#3 Alabama vs #7 LSU
Keys to the Game:
1. Alabama's "O" getting offensive
Since the loss of WR Tyrone Prothro, the Tide has struggled mightly on offense. RB Ken Darby still provides a powerful punch in the backfield, but the Alabama vertical passing game (the one so successful against Florida) is virtually nonexistent. Alabama faces a tough, but not a dominant defense in LSU. The Tigers have given up some yards this season on the ground (see Auburn game) and through the air (see Tennessee game).
2. Flipping the field
The last couple of weeks, the Tide has used their defense to score points and provide easy scoring opportunities with great field position. Can the Tide do this against one of the better offenses in the SEC?
3. Chip off the old block
Alabama comes into this game as a undefeated, home underdog. The last time they were an underdog they beat the tar out of Florida, 31-3. LSU is expecting to win, but they must match Alabama's intensity.
4. JaMarcus Standing Tall
At 6'5", LSU QB JaMarcus Russell stands tall in the pocket. For the Tigers to win, he must be able to keep the Alabama defense off balance. Russell has good scrambling ability, which will come in handy against a speedy Tide D. As goes Russell, so goes LSU in this game.
Prediction: LSU 14 Alabama 10 (LSU covers)
#9 Georgia vs #20 Auburn
Keys to the Game
1. Shock Shockley
DJ Shockley will be playing his first game since spraining his left knee three weeks ago. He will be wearing a protective brace and all indications are that he is very close to 100%. Still, Auburn must be able to get pressure on Shockley and knockdown him as it is likely he will be a half step slow.
2. Run it down their throats
Last year, Auburn stuck to their bread and butter in a 23-3 demolishing of Georgia, but in previous year they have tried to spread it out against the Bulldogs. Again this year, Auburn has one of the better running games in the nation. Kenny Irons must be given a shot to lead the Tigers down the field. QB Brandon Cox is simply not good enough to win this game by throwing the ball 40 times.
3. The Pope
Whenever Georgia TE Leonard Pope steps on the field, he is a mismatch. The Bulldogs best receiver must be used to stretch the Tigers vertically. When that happens, watch out for Thomas Brown running the ball behind a massive offensive line.
Prediction: Georgia 24 Auburn 20 (Georgia covers)
Virginia vs #23 Georgia Tech
Keys to the Game
1. Reverse the Curse
Georgia Tech has not won in Charlottesville since their National Championship season in 1990. The home team has historically dominated this closely matched series. This Georgia Tech team is out to prove they are different from their predecessors. They had won curse reversed against them this year (NC State), not it is time for them to reverse one of their own.
2. Reggie, Reggie, Reggie
Reggie Ball's play at quarterback goes a long way in determing how Georgia Tech does. In 19 wins, Ball has thrown 30 TD to 14 INT; but in 13 losses, Ball has tossed just 4 TD and 22 INT. Watch this stat.
3. Hold onto that ball
Georgia Tech is one of the best teams in the nation in takeaways. They rank fifth in the nation with a +1.4 margin. The Cavaliers aren't too bad themselves, ranking 30th in the nation.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 20 Virginia 18 (GT covers)
South Carolina vs #13 Florida
Keys to the Game
1. Visor Envy
Florida players may have mixed emotions on their sideline when they look across the way and see a Florida legend. Urban Meyer will have a tough time keeping the Gators locked in their mission: beat South Carolina, not Steve Spurrier.
2. Chess Game
Spurrier revolutionized SEC offenses when he brought in his Fun n Gun offense in 1990. Now, Urban Meyer is trying to do the same with his spread option attack. Two very different offenses that have struggled this season, but are proven winners withe the right personnel. The defenses are relatively evenly matched, so offense may determine the winner of this game.
3. Finding the Mismatch
Spurrier made a living off doing this at Florida; finding that weakness and attacking it until 50 points were on the board. The Gator D does have some holes in it, especially in the secondary.
4. "Play to your talent level"
Meyer is hoping the Gators will do this as they outmatch the Gamecocks in almost every area. Minimize your mistakes and take advantage of theirs is all Meyer needs from his club.
Prediction: Florida 28 South Carolina 27 (South Carolina covers)
Clemson vs vs #19 Florida St
Keys to the Game:
1. 1-2 Punch
Clemson has one of the best combinations at the tailback spot in the ACC with James Davis and Reggie Merriweather. FSU has been soft against the run this season and with Whitehurst out, Clemson must find a way to run the ball with a high sucess rate.
2. Manage the Game
At times this season, FSU QB Drew Weatherford has struggled this season mightly. But the freshmen still ranks first in total offense in the ACC. The Seminoles need to get the ground game going and let Weatherford pick and choose his spots to make plays.
3. Off the Bench
Clemson backup QB Will Proctor did come off the bench in the Texas A&M game and lead the Tigers to a winning field goal, but this is FSU. With all the emotion of Bowden Bowl and the win two years ago, Proctor needs to settle in early and find some confidence.
Prediction: FSU 23 Clemson 17 (FSU covers)