SEC Storylines: Defensive Tussle Expected

The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Sep 20, 2008

This series never fails. LSU-Auburn always thrills — seriously, always. The home team has won each of the past eight meetings, but drama has accompanied every one. Expect more of the same at 6:45 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium (ESPN).

Last season provided one of the season’s most memorable moments. You surely remember Les Miles’ last-second gamble. Miles called for a pass to the end zone when a field goal would have sufficed, and Matt Flynn hit Demetrius Byrd for a 22-yard score with one second left.

The memory of that 30-24 loss, as well as a far-too panicked fan base, provides more than enough motivation for Tommy Tuberville’s bunch. Auburn is 3-0, and ranked 10th, but grumpy fans on the Plains aren’t happy with the slow progression of Tony Franklin’s new offense.

Auburn’s athletic director even sent an e-mail to students this week, asking them not to boo their team.

LSU may also need to win with defense. Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch have looked shaky in No. 6 LSU’s two opening wins, and the Appalachian State and North Texas defenses aren’t nearly as talented as Auburn’s.

Devilish Opponent

Thanks to the UNLV (not Runnin’) Rebels, this matchup has lost some prestige. Eight days ago, Arizona State and Georgia were on track for an under-the-lights-on-national-TV contest between two 3-0 teams.

But UNLV shocked then-No. 15 Arizona State 23-20 in overtime last Saturday, at Arizona State, sending the Sun Devils tumbling out of the polls.

Still, Sun Devil Stadium will undoubtedly be rocking for No. 3 Georgia’s first trip to the West Coast since 1960 (7 p.m., ABC). And Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter possesses the arm to beat the Bulldogs. He has completed 71.3 percent of his passes and has six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, they don’t have much of a chance of containing Knowshon Moreno or Matt Stafford.

Fulmer Vs. Meyer

Can Phil Fulmer finally break through against Urban Meyer? Doesn’t look promising. Tennessee’s coach is 0-3 against his Florida counterpart, and the No. 4 Gators come to Neyland Stadium (2:30, CBS) oozing with confidence.

Oh, and the Gators got the past two weeks to prepare for the Volunteers.

Tennessee must contain Tim Tebow — that’s a given. But more importantly, they need better play from their own quarterback. Jonathan Crompton was terrible in the season-opening loss at UCLA, which has lost 59-0 to BYU. And while he was improved in the Vols’ 35-3 win last Saturday over UAB, Crompton still threw two passes to the other team.

Quick Hits

And now the real season begins for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Bobby Petrino’s team escaped two scares against inferior competition, but No. 9 Alabama’s visit to Reynolds Razorback Stadium (11:30 a.m., Raycom) starts a four-game stretch against top-10 teams. ... Auburn 3, Mississippi State 2 might not turn out to be the most ridiculous football linescore of the SEC season. The Bulldogs visit Georgia Tech for what figures to be another struggle to score. ... Vanderbilt travels to Ole Miss and looks for a 4-0 start while the Rebels try for a 3-1 start.

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