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September 20, 2007

South Carolina looks to prove itself at LSU

MORE WEEK 4 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10

MEGARGEE'S SEC PICKS
Saturday's games
Florida 38, Ole Miss 10
LSU 24, South Carolina 10
Arkansas 35, Kentucky 24
Auburn 24, New Mexico State 3
Mississippi State 34, Gardner-Webb 7
Georgia 24, Alabama 23
Tennessee 34, Arkansas State 10
Overview: We'll know how good South Carolina is by about 7 p.m. Eastern time Saturday. The unbeaten Gamecocks travel to Death Valley for a day game with LSU in one of four interdivisional matchups. In a game featuring two teams on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, undefeated Kentucky travels to Arkansas. Alabama plays host to Georgia and Florida visits Ole Miss in the other conference games. Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee should feast on overmatched nonconference foes, while Vanderbilt enjoys a bye week.

Best matchup: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier vs. LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini: Spurrier is one of the game's greatest offensive minds and led some of the SEC's most prolific offenses in history during his Florida tenure. Pelini is one of the top defensive coordinators in the country and runs a unit that leads the nation in total defense, scoring defense and pass-efficiency defense. Pelini definitely has more firepower on his side, but Spurrier has beaten teams with superior talent plenty of other times.

Pressure is on: Arkansas coach Houston Nutt: He entered the season under plenty of pressure. A heartbreaking 41-38 loss to Alabama last week only turned up the pressure. Arkansas needs to beat Kentucky to have any realistic hope of repeating as the Western Division champion.

Who's hot: Arkansas TB Darren McFadden has shown impressive consistency thus far in his Heisman Trophy bid. McFadden rushed for 193 yards in the season-opener and gained 195 yards in his second game. Florida QB Tim Tebow ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency. Tebow has thrown eight touchdown passes with only one interception. He also has rushed for 192 yards and five touchdowns. Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson has thrown nine touchdown passes without an interception. Kentucky WR Keenan Burton has caught at least five passes in 10 consecutive games. Kentucky LB Wesley Woodyard has 28 tackles in his past two games. Ole Miss WR Mike Wallace has three touchdown catches in his past two games. Wallace also has two consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts. Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy and Kentucky DE Jeremy Jarmon have recorded a sack in each of their three games this year. Hardy also ranks fifth in the nation in tackles for loss. ... South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley has intercepted a pass in back-to-back games.

Who's not: Auburn QB Brandon Cox has gone 37-of-75 with six interceptions and only two touchdown passes this season. Cox was benched during a 19-14 loss to Mississippi State last week before returning late in the game. Kentucky K Lones Seiber has missed three extra-point attempts this season. Tennessee ranks 99th in the nation in sacks, 102nd in total defense, 108th in pass-efficiency defense, 110th in scoring defense and 111th in tackles for loss.

Keep your eye on: LSU WR Jared Mitchell caught six passes for 82 yards last week when leading receiver Early Doucet sat out the Middle Tennessee game with a groin injury. Doucet also will miss Saturday's matchup with South Carolina, which should create more opportunities for Mitchell, Brandon LaFell, Demetrius Byrd and Terrance Toliver. After struggling last year as Ole Miss' starting quarterback, Brent Schaeffer briefly worked out at wide receiver this summer. Schaeffer played quarterback last Saturday and connected on a 54-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace before throwing four consecutive incompletions. With a shoulder injury bothering starter Seth Adams, Schaeffer a Florida native might get more chances to test his arm this weekend.

Numbers game: Tennessee has gone 5-for-16 on plays of third-and-3 or shorter, Volquest.com reports. SEC teams are 21-0 when they've scored first this season The SEC's 18-3 record in non-conference games leads all leagues. Kentucky's victory over Louisville snapped a 46-game losing streak to top-10 opponents, dating to 1977.

Freshmen to watch: Auburn QB Kodi Burns replaced an ineffective Brandon Cox and went 8-of-12 through the air and rushed for 87 yards against Mississippi State last week. Burns, a true freshman, will split time with Cox against New Mexico State this weekend. Mississippi State QB Wes Carroll could make his first career start Saturday because Michael Henig broke a bone in his passing hand last week. Carroll, a true freshman, is competing with junior college transfer Josh Riddell for the starting job in Henig's absence. Tennessee DEs Ben Martin and Chris Walker could get extensive playing time Saturday because Wes Brown and Antonio Reynolds have nagging shoulder injuries..

SEC STANDINGS
EAST DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Florida1-03-0
South Carolina1-03-0
Vanderbilt1-12-1
Kentucky0-03-0
Georgia0-12-1
Tennessee0-11-2
WEST DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Alabama2-03-0
LSU1-03-0
Mississippi State1-12-1
Arkansas0-11-1
Mississippi0-11-2
Auburn0-11-2
Injury update: Arkansas WR Marcus Monk will miss his third consecutive game with a knee injury. Arkansas TE Ben Cleveland also continues to be sidelined (neck injury). Auburn CB Jonathan Wilhite has missed portions of the first three games with a hamstring injury, but he expects to be at full strength Saturday. Florida could be without as many as three starters Saturday at Ole Miss. WR Andre Caldwell is out; CB Markihe Anderson also has a sprained MCL and probably won't play; and G Maurkice Pouncey is questionable with a sprained right ankle. WR Riley Cooper also has a sprained ankle, but he probably will play. Kentucky DT Ricky Lumpkin remains sidelined with a hip injury. Kentucky WR Keenan Burton (ankle) and CB Paul Warford (hamstring, back) are questionable for Arkansas. LSU WR Early Doucet will miss his second consecutive game with a groin injury. QB Matt Flynn is listed as probable after a sprained ankle caused him to miss last week's 44-0 victory over Middle Tennessee. Mississippi State QB Michael Henig is out two to four weeks with a broken hand. Ole Miss QB Seth Adams is questionable for Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. LB Jonathan Cornell also has a shoulder problem and won't play this weekend. South Carolina DL Nathan Pepper has torn knee ligaments that will knock him out for the rest of the season. He was injured last week celebrating an interception return. South Carolina CB Nathan Isaac (shoulder), G Gurminder Thind (ankle), LB Dustin Lindsey (knee) and LB Cody Wells (leg) are doubtful for the LSU game. Tennessee TB Montario Hardesty should return this week after missing the Florida game with an ankle injury

They said it: "I ran against (Donovan McNabb) every day in practice. He was hard to defend. (Tim Tebow) is that type of player big, physical. He runs the ball. He throws a deep ball really well. I don't know if he has missed a deep ball yet."
- Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, comparing Florida QB Tim Tebow to Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, who played at Syracuse when Orgeron worked as the Orange's defensive line coach.

"I was saying a lot of Hail Marys. Once we won and seeing everyone's face, I don't know. I hugged my girlfriend and it was some 'Romeo and Juliet' stuff. It was nuts. It was just total bliss."
- Kentucky WR Dicky Lyons Jr. to CatsPause.com regarding the aftermath of a 40-34 victory over Louisville last week.

"As long as we execute our game plan, then I think we have a chance to go out there once again and shock the world."
- South Carolina TB Cory Boyd on his team's chances of pulling off a second major road upset by beating second-ranked LSU. South Carolina won at Georgia on Sept. 8.

"I am honest when I say I am deceptive because I am supposed to be. It is done with forethought. There have been a number of incidents where that piece of information gets out and is a tremendous advantage to the opposing team."
- LSU coach Les Miles to TigerBait.com on his philosophy on disclosing injury updates to the media.

"I don't think I've ever been on a plane and went to Mississippi and recruited."
- Florida coach Urban Meyer in an Orlando Sentinel story detailing the difficulty Ole Miss and Mississippi State have staying competitive in the SEC while playing in a state without a wealth of academically eligible Division I prospects.

"We're disappointed to be 1-2 at this time, but disappointed does not mean dead."
- Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer to Volquest.com.

Etc.: Tennessee's Nevin McKenzie has moved from safety to linebacker. Alabama senior WR DJ Hall became the school's leading career receiver last week. Hall has 2,206 career receiving yards to break the mark set by Ozzie Newsome, who had 2,070 receiving yards from 1974-77. Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson set an SEC record last week for the most consecutive passes without an interception. Woodson has thrown 257 passes in a row without getting picked off. Georgia's David Greene owned the previous record (214). Mississippi State is 3-0 in the state of Alabama and 2-10 everywhere else since the beginning of last season. The Bulldogs won at UAB and Alabama last season before knocking off Auburn last week.

MORE WEEK 4 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10



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