By Joe Curci
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What a week!
I was 6-1 including the upset special in Week 7, Texas Tech over West Virginia.
It’s time to keep the momentum going as we head into Week 8.
#9 South Carolina @ #3 Florida 3:30 p.m., CBS 2
Well folks, it doesn’t get much better than this. You’ve got undefeated Florida hosting a team led by former head coach Steve Spurrier in an SEC battle.
The Gators have been doing it with great defense and an offense that showed a whole new element last week against Vanderbilt. Quarterback Jeff Driskel had arguably his best performance this season. He ran for 177 yards and three scores and was the difference in a good road win for the Gators.
This week they will welcome in a very good South Carolina team, which comes in off a tough loss at LSU. A win for the Gamecocks will leave only Alabama and Mississippi as the remaining undefeated teams in the conference. It would also give the Gamecocks the lead in a three-team tie at the top of the East in the SEC, as they would hold tiebreakers against Florida and Georgia.
This game relies a great deal on South Carolina’s ability to get star back Marcus Lattimore going. If he can break some runs for 10, 15 yards and take some pressure of QB Connor Shaw, then the Gamecocks will have a good chance in this one. Florida’s defense yields an average of 107 rushing yards per game, and I think they will be able to win the battle in the trenches and pull out a tough home win, avenging their 17-12 loss last season in Columbia. PICK: Florida 21-20
#4 Kansas State @ #17 West Virginia 7:00 p.m
I wrote last week that I thought West Virginia would have a letdown, and to be perfectly honest, they got flat out embarrassed by Texas Tech. Heisman hopeful Geno Smith completed just 52 percent of his passes, and the Mountaineers were 9 of 21 on third down conversions in the loss.
This week the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Mountaineers will welcome in a Kansas State team that is undefeated and already has wins against Oklahoma, Miami (FL), and at Iowa State. The Wildcats are getting it done by playing solid defense and running the ball, and they will need to be sharp on both sides of the ball this week against WVU.
If Geno Smith can get his accuracy back, he can give Kansas Sate all sorts of issues. If not, Kansas State will control the clock and come away with this game. I like the idea of WVU being able to bounce back at home and get the job done. PICK: West Virginia 48-28
#6 LSU @ #20 Texas A&M 12:00 p.m.
This has been a weird season for Les Miles and the Tigers. They struggled in back-to-back games against Auburn and Towson, lost at Florida, and then came back and got a gritty win at home against a very strong South Carolina team. Now the 6-1 LSU Tigers head to play at Texas A&M in a game that can stamp A&M as a true competitor in the SEC.
After losing week two at Florida, the Aggies have rattled off five wins in a row including, last week’s thrilling 59-57 win at Louisiana Tech. If you wonder how big this game is for the Aggies, you need to look no further then the next three week of their schedule: at Auburn, at Ole Miss, and at No. 1 Alabama. Needless to say this season can turn ugly in a hurry if Texas A&M isn’t sharp and ready to perform.
Based on the way LSU has struggled on offense, I think the Aggies will keep it close, but in the end I think LSU will do enough defensively to win the game. PICK: LSU 24-14
#19 Rutgers @ Temple 12:00 p.m.
This is a big road test for the undefeated Scarlet Knights. Gary Nova will have to be sharp, and cannot afford to turn the ball over. Temple has already won its first two games as a member of the Big East and will look to upset a red-hot Rutgers team at home. If the Rutgers’ defense can stop Temple back Montel Harris, they will move to 7-0. PICK: Rutgers 31-17
#1 Alabama @ Tennessee 8:00 p.m.
This is as tough as it gets for the Vols. Alabama is all but a lock to return to the National Championship in early 2013. The Crimson Tide roll into Knoxville with a perfect 6-0 record and have not yet been tested this season. Perhaps Tennessee will be able to keep it closer than the experts have predicted, but look for the end outcome to be another step closer to the title for the tide. PICK: Alabama 28-17
Auburn @ Vanderbilt 12:21 p.m.
The only reason I touch on this game is the simple fact that it could be the last straw in the interesting stint at Auburn for head coach Gene Chizik. After winning the National Title with Cam Newton, the Tigers are 6-10 and have lost all four of their SEC games this season. If they lose at Vanderbilt this weekend it could all but seal his fate at the celebrated program. Who knows, could a Chizik departure open the door for Bobby Petrino’s return to the SEC? The way the Tigers’ offense has played, it’s tough to see things getting any better… PICK: Vandy 19-13
Follow Joe Curci on Twitter @JoeyBaboots
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