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Alabama to remain perfect in Saban's return

11/6/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Usually, we're all looking at the SEC tiebreakers this time of year and trying to figure out all the different scenarios. But not this year. Alabama has a two-game cushion in the West, and Florida essentially holds a two-game lead over Georgia in the East thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker. So anybody looking for a little drama these last few weeks is going to be disappointed unless Alabama and Florida fall flat on their faces.

That said, the LSU game is huge for the Crimson Tide if they want to stay in the national championship race. As for me, I'm not giving up on my quest to finish the season .800 or better on my picks. I was 6-1 last week, missing only Arkansas' win over Tulsa. For the season. I'm now 56-16 (.777). This is a big week for me. But they're all big weeks. Here's the way I see it going in Week 11:

Alabama 24, LSU 14: Nick Saban returns to LSU five years after bringing the first national championship to the Bayou in 45 years. He's looking to win Alabama's first national title in 16 years. The Tigers won't be too accommodating -- on or off the field. The last time LSU lost two games at home in the same season was 2001. Saban was in the house then as the LSU coach. He'll be in the house this time, too, coaching an Alabama team that will follow the same script it's followed all season and snap a five-game losing streak to the Tigers.

Florida 35, Vanderbilt 10: At this rate, you wonder if the Gators are going to have anything resembling a close game again. They've won their last four games by an average margin of 39.5 points. Vanderbilt had an off week to get ready and to try and jump-start a stagnant offense. The Commodores are still looking for that sixth win to become bowl eligible after starting out 5-0. Staying within two touchdowns of the Gators would be an accomplishment with the way they're playing.

Georgia 28, Kentucky 14: The Bulldogs need to pick themselves back up off the deck, or the rest of this season could really be a bummer. Their goals of winning a national championship are toast, and their SEC championship goals look equally bleak. The last thing they want to do is mess around in this game and look up to see the Wildcats leading at home in the second half. Georgia needs to prove that it can stop somebody on defense. If this were the Kentucky offense from a year ago, Georgia might be in trouble. But it's not the Kentucky offense from a year ago ... not even close.

South Carolina 21, Arkansas 17: The Hogs are getting better. You can see it every week. They've won two of their last four games, and it could easily be four of four. The Gamecocks are looking for their seventh win, and they're doing it with defense. In fact, this might be their best defense since they joined the SEC in 1992. They're ranked third nationally in total defense and are really making it difficult for teams to consistently drive the ball. Arkansas will keep it close, but won't be able to find the end zone enough to win.

Tennessee 38, Wyoming 7: The Vols play their first game this Saturday after getting the sobering news that Phillip Fulmer won't be back next year as coach. The players said they would be more motivated than ever the rest of the season and do their best to make sure Fulmer goes out a winner. Here's a thought: Maybe they should have played a little better, a little smarter and a little harder the last two months and then maybe their coach might not be on his way out after 17 seasons at his alma mater.

Auburn 41, Tennessee-Martin 6: The big question hovering over Auburn's team right now is whether Tommy Tuberville is going to be back next season. Tuberville said Wednesday he's not worried about his job, but the rumblings on the Plain persist that he's in trouble. There shouldn't be any question about this week's game after four straight losses by the Tigers. If ever they're going to get their offense going and do some real damage to the scoreboard, this should be it.