College Football: Picking Every SEC Game in Week 5


The SEC rolls out another slate of BCS Championship caliber games in week five of the 2011 season.Alabamatravels to the Swamp to face Florida, Arkansas plays Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, and Georgia tries to get their season on track against Mississippi State.

No. 1 LSU welcomes Kentucky,Tennessee comes off a bye to face Buffalo, Auburn travels to No. 10 South Carolina, and Ole Miss looks for their running game at Fresno State.

Vanderbilt (3-1) has a bye week. The Commodores travel to Alabama October 8.

Alabama (4-0, 3-1) versus Florida (4-0, 1-0)

There are several key SEC match-ups this week but none more important than the outcome of the No. 3 Alabama versus No. 12 Florida game. This game should shape how the conference races in both SEC divisions play out.

An Alabama win keeps them on pace with preseason SEC West favorite LSU. A loss by Alabama puts LSU in the driver’s seat until their November 5, game against LSU inTuscaloosa.

A Florida win keeps the Gators on pace withSouth Carolinain the SEC East. A loss by Florida followed by a road trip to LSU could put the Gators out of control of their own destiny for the rest of the season.

Both teams play tough defense and are committed to stopping the run. Alabama and Florida use a tandem running back rotation opposing defenses have to account for. Bama uses Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy whileFloridauses Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. The Crimson Tide averages 230.75 rushing yards per game and the Gators average 259 yards per game.

Alabama’s defense only gives up 45.75 rushing yards per game. Florida gives up 56.50.

Which team will be able to run the ball better and complete critical third down passing conversions when needed?

Both teams have a similar third down conversion rate as well; Bama 41.18, Gators 42.55.

Who wins this one in a tight matchup? Bama won last year’s game 31-6. This one goes down to the wire with the Tide winning 24-18.

Arkansas (3-1, 0-1) versus Texas A&M (3-1)

In a non-conference, but soon to be conference showdown in 2012, No. 14 Texas A&M takes on No. 18 Arkansas in the Southwest Classic.

Much will be made about this game one way or another… either A&M does not belong in the SEC by fans boycotting their acceptance into the SEC or this is a preview of things to come with an A&M victory.

Both sides are banged up on defense thus very little knowledge about either team will be gathered from this game. The Aggies could be without three starters on defense; S Steven Campbell, CB Coryell Judie, and DL Jonathan Mathis. DB Louie Swope could miss the game as well.

The Razorbacks will be without starting defensive end Tenarius Wright (arm) and possibly their other starting defensive end Jake Bequette (hamstring). Issac Maddison hurt his knee in theAlabamagame but is expected to play this weekend.

The Razorback rushing attack could receive a boost if running back Broderick Green plays against the Aggies. Green tore his ACL during Arkansas spring practices and was expected to miss the rest of the season. Reports are he has been practicing for the past three weeks and is expected to take some snaps this weekend.Arkansaswill need him against the Aggies 7th rated rush defense (60.33 yards per game).

The key match up is Arkansas’ passing attack (312.25 yards per game) versus Texas A&M’s passing defense (279 yards per game; ranked 109th in the nation. A&M leads the nation in total sacks (14) and sacks per game (4.67). Can Tyler Wilson avoid the rush and find receivers down field? Or will A&M’s “Sack Attack” be too much for the Razorbacks inexperienced offensive line?

Arkansas won last year 24-17. Look for Arkansas to hold on for a 28-24 win this year.

Mississippi State (2-2, 0-2) versus Georgia (2-2, 1-1)

The Mississippi State versus Georgia game pits two teams with similar disappointing starts to their seasons.Georgiahad tough games against Boise State and South Carolina while MSU lost tough games to Auburn and LSU.

MSU has had injuries along their offensive line and have had difficulty replacing their linebacker unit from last season. Chris Relf did not play well against Louisiana Tech last week but did enough to secure the 26-20 overtime home win with the game winning touchdown pass.

Georgia has reversed their early season stumble with two convincing wins, one over SEC West foe Ole Miss last week 27-13 and Costal Carolina 59-0.

Georgia has had injury problems as well and has had to use walk-ons in key positions. Georgia is young and largely inexperienced. 2012 may be a breakout year for these Bulldogs but there is still hope to their 2011 season as they only have two top 25 teams left on the schedule.

Georgia’s commitment to starting true freshman Isaiah Crowell could be looked at as the turning point in their season. Crowell has responded with two 100-yard rushing games. Crowell will have to take the majority of the snaps as fellow running backs Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome are not expected to play this weekend.

MSU OL Tobias Smith (knee, out for season) and LB Chris Hughes (disciplinary) will both be out against Georgia.

Georgia won last year’s match up 24-12. Look for this one to be tight too with Georgia taking the win at home 24-17.

Kentucky (2-2, 0-1) vs. LSU (4-0, 1-0)

Kentuckytravels toDeath Valley for their second game straight game out of three versus a top 25 foe. The Wildcats have the unfortunate task of playing LSU after two road trips; The Tiger faithful will be excited to have the number one team in the nation back home.

Kentucky’s offense has been non-existent. The loss of WR Randall Cobb, RB Derrick Locke, WR Chris Matthews, and QB Mike Hartline has been too much for Joker Phillips to replace; understandably so.

LSU’s defense has been lights out as needed against top tier offenses. Their offense has steadily improved under the direction of quarterback Jarrett Lee.

Perhaps the biggest question out of the Bayou Bengal camp is what will Les Miles do with Jordan Jefferson?

Jefferson has been reinstated by LSU afterBaton Rouge police lowered their charges to simple battery against Jefferson. Will Les integrate Jefferson back into the offense and eventually place him back into the lineup as a starter. Or will Miles keep a great thing going with Lee? Both players are seniors and have a lot left to prove to NFL scouts. A two headed quarterback rotation could spell disaster for the Tigers.

Kentucky has to hope they can catch LSU looking forward to next week’s game versus University of Florida otherwise the pairing of LSU’s 14th ranked scoring defense (14.25 points per game) against Kentucky’s 107th ranked scoring offense (17 points per game) will get ugly quick.

LSU wins this one before halftime: 42-10.

Auburn (3-1, 1-0) vs.South Carolina (4-0, 2-0)

Auburn rolls into South Carolina after an adjustment game against Florida Atlantic in week four. Auburn won easily (30-14) but serious questions remain about their defense.

South Carolina’s offense was shutdown for the first time this year against an upstart Vanderbilt team. The Gamecocks defense bailed the offense out as USC won 21-3.

Auburn and South Carolina’s offense are good at filling up the score board, 34.25 and 36.50 points per game respectively. The game will come down to either team’s defensive ability to stop the other team’s high potent offensive attacks. South Carolina gives up 27.75 points per game toAuburn’s 31 points per game.

Not much separates these teams by their schedules to date.

South Carolina’s rush defense gives up 137.75 yards per game, including a tough game against Navy’s rushing attack. Auburn gives up 226.50 yards per game; 112th worst in FBS.

This one is a shootout 42-31: Marcus Lattimore and Michael Dyer will put on a running back clinic. Lattimore gets the better of Dyer as South Carolina gets the win because they are playing at home and they can stop the run better than Auburn.

Mississippi (1-3, 0-2) vs. Fresno State (2-2)

Houston Nutt needs this win and boy does he need it badly if the Rebels have any hope to make a bowl game this season. The Rebels get a bye next week and then start the heart of their SEC schedule with Alabama and Arkansas coming to Oxford then back to back road trips to Auburn and Kentucky before finishing the season at home against LSU and at Mississippi State.

Fresno State has played an unbalanced schedule to date. The Bulldogs started the season off losing two road games to California 36-21 and Nebraska 42-29. Then Fresno State beat North Dakota 27-22 at home and won at Idaho 48-24. They have taken care of lesser competition to date.

Now Ole Miss comes to town, a team that beat them 55-38 in Oxford last year. Which team is Ole Miss this season, the lesser competition or a BCS Conference school?

Fresno State gives up 31 points per game while Ole Miss gives up 23.75 points.

Fresno State averages 31.25 points per game to Ole Miss’ 18.75 per game.

If Fresno State is able to limit the Rebels running game, which only averages 91.80 yards per game, the Bulldogs should walk away with another victory against a BCS power conference team for the fifth year in a row.

Ole Miss could be blessed with the return of their top two tailbacks, Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis. Their status is a game time decision.

Fresno State will be without RB A.J. Ellis, DB Zak Hill, and OL Matt Hunt.

Ole Miss sneaks by 24-14.

Buffalo (1-3) versus Tennessee (2-1, 0-1)

Tennessee welcomes the Bulls to Knoxville after a bye week spent fixing offensive line issues and trying to limit big plays given up by their defense.

Tennessee had a frustrating 33-23 loss to Florida at the Swamp before their bye. Perhaps even more frustrating was the loss of wide receiver Justin Hunter for the season to a torn ACL in the Florida game. Hunter was Tyler Bray’s top target and a beast for opposing defensive coordinators to have to deal with.

Tennessee’s tune-up game against Buffalo is much needed before going on a brutal four game SEC stretch that includesGeorgia, LSU, Alabama, andSouth Carolina. Look for head coach Derek Dooley to give running backs Tauren Poole and Marlin Laneas many touches as he can to get the Vols rushing attack on track before their four-game October stretch.

Tennessee wins easily 35-7.