By SEAN DOYLECFRT SEC Contributor
Game of the Week
No. 12 Arkansas at No. 7 Auburn
This is a match-up of arguably the two best quarterbacks in the SEC and possibly the nation.
Statistically, both have the numbers to make their respective arguments.
Stylistically they couldn’t be more dissimilar.
|Auburn quarterback Cam Newton|
Auburn’s Cam Newton is a match-up nightmare for defensive coordinators.
He's a big, fast dynamic athlete playing quarterback.Newton is also a natural runner who nationally ranks 2nd in passing efficiency, leads the SEC in rushing and is ranked 17th nationally.
|Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett|
Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett is the traditional pro-style quarterback, tall with a cannon for an arm.
He leads the country in passing yardage and has his Hogs ranked 3rd nationally in total offense.
Mallett is accurate going deep; he has completed over half of his passes beyond 20 yards.
Both Auburn coach Gene Chizik and Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino are feeling an urgency to improve on their teams' second-half performances.
Each has stated that they have yet to put together four complete quarters of football.
Last week Auburn had a 31-17 lead at the half only to let Kentucky back in the game.
The Tigers survived thanks to a late drive in which Newton accounted for 74 yards, setting up a 24-yard field goal as time expired to win, 37-34.
It may just be that Petrino needs to figure out better half time speeches.
The Hogs have only scored three second-half points in their last two games.
Mallett has been hot in the first halves of games only to cool off after halftime.
The Hogs' quarterback had then No.1 Alabama beat with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter only to toss two costly picks and lose the game 24-21.
Keys to the Game
When Arkansas has the ball: The Hogs need to establish a ground game to control the clock and keep Auburn's defense honest.
If Mallet has time, his arm is lethal.
But, if Auburn can apply the pressure with a few well-timed blitzes, Mallett tends to make bad decisions relying on his arm to force the ball into coverage or flat out making mind-numbing, ill-advised passes that result in costly turnovers.
When Auburn has the ball: Newton is a natural runner and not a real accurate passer.
He has such a high pass efficiency rating thanks to his escape ability.
When Newton feels pressure he will use his legs to get out of trouble and not try and force a bad throw. Don’t give Newton a reason to run, all five of Newton’s interceptions have come when the defense drops at least seven men into coverage.
Keep him corralled and let him try to beat you with his arm.
Both teams should score some points out of the gate in this one.
It will come down to who can dominate the end of the game.
Both teams showed last week they could survive close calls.
The Other SEC Match Ups
|Ole Miss Head Coach Houston Nutt|
Ole Miss at No.8 Alabama
It came as a bit of a surprise on how far Alabama fell after last week’s loss to South Carolina. True to form, Nick Saban will use that loss as a life lesson and get this team back in shape to try and earn a return trip to Atlanta. Unfortunately for Ole Miss, they are first in line for the Tide players to show their coach a lesson learned. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt will have the advantage of an extra week of practice and Oregon QB transfer Jeremiah Masoli is really starting to play well. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough to overcome an angry Alabama team at home. Crimson Tide, 31-13.
|Former UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen leads his Mississippi State Bulldogs into The Swamp on Saturday|
Mississippi State at No.22 Florida
Saturday night’s game will be a homecoming for Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen who last coached in Gainesville in 2008 as the Gators offensive coordinator, winning a National Championship that season. Back then, Mullen heard his fair share of griping, but never at the level being heard all around the Gator Nation these days. Mullen will be a Stark(ville) reminder of when the last time the Gators had a full-time Offensive Coordinator calling the plays. A fact that won’t be lost on the fans in the stands. The Gators are at their lowest ranking under Urban Meyer, ranked at No.22. And, the last time a team from Mississippi traveled to the Swamp, they came away with a big win against a No.1 Gator squad. These Bulldogs see this as their best opportunity for an upset of their own. Mullen has his team statistically ahead of the Gators in every offensive category including points scored and will look to show his old boss how to run a spread offense. Don’t expect Mullen to be intimidated and shy away from the challenge, the Gators better look for some trickery and bold play calling. But the Master has what the pupil doesn’t, a better defense. Florida, 27-21.
|Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray|
Vanderbilt at Georgia
Georgia head coach Mark Richt will be looking to carry the momentum from their win over Tennessee last week into the second half of the season. Richt is only one loss shy - at 2-4 - of matching his most losses in a season as the Bulldogs' coach. Helping to keep that momentum going is the play from his dual-threat freshman QB Aaron Murray. Murray has accounted for 14 of Georgia’s 19 TDsVandy team that will aid with establishing a running game as well as allowing the defense to dominate the line of scrimmage. Another plus for Georgia will be the introduction of the new UGA VIII before the game. The Bulldogs are back! Literally. Georgia, 42-14.
|South Carolina's Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier|
No.11 South Carolina at Kentucky
Coming into Commonwealth Stadium to face the Kentucky Wildcats, South Carolina is coming off a signature win knocking off then No.1 Alabama last week. You could point to this match up as a potential trap game for the Gamecocks. Especially after the Wildcats forced Auburn into kicking a field goal as time expired to beat them last week. But, I don’t think Gamecocks' coach Steve Spurrier would allow this team to fall into that trap. A true competitor, the Carolina Coach knows he is in control to get to Atlanta this year and Kentucky is not going to rain on his parade. He will keep his team focused on not looking past this team. And, Spurrier knows how to handle these ‘Cats, over his career, he is 17-0 against Kentucky. This will be a hard fought game, Kentucky has proven they can play and play well with anybody. They just haven’t proven they can beat anybody. That task got much harder with the physical status of Kentucky’s best offensive player, Derrick Locke. It should be a game-time decision whether he will play. But even if he sees the field, he will not be himself with two banged up shoulders. South Carolina, 28-13.
|LSU head coach Les Miles has been nicknamed the Mad Hatter for his daring playcalling|
McNeese at No.6 LSU
This should be a good game for the Tigers to iron out the wrinkles and perfect their quarterback rotation. I don’t expect any time management issues or the need for any gambling on fake field goal attempts. But with The Mad Hatter you never know! LSU, 48-3.
No game this week means they will be the third team to get Alabama with a week off when they play next Saturday. It won’t translate into a win against ‘Bama, but Derek Dooley is taking this week for a much-needed top to bottom evaluation. They have had their moments and the coaches will be working on getting the right pieces put together to bring an identity and consistency of who this Volunteer team is and will be.
Where are the T-Shirt orders?
The golf and tennis worlds have their Grand Slam titles for winning all the majors in a calendar year, then you have the “Tiger-slam” (sounds dirty now) and the Florida Basketball and football programs combined to give us the “Gator-Slam”. Does that mean we now have the “‘Cock-Slam?" This year, South Carolina’s three major sports programs defeated the No. 1 teams in their respective sports. In basketball, they knocked off No.1 Kentucky, in baseball they beat No. 1 Arizona State - winning the College World Series - and now the football team took out No. 1 Alabama. A great accomplishment for the University of South Carolina Athletic Department. It will be interesting to see how they market the naming rights!
His Legend Grows
With a legendary coaching job to get his Gamecocks prepared to beat the No. 1 Crimson Tide, Steve Spurrier moved into sole possession of second place behind the legend Bear Bryant in career SEC wins with 117.