Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones
I am so happy that last week is over. WOW. Coming off a perfect 15-0 run in week 2, last weekend, thanks to surprises from Vandy, Southern Miss, Arizona and UAB (are you kidding me) I went a pathetic 10-5. I apologize and will try to do better, but honestly, this week doesn’t get any easier to pick. Hopefully my record will improve, but one thing is for sure, this is going to be a fun week to watch football. Both Alabama and Auburn truly get tested this week, UAB faces the Vols, and the Jags of South Alabama take their show on the road for the very first time.
After last weeks’ lackluster performance, I drop to 37-8 on the season for an .822 winning percentage.
Let’s see what the seashell has to say regarding this weeks match ups.
UAB vs. Tennessee – The Blazers have a very average offense and a bad defense. They should be 0-3. Last weeks win over Troy was a fluke. Tennessee, while still rebuilding, has really looked sharp at times this season. They will have no mercy on the Blazers this time around. I think this one will be ugly. Tennessee 34 – UAB 14
(#5) Oregon vs. Arizona State – In their first three contests, Oregon has scored 72, 69 and 49 points. This will be the first PAC-10 match up of the season for these two teams. Like Auburn, Arizona State has a very fast moving type of offense, and they will need it to keep up with the Ducks. Oregon 35 – Arizona State 21
(#8) Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati – It looks like the Sooners might be susceptible to the run. Last week, they gave up 351 yards to Air Force. The Bearcats really look rough so far this season, and while they may be motivated to play a top-10 team, I don’t think they are in position to win. Oklahoma 27 – Cincinnati 10
(#20) USC at Washington State – What do you do when you are a team like USC who cannot go “bowling” at season’s end? You make sure you run the table, especially winning all of your conference games. Lane Kiffin’s Trojans look pretty good thus far, and they have quality athletes at the skill positions. Washington State doesn’t look good in the pass or the run categories. This PAC-10 game belongs to the boys from Southern California. USC 28 – Washington State 14
Ole Miss vs. Fresno State – I almost made this game my upset of the week. But at this point, would Fresno State beating Ole Miss be considered an upset? Jeremiah Masoli is getting it done. Last week, he rushed and passed for more than 100 yards in each category. That hasn’t happened since Archie Manning was suiting up in Oxford. Undefeated Fresno is only the second California team that Mississippi has ever played, and honestly, I think the Rebels will have their hands full. For whatever reason, I am picking Old Miss. Ole Miss 21 – Fresno State 14
Georgia vs. Mississippi State – Both teams are 1-2 on the season. Both are 0-2 in the conference. I really like Mark Richt. I think he is a good coach. The last time the (Georgia) Bulldogs lost to the (Mississippi State) Bulldogs it was 1974, and unless Richt wants to start checking prices on moving vans, he better hope they don’t lose this year either. Georgia 24 – Mississippi State 21
(#9) Florida vs. Kentucky – Who would ever have thought that a game between No. 9 Florida and Kentucky would require a second thought? But honestly, this one does. The last 23 times these two have played, Florida has won. But I like Cats QB Mike Hartline. Kentucky (3-0) enjoys the 15th best running attack in the country as well, Some key injuries on the offensive line, however, are going to change that, especially going up against a good Florida defense. Florida 42 – Kentucky 38
(#15) LSU vs. (#22) West Virginia – This game will be fun, a powerful West Virginia offense that averages 446 yards per game vs. a strong Tiger defense featuring guys like Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard. This will be the first time these two unbeaten teams have played each other and it should be a chess match. Les Miles catches a lot of heat from people who consider him to be an average coach, but in six years with LSU, he has only lost 15 games and has a .783 winning percentage. That, my friend, is not average. LSU 35 – West Virginia 24
(#17) Auburn vs. (#12) South Carolina – This is one of those games where you simply have to put football into perspective. Two weeks ago, former Gamecock receiver Kenny McKinley was standing on the sidelines watching his former team play the Georgia Bulldogs. Earlier this week, McKinley was found dead of a suspected suicide. A game that was to be the epitome of college football has suddenly been toned down a bit. Auburn has issues on defense. The Gamecocks have a great passing game, a great running game, and now, even more motivation to win. This one could come down to the last play. South Carolina 31 – Auburn 28
(#1) Alabama at (#12) Arkansas – Not since 1979 have two Top-10 teams matched up in Fayetteville. The last time a Razorback team beat a No. 1 team at home it was 1981 when they downed the Longhorns. This game means everything to Bobby Petrino and his boys. It could eventually mean an SEC Championship and a shot at the title at the end of the season. For Ryan Mallet, it could mean a special trophy ceremony in New York City at years end. I do think Alabama will stumble and fall this season, but I just don’t think it is going to be on Saturday. But this game will be close and should be a lot of fun for football fans everywhere. Alabama 27 – Arkansas 24
(#4) TCU 28 – SMU 14
(#23) Penn State 17 – Temple 14
(#7) Texas 34 – UCLA 9
South Alabama 38 – Edward Waters 0
Upset of the Week:
Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech – the Golden Eagles looked horrible against South Carolina, then came out last week and beat Big 12 team Kansas 31-16. Go figure. Louisiana Tech only has one win, having defeated Grambling in week 1, but I’m looking for Southern Miss to have another let down on the road. Louisiana Tech 23 – Southern Miss 13
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org