Just kidding. The real showdown pits No. 5 Florida against No. 8 Georgia in Jacksonville. The game used to be known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party until the fun police decided the nickname might lead impressionable college students to partake of alcoholic beverages. Perish the thought.
Regardless, Florida vs. Georgia will decide who represents the Eastern Division in the SEC Championship Game and could vault the winner back into the national championship picture. Clearly, the stakes are high.
InsideTennessee.com analysts Randy Moore and Jeffery Stewart expended a lot of brain power analyzing this game (more than they can spare, frankly). Each went 5-2 on his SEC picks last week. Randy now stands 48-10 for the year, while Jeffery checks in at 44-14.
Here are their projections for this week:
ARKANSAS STATE AT ALABAMA: There’s a better chance Alabama will lose on its Nov. 22 open date than lose Saturday in Tuscaloosa against Arkansas State on homecoming. The only time these teams played was in 1982 when the Crimson Tide scored a 34-7 victory. That sounds about right for the 2008 edition especially falling between high-emotion SEC encounters at Tennessee and at LSU next Saturday. Alabama 34, Arkansas State 7.
TULSA AT ARKANSAS: Tulsa is beginning to produce high major head coaching candidates in football like it has in basketball over the years. That development fuels an intriguing turn of the coaching carousel that collides in Fayetteville Saturday. It started when Bobby Petrino left Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons. He was replaced by in Louisville by former Tulsa head coach Steve Kragthorpe. The Golden Hurricane hired Todd Graham to replace Kragthorpe, and he now has Tulsa at 8-0 for the first time in school history thanks to the nation’s No. 1 offense and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who used to be Arkansas’ O.C. under Houston Nutt, who left Arkansas for Ole Miss and was replaced by Petrino after a disastrous short run in Atlanta. (Next week I’ll explain the NFL tiebreaker system.) With so much at stake this has the makings of a showcase game and there should be points galore. But it’s real a step up in competition for Tulsa and the home standing Hogs are hungry after narrow back-to-back defeats to Kentucky and Ole Miss. Arkansas 38, Tulsa 34.
AUBURN AT OLE MISS: Speaking of looking for a coach, some Tiger fans would like to shift that process into high gear which means when Tiger tailgaters are asked what’s cooking some will invariably reply, “Tommy Tuberville’s Tail end”. Funny thing is that Tuberville left Ole MIss for the Auburn job after losing out on the Arkansas job to Houston Nutt. You may also recall that Bobby Petrino was once reported to have accepted the Auburn job to replace Tuberville before late intervention saved Double-T’s tenuous reign. He rewarded that decision with a perfect 13-0 season in 2004, but now he’s on the hot seat again for a woeful offense, an atypical losing season and the looming specter of Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. That story line sounds vaguely familiar. Ole Miss 27, Auburn 19
GEORGIA VS. FLORIDA (JACKSONVILLE): This is the heavyweight game of the week and both teams are in prime form after impressive wins last week. The Bulldogs won the last meeting between these perennial powers, claiming an emotional edge thanks to a controversial end zone hoe-down after their first TD of the game. So do you think Mark Richt realized that stunt would not only set the tone for last year’s game but this year’s as well? The guess here is he will by the time this one is over. Florida 42, Georgia 27.
KENTUCKY AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Last year the Wildcats were ranked No. 14 when they were knocked off by Mississippi State in Lexington by a score of 34-14. Kentucky committed six turnovers in that loss and were eliminated from SEC title contention. Add last week’s 63-5 beatdown against the Gators, and the Wildcats have enough incentive to pull the upset, if they do something about the kicking game. The Bulldogs air defense is porous and the air attack is suspect. Kentucky 26, Mississippi State 23.
TULANE AT LSU: After losing to Georgia 52-38 in Baton Rouge last week, the Tigers’ performance takes on greater significance this week, which is a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for the anemic mean greenies of Tulane. LSU 41, Tulane 10.
TENNESSEE AT SOUTH CAROLINA: The only game the Vols have lost to the Gamecocks, despite a lot of close calls, was in 2005 when South Carolina entered the contest in Knoxville as a 13-point underdog and came away a 16-15 upset. Of course the Vols went on to suffer a 5-6 record. Will the Gamecocks and Steve Spurrier seal UT’s fate again this year? With two weeks to prepare, Spurrier’s history of success vs. Tennessee, an especially strong defense and an edge in offensive personnel you can virtually bet the farm on it. South Carolina 24, Tennessee 17.
ARKANSAS STATE AT ALABAMA: Tide coaching legend Bear Bryant attended high school in Fordyce, Arkansas, which is 170 miles from Jonesboro, where Arkansas State is located. I don't have a follow-up to that; I just thought you'd want to know. Alabama 45, Arkansas State 7
TULSA AT ARKANSAS: One week after hosting former Razorback head man Houston Nutt (now at Ole Miss), the Razorbacks host former Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who now performs the same duties for the unbeaten (7-0) Golden Hurricanes. I'm guessing that's two men a lot of Hog fans would like to have back. Tulsa 31, Arkansas 24
AUBURN AT OLE MISS: The Tigers are 0-2 since they fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, and this weekend doesn't look all that promising, either. Ole Miss 20, Auburn 14
GEORGIA VS. FLORIDA (JACKSONVILLE): Gator quarterback Tim Tebow spent the offseason performing circumcisions as part of a missionary venture overseas. Lately he's content slicing up opposing defenses here in the USA. Florida 38, Georgia 31
KENTUCKY AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Injuries have sidetracked a Wildcat season that began with great promise. The Bulldogs' season never had any promise at any point but they're reasonably tough at home. Mississippi State 20, Kentucky 17
TULANE AT LSU: The Tigers gave up 51 points to Florida three weeks ago and 52 to Georgia last weekend, so this is a good time to be playing a team that poses no threat whatsoever. LSU 49, Tulane 7
TENNESSEE AT SOUTH CAROLINA: This may be Steve Spurrier's last chance to hang a loss on Phillip Fulmer, so I'm guessing the Ol' Ball Coach will be pumped up for this game. South Carolina 20, Tennessee 13.