tennessee
While Tennessee has trouble moving the ball, Wyoming has one of the worst offenses in college football, even having trouble in scoring in the MWC. The Vols defense will likely manhandle the Cowboys' O. That said, this game could very well turn out like the Vols' contest against Northern Illinois or Mississippi State, when Tennessee was able to keep their opponent from scoring much but could not do much when they got the ball. However, athletically Wyoming just cannot hang with Tennessee, and even if the Vols' cannot move the ball, Nick Stephens at least seems to be able to protect it, so do not expect the Vols to give the game away. Tennessee may come out flat, but they will pull away late. I actually think they might run away with it; Tennessee's players love Phillip Fulmer, and even though they are not very good, they will fight to vindicate their coach.
UT-Martin at Auburn
Hopefully the Tigers can use this game to figure out something they can do on offense that will give them a chance against their rivals, Georgia and Alabama. If not, things might get rough for them, especially when Tommy Six Fingers heads into Bryant-Denney.
Alabama at LSU
Nick Saban and his top-ranked Tide return to Death Valley for the first time to take on LSU. While both teams are talented, the Tide are clear favorites here. They have a defense that is good enough not to let Jarret Lee, Charles Scott, and Co. push them around, and while the Tide's offense is nothing spectacular, LSU's defense is suspect, and John Parker Wilson and Julio Jones are capable of taking advantage of the weak Tigers' secondary.
That said, this will be an emotional game for all involved. That plays into the hands of Les Miles, who, whatever you want to say about him, is a master motivator and thrives off the emotional side of the game. Les knows that the Tigers faithful want this game badly, and he will do anything he has to do to win this.
The key here, I think, is how the first half goes. If Bama comes out and thrashes the Tigers like they did Georgia, LSU and their crowd may fold. However, if LSU comes out fired up and punches the Tide in the mouth, they may be able to ride the crowd to a close game. I expect the latter to happen, and I think Les will take a gamble that will pay off at the end of the game. LSU wins.
Florida at Vanderbilt
Vandy could technically stay in the SEC East race with a win against the Gators. However, at this point the Gators offense is playing so well that even an opportunistic defense like Vanderbilt's probably won't be able to slow them down much, and Vandy's struggling offense simply can't hang with Urban's bunch in a shootout. If Vandy plays their best and forces a couple of early turnovers they may be able to keep it somewhat close early, but Florida just has better athletes across the board and will likely blow this game wide open at some point. Gators win by 3+ TDs and maybe by much more.
Idle: Ole Miss and Mississippi State