By SEAN DOYLE
CFRT SEC Contributor
Game of the Week
|Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett has thrown for 2,967 yards and 24 TDs so far this season.|
No.13 Arkansas at No.21 Mississippi State
Arkansas’ offense reminds me of a professional team that likes to throw.
Razorbacks’ quarterback Ryan Mallett is putting up some big time numbers that have pro scouts drooling.
They do a good job of setting up the pass with a running game that also benefits from such an explosive passing attack.
This is not a team that you can key on any certain aspect and expect them to roll over.
Typical defensive philosophy is to shut down the rushing attack and make the QB beat you with his arm.
But this team has the best arm in the league with Mallet (2967 yards/24TDs).
So, do you then try and jam the receivers and limit the pass?
Good luck trying that with a back like Kniles Davis who is averaging 7.2 yards a carry and has 10 rushing TDs.
|Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.|
MSU’s defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will have his hands full for sure.
Diaz, known for an unorthodox style on defense to try and confuse the QB and run stunts with the D-line to mess up blocking schemes, knows his best defense against Arkansas may just be his team’s offensive style.
The best way to keep a team from scoring is not to let them have the ball.
And Mississippi State’s Head Coach Dan Mullen has built this team around the run and controlling the clock – thus keeping opposing offenses off the field more.
|Dan Mullen will hope to control the ball and the clock with a bruising run game and hopefully keep Mallett on the sidelines as much as he can.|
With a powerful offensive line and the team’s second leading rusher at QB, this team is run first, run second, then run again and repeat.
When they do pass, it will be off play action and is often successful since it can be quite a surprise.
Mullen will try and follow his blueprint so far this season and grind Arkansas down.
In their game against Florida, they ran the ball 49 times and only passed nine times.
This will be a game of Monster Truck vs. No restrictor plate NASCAR.
If the Dogs can get the Hogs bogged down in the mud, they may pound out a win. But, if Arkansas is allowed to run on a clean track, they will lap the Bulldogs faster than you can say “boogitty boogitty boys.”
The Other SEC Match-ups
|Can Spurrier and his Gamecocks handle success better than they handled their big win over Alabama earlier in the season?|
Troy at No.17 South Carolina
Well it’s actually a USC/Trojans game, how about that?
The USC Gamecocks are fresh off clinching the SEC East title and hope to have the celebrations out of their system.
Head Coach Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina team is looking to post only it’s third ever nine-win season in school history.
It would be the second time with Spurrier as head coach.
They need two wins to accomplish that goal in the regular season, starting with the Troy Trojans and then in-state rival Clemson to close the season.
Spurrier’s 2001 squad at Florida had to wait until the Outback Bowl to reach nine wins.
Troy may be fresh off getting pounded by FIU at home 52-35, but the Gamecocks do need to guard against not taking this team seriously though, and avoid another let down after an emotionally-charged big win.
This season has had its ups and downs for South Carolina, after beating No.1 Alabama earlier in the season, they followed that up by getting a big first half lead then letting the Kentucky Wildcats shut them out in the second half and lost the game.
Spurrier has vowed that he will not sit his star players until the rematch with Auburn in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.
He wants to keep the momentum of winning going.
To do that the Gamecocks will need to score points and outpace a Troy offense which has a passing attack that is currently ranked No.13 nationally, and the USC pass defense is ranked No.107.
South Carolina, 42-17.
|A certain historic mountaineer may have had success against bears, but what about Gators in a Swamp?|
Appalachian State at Florida
This is senior day for the University of Florida, and as tradition has it, they have scheduled a lesser team to beat up on to guarantee a win.
Last year it was that team out west that did the honors.
But not so fast my friend!
Isn’t this the team that knocked off Michigan to start the 2007 season?
That Michigan team finally rebounded to wind up beating a Heisman-toting Tim Tebow and the Gators later that season in the Citrus Bowl.
But I’ve got to give you a second helping of, “Not so fast my friend!”
Daniel Boone (Appy State is located in Boone NC., and Boone is the inspiration for their Mountaineer mascot) may be good at killing bears and wolverines with his bare hands, but I don’t think even he would be a match for an angry Gator in the Swamp, even this struggling incarnation.
|As evidenced by last season's debacle time-management loss to Ole Miss, time hasn't always been on LSU's Les Miles side.|
Ole Miss at No.5 LSU
Last year LSU lost 25-23 to Ole Miss in yet another well-chronicled chapter in Tigers’ coach Les Miles’ book on “How to time manage yourself out of victory.”
It was almost a repeat performance this year against Tennessee, but the Mad Hatter was bailed out that time when the Volunteers tried to run a new defensive formation called the Baker’s Dozen, and were called for too many (13) men on the field.
Rebels’ QB Jeremiah Masoli – if healthy – could make this a challenge for a tough LSU defense.
But he still seems to be affected by a concussion suffered two weeks ago.
A healthy Masoli, combined with the penchant of his head coach Houston Nutt to beat favored teams, could help re-ignite this storied SEC rivalry.
But, a rocking Tiger Stadium is enough to give a healthy QB a splitting headache; much less one who’s brain has recently been concussed, unless you are Tim Tebow of course.
Throw in a killer LSU defense and it’s “Laissez les bons temps rouler” in Baton Rouge!
|Tennessee's Derek Dooley can win a championship with a win on Saturday, but we're thinking the Tennessee State Championship wasn't what he had in mind when he took the job in Knoxville.|
Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Both teams come into this game with each having only one SEC victory so far this year (coincidentally over the same team in Ole Miss).
The Volunteers have had moments of going toe-to-toe with some heavyweights, but have seemed to punch themselves out by the time the third quarter is over.
However, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has been coaching for the future over the past few weeks, and has this team playing familiar “Big Orange” football behind freshman QB Tyler Bray (10 TDs in the last three games).
And last week the Volunteers finally experienced the sweet taste of a conference victory for the first time this year over Mississippi.
It’s the carrot Dooley needed to lead this program back to normalcy.
Too bad it is too little too late for this season.
The only real bragging rights UT has to play for now is the Tennessee state championship.
With a victory against Vanderbilt, that goal will be reached after wins over Tennessee-Martin and Memphis already this year.