Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Week 11 Picks

(#14,#14)Georgia (7-2, 4-2) @ Kentucky (6-3, 2-3)
11:30 CST, Raycom
All-Time Series: Georgia 48-11-2
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -11

Georgia gets its chance to lick its wounds against a Kentucky team that earned bowl-eligibility last weekend in Starkville. While UGA has won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two schools, UK prevailed in 2006, the last meeting in Lexington. The Bulldogs are 24-3 against Kentucky when ranked.

Polar opposite weekends for these two schools last week as Georgia was blitzed in Jacksonville while the ‘Cats wrapped up a bowl bid with an upset in Starkville. UK switched to something of a 2-QB look last week alternating sophomore Mike Hartline and freshman Randall Cobb. Their numbers weren’t overwhelming – 16/29 for 156 yds and 1/1 – but it (coupled with a blocked extra point) were enough for the win.

For the ‘Dawgs, things were bad at halftime. Down 14-3, things hadn’t gone UGA’s way. Then the third quarter happened, and all the national title dreams evaporated. That said, the defense should handle Kentucky well. The combination of Hartline and Cobb won’t be enough to exploit a UGA secondary that has given more passing yds than any conference team except Ole Miss. On the flip side, only Alabama has given up fewer rushing yds than UGA has.

This will be one of UGA’s best efforts of the season. Under Richt, unfocused games like last week have become commonplace, but rarely if ever on back to back weeks. Richt has been incredible on the road in conference and UGA is too talented and now too desperate for a win to let an injury-depleted ‘Cats team stand in their way of a win.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

Arkansas (4-5, 1-4) @ South Carolina (6-3, 3-3)
12:00 CST, PPV
All-Time Series: Arkansas 10-6
Wednesday’s Line: South Carolina -11

Hard to believe it’s been 17 seasons since South Carolina and Arkansas joined the conference. Arkansas has won 2 in a row in this series and 3 of the last 4 have been decided by 6 points or less, the exception being the Hogs’ 48-36 victory last season.

Including last week’s win over UT, South Carolina is a meager 6-16 in November over the last 6 seasons, highlighted by last season’s epic collapse. This is seemingly a different Gamecocks team, as they’re playing fairly well heading into the latter part of the season. They’ll be facing an Arkansas team that has also matured and improved throughout the course of the season and one that is desperate for a win.

The Gamecocks rank 3rd in the country in total D, giving up just 250.7 ypg. Where they have struggled at times is offensively, putting up just 330.4 ypg, good for 86th in the nation. They’ve had just 255 and 254 yds the last 2 games against LSU and Tennessee. The major problems have coming running the ball where South Carolina ranks 106th nationwide.

It’ll be a battle of weaknesses as the Hogs’ sport the conference’s worst run defense, allowing 170 ypg and a 5.6 ypc average. Though Arkansas forced enough turnovers to knock off Tulsa last week, the Golden Hurricane still ran up 528 yds against the Hogs. While South Carolina won’t approach those numbers, they will find some momentum in the running game and be able to run a much more balanced attack.

South Carolina can’t sleep on this one. Arkansas needs this for a real shot at bowl eligibility so they’ll be fired up. The Hogs torched the Cocks last year for 650 yds (540 rushing), but that was with McFadden and Jones. This year, the Gamecock defense will be too much for Casey Dick and Michael Smith to overcome. South Carolina wins by 2 TDs.

Straight Up Winner: South Carolina
Against the Spread: South Carolina

Wyoming (3-6) @ Tennessee (3-6, 1-5)
12:00 CST, PPV
All-Time Series: Tennessee 2-0
Wednesday’s Line: Tennessee -27

This is exactly the kind of game the Vols need right now. With all the excitement going on in Knoxville, hosting a team as anemic on offense they are is just what the doctor ordered for the Vols. Currently, the Vols rank 115th in the country on offense with 272.4 ypg. Wyoming sits at 112th with 284.4 ypg. Those numbers are remarkably skewed from their 544 yd outburst last week against San Diego State.

The Volunteer D should have a field day with the Cowboys who have scored a TD or less in 5 games this season. And the offense should finally actually resemble an offense against a lesser opponent. This one won’t be close, but 4 TDs is too much to give anyone against the Vols this year.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Wyoming

Tennessee-Martin (7-2) @ Auburn (4-5, 2-4)
1:30 CST
All-Time Series: First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

Not even worth the effort… Auburn rolls. Or at least they win by a couple of TDs. This offense never seems roll.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: N/A

(#1,#1)Alabama (9-0, 5-0) @ (#15,#15) LSU (6-2, 3-2)
2:30 CST, CBS
All-Time Series: Alabama 43-23-5
Wednesday’s Line: Alabama -3

While the Tide has dominated this series all time, the Tigers have run off 5 straight victories and 7 of 8, including the thrilling 41-34 win last season that started Alabama’s season-ending 4-game losing streak. Alabama is 24-8-2 in Baton Rouge. But none of that matters this weekend in Baton Rouge, not for this game.

As hostile as Arkansas fans were towards Houston Nutt, expect that to pale in comparison to what the LSU fans have in store for Saban. He will not be welcomed back with open arms or remembered for the 48-16 record he posted as LSU’s HC. It will be ugly. My only question is why this game is not at night. No game in recent memory has screamed “NIGHT GAME IN BATON ROUGE” more than this one.

LSU’s offensive strength this season has been pounding the ball on the ground with Charles Scott. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that plays right into the teeth of the Alabama D, which will be welcoming Mt. Cody back in the middle. The Tide have given up just 590 rush yds this year (67 ypg), a 2.9 ypc average, and just 1 rushing touchdown.

The Tide has also controlled the line of scrimmage on offense all season, leading the SEC in rushing offense as well with 1848 yds (205 ypg). They lead the conference with a 5.04 ypc average and their 22 rush TDs are 2nd only to Florida’s 23. And while JPW is not an elite QB, he has been steady this season and, most importantly, taking care of the football.

The Tide can punch their ticket to Atlanta with a victory in Baton Rouge. They’ll have success running the ball against a suddenly porous LSU defense and the defense should be able to handle a mistake-prone LSU offense. Look for Alabama to continue to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and feed off the turnovers by a youthful LSU backfield. “2-Loss Les” becomes “3-Loss Les” Saturday afternoon.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Alabama

(#4,#5)Florida (7-1, 5-1) @ Vanderbilt (5-3, 3-2)
6:00 CST, ESPN2
All-Time Series: Florida 30-9-2
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -24

Florida has won 17 straight against Vanderbilt. Last year, UF BMF Percy Harvin paced the gators with 100+ yds receiving and 100+ yds rushing, the first Gator to ever pull that off. Let’s be brutally honest here, right now, Florida is playing as well or better than anyone in the country. Vanderbilt isn’t. The pressure to win one more game increases every week in Nashville and it’s not going to happen Saturday. Even an unfocused Gator team will make mincemeat out of this ‘Dores team. Florida rolls.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

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