Friday, October 1, 2010

shameless promotion (2.01), week v

Editor's Note: This column appears in today's edition of The Daily Home.

Tide, Tigers back in the lead

Well, here we are again.

We’ve played four weeks in the Southeastern Conference slate, and the best two teams thus far appear to be Alabama and … yes, Auburn.

“One does it through quick-strike offensive innovation (Auburn) and the other through old-fashioned physicality and defense (Alabama). … Obviously, there’s still the balance of the season to play. But keep an eye on this: we could be headed for a November in which the best rivalry in the nation also determines the Western Division championship.”

If those words look familiar, it’s because I wrote them at the beginning of October 2009, when both teams tore through the first month of the season unbeaten. By season’s end, Alabama was, of course, crowned national champs; Auburn lost 5 of its last 6, though the Tigers closed on a win, beating Northwestern in the Outback Bowl in overtime.

So there was already plenty of optimism for both sides going into 2010. Coming off a week in which both survived stiff tests — one on the road, one at home — to remain unbeaten, it remains tempting to think of that big game in Tuscaloosa that could be for everything.

(Nick Saban and Gene Chizik would undoubtedly pummel me to death if they read those lines. Like they’d even care.)

Anyway, on with this week’s picks. A pair of teams winning but failing to cover — looking at you, LSU — left me at 3-4 last week, which makes me 12-13 for the season.

One week at a time, though. One week at a time.

(Home teams in caps.)

AUBURN (-35) at La.-Monroe: Anyone playing the “they beat Alabama in 2007” card with ULM should throw some water on himself. Auburn’s offense is rolling at the moment; not sure how the Warhawks can slow it down.

Vanderbilt (+7.5) over CONNECTICUT: I think we all know the script at this point: Vandy plays tough on the road, has a chance to pull off a road shocker, finds a way to lose in heartbreaking fashion and all of us wonder if they’re ever going to turn it around someday, then strike up another argument over whether the ‘Dores belong in the SEC. Ho-hum.

Kentucky (+3) over OLE MISS: The Rebs’ unexpected offensive outburst in the win over Fresno was an underrated shocker: seriously, how do they go from losing by 2 TDs to Vandy to scoring 50-plus vs. the ‘Dawgs? No one knows. But I’m riding them to regress to the mean vs. an angry Kentucky squad.

LSU (-16) over Tennessee: Tough to know who to pick here: laying this many points with LSU is a difficult sell, when the Tigers’ offense has been so bad they were actually booed in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s win over West Virginia. Really, without Patrick Petersen, this team is devoid of anyone who’s notable for anything. On the other hand, Tennessee is awful, can’t convert on third down and needed 5 missed field goals to escape with a win over UAB.

(Note: After I insisted to everyone last week that Georgia wasn’t finished, then they went to Starkville and laid a massive egg, I’m skipping over the Colorado game in protest. I suggest you all do the same.)

ALABAMA (-8) over Florida: If this is indeed to be the first of two, take ‘Bama at home in Round 1. By November, nobody will care what happens this weekend anyway.

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