SEC Week 8 Predictions

LSU / Auburn has become the defacto battle for the SEC West, and unless Fonzie gets things turned around in Tuscaloosa, this year will be no exception. Both the No. 4* Tigers and the No. 17 Birds are coming into Saturday”s game with 3-1 SEC records, although the Tigers have much more on the line than “sure, we lost to Mississippi State – but we beat Florida!” Auburn does. The series of late has been defined by smash-mouth, old-school, low-scoring close games, with the home team winning in each of the last six contests. LSU leads with the run (232 yards per game), and Auburn excels at stopping the run (109 yards per game) – though not as well as LSU does (68 yards per game). Auburn is second in the SEC in total and scoring defense (LSU leads in both categories).

And with the Birds” anemic offense (10th in the SEC in total offense, ninth in scoring offense), they”ll need to lean on their defense to win this game. A final score of 6-3 is what Auburn is hoping for.

Coming off its 9-7 win over Arkansas, where Auburn held McFadden and Jones to a combined total of 85 rushing yards, the Birds are itching to shut down the Tigers” ground game, and they stand a good chance of doing that. So LSU needs to open up that spread offense I seem to remember seeing a few weeks ago and crack the Auburn defense somewhere other than the middle of the line.

If Early Doucet is back and in playing shape this week, that”ll go a long way toward success. I also think this is the week to work Ryan Perrilloux in for more snaps and balance the offense with something other than Jacob Hester plowing the line followed by a slant pattern pass. Innovation will be key to cracking Auburn.

LSU 20 – 13

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 15 Florida at No. 7 Kentucky – If the battered and bruised Wildcats beat Florida a week after surviving a marathon slugfest against LSU while the Gators have had two weeks to recover from and stew over their loss to LSU, it”ll mean Kentucky has arrived as a real SEC contender. I don”t see it happening. Florida 45 – 27

Vanderbilt at No. 6 South Carolina – The Cocks don”t have much of an offense, but they”re one spot ahead of Auburn in total and scoring offense in the SEC. Auburn beat Vandy 35 – 7. South Carolina 38 – 13

No. 21 Tennessee at Alabama – Tennessee and Alabama both feature pretty weak offenses (the Vols lean real heavy on the pass, though, which is Alabama”s soft spot), and Tennessee is plain horrible on defense, giving up the most points of anybody in the SEC. Whether Alabama can capitalize on the Vols” generous defense is questionable, however. I”ll go with Fonzie focusing on making Tennessee run and the Alabama home-field advantage. Alabama 13 – 10

Arkansas at Ole Miss – Congratulations to winless-in-the-SEC Arkansas for making this a completely meaningless game (winless-in-the-SEC Ole Miss, I knew you had it in you). Arkansas 17 – 9

Mississippi State at No. 9 West Virginia – Sylvester is a brave man for scheduling this game. West Virginia 48 – 13

* Rankings will be quoted as BCS ranking from here out.

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