BY NEIL BISMAN
This week serves as something of the calm before the storm, as next week there are quite a few marquee match-ups on the conference slate. Until then, enjoy the appetizers…
LSU at Tulane: If you have never heard of Matt Forte before, don’t feel bad because you are not alone. The Tulane running back ran for five touchdowns and 303 yards on 40 carries in the Green Wave’s victory over Southeastern Louisiana and was named this week’s Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week for the entire nation. Is this a sign of things to come for the Slidell, Louisiana product? Forte averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry last year before going down with a left knee injury. This game won’t be close so the only thing to keep an eye out for is how Forte does in a true test, such as going against the LSU defense.
Prediction: LSU 59 – Tulane 14
Mississippi State at South Carolina: This is your textbook “trap game.” South Carolina is coming off of a loss to LSU and has their sights set on their big match up with Kentucky next week. Throw into the mix the loss of star linebacker Jasper Brinkley and the benching of Blake Mitchell in favor of freshman Chris Smelley and this game is suddenly not the walk in the part that it should have been for the Gamecocks. With starting quarterback Michael Henig out due to a broken hand, Sylvester Croom has called out Mississippi State quarterbacks Josh Riddell and Wesley Carroll, tailback Anthony Dixon, free safety Derek Pegues and offensive lineman J.D. Hamilton as players who need to step up if the Bulldogs have any chance at pulling off the upset. Expect a close one down in Columbia, South Carolina with the Gamecocks barely coming out on top.
Prediction: South Carolina 24 – Mississippi State 20
Ole Miss at Georgia: Coming off of their dramatic overtime victory of Alabama, Georgia should come into this one flying high. On the other hand, Mississippi is coming off of a tough loss to Florida, although the word around the locker room is that the players took their near miss as a positive as opposed to a negative. No word on how the Rebels will feel after this week’s loss.
Prediction: Georgia 34 – Ole Miss 13
Florida Atlantic at Kentucky: Florida Atlantic may come into this one with a 3-1 record but they haven’t exactly beaten teams anywhere near the caliber of Kentucky. In their only tough game of the season, they got blown out by Oklahoma State. The Oklahoma State loss should come as no surprise though, because they are coached “BY A MAN!” Let the Andre’ Woodson for Heisman push continue…
Prediction: Kentucky 49 – Florida Atlantic 10
Alabama at Florida State: This one is not exactly a true home game for the Seminoles as it is taking place down Interstate 10 in Jacksonville, Florida. It should be extremely interesting to see how Alabama rebounds from their crushing loss a week ago. Florida State has a lot hanging over their head as well with an impeding academic scandal that hit the school this past week. On the field though, Alabama is just flat out better than a Florida State team that, surprise, is still struggling to find itself on offense. Saban Nation can breathe easy, or breathe again for that matter.
Prediction: Alabama 27 – Florida State 17
North Texas at Arkansas: The one positive that Arkansas has going for it this week is that they shouldn’t blow another 4th quarter lead. If they do, Houston Nutt might want to start looking at the classifieds.
Prediction: Arkansas 49 – North Texas 3
Eastern Michigan at Vanderbilt: Once upon a time, Vanderbilt was Eastern Michigan. The overmatched team, going into the lion’s den and just hope that the defeat was quick and painless. The Commodores should have a good time in their new role as a heavy favorite.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 38 – Eastern Michigan 13
Auburn at Florida: Auburn sure has managed to take a lot of the excitement out of this game with their lackluster play this season. Florida comes in looking to avenge their only loss from a season ago and has the added incentive of coming off of a close one with Ole Miss a week ago. Don’t let Brandon Cox’s improved performance last week against New Mexico State fool you, he is still extremely mistake prone and heading into arguably the toughest place to play in the nation; which spells bad news for the Tigers.
Prediction: Florida 42 – Auburn 24