The Fearless Friday Forecast:
1. LSU at Auburn: A classic matchup between the SEC’s best offense (Auburn’s 38.5 ppg) and most productive offensive player (QB Cameron Newton, 25 touchdowns) and the league’s best defense which is holding opponents to only 13.2 points per game in conference play. I’m interested to see what LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis comes up with to stop Newton’s ability to run the ball (122.9 ypg), particularly between the tackles. I usually go with defense in big games but I don’t think LSU can throw the ball well enough to exploit the Auburn secondary, which is struggling. Auburn 27, LSU 24.
2. Georgia Tech at Clemson: These two teams certainly know each other as they meet for the third time in 13 months. This is basically an elimination game for both teams. It would be Clemson’s (3-3, 1-2 ACC) third conference loss and would just about eliminate any hope of winning the Atlantic Division. Georgia Tech (5-2, 3-1), needs a victory because the Jackets still must face Virginia Tech (Nov. 4) and Miami (Nov. 13). I think it comes down to the quarterbacks and in a tough game like this I like No. 9 at Georgia Tech (Joshua Nesbitt). Georgia Tech 28, Clemson 24.
3. Georgia at Kentucky: Kentucky has to come down from the high of beating South Carolina last week and get ready for a Georgia team that is starting to play with a little confidence. This game features two of the best play makers in college football in Kentucky’s Randall Cobb (40 catches, 466 yards) and Georgia’s A.J. Green. Kentucky will be without its best running back, Derrick Locke. Defensive stops will be precious in this game and I think Georgia gets one more than Kentucky and Blair Walsh kicks a late field goal to win the game. Georgia 38, Kentucky 35.
4. Alabama at Tennessee: Some of the steam has gone out of this great rivalry because Tennessee is really struggling (2-4, 0-3 SEC). The Vols have had a week off to recover from a devastating loss at LSU on Sept. 25 followed by a 41-14 beatdown at Georgia on Oct. 9. Alabama is No. 8 in the BCS Standings and needs to win impressively to stay in the national championship hunt. Look for Bama to wear down an undermanned Tennessee defense with its running game. Alabama 31, Tennessee 10.
5. South Carolina at Vanderbilt: Despite last week’s disappointing loss at Kentucky, South Carolina (4-2, 2-2) still controls its destiny in the SEC East. If South Carolina can run the table against Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida the Gamecocks will go to their first-ever SEC championship game. Vanderbilt has beaten South Carolina two of the past three years. But the Commodores can’t throw it effectively enough to win the game. South Carolina 28, Vanderbilt 17.
6. North Carolina at Miami: North Carolina will be going for its fourth straight win over Miami. The Tar Heels (4-2, 2-1 ACC) have won four straight since an 0-2 start and have done so despite a ton of suspensions due to NCAA investigations. You have to like what T.J. Yates (of Marietta’s Pope H.S.) has done for North Carolina, completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and only one interception. Something is still not quite right with Miami. The Hurricanes were dominated two weeks ago at home by Florida State (45-17) and last week the offense scored only 21 points despite seven Duke turnovers. I like North Carolina. North Carolina 24, Miami 20.
7. Oklahoma at Missouri: Oklahoma has won seven straight and 19 of its last 20 against Mizzou. Oklahoma (6-0) is No. 1 in the BCS Standings while the Tigers are No. 11. I like the Sooners because RB DeMarco Murray is starting to find his groove and quarterback Landry Jones is playing with more confidence after completing 30 of 34 against Iowa State. Missouri has a very good quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who is coming off his best game (361 yards, 3 touchdowns) last week in a 30-9 win against Texas A&M. But Gabbert’s play just won’t be enough for Mizzou to win. Oklahoma 28, Missouri 20.
8. Nebraska at Oklahoma State: Nebraska did not expect to be pushed around by Texas last week. The Cornhuskers may be out of the national championship race but they still have a chance to win the Big 12 title. In fact, it might help going back on the road where Nebraska has won six straight. The Cowboys are lighting up the scoreboard this season with an average of 49.5 points per game. Those numbers, however, are a little deceiving because they have come against the following defenses: Washington State ( ranked No. 118 nationally), Troy (77), Tulsa (85), Texas A&M (50), Louisiana-Lafayette (110), and Texas Tech (99). Nebraska, Saturday’s opponent in Stillwater, is No. 9 in scoring defense (14.0 ppg). Nebraska 31, Oklahoma State 24.
9. Wisconsin at Iowa: The Big Ten championship goes through Iowa City as the Hawkeyes host the first of three monster games. Wisconsin is coming off a huge home win against Ohio State, but Iowa is among the best teams in the country at stopping the run. If Iowa had not lost at Arizona on Sept. 18, the Hawkeyes would be in the middle of the national championship race. Iowa 21, Wisconsin 17.
10. Ole Miss at Arkansas: The Razorbacks have had two heartbreaking losses to Alabama and Auburn. They won’t win the SEC West but they can finish 10-2 and go to a New Year’s Day Bowl in Florida. Even if Ryan Mallett can’t go backup QB Tyler Wilson showed last week against Auburn that he is more than capable. Arkansas 35, Ole Miss 24.
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Shameless plug: As we near the annual Georgia-Florida game you should know that my friend Robbie Burns is having a local signing of his book “Belue to Scott” on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Border’s at John’s Creek. The book gives a great historical look at the single biggest play in Georgia football history. Go by and see him and pick up some early Christmas presents.