It’s Thanksgiving week so let’s do our Five Burning Questions a day early:
1. What can Alabama do to contain Cameron Newton? Seven SEC opponents have tried to come up with a game plan to slow down Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. Newton, however, will enter Friday’s Iron Bowl as the first player in SEC history to pass for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season. This much we know. Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will have a plan. I’ve talked to a bunch of coaches about how to defend Newton and they all said it would require discipline, constant pressure, and an exceptional day of tackling. It would help a lot if Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody were still on the Alabama defense, but they are not. But I’ll bet linebacker Dont’a Hightower will never be far from No. 2 on Friday.
2. Do Georgia and Georgia Tech REALLY have anything to play for on Saturday night? Absolutely. And if you’ve ever played for or attended either school, you know there is a helluva lot at stake on Saturday night. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson has a chance to go 2-1 against Georgia. You think that’s not big? Georgia has a chance to get bowl eligible. The difference between 6-6 and 5-7 is huge!!!! I am reminded of the 1976 game when Georgia was set to face Tech and had already clinched the SEC championship. Quarterback Ray Goff was asked where Georgia Tech ranked among Georgia’s rivals. Goff suggested it was down the list behind Florida, Auburn and maybe a few others. “Coach (Vince) Dooley set me straight on that right away,” said Goff. “If you think that Georgia Tech isn’t Georgia’s biggest rival, then try LOSING the game. You’ll find out in a hurry.” Georgia needed a field goal from Allan Leavitt at the buzzer to beat Georgia Tech 13-10 in Athens. Yep. This one matters a lot for both sides.
3. Can LSU find one more way to win? It looks like LSU is vulnerable when the No. 5 Tigers (9-1) go to Little Rock on Saturday to play Arkansas (9-2). With Ryan Mallett, the Hogs can pitch it and catch it with anybody. LSU needed a touchdown with 44 seconds left to beat a struggling Ole Miss team, 43-36, last Saturday in Baton Rouge. But how in the world are you going to bet against Les Miles? Every week except one (a 24-17 loss at No. 2 Auburn on Oct. 23) the Mad Hatter has dialed something up and found a way for his team to win. A win all but guarantees that LSU will go to a BCS bowl.
4. Can Tennessee make it 26 straight over Kentucky? Granted, the competition in November (Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt) was nothing like October, when Tennessee went winless. But the Vols (5-6) can qualify for a bowl if they can find a way to extend their current streak of 25 consecutive wins over Kentucky. I’m looking for a shootout. Kentucky has been so close to a very good season under first-year coach Joker Phillips. They are due to win a close one. Will this be it?
5. What’s the over and under for Marcus Lattimore against Clemson? I asked this question a week ago when South Carolina played Troy State with the SEC East championship already in hand. I said the number was 10. Lattimore carried the ball seven times for 102 yards and three touchdowns against Troy, and then he took the rest of the day off. I still say the magic number for Lattimore is 10 this week on the road against Clemson. The state championship is important because of recruiting. But for Steve Spurrier SEC championships are everything. He’s won six of them and would like a seventh. Lattimore won’t get a lot of work at Death Valley.
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