SEC Week 5 Preview: A Late Preview for a Late Game

This was done before now -- obviously -- but Internet and cable problems prevented me from posting it.

THE GAME OF THE YEAR. ONCE MORE
Florida at Alabama, 8 p.m. ET, CBS

It's tempting to pick the upset here.

After all, I did in the preseason. Granted, I also called for Georgia to defeat Florida then, and there's no way I'm going within the fallout zone of that pick. And that was then, this is now. Etc.

But when you hear everyone predict a winner in a game between two relatively even teams with near-unanimity, it gives you pause. After all, for all its problems on offense, it's not like Florida has suddenly become Mississippi State. And while Alabama looks very much like another Nick Saban team, they did need a great late-game rally to defeat Arkansas.

Then you realize that there's a reason everyone is choosing Alabama with near-unanimity: They were the better team in December, and not much has changed since then. The game is in Tuscaloosa. The offense has looked slightly better, even though the defenses (when you look at yards instead of points) are about even.

The team that wins this game takes a major step toward winning its division. The team that loses it will see its half of the SEC become more complicated. There won't be too much joy in Columbia -- Steve Spurrier would doubtless prefer a one-loss South Carolina defeat an undefeated Florida in Gainesville -- but there will be a reason to think the race is back on.

Alabama 24, Florida 20

THIS IS A CBS GAME?!?
Tennessee at LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Scotoma or not, Les Miles has to be able to see that his team has not exactly impressed on offense this year. Not that it looks very likely to matter in this game; Tennessee has not impressed on offense, defense, special teams -- you name it, it hasn't looked good since the opener. (Pass efficiency defense is the only statistical category in which Tennessee ranks higher than sixth in the SEC; its fourth.)

But, wow, that LSU offense is terrible. At least the passing part of it. The rushing game is actually working pretty well, but Gary Crowton is not interested in your "results." He's kinda like Nick Saban, you see. It's all about the process of getting there, and that includes throwing the ball when there's no earthly reason to throw the ball.

The real show here will be when Tennessee is on offense. The Vols are a terrible third-down team, and LSU's defensive coordinator is John Chavis. Should be fun.

LSU 14, Tennessee 10

A HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT
Georgia at Colorado, 7 p.m. ET, FSN

Every seat in Boulder is thisclose to being on fire right now. Dan Hawkins has brought a sort of consistency to Colorado; his teams are consistently one of the worst outfits in college football. And Mark Richt has of late lost the consistency that made his program one of the best in the post-Spurrier, pre-Meyer SEC; so things are getting warm in Athens as well.

Colorado looks like it might still be Dan Hawkins' Colorado. Though the Buffaloes defeated Colorado State and Hawaii by a combined 39 points, they lost to California by 45. They rank in the top 50 nationally in three categories.

Georgia's in trouble this year, but not because of the game in Boulder. Mark Richt gets a reprieve for at least a week.

Georgia 23, Colorado 21

I'M SO CONFUSED
Kentucky at Ole Miss, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network

I have no idea what to say about this game, in part because I have no idea what to expect from Ole Miss. The Rebels have been a bigger yo-yo than most of Houston Nutt's teams, losing to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt before waxing Fresno State by four scores last week. It's almost like he's trying to make life hard on us.

Kentucky, meanwhile, has had it's usual season: Start off strong against a collection of cupcakes larger than the bakery at your neighborhood grocery store, then get leveled by Florida.

Here's the thing: Kentucky has defeated four FBS teams, though that's counting a Western Kentucky team that is pretty much an FCS team. They have yet to play an actual FCS team -- don't worry, they're playing one later this year. Kentucky hasn't changed that much. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has defeated two FBS teams, though you have to include Tulane as an FBS team to get to that total, and lost to an FCS team. That makes it somewhat clearer.

Kentucky 24, Ole Miss 13

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Vanderbilt at Connecticut, 12 p.m. ET

Good luck finding this game outside of ESPN3.com, though perhaps we should thank them for that. My pick to win the Big East has looked even worse than a Big East champion should look. In fact, Connecticut has looked awful enough that Vanderbilt should win this game.

Vanderbilt 14, Connecticut 13

ALSO PLAYING

Alcorn State at Mississippi State, 12 p.m. ET, FS South or Sun Sports Of course, they gave us this game instead of the Vanderbilt-Connecticut. So we lost. Mississippi State 34, Alcorn State 14

Auburn at Louisiana-Monroe, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU You might have thought we were done with Sun Belt games. You were wrong. Auburn 54, Louisiana-Monroe 17

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