Last weekend was one of the better slate of games this year, with two sexy top ten BCS match-ups (Alabama vs. LSU and TCU vs. Utah).This week doesn’t have the great games of last week, but there are a few top 25 teams facing off. The most important game of the weekend comes out of the SEC (No surprise there right?). No. 23 South Carolina travels to the swamp to face No.22 Florida, in a battle that will determine the SEC east champion. Auburn, amid all the controversy surrounding Cam Newton, can clinch the SEC west with a win over Georgia and Virginia Tech continues their assault on the ACC (after losing to everyone else) taking on North Carolina. Now for the break down of those games.
South Carolina (6-3) vs. Florida (6-3) – When the season started, the first game I watched was South Carolina vs. Southern Miss. I could tell then that this Gamecock team was going to be a force. Marcus Lattimore gives them a different dimension they haven’t had, with his physical style of running. I knew they would be the chief challenger to Florida’s strangle hold on the SEC east division. Florida wasn’t what we expected to be this year, but low and behold they still can stay can make their way to Atlanta if they win this game. I look for coach Urban Meyer to pull out all the tricks for this one. The one Achilles heel for South Carolina this year has been their pass defense. The Gamecocks rank 109th in the nation in that department giving up 264.7 yards per game. If the Gators are going to exploit that area of the Gamecocks, they will need more out of QB John Brantley. He has been average this year and Meyer has been forced to use multiple QBs in his last few games. Florida offense has waken up a bit over the past two games with the wrinkles Meyer installed in their bye week. They have utilized QB Jordan Reed more and also Trey Burton. South Carolina may not have a 100 percent Marcus Lattimore and that would put the pressure on QB Stephen Garcia and his favorite receiver Alshon Jeffrey to step up. Florida has one of the best secondaries in college football with 17 interceptions, so that won’t be easy. I really think this is the year the Gamecocks get it done. They have never won the SEC east or at Florida ( Which is amazing when you realize they have been a member of the SEC since 1992). This is one of those the nerd has to beat the bully to get respect games. This is the way it should be for the Gamecocks and coach Steve Spurrier. Its comes full circle for them. I think the motivation of all these events will propel South Carolina to the victory in this game. The Pick: South Carolina
Auburn (10-0) vs. Georgia (5-5) – Auburn has a chance to clinch the SEC west title, for their first outright title since 2004. The game known as the deep south’s oldest rivalry (the two teams have been playing one another since 1892) is actually being overshadowed by the controversy that is Cam Newton (or Scam Newton as some like to call him). I could go all into the swirling allegations but I won’t. The game itself will be a chance for Newton to release some of his frustrations out on the field. If Auburn wins out, they know they will be playing for all the marbles in January. Georgia on the other hand needs one more victory to become bowl eligible and would like none other but to beat their rival. Georgia’s LB Justin Houston has 16.5 tackles for lost this season and will be key in stopping Newton on the ground. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in per yard rushing defense, allowing a measly 3.1 yards a carry. The Tigers counter with the nation top running yards per carry average at 6.65, and have rushed for more than 300 yards in their previous five SEC games. Auburn’s defense will allow a few scores by Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs offense as they have with everyone else but in the end Scam Newton I mean Cam Newton and Auburn’s rushing attack will be too much. The Pick: Auburn
Virginia Tech (7-2) vs. North Carolina (6-3) – Virginia Tech infamously started the season off by losing it’s first two games. One was a respectable loss to Boise State and the other not so much losing to FBS school James Madison. Since the two losses however, the Hokies have beat all comers. They are now the only undefeated team in the ACC coastal division, and control their own destiny for the division title. If the get a win over North Carolina coupled with a Hurricanes loss to reigning conference champion Georgia Tech, than they could take the title this Saturday. Tyrod Taylor leads the Hokie offense that ranks 1st in scoring in the ACC at 36.0 points a game. The Hokies get it done on the ground as well, averaging 212.9 yards a game. This game also features the top two rated passers per efficiency in the ACC, with Taylor leading the league with a 163.3 rating and North Carolina’s T.J Yates coming in with 153.4 rating. North Carolina has dealt with everything you can imagine this year and still actually has a shot at the division crown. Yates is coming off his best performance and in North Carolina history going 24/35 for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns. The biggest clash in this game will be the North Carolina run game vs. Tech’s defense. The Hokies gave up 346 yards last week. But North Carolina’s running back situation is a mess. James White has been have an impact year running for 720 yards and averaging 5.5 yards per carry but will be out for the rest year with a broken clavicle. Shaun Draughn was next line but he suffered a sprained ankle last week versus Florida State and his status for this game is unknown. With the cloud surrounding there running backs and Tech getting stronger each week, I have to with the Hokies. The Pick: Virginia Tech
Game of the week – South Carolina vs. Georgia. The winner gets the SEC east title and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Most intriguing game – Kansas St. vs. Missouri. KSU will try to run over the Tigers as they have been doing everyone else but Missou comes in ranked 2nd in total defense in the Big 12 and 4th against the run.
Rivalry Game – Auburn vs. Georgia. When a game is known as “The deep south oldest rivalry” that’s all that needs to be said.
Under the radar game – Mississippi State vs. Alabama – Bama’s loss to LSU took away their chance to repeat as SEC west and national champs and it also too the luster off this game but it still should a good one.
Wake me when it’s over game – Wyoming vs. UNLV – This one will go with both teams combined record 3-16.
Coach better get it right game – Oklahoma State vs. Texas – Now that Dan Hawkins has been fired, who can I pick on? This week its Mack Brown. His team has to much talent to be 4-5 and he needs to pull off an upset or two to keep the fan base in line.