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October 11, 2007

No. 1 LSU ready for trip to Kentucky

MORE WEEK 7 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10

MEGARGEE'S SEC PICKS
Week 6 games

Overview: Consider this "Redemption Saturday" as two teams will try to capitalize on opportunities to avenge stunning losses from last season. Arkansas' 27-10 victory at Auburn last season changed the complexion of the Western Division race and catapulted the Razorbacks to the SEC Championship Game. Auburn now will try to return the favor by beating Arkansas on the road. Georgia heads to Vanderbilt wanting to erase memories of its 24-22 loss to the Commodores last year. Top-ranked LSU is the only SEC team unbeaten in conference play and puts its perfect record on the line Saturday at Kentucky.

Best matchup: Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson vs. LSU pass defense: Although Woodson fell back to earth against South Carolina last week, he still has thrown 18 touchdown passes with only two interceptions. Woodson will face his toughest challenge of the season this week in LSU, which is ranked first in the nation in total defense and pass-efficiency defense. LSU has 11 interceptions and has allowed only three touchdown passes this season.

The pressure is on: Georgia QB Matthew Stafford: Georgia's chances of winning depend on how the highly touted sophomore plays. Stafford has gone 64 of 100 with seven touchdown passes and two interceptions in the Bulldogs' four wins. He has gone 35 of 77 with two touchdown passes and two interceptions in the Bulldogs' two losses. After completing less than half his passes last week in a 35-14 loss to Tennessee, Stafford will have to bounce back as Georgia attempts to avoid losing to Vanderbilt for a second consecutive season.

Who's hot: Arkansas backup TB Felix Jones is averaging 10.5 yards per carry. None of the other top 100 rushers in the nation is gaining more than 8.2 yards per attempt. Arkansas CB Jerell Norton has intercepted a pass in consecutive games. Florida LB Brandon Spikes has 21 tackles over his past two games. Kentucky TB Rafael Little has rushed for at least 100 yards in five of his six games this year. Mississippi State TB Anthony Dixon has rushed for seven touchdowns over his past three games. Tennessee K Daniel Lincoln is 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts this season.

Who's not: After rushing for at least 100 yards in each of his first three games, Alabama TB Terry Grant has gained a total of 128 yards over his past three games. Grant was benched last week in favor of Glen Coffee, who responded by rushing for 121 yards in a 30-24 victory over Houston. Mississippi State QB Michael Henig has thrown nine interceptions with only one touchdown pass this season. Henig came in for Wesley Carroll last week and was picked off twice after missing two games with a broken hand. Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said Carroll will start Saturday against Tennessee. Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson has gone 41-for-87 with five interceptions and two touchdown passes in his past four games.

Keep your eye on: Auburn OT King Dunlap lost his starting job earlier this season, but the senior gets another chance to prove himself this weekend. Dunlap was beaten out by true freshman Ryan Pugh, who probably will move from left tackle to center this week because of an injury to Jason Bosley. Pugh's move should allow Dunlap to return to the lineup at left tackle.

Numbers game: Arkansas TB Darren McFadden needs 26 more yards to become one of the SEC's top-10 career rushers. McFadden has gained 3,539 yards in his three-year career. Alabama's Shaun Alexander currently ranks 10th with 3,565 yards. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville earned his 100th career victory last week. He has gone 75-31 at Auburn after posing a 25-20 mark in four years at Ole Miss. Auburn is 42-0 when it has scored at least 30 points during the Tuberville era. Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett needs six more catches to become the SEC's leader in career receptions. Bennett has caught 202 passes in his three-year career. Kentucky's Craig Yeast owns the record with 208 receptions from 1995-98.

SEC STANDINGS
EAST DIVISION
TeamConf.All
South Carolina3-15-1
Florida2-24-2
Georgia2-24-2
Kentucky1-15-1
Tennessee1-13-2
Vanderbilt1-23-2
WEST DIVISION
TeamConf.All
LSU3-06-0
Alabama2-14-2
Auburn2-14-2
Mississippi State1-24-2
Arkansas0-23-2
Mississippi0-32-4
Freshmen to watch: Georgia TB Knowshon Moreno will make his first career start Saturday against Vanderbilt. Moreno has gained a team-high 462 rushing yards while backing up Thomas Brown, who will miss Saturday's game with a broken collarbone. Georgia true freshman LB Rennie Curran also could move into the starting lineup this week.

Injury update: Arkansas WR Robert Johnson should return this week after missing the Chattanooga game with an ankle injury. ... Auburn C Jason Bosley is unlikely to play Saturday after spraining his left knee against Vanderbilt. FS Aairon Savage (knee), LB Merrill Johnson (shoulder), DE Quentin Groves (toes) and LB Tray Blackmon (ankle) also could miss the game against Arkansas. Georgia TB Thomas Brown will miss four to six weeks with a broken collarbone. Kentucky TB Rafael Little (thigh bruise), TB Alfonso Smith (ankle) and LB Johnny Williams (ankle) are questionable for the LSU game. Ole Miss SS Jamarca Sanford hurt his neck last weekend and is questionable for the Alabama game. The shoulder injury that Ole Miss LB Jonathan Cornell sustained Sept. 8 against Missouri will keep him out for the rest of the season.

They said it: "I had to excuse myself several times to go to the bathroom so I could vomit. It was a great game, and then I had the reality check that it was the two teams I had to play the next two weeks."
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks to CatsPause.com on his reaction upon watching LSU's 28-24 victory over Florida last week.

"I am complimented by that, but I don't make much of it. Frankly, it is like being ahead at halftime. It is one of the scores that you don't care about. It is at the end of the game and end of the season that you care about (it). Let's not talk about this anymore."
LSU coach Les Miles on being ranked first in all the national polls

"I'm definitely going to stay in school. There's no reason for me to miss school. It's part of my everyday life, and I'm going to stick with it. I'm pretty positive I'm coming back. I just want to come back and show the scouts what I can do."
South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley in his first public comments since suffering a season-ending knee injury Sept. 22 against LSU

"We've made a step in the right direction. Our guys fully understand what we need to do to be the type of defense that can compete in the SEC. That's where we are now. It's a long stretch. We've made a step in the right direction, but we're not anywhere near where we need to be."
Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis to VolQuest.com.

Etc.: Alabama WR DJ Hall set a school record last week with his 153rd career reception. Hall broke the mark previously held by Freddie Milons, who caught 152 passes from 1998-2001. Alabama G Justin Britt might miss Saturday's game to be with his mother, who was in intensive care this week after reportedly injuring her head in a fall. Florida coach Urban Meyer has lost back-to-back games for the first time since he was at Bowling Green in 2002. South Carolina's No. 7 ranking represents its highest position in The Associated Press poll since it was ranked seventh in the final regular-season rankings of 1984. The Gamecocks were ranked as high as second that year before falling 38-21 to Navy in their 10th game of the season.

MORE WEEK 7 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10

Steve Megargee is a staff writer Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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