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September 27, 2007

Gators hope to avenge only 2006 loss

MORE WEEK 5 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10

MEGARGEE'S SEC PICKS
Saturday's games
Overview: Defending national champion Florida gets a chance to avenge its only loss from the 2006 season when Auburn invades the Swamp in one of three interdivisional matchups. The other two conference games have Ole Miss traveling to Georgia and Mississippi State visiting South Carolina. Alabama squares off with Florida State in an eagerly anticipated matchup at Jacksonville. LSU, Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt shouldn't have much trouble winning nonconference games against non-BCS foes.

Best matchup: Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson vs. Florida Atlantic CB Tavious Polo. Kentucky shouldn't have any problem knocking off Florida Atlantic by at least a couple of touchdowns, but it should be interesting to see how Polo fares against Woodson. Woodson hasn't been picked off all season and has set an NCAA record by throwing 296 consecutive passes without getting intercepted. Polo leads the nation with six interceptions and has picked off five passes in his past two games. Polo can make a national name for himself this weekend if he ends Woodson's streak.

Pressure is on: South Carolina LB Marvin Sapp. This junior has the unenviable task of taking over as the Gamecocks' starting middle linebacker for preseason All-America candidate Jasper Brinkley, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered in last week's 28-16 loss at LSU. Sapp ranked second on the team with 51 tackles, but Saturday's game with Mississippi State will mark his first start of the '07 season.

Who's hot: Arkansas TB Darren McFadden has averaged 173 yards per game to lead the nation in rushing. Arkansas TB Felix Jones is averaging 8.95 yards per carry. Oklahoma's Allen Patrick (8.97) is the only player ranked among the top 86 rushers to average more yards per carry. Arkansas K Alex Tejada is 7-for-7 on field-goal attempts this season. Auburn DE Antonio Coleman has recorded a sack in three consecutive games. Florida QB Tim Tebow ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency. Tebow also ranks third among all quarterbacks in rushing with 89.5 yards per game. Woodson has thrown 11 touchdown passes without an interception this season. Kentucky DE Jeremy Jarmon has at least one sack in six consecutive games. LSU CB Chevis Jackson has at least one pass defended in every game, including three last week against South Carolina. Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy has seven tackles for losses this season and has recorded at least one stop behind the line of scrimmage in each of the Rebels' four games. Tennessee K Daniel Lincoln is 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts this season.

Who's not: Arkansas QB Casey Dick has completed less than half his pass attempts this season. After rushing for 226 yards in a 38-25 loss to Missouri on Sept. 8, Ole Miss RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has gained just 103 yards on 32 carries in his first two conference games, against Vandy and Florida. South Carolina QB Blake Mitchell threw four interceptions the last two weeks and has lost his starting job to Chris Smelley.

Keep your eye on: Ole Miss WR Mike Wallace has caught four touchdown passes in his past three games and is averaging 25 yards per catch. Wallace ranks second in the SEC and 17th in the nation with 100 receiving yards per game. His average of 25 yards per catch is tied for second among the top 63 receivers in the nation. Wallace could struggle to continue his hot streak against a Georgia defense that has allowed only one touchdown pass all season.

Numbers game: Tebow leads the SEC in total offense with 363.5 yards per game. GatorBait.net pointed out this week that Tebow's individual total was higher than the average production of four SEC teams: South Carolina (354), Vanderbilt (353.7), Auburn (351.5) and Mississippi State (206.8).

Freshmen to watch: Smelley will start Saturday for South Carolina against Mississippi State. Smelley, a redshirt freshman from Tuscaloosa, Ala., was 12 of 26 for 174 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a reserve role last week as the Gamecocks fell 28-16 to LSU. Auburn's starting offensive line last week included three true freshmen: OTs Ryan Pugh and Lee Ziemba and G Chaz Ramsey. They could end up in the starting lineup again Saturday at Florida. OT King Dunlap and G Mike Berry have returned to practice after recovering from injuries, but Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said both would have to earn back their starting jobs.

SEC STANDINGS
EAST DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Florida2-04-0
Kentucky1-04-0
Georgia1-13-1
South Carolina1-13-1
Vanderbilt1-12-1
Tennessee0-12-2
WEST DIVISION
TeamConf.All
LSU2-04-0
Alabama2-13-1
Mississippi State1-13-1
Auburn0-12-2
Arkansas0-21-2
Ole Miss0-21-3
Injury update: Auburn TB Tristan Davis should play his first game of the season Saturday after recovering from foot surgery. Florida WR Percy Harvin missed part of Tuesday's practice with a hip pointer, but the Gators expect him to play Saturday. Florida CB Markihe Anderson (knee) won't play against Auburn, and WR Andre Caldwell (knee) is doubtful. Georgia TB Kregg Lumpkin (thumb) returned to action in a special-teams role last week. Georgia coach Mark Richt said Lumpkin isn't ready to return to the backfield yet. Ole Miss WR Dexter McCluster has returned to practice. McCluster hasn't played this season since hurting his shoulder over the summer.

They said it: "We are confident in ourselves. We feel whatever the situation is, we can overcome it. At the same time, you can't keep putting yourself in a hole because if you keep doing it, there might be a situation where you can't get yourself out of it."
- Kentucky WR Keenan Burton, whose team has rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Louisville and Arkansas the past two weeks.

"You have to finish. You have to take care of the ball, have to be smart and not have penalties. Don't give them anything, and when you have them, you have to really turn it on and make them say, 'Give,' and it's over. When you get to that 10-point or two-touchdown lead, we have to keep the hammer down. We have to learn how to do that."
- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, whose team has blown fourth-quarter leads against Alabama and Kentucky the past two weeks.

"I've never been there, but I'm looking forward to it. It can't be any worse than LSU, Auburn or Alabama. We're used to the hostile environments. We're just going to go out there and play with a chip on our shoulder and come out with a victory."
- Mississippi State DE Titus Brown to BulldogBlitz.com about Saturday's game at South Carolina.

"I know our defense is a very formidable group to play against. I don't anticipate a lot of college quarterbacks will have success against our defense."
- LSU coach Les Miles responding to a question about how each of the Tigers' opponents has changed quarterbacks during the game.

"I talked to (Jasper Brinkley) briefly about coming back. He indicated that's what he wants to do right now. That's a positive, the way I look at it. We definitely should be a stronger team next year with all the returning guys, all the freshmen and sophomore guys that are playing. Hopefully that will happen and (Brinkley will) be 100 percent ready to go."
- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on the chances of LB Jasper Brinkley applying for a medical redshirt to receive an additional year of eligibility. Brinkley will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Etc.: Although Auburn QB Brandon Cox has regained his starting job after going 13 of 19 with a touchdown pass and no interceptions in a 55-20 triumph over New Mexico State last week, freshman QB Kodi Burns will continue to earn playing time. Auburn has won eight of nine games including four in a row against teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll. Auburn also has won 12 of its past 13 SEC road games. The Tigers are at Florida this week. Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom hasn't named a starting quarterback for the South Carolina game, but he indicated true freshman Wesley Carroll and Josh Riddell will play. Richt indicated that TB Thomas Brown would remain in the starting lineup. Redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno has gained more yards (342-213) and has averaged more yards per carry (5.3-3.9) than Brown. Arkansas has shuffled its depth chart on defense in an attempt to end a two-game losing streak. Former safety Elston Forte has replaced Ryan Powers as the starting weakside linebacker. Marcus Harrison has moved from defensive end to defensive tackle. This marks the first time Kentucky has started a season 4-0 with at least one conference win since 1950. The Wildcats went on to finish 11-1 with a conference championship and Sugar Bowl title that season. LSU has scored on each of its past 25 red-zone possessions in a streak that began in the second quarter of last season's Sugar Bowl victory over Notre Dame.

MORE WEEK 5 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10



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