Monday, September 8, 2014

Best SEC Games in Week 3

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Yeah yeah yeah. I didn't do a Best of Week 2. Why? Well, the only compelling matchup was Ole Miss and Vandy...so...yeah. 

That doesn't mean there weren't games that mattered, just none that I felt like writing about. Just a recap: Everyone won. South Carolina got a scare from ECU, who have one of the best QB/WR combos in Carden/Hardy. UAB put up 34 points on Mississippi State. That's really about it. Oh. And Bama still doesn't have a QB, so my hope that Griffith is named starter is still alive. If Coker or Simms can't do it...maybe he can.

So, let's go back to week 1. You can read about my prognostications here. Eh. On second thought.....don't go read that. Wisconsin blew what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, South Carolina laid a deuce, and Chuckie Keeton needs another Turbin to win. 

So we are 3-3. Let's get back on track, shall we? 

Arkansas at Texas Tech
Talk about a flip-em pick-em game. Who knows who will show up between these two teams? Kingsbury's team sure knows how to throw the ball around. They are 9th in the country in passing, but in the bottom in points allowed....against Central Arkansas and UTEP? Two games in and Webb has 730 yards and 7 TDs passing. But with all those passes comes picks. 2 so far. Expect a few more. One thing I do know...being able to run the ball and control the clock can work wonders against a spread team. Arkansas runs the ball. To. Death. When the Raiders commit to the run, Allen will show that he isn't a bottom rung QB in the SEC by hitting some long balls. That will take the Lubbock crowd out of it early. Webb makes the game look interesting by throwing the ball around. But, inside the 20, bad things will happen. I imagine the Hogs D-line will have a few things to say. 
Arkansas 

UCF at Missouri
UCF comes off a bye week after a near miss against a good Penn Sate team. All we learned about the Knights was that they can't run the ball. 2 of their leading 3 rushers have negative numbers. I don't even know how that's possible. Though they played PSU tough, they were able to scheme for a month. They get a week to scheme against a Missouri team that seems to have reloaded despite losing its run game and top pass catchers from 2013. Sasser has come on strong from the wide-out position and the Tigers can still run the ball. Missouri hasn't shown all of its cards yet, and I expect them to show just enough to win. 
Missouri

Georgia at South Carolina
Though I look at the two games that USC has played and at the impressiveness of the Dogs so far and think this is a tough but manageable game for UGA, I can't help but think about last year. OBC has accomplished what no other USC coach has done with his straight 11 win seasons, but he can't seem to keep from the let down game. But after let down games, just when people write him off, he storms back. Just think about last year after losing to Tennessee. However, Richt had his number last year and he has it again. This USC team doesn't have the talent or identity. The USC defense hasn't stopped a team yet. UGA hasn't been stopped and had an extra week to prepare. The score may not show it, but the Dogs dominate. 
UGA

Kentucky at Florida
A new look Kentucky coming to The Swamp. Kentucky has had its share of impressive play so far. The offense has featured several fresh playmakers. The Cats have outscored opponents 79-17 thus far. The only 2 TDs allowed were in 4th quarter garbage time. Florida blanked their week 2 opponent 65-0. You really think this might be a game? Think again. If nothing else, the pride of beating the Cats at home will pull the Gators through. 
Florida


Zach's SEC Game of the Week 

Tennessee at Oklahoma
The SEC is NEARLY perfect on non-conference games. If it weren't for that OTHER team from Rocky Top, we would be perfect. UT has outscored non-conference opponents 72-26. Utah State and Arkansas State are two solid programs, so don't be so quick to judge their 2 wins. Arkansas State is very similar to Oklahoma. It features a lot of in-space play from dynamic and speedy receivers. 

Oklahoma has outscored its opponents 100-23 and in an impressive fashion. They have 2 RBs averaging 7.5 yards per carry or better and one of the nation's best receivers in Sterling Shepard. The Sooners have given up only 1 sack. Defensively, I think UT actually stacks up well to the Sooners offense. AJ Johnson is one of the best LBs in the game. He can take over a game, so watch out. His ability to cover from sideline to sideline as well as meeting the ball at the point of attack makes him a game breaker. Arkansas State and Utah State are hard to match up against in space, but UT did it very well. Their D-line has played well, and it will be imperative for them to get pressure on Knight.

The problem with this matchup is the lack of a consistent run game for the Vols. Marlin Lane looked like a viable replacement to Rajion Neal, but he hasn't produced. None of the Vols runners average more than 4 yards per carry. That's probably because the Vols entire offensive line was gutted by graduations. If that weren't enough, Worley isn't the answer for Butch Jones. Tennessee does have a plethora of talent at the receiver position in Pig Howard and Marqueze North. Each of these does something a little different, but does it very well. Heck, Marquez has done me SOLID in 2 different fantasy league. If Worley can get the ball to Howard on short throws or handoffs, it will setup some deeper throws to North.

On paper, UT doesn't seem to have the firepower to win this game, but as we saw with Bama against Oklahoma last year, games aren't played on paper. Tennessee doesn't win this one, but they have the heart to keep it a game to the end. Make no mistake, this team may not have the talent now, but Jones is transforming this program. 

The UGA and USC game may be the game that commands the most attention as far as the SEC championship and playoffs go, but this game should be the most entertaining.