Week 6 Preview: Directions

Week6real_medium
Somebody's going to be exposed in Nashville this weekend. The only question is who.

Will it be Auburn, ranked 90th in total offense and 99th in passing efficiency? Or will it be Vanderbilt, ranked 112th in total offense and 73rd in total defense? Will it be the Tigers, the near-consensus pick to the win the SEC West, or the Commodores, the consensus pick to finish at the bottom of the SEC East?

History, of course, says that this is where Vanderbilt falls apart. Chris Nickson leads the team in total offense with 140.5 ypg. D.J. Moore, officially a cornerback, has more all-purpose yards than anyone else on the team -- he's averaging 95.5 ypg, most of those coming on kick and punt returns. And yet ...

Auburn is, to put it mildly, dreadful on offense. Despite having fewer yards, Vanderbilt does some things tolerably well; the 'Dores are 26th in rushing offense and 65th in passing efficiency, which is at least better than the Tigers. Auburn, for its part, is ranked 90th or worse in every major offensive category outside of rushing offense (56th). It's gotten so bad that Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville unapologetically pulled the plug on the offense he crowed about in the preseason. The team from the Plains has scored 38 points in three SEC games -- and 21 of those came against LSU. We could go on and on here, but you get the point.

The Tigers have the better defense here, but Vanderbilt won't need much offense to win, and the statistical "weak link" in the Auburn D, if one exists, is the rushing game.

Vanderbilt 17, Auburn 16

THERE'S A REASON THIS GAME IS ON TV. RIGHT?
Florida at Arkansas, 12:30 p.m. ET

Jefferson Pilot Lincoln Financial Raycom is not known for competency in broadcasting, nor are they given the prime games. But why in the name of all that is holy are they broadcasting what could be the worst slaughter of the weekend?

Florida comes in angry and (one would hope) motivated after watching their home game against Ole Miss slip away. The vaunted spread has sputtered a bit, though not nearly as much as advertised; the defense has played well. There's a reason the implosion agains the Oxford Rebels was part of Life on the Margins: It was a freakish loss in the "only if everything breaks the wrong way" sense. Of couse, everything broke the wrong way for the Gators.

Arkansas comes in -- well, Arkansas comes in as Arkansas, and that's been enough for most opponents to simply roll over the Hogs. The Petrino Wunderfense has averaged 250 ypg against BCS-league competition. And stopping anyone? Well, that might be impolite, so the Razorbacks allowed Texas and Alabama to pile up a combined 101 points over the last two weeks.

Florida coasts in this game, if for no other reason than Arkansas is quite possibly one of the worst five teams in the FBS. Bonus prediction: Tebow plays through the fourth quarter.

Florida 48, Arkansas 7

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
South Carolina at Ole Miss, 2 p.m. ET

As Florida walks into the locker room in Fayetteville up by at least two TDs, a more intriguing game will be starting in Oxford. And, no, that's not a homer statement. Ole Miss has started off the season in uneven fashion, dispensing with Memphis and FCS team Samford, losing tough games against Wake Forest and Vanderbilt and of course pulling last week's upset of Florida. South Carolina, meanwhile, has been an almost unwatchable mix of solid defense and anemic offense.

But the Gamecocks have new hope -- or at least think they do -- thanks to the play of Stephen Garcia. Who might or might not play, apparently because of Spurrier's uneasiness with Garcia's willingness to take off and run. In Garcia's defense, almost anyone standing behind South Carolina's offensive line could be forgiven for running at the first available opportunity. But there's another shining ray of hope for the Gamecocks: Their defense is No. 1 in the nation in total yardage. Ole Miss' defense is run by Tyrone Nix.

This feels like one of those games that will shape the season for each team. Both are 3-2 coming into play, though the Rebels are 1-1 in the SEC while the Gamecocks are 0-2. South Carolina badly needs a momentum builder before playing at Kentucky and vs. LSU over the next two weeks. Ole Miss gets a bye week before a stretch run that includes at Alabama, vs. Auburn and at LSU.

Ole Miss 21, South Carolina 20

A DREAM COMES TO AN END
Kentucky at Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET

Well, there is justice for Kentucky's cupcake splurge to start the season, and it comes in the form of a game against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Kentucky has played at Louisville and then three straight home games against Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky. That's right: a BCS foe they have to play because it's a rivalry game, followed by an FCS team, a Sun Belt team and an FCS team transitioning into the Sun Belt. Hey, if the SEC thing doesn't work out, they could always go for the Sun Belt championship. In any case, the Wildcat faithful seem relatively pleased with a 4-0 start, but are keeping things in perspective.

There is no keeping a 5-0 start in perspective with Alabama fans. Dreams of Atlanta and Miami are already dancing in the heads of some of the Tide faithful, and not without reason: Alabama has thoroughly dominated every opponent sent their way, save Tulane in a letdown game following the Tide's obliteration of Clemson. There are chinks in the Alabama armor, but they are few and relatively minor. John Parker Wilson has been efficient -- and effective against Georgia -- but hasn't thrown for many yards. Alabama is mediocre on special teams.

One way or another, a dream will end Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The Tide will find out that, yes, an upset can also happen to you, or Kentucky will be shown to be perhaps a good team, but far from a great one. Even when you know your schedule is soft, the first lost hurts.

Alabama 34, Kentucky 13

ALSO PLAYING . . .
Tennessee
hosts Northern Illinois as it licks its Florida- and Auburn-induced wounds. It might be closer than you would think, but the Vols should win.

BYE WEEKS
Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State

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