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2011 SEC Week Three Previews and Predictions

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There are a couple of decent conference games this week and one good out-of-conference game, while the rest of the league plays the last tune-up games for the time being.

Listen to my football podcast The Gridiron Breakdown live on Tuesdays @ 10 p.m. The podcast is available for download from the show site after it airs.

Conference Games

LSU @ Mississippi State
This Thursday night affair comes at a bad time for Mississippi State. They roll up a ton of offense on Auburn only to lose on the last play of the game. They pile up injuries and now have to turn around and play one of the most physical defenses in the league. LSU got a week to rest by playing Northwestern State after a big opening win against Oregon, and the game plan should be the same – disrupt the backfield which will throw MSU’s offense into disarray. On offense, LSU won’t try anything fancy. Just line up and run the ball at the Bulldogs rather suspect defense.

A short week and injuries even playing at home make this too tough a hill for Mississippi State to overcome. LSU buries their hopes of an SEC West crown with a big win here.
LSU 28, Mississippi State 14

Tennessee @ Florida
Tennessee is young and certainly improving under head coach Derek Dooley but the cupboard is not nearly as full as what Will Muschamp and his staff inherited at Florida. The Gators have been clicking on just about every side of the ball against paltry competition and now get a decent test but one they are more than able to pass. Tennessee may make a game of this early but will fade down the stretch in the Swamp.
Florida 41, Tennessee 20

Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt
Ole Miss bounced back from an opening week loss nicely and Vanderbilt showed they have the “don’t quit” attitude with a come-from-behind win against UConn last week. Neither of these teams will dazzle you with offense and the defenses are virtually the same through two games. The same Vanderbilt team handed a 14 point loss to the Rebels last year and with 99% most of that team returning I don’t expect the Commodores to fall back this year. Houston Nutt’s run at Ole Miss starts coming to an end as the Rebels fall this week.
Vanderbilt 24, Ole Miss 16

Out-Of-Conference Games

Auburn @ Clemson
Auburn is the team that simply won’t quit winning much to the chagrin of detractors who have been hoping for such since last September. The Tigers defense was better in some aspects last week but they still live by the bend until almost breaking but don’t break philosophy. The offense is more than capable of putting up points. Clemson hasn’t played really inspired football in its opening games and they will need every second of four quarters if they hope to win this one. Clemson presents some of the same match-up issues Mississippi State did but Auburn was able to overcome those. It’ll probably be another exciting shootout but I like Auburn to go on the road and notch a big win.

Auburn 38, Clemson 34

Navy @ South Carolina
Navy is always a tough out because they run a quirky offense and play with a lot of heart. South Carolina showed a lot of, well something, against Georgia and they have way more team speed and size which will ultimately overwhelm the Midshipmen. South Carolina needs QB Stephen Garcia to get sharp if they have real plans of repeating in the SEC East.
South Carolina 44, Navy 23

Troy @ Arkansas
Arkansas has a lot of offense and Troy has very little defense. This is the last tune-up for the Razorbacks before they start a tough stretch of games against BCS conference competition.
Arkansas 51, Troy 24

North Texas @ Alabama
Could Alabama please pick some interesting out-of-conference opponents? Kent State was a joke, Penn State can’t buy an offense, and North Texas is the doormat of the Sun Belt (and that’s saying something). Another snoozer win for the Tide.
Alabama 31, North Texas 3

Louisville @ Kentucky
Kentucky isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination but Louisville is actually worse. The Wildcats should get a win in what promises to be an ugly game.
Kentucky 16, Louisville 7

Coastal Carolina @ Georgia
Georgia finally gets an opponent they should be able to handle. How far have the Bulldogs fallen when the potential ranting of the opposing coach are more interesting than their own coach’s statements?
Georgia 44, Coastal Carolina 7

For those playing in conference, it’s time to start staking claims and those out of conference have a reputation to uphold.

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