Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones
Football season is fun when the two favorite teams in our state are both doing well. This year, they are both doing extremely well. The Auburn vs. Arkansas game last weekend was truly one of the most exciting SEC battles I have ever seen. Those with tickets definitely got their money’s worth of offense. Bama cruised to another win, beating Ole Miss as expected.
This week, all eyes are back on Cam Newton and the undefeated Auburn Tigers as they tangle with LSU. Some say Les Miles and his bunch are a bit overrated, but I’m not so sure. You can say what you want about their style of clock (mis)management, but they are always in a position to win. Always.
Last week, I went 11-4 (thanks to unlikely wins by Texas, Kentucky and UAB) putting me at 82-23 on the season for a .809 winning percentage on the year.
There are lots of evenly matched teams battling it out this weekend, so lets go to the gridiron seashell and see who is going to win.
(#10) Wisconsin at (#13) Iowa – This game is the perfect set up for an upset. You have a good Wisconsin team, coming off a huge win over Ohio State, traveling to play another good team in Iowa. The Hawkeyes have their work cut out of them as they face off against Wisconsin on Saturday, followed by No. 8 Michigan State and No. 11 Ohio State the next 2 weeks. Iowa is good, but when the Badgers reach the red zone, they are simply unstoppable. Wisconsin 40 – Iowa 30
(#14) Nebraska vs. (#17) Oklahoma State – Just like the game above, this one has the makings of an upset as well. Nebraska likely lost their Championship hopes last week with their loss to Texas. Now, they have to face off against a very good, offensively powerful Oklahoma State team. Hopefully for the Cornhuskers, the wheels won’t come off of the season, and Nebraska can get back in the “w” column. Nebraska 31 – Oklahoma State 28
(#20) West Virginia vs. Syracuse – Two pretty evenly matched teams in this one. This will be a fun ESPN2 game to watch early in the day, a game where the home team has won the last 12 times these two have met. With that being said, West Virginia 29 – Syracuse 19
Georgia vs. Kentucky – An interesting fact: this Kentucky team features 21 players from the State of Georgia. This is almost an All-Georgia clash. Wildcats QB Mike Hartline had 349 yards passing and four TD’s last week when his team shocked South Carolina. Kentucky may have the better record, but Georgia has the better team. Georgia 27 – Kentucky 24
(#19) South Carolina at Vandy – The Gamecocks would love nothing more than to make it to the SEC Championship game, and in the SEC East, they still have a chance. In order for that to happen, however, they have to be able to win on the road. In their last eight road games against SEC foes, Spurrier and his boys have come away losers. Even though Marcus Lattimore is not expected to play, South Carolina’s physical defense should keep them in the “w” column on this road trip. South Carolina 35 – Vandy 24
(#24) Mississippi State vs. UAB – How about this for a statistic – if the Bulldogs beat the Blazers, it will be the first time that they have gone undefeated outside of SEC play in 20 years. Ranked for the first time in almost a decade, Dan Mullen has his team playing great football. I have almost given up on picking UAB games. When I pick them to win they lose, when I pick them to lose they win. This week, I’m not going to pick them at all. I am going to pick Mississippi State – to win. Mississippi State 28 – UAB 14
(#22) Texas vs. Iowa State – In their last two contests, Iowa State has scored 27 points to their opponents 120. The Longhorns are coming off of a huge win against Nebraska. Texas is regularly a 10-game per season winner and in order for that to happen this year, they need to win out. There is pressure on Mack Brown to turn this season around, and this week should be a huge win for the ‘horns. Texas 34 – Iowa 10
(#21) Arkansas vs. Ole Miss – Even with Ryan Mallett leaving last weeks’ game against Auburn, the Razorbacks still produced their sixth consecutive 300-plus yard passing performance under the direction of backup Tyler Wilson. Ole Miss, on the other hand, has only one interception on the year, and with Mallett likely to be back in the lineup, who knows how many yards through the air Arkansas may produce. Arkansas will win in a big way. Arkansas 42 – Ole Miss 17
(#7) Alabama at Tennessee – The Tide won’t need big Terrence Cody to save the day for them this year. Even though this game is a traditional SEC rivalry game. Alabama is much more talented, much better coached, and has much more to play for than do these Volunteers. Although Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is a former Saban assistant and might be familiar with his X’s and O’s, it is unlikely that he will be able to pick up his first SEC win against this Tide team. After all, it took him two overtimes to beat UAB. Bama fans should enjoy their trip home from Neyland Stadium. Alabama 28 – Tennessee 7
(#5) Auburn vs. (#6) LSU – It may be a good sign for Auburn that last week, LSU could only produce 103 yard passing. Teams that have hurt the Tigers this season, have done so with the pass. The truth is, however, that the two quarterbacks at LSU, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, don’t add up to one Cameron Newton. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in the SEC West. It will come down to whoever wants it the most. Home field advantage won’t hurt either. Auburn 33 – LSU 28
(#4) TCU 30 – Air Force 14
(#11) Ohio State 34 – Perdue 7
(#25) Miami 27 – North Carolina 20
South Alabama 28 – UC Davis 21
Upset of the Week:
(#3 Oklahoma at (#18) Missouri – Yes, Oklahoma won big last week, but go further back in their schedule and you will see that they have just squeaked by on several occasions. Missouri is presently ranked 11th in the BCS poll and has a tough defense. This will be a fun game to watch between two powerful unbeaten teams, but as we have seen the past two weeks, the teams at the top don’t stay there for long. Missouri 33 – Oklahoma 24
—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