Yesterday afternoon, we previewed the first three games of the Saturday session of SEC football. It was a big three games, but the four today are bigger, especially if you're an LSU fan. Or a Bama fan. Or a Bulldog fan (either Bulldog).
Western Kentucky @ Kentucky, 6:00pm Central, Gamplan or ESPN360.com
Western Kentucky got blown out by Indiana. Indiana got blown out by Ball State. Ball State? Well, actually they aren't half bad.
But I digress. Western Kentucky is not a good football team to say the least. Kentucky? They haven't played a meaningful game yet against a team with a pulse, so we don't know. Heck, as far as I can tell, WKU might be the better team here. Kentucky is 3-0 but the only recognizable team they've played was Louisville, and they simply benefited from the spectacular implosion of the Cardinal team that Sunday afternoon. That's right. It was Sunday. The first week of the season was weird all around. Louisville would have gotten beaten by several other in-states rivals that day, including but not limited to Division III Centre College (in Danville, Kentucky, and the alma mater of Mrs. ATVS).
I think they're the Lions but I'm not sure.
But once again I am getting distracted. What's going to happen in this one? I have no idea, and honestly I don't care.
UAB @ South Carolina, 6:00pm Central, Gameplan or ESPN360.com
UAB is terrible. I mean terrible, terrible. They're so bad that there is legitimate discussion here in Alabama of discontinuing this football program. Interestingly, there was a time when UAB appeared to be on the verge of being a really solid mid-major program. I don't know enough to go into what happened to set them off the rails, but it's supposedly a story of remarkable mismanagement, political intrigue, backstabbing, and Watson Brown.
South Carolina is schizophrenic, in the colloquial sense rather than the clinical sense, as schizophrenia has absolutely nothing to do with Multiple Personality Disorder, which may not even be real anyway.
South Carolina has played very well defensively, and has looked just awful on offense, except in the game against the best team they've played, Georgia. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, it wasn't enough to win, but they showed they're capable of moving the ball.
Then they went out the next week and almost lost to Wofford, one of the smallest Division I schools in the country.
Their mascot is the terriers. This is 5'8" running back Mike Rucker.
The terribleness of UAB should be enough to compensate for the not-so-goodness of South Carolina, but hey, anything is possible.
Mississippi State @ LSU, 6:30pm Central, ESPN2
For those of you who pay attention to the open threads, it appears I will be participating in this one, as I will be kicked out of the living room to allow Mrs. ATVS to watch the next game on the schedule. I really don't have anything left to say about this that hasn't been said, which is
- MSU has a terrible offense,
- MSU has an OK, or even rather good, defense,
- LSU has a very good defense, and
- LSU's offense is quite fine, thank you very much, even if it can be a little inconsistent.
The formula MSU used to win 8 games last year was the "get turnovers, score defensive and/or special teams touchdowns, and run the ball for 4 yards per carry." It worked for them, but has proven not to be a reliable method year-to-year. They'll have to pull it off again if they want to beat us. I don't think they can go down the field on us. They'll have to either a) get those defensive and/or special teams scores, b) get some short fields on which to score, or c) luck into some big plays.
If you can tell, I don't think highly of MSU right now. I'm not saying victory is impossible for them, but a strange sequence of events would have to ensue.
Bama @ Georgia, 6:45pm Central, ESPN
It's not like my analysis means anything here. I think this game comes down to the question of, "Which of these teams is for real?" The answer could well be "both of them." Or even, "neither of them."
I think almost everyone of consequence will acknowledge that Georgia has the decided advantage is talent at the offensive skill positions, with Moreno, Stafford, Green, and Massaquoi leading the way. They also have outstanding linebackers, and a very good DL despite having lost one of their best players.
If Bama has a real advantage to exploit here, it will be at the lines. At this early juncture of the season, Bama's line play appears strong. Georgia's offensive line still has question marks, and Bama's DL may be able to exploit it. Bama's OL appears more than capable of playing Georgia's DL to a tie. If they can win the battle between Georgia OL vs. Bama DL and tie the battle between Bama OL vs. Georgia DL, they give themselves a real shot. If not, Georgia will score a decisive victory.
That's my analysis, and I'm sticking to it. We here at ATVS and at other outlets tend to talk a lot about running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers, etc., but it seems like so many of the big games are won at the line. I think it's safe to say that LSU beat Auburn at the line of scrimmage and was at best even most other places. I think it is plainly obvious that Bama beat Clemson by dominating the line.
If you win the line play, you win most of the games, even if your skill players are only so-so. Lose the line play, and great skill position players can't help you. I think that's what sets the SEC apart from the other conferences. If you can't line up and play power football, you can't win here.