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SEC ’11 Week Nine Previews and Predictions

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The top teams in the SEC conference and nation are both off this week. That puts the Georgia vs. Florida game at center stage, and this year it actually matters—well, sort of.

Georgia (5-2) @ Florida (4-3)
You can count on one hand the number of times Georgia has beaten Florida in the last 20 years and have plenty of fingers left over in the process. Even when they should, Georgia finds ways to not in this game.

This year the great unknown is what Florida will look like with the return of QB John Brantley. We know what it looked like without him—the Gators lost. Georgia’s defense isn’t bad and it will need to create pressure up front to eliminate the speed the Gators will try to deploy.

For Georgia on offense, it’s simple: continue the balanced attack you’ve shown in the middle of the season which will allow QB Aaron Murray to dissect the opposition at will. The Florida defense can be pushed around up front and that’s the best course of action for the Bulldogs.

I expect it to be a tight game won by the team who can control the trenches, and right now, that team is Georgia.
Pick: Georgia 23, Florida 21

South Carolina (6-1) @ Tennessee (3-4)
South Carolina has a ton of injuries on offense (mostly to running backs) that it will have to overcome if the team plans to repeat in the East. It won’t get a ton of resistance from Tennessee, who is also dealing with injuries along with a lack of quality depth. The Gamecocks have more than enough to win this one comfortably.
Pick: South Carolina 27, Tennessee 9

Ole Miss (2-5) @ Auburn (5-3)
Ole Miss has lost 10 straight conference games and for good reason: they are mostly bad at everything. Auburn’s defense isn’t as bad as it was earlier in the season. Their Achilles heel is being left on the field too often by an offense that can’t figure out what it is. And that’s the key in this one. Without a play maker on the outside, Auburn’s offense is completely one-dimensional. Even a bad defense can load the box and stuff the run.

Auburn is a better team and better program than Ole Miss hands down. But that lack of explosiveness on offense will keep Ole Miss in the game and ultimately give just enough of an opening for the Rebels to sneak through and pull the upset.
Pick: Ole Miss 16, Auburn 13

Arkansas (6-1) @ Vanderbilt (4-3)
Vanderbilt’s defense will be a fun test for Arkansas’s passing attack. I don’t know what to make of Vanderbilt’s offense against the Razorback defense; neither unit is all that inspiring. This one might be close early but Arkansas has way too many play makers for the Commodores to contain all day.
Pick: Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 16

Mississippi State (3-4) @ Kentucky (3-4)
Mississippi State is bad but it isn’t bad enough to lose to Kentucky. The boys from the bluegrass state continue to pine for this season to come to a merciful end.
Pick: Mississippi State 32, Kentucky 16

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