It’s a holiday weekend, so I’m going to jump right into the games.
Game of the Week
#2 Auburn @ #9 Alabama – Saturday 2:30 PM, CBS
This is the game we’ve been waiting for all year. Due to a pair of Alabama losses, it’s not quite a ginormous as it could have been, but it still holds as one of the best games of this college football season.
If there’s going to be one time for the Tide to have the kind of virtuoso performance that so many expected, this has got to be it. Alabama isn’t playing for anything more than an at-large bid in the BCS, but this game is a chance for them to ruin the season of their most hated rivals. Can you imagine if UK had the chance to do that to UofL, or vice versa? I’d say Tide fans would enjoy a win here quite a bit.
In the face of challenges from all comers and Cam Newton adversity, Auburn has persevered. Against UGA, they sputtered a bit out of the gate, but played a superb second half to win comfortably. If Auburn comes out tight like they did against Georgia, Alabama will capitalize in front of a raucous home crowd. This time, it may be too much to overcome.
To this point, Auburn has played road games against only Missisippi State, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. Those wins are good ones, but none of their home fields are like Bryant Denny. Cam Newton will find a way to make some plays no matter what, but will Auburn make some of the mistakes they have avoided most of the year?
Can’t Miss Matchup
#5 LSU @ #12 Arkansas – Saturday 3:30 PM, CBS
As much as I’m looking forward to Auburn-Alabama, this one’s not far behind. LSU is still harboring long shot national title hopes, while Arkansas is looking for a 10 win regular season and a berth in the BCS, so there’s plenty on the line.
This game is also compelling because of the contrast in styles between these two squads. Arkansas is probably the best all-around offense in the SEC, while LSU is one of the elite defenses in the nation. LSU was far from impregnable on defense last week against Ole Miss, so Arkansas will be looking to exploit some of the same holes.
I also like the contrast between the coaches. On one hand, you have the stone faced offensive genius in Bobby Petrino. On the other hand, a crazy gambler type who no one thinks is very intelligent, but always has good defenses in Les Miles. In all likelihood, this game will be close, which means we can pretty much be sure that Les Miles is going to something out of the ordinary that will either win or lose him the game. Sign me up.
Games to Keep an Eye on
#25 Mississippi State @ Ole Miss – Saturday 7 PM, ESPNU
The Egg Bowl, I sure do love that name. Anyway, MSU has really handled its business this year against the lesser teams in the SEC, and with Ole Miss out of bowl contention, they may be a little less motivated that normal. I look for the Bulldogs to put it to the Rebs.
Kentucky @ Tennessee – Saturday 12:21 PM, SEC Network/ESPN3.com
Florida @ #22 Florida State- Saturday 3:30 PM, ABC/ESPN
This is a bit of a strange game because FSU is still looking to win their division in the ACC, but the outcome of this game has no impact on their fate. With a win over Maryland, NC State ties the ‘Noles, which would send them to the ACC title since they hold the tie breaker.
Florida has beaten up on most of the teams with less talent than them this year and struggled against some of the more talented squads. FSU can nearly match the athleticism of the Gators, meaning that the Gators could be in trouble.
#18 South Carolina @ Clemson – Saturday 7 PM, ESPN2
USC is in exactly the same position as NCSU, in that a win or loss in this game has no bearing on their fate. South Carolina has a game next weekend already on the books against Auburn in the SEC title game, so the outcome of their game in Death Valley (one of the most ridiculous names for a home field ever).
On the other hand, Clemson could come out breathing fire first of all because this is a rivalry game and second of all because a win could significantly improve their bowl projection. I’m very interested to see how South Carolina deals with this game.
Georgia Tech @ Georgia – Saturday 7:45 PM, ESPN/ESPN2
These are two teams who came into the season ranked in the top 25, but who have had their share of struggles this year. Georgia Tech is already at six wins, while Georgia will be looking to get there with a win here. Georgia has lost two of three, but has looked pretty good in every game since their 1-4 start. I like them to get a win.
Only if You Have Family Involved
Wake Forest @ Vanderbilt – Saturday 7:30 PM, ESPN3.com
I’m a Vandy alum and all, but yuck. These are two 2-9 teams with only one conference win and a combined 15 game losing streak. There’s a reason this one’s not on TV.