by Steve Geller, email@example.com,posted Sep 22 2012 8:29AM
The conferences season hasn't kicked into full gear just yet, but Week 4 brings us several key matchups that will shape the rest of the year.
Time to go Inside the SEC…
LSU at AUBURN
LSU is 3-0 on the year, but they're virtually untested as they've outscored their opponents 145-31. Auburn is sitting at 1-2 on the season and has already lost a conference game to Mississippi State. They have really struggled as the offense has a long way to go, and the defense needs much better tackling. Click here for a complete breakdown of this game...
MISSISSIPPI at TULANE
Ole Miss appears to have an effective offense, but absolutely no defense. Sadly, Tulane has neither. Advantage: Rebels.
KENTUCKY at FLORIDA
Kentucky has lost 25 straight overall to Florida, and 16 straight in Gainesville. The Gators have the third best rushing attack in the conference, and its defense is stingy against the run. This is what is known as a mismatch folks. If Kentucky doesn’t find a way to at least make the final score respectable, expect coach Joker Phillips to wake up to a collection of "for sale" signs dumped in his yard on Sunday.
MISSOURI at SOUTH CAROLINA
This is my game of the week in the SEC, as it will tell exactly how good Missouri is or isn’t. South Carolina can’t keep its starting quarterback healthy and will be without safety D.J. Swearinger after a questionable suspension for what league officials deemed a cheap hit on a UAB player last week. Missouri knocked off a much-improved Arizona State team, but this is a conference game on the road and will be a totally different animal than what they have experienced up to this point. South Carolina’s defense hasn’t lived up to billing, especially against the pass, and Missouri can hurt the Gamecocks through the air. But can Missouri’s small defense stop Marcus Lattimore? Probably not.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC at ALABAMA
For Alabama to lose this game, the Tide would have to forget when kickoff time was and show up two hours late. Bama’s greatest challenge here is maintaining focus and seeing if they can pitch their 3rd straight shutout.
RUTGERS at ARKANSAS
Prior to the season, this game looked like just another stepping stone for the Razorbacks on their way to challenging for a BCS bowl slot. Now, it becomes a must-win game against an undefeated team from a BCS school. The Razorbacks aren’t falling apart, they’ve fallen apart. Rutgers stumbled along to unimpressive wins in the first two games before beating one of the Big East’s better teams, South Florida, in Week 3. The Scarlet Knights seem to have a tough defense, but have problems moving the ball on offense. Meanwhile, the Hogs’ defense is giving up yardage like water through a strainer right now. It’s literally a toss-up, but I give Arkansas the edge simply because the game is on their home field.
SOUTH ALABAMA at MISSISSIPPI STATE
South Alabama has a solid coaching staff and, in time, will be a legitimate Sun Belt program. But now isn’t that time. Mississippi State got a scare from Troy last week, but there is a wide gap between them and their Sun Belt brother in Mobile. The Bulldogs shouldn’t go two consecutive weeks playing with questionable focus and won’t.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE at TEXAS A&M
The Aggies are looking to get their first conference victory next week against Arkansas and may be looking past South Carolina State. It won’t matter. Look for A&M QB Johnny Manziel to post video game type numbers again this week.
AKRON at TENNESSEE
The Volunteers need to look sharp in this one just to keep the vultures off Derek Dooley’s not yet dead carcass. Tennessee’s second half collapse against Florida lit a bonfire under Dooley’s seat. If the Vols struggle with this Akron team, which has yet to win a game this year against Division-IA opposition, that bonfire will be doused with rocket fuel.
VANDERBILT at GEORGIA
Vandy may be the conference’s hardest team to figure out in 2012. They are obviously getting good coaching, but the bulk of the team’s talent is probably in the freshman and redshirt freshman classes. The only hope for the Commodores here is to strike early and often with their ground attack, as the Dawgs’ rush defense has been mediocre. UGA has simply too many athletes though and can pull away at any time.