SEC Week 4 Predictions

Loyal Wisdom readers will recall that I could not bring myself to pick LSU to win the SEC West in my season preview. At the time I said Auburn’s uncertainty at quarterback seemed preferable to LSU’s uncertainty at quarterback, and thus I gave the pre-season edge to Auburn in both Saturday’s game and the SEC West race.

So here’s how I see things two games in for LSU and three games in for Auburn.

Auburn’s offense is underwhelming. They stand 11th in the SEC in passing and 5th in rushing. Quarterback Chris Todd is unspectacular, but has also not thrown an interception since his very bad opening effort against ULM.

LSU’s rushing offense looks very good on paper, putting up 241 yards a game to lead the SEC. But App State and North Texas are hardly benchmark opponents. There is, however, a lot of talent on the offensive line and at halfback; that can’t be denied.

At quarterback, Jarrett Lee is simply not ready to lead the team. Like Andrew Hatch, he seems capable of running the swing-pass offense, but when it comes to being a dropback QB, he’s had his chances to show something, and he’s failed. On the flip side, Hatch is never going to be a passer, but LSU isn’t asking him to be. Despite the lack of a real QB, though, LSU’s passing offense is actually producing more than Auburn (7th in the SEC), though Todd’s 248 yards against Southern Mississippi is more than the LSU tandem produced in either of its games.

Offensively, the edge goes to LSU. But having lost a game to Gustav and the quarterback play being what it is, I think it’s clear LSU will lead with the run and keep ‘em honest with quick hits on the edges. I wouldn’t expect a big game from Hatch or Lee, nor would I expect LSU to try for that.

I do expect this to be largely a ground game. Barring a blown coverage or something, this one will be close and ultimately won on the ground.

LSU has an edge in rush defense, but again with questionable opponents in the rearview for both teams. It’s worth noting, though, that LSU held Appy and NTU well below their rush totals in other games. In the case of Appy, LSU held them to 396 fewer yards than their other opponent – Jacksonville. The same can be said, though, about Auburn and their opponents.

I think, though, that LSU has clear advantages in overall execution and program maturity. The War Eagles have fumbled the ball eight times in the past two games and lost six of them. They have yet to come together under their new spread offense, and overall they seem clumsy and confused. LSU, on the other hand, is comfortable with its offense and executes it well. In what’s expected to be a defensive-driven game, execution will be key.

Therefore, assuming LSU goes with a gameplan that doesn’t ask too much of the quarterback (perhaps stay with Hatch the whole game) and lets Auburn be the team making the mistakes, I like our chances.

LSU 9 – 6

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 3 Georgia at No. 24 Arizona State: I’m tempted to go with Arizona State here. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter averages 325 yards passing (9th in the nation) and Georgia’s secondary is generous, as the Dawgs hold the 86th-best pass defense in the country (236 yards a game). South Carolina put more passing yards on Georgia than they did on Vandy or N.C. State. Georgia Southern dropped more passing yards on Georgia than they put on Austin Peay.

If ASU can lay its passing power down to exploit Georgia’s pass defense, the potential exists for a high-scoring shootout or even an ASU romp.

But Georgia’s defensive problems tend to show up just in the second half. In the first half, Georgia has given up 113 yards and 4.7 points on average; that goes to 207 yards and 10.3 points in the second half. Dawg defenders point to the “young guys playing” effect in their patsy games, but Chris Smelley and Co. laid 185 4th-quarter yards on Georgia last Saturday, and Cock incompetence is all that kept the game from getting tied.

Whether it’s fatigue, poor reaction to halftime adjustments or whatever, it’s clear Georgia is best-served by not allowing Arizona State to be in the game late. And that should be doable.

The Dawg offense is nothing special; still 31st in total offense and 27th in scoring. But the Sun Devils sit at 39th in total defense and 43rd in scoring. I would expect Georgia to play ball-control and limit ASU’s touches.

So I think the potential exists for ASU (stung by the UNLV loss) to pull the upset here, but I have more faith in Georgia’s talent overall.

Dawgs 38 – 31

No. 4 Florida at No. 32 Tennessee: Dare I say it? There’s not a lot to like about Florida’s offense so far. They sit 8th in the SEC in rushing offense, and 6th in passing offense. Their top spot in SEC scoring offense is bolstered by three non-offensive touchdowns against Hawaii.

The Vols are sitting 8th in the SEC in both total and scoring defense. But the thing is, one bad game against UCLA (giving up 289 yards and 27 points) is enough to drop you below the middle of the pack when you’ve only played two games.

In Tebow v. Vols Defense, I look at things this way – UCLA exploited this defense and got blown out (and shut out) by BYU in their next game. So I think the indicators point to Florida playing above their stats and Tennessee living up to their poor reputation.

Offensively, the Vols are balanced (3rd in the SEC in both rushing and passing offense), but they put fewer points (35) on UAB than either Tulsa (45) or Florida Atlantic (49) managed. And, of course, they dropped 24 on UCLA before BYU put 59 on them. And the Gators’ defense (No. 1 in SEC total defense, No. 3 in scoring defense) should hold up to the Vol attack.

Florida 31 – 17

No. 13 Alabama at Arkansas: I’m ready to see Jackass’ team get torn apart. Casey Dick has strong passing numbers against bad teams, but the Hogs no longer have a ground game. Meanwhile, Fonzie has the defense clicking and the offense is coming along.

Alabama 41 – 17

No. 35 Vandy at Ole Miss: Hmm. A 3-0 Vandy going in to play Ole Miss. What sticks out to me here is the SEC’s second-best rushing offense (yes, Vandy) against the SEC’s worst rushing defense. I like how Ole Miss played against Wake Forest, but I’m gonna go Vandy here.

Dores 14 – 10

Mississippi State at No. 42 Georgia Tech: Kroom’s Kids are horrid on offense and average on defense. It might be a good thing for them that Tech will run a lot of clock.

Tech 13 – 6

Wofford at South Carolina: Let’s be done with the patsy games already.

Cocks 28 – 3

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4 Responses to “SEC Week 4 Predictions”

  1. TCL says:

    My how times have changed. Going with Vandy.

    On LSU Auburn, I wouldn’t be surprised with 10-10 end of regulation.

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  3. John says:

    Anybody ready to say “oops, I guess I had that a little wrong?”

    Another heart stopper from Les Miles. (such an oxymoron, he’s putting more miles on our hearts than the Crescent City Marathon!)

    Lee found himself, a little confidence goes a long way. Hatch may look like Matt Mauck, but Lee has the umpf of Rohan Davey!

  4. Dave C. says:

    “Lee found himself”… he found himself extremely lucky. He threw wobbly, underthrown and off-target ducks, not darts.We won and I’m glad about that, but it’s on Auburn for not defending against a very beatable passing game, not on us for a dazzling air attack.

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