Five burning questions as we head into the weekend:
1. UGA-FLA stays in JAX. Was there ever any doubt? I know a lot of Georgia fans were intrigued about the prospect of playing the Georgia-Florida game on campus or even in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. And trust me when I tell you that Gary Stokan and the Atlanta Sports Council put on the full court press trying to convince Georgia athletics director Damon Evans and President Michael Adams that moving the game to Atlanta is something they should try once—if nothing else but to keep the revenue generated by the event in the state of Georgia. But never underestimate the power of the South Georgia Bulldogs. This is their game. And there are simply too many in the Bulldog Nation to whom the Jacksonville trip is a tradition worth keeping, regardless of the results on the field. The Georgia fans have done their part and turned out faithfully year after year in Jacksonville. Now the team needs to do its part and figure out how to beat the Mighty Gators.
2. Will Ryan Mallett have enough time to throw? The Arkansas quarterback had a good SEC debut last week as he lit up the Georgia secondary for 408 passing yards and five touchdowns. Well, Mallett may have played his first SEC game last week but his real SEC debut comes Saturday when the Hogs go to Alabama. Mallett looks like a very good quarterback but he has never seen speed on defense like he will see against the No. 3 Crimson Tide. So the short answer to the question is “no.”
3. Will LSU finally turn its offense loose against Mississippi State? The Tigers have been less than impressive in their three wins over Washington (31-23, although that one looks a little better now), Vanderbilt (23-9) and Louisiana-Lafayette (31-3). But some folks around the league have suggested that Coach Les Miles is waiting for crunch time before he shows us what he really has under the hood. In the next three weeks LSU goes to Mississippi State, Georgia and then returns home to play No. 1 Florida in Baton Rouge. It would appear that time has arrived for the Tigers.
4. How confident is North Carolina as they come to Georgia Tech? A year ago, when the rest of the ACC was still adjusting to Paul Johnson’s option attack, North Carolina gave up a bunch of rushing yards (326 on 54 carries) between the 20s but allowed Georgia Tech only one touchdown. That one came on an 85-yard run by Jonathan Dwyer in the fourth quarter. Other than that one big play, Georgia Tech did not have a snap inside North Carolina’s 23-yard line. Nine starters return from that Tar Heel defense. So I would say North Carolina is very confident as they arrive at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
5. How close is Miami to being the Miami of old? I talked to Hurricane coach Randy Shannon this week and he’s not prepared to say that Miami is all the way back. But the No. 9 Hurricanes, who thumped Georgia Tech 33-17 last week, will get a very good measuring stick on Saturday when they go to No. 11 Virginia Tech. The key to the game will be how well the Miami offensive line can protect quarterback Jacory Harris. Harris was rarely taken out of his comfort zone against Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech is very athletic and aggressive on its defensive front. Miami has lost in five of its last seven trips to Blacksburg
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