Wednesday, September 17, 2003

SEC week 4 preview

Yeah, it's only Wednesday. But the wife and I are heading out of town tomorrow, and I shant neglect my football previewing duties. [note: yes, it is absolutely ridiculous that I am not going to be around for the LSU/Georgia game. In fact, I'll be in a part of the country where it probably won't even be on TV. Tom's right - the Eddie Izzard show we're heading west to see better be fucking funny]

I'm pondering a strategy of avoiding all media through Monday and watching the PVRed game when I get back Monday night. This seems like a better bet than asking the wife to spend 4 hours at a sports bar while we're on vacation.

Anyhow, the LSU/UGA game is shaping up to be huge. No, bigger than huge. 3X Huge, perhaps.

Not only is the game going to be the first real test for both teams and the first SEC games for the teams expected to win their divisions, but it's shaping up as potentially the defining moment for the next decade of SEC football.

Both LSU and Georgia are on the cusp of becoming the dominant team in the SEC, the role enjoyed by Florida and, to a lesser degree, Tennessee over the past 10 years.

What have been respectable but not powerhouse programs over the past couple of decades are now both led by highly-respected, smart young coaches who are driven by the opportunity to build dominant programs in the country's best football conference.

Saban and Richt are the real deals. And they both have solid talent and legitimate top-10 programs. One of these teams will come away from Saturday's game with the opportunity and expectation to be a top-5 team this year and the SEC's golden child for the forseeable future.

The team that loses, of course, will take second chair in the SEC for now and set its sights on winning the division and getting revenge in Atlanta.

So on to the pick.

I predicted in my pre-season picks that Georgia wins this game.

Through three games, Georgia has been impressive. And so has LSU. In short, I like our chances in this game better than I did before the season.

And here's why ...

You'd better believe each of Tiger Stadium's 91,600 seats will have an ass in it Saturday. I figure they'll break the record of 92,141 set at the Auburn game in 2001 that decided the SEC West title.

The Tiger fans will be out for blood. LSU is out of the gate at 3-0, has outscored opponents 143 - 27, is in the top 10, ESPN GameDay is in town and this is the biggest game for the program in years.

David Greene thinks he can handle the crowd and the noise. Only if UGA scores 14 points early, Dave. Otherwise son, you're not gonna be ready for this.

Georgia hasn't been to Baton Rouge since 1998, when the Tigers went 4-7 and the stadium held 12,000 fewer drunk Cajuns. In fact, Georgia has only come to Baton Rouge 4 times since 1952, so they have no idea what they are in for.

On the field, this is a great matchup. Both teams can score and are hard to score on. I think the game will come down to execution, who can make the fewest mistakes, and the crowd.

In the end, I like our chances. I'll say LSU, 27 - 24

• Elsewhere, I think Tennessee is playing Florida, but not too many people seem to care about that anymore. I'm completely unimpressed by Tennessee and more impressed by Florida than I figured to be. I'll take the Crocodiles, 38 - 24

• Northern Illinois at Alabama - I'll take the Tide, 24 - 10

• North Texas at Arkansas - Regular Texas couldn't handle the pigs, who looked exceptional, so don't expect North Texas to. Hogs, 35 - 17

• Kentucky at Indiana - I hate the Big Ten and have no respect for about 9 of them. Kentucky, 48 - 17

• Mississippi State at Houston - MSU is 0-2. I like that. But they beat Houston. I'll say MSU, 17 - 14

• UAB at South Carolina - Cocks got clocked by UGA. UAB is kind of the same thing as Alabama, only they play in Birmingham (of course so does Alabama, but not all the time. I don't think UAB ever plays home games in Tuscaloosa, but I could be wrong). I'll take the Cocks, 21 - 10

• Vandy at TCU - Give it up for the smart boys from Nashville. They selflessly gave Auburn some of its pride back last week by handing them 44 points. That was nice of them. The Horny Frogs are unbeaten and in the top 25, however. I like TCU, 24 - 7

• Auburn vs. Open Date - Auburn, 3-0 in OT.

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