SEC: week 7 picks
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Tommy Tuberville said it was the bottom line that got first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin fired Wednesday. And in this case, the bottom line was that Auburn was stinking up the joint offensively this season. The Tigers are keeping Franklin's spread offense, or at least some version of it. They're just not keeping him.
Man, am I glad you can't get fired for picking games. I'm not sure that I've been as bad as Auburn's offense this season, but I've failed to pick with any consistency. I've picked up and down depending on the degree of difficulty that particular week. I think coach Nick Saban can probably relate.
I would like to brag on my pick of Vanderbilt over Auburn last week. How many people honestly got that one right? Of course, I missed the Ole Miss-South Carolina game. I'm still kicking myself over that one. How in the name of Jeff Grantz could I pick against the Gamecocks, the team that introduced me to college football as a kid growing up in South Carolina?
Somewhere, that old faded picture of Grantz that I cut out of a game program 30-plus years ago probably shrivels up a little more each time I pick against the Gamecocks. For the record, I was 4-1 last week and am now 38-10 for the season. Here are my picks for Week 7:
Florida 28, LSU 21: For all the grumbling you're hearing out of Florida about the offense, you'd think the Gators were having trouble making a first down. Granted, Tim Tebow isn't putting up outer space-like numbers again this season, but they are first in the SEC in scoring offense and third in total offense. They're also right there in the middle of the Eastern Division race and will take big step toward getting to Atlanta when they play their most complete game of the season in taking down the Tigers at the Swamp.
Auburn 21, Arkansas 10: There's a little bit of everything going on in this game. Tommy Tuberville fired his offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin, earlier this week. It's the first meeting between Bobby Petrino and Tuberville since the attempted coup against Tuberville back in 2003 when Auburn officials took a secret plane trip to meet with Petrino about taking over for his old boss. Petrino was Tuberville's offensive coordinator in 2002. The Razorbacks have given up 139 points in their last three games, although they kept the Florida game close for three quarters a week ago. The Tigers have been an offensive train wreck this season. They won't get completely well against Arkansas' defense, but they will get well enough.
Georgia 34, Tennessee 14: The Vols have been a pretty good pick over the last few years when they're a big underdog on the road. This is not just any year. They were fortunate to beat Northern Illinois at home last week, and Georgia is still seething from last year's whipping in Knoxville that prevented the Bulldogs from playing in the BCS national championship game. Georgia's had a week off to heal its wounds from the Alabama beatdown. Fullback Brannan Southerland is back in the lineup, and the Bulldogs do their part to make that hole for Phillip Fulmer a little bit deeper.
Miss. State 21, Vanderbilt 17: The Commodores can go to 6-0 for the first time since 1928 with a win in Starkville. That was before the SEC was even formed. Neither one of these teams has rolled up much yardage this season. Mississippi State is ranked 103rd nationally in total offense and Vanderbilt 114th nationally. The Commodores have been able to stay unbeaten by doing all the little things right and not beating themselves. This time, they run into a team that's starving for a win and physical enough and committed enough to the running game to pound away. It's the same thing Auburn did a week ago for a quarter before inexplicably going back to the spread.
South Carolina 24, Kentucky 21: The Gamecocks appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time, thanks in large part to Chris Smelley taking the starting quarterback job and running with it. He passed for a career-high 327 yards last week in the road win at Ole Miss, but will go against an even tougher defense on Saturday in Lexington. South Carolina has won eight in a row over Kentucky, a streak that's difficult to explain. The Gamecocks haven't been that much better than the Wildcats for much of this decade. Even so, they'll get their second big road win in as many weeks this Saturday and take a mammoth step toward an eight-win season ... and maybe even better.