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Post Opponent watch

Wednesday October 29, 2008

Georgia Southern (4-4): I haven’t bothered to track GSU this year, but their win last weekend deserves mention. The Eagles were down 31-3 to Western Carolina in the fourth quarter and were able to come back to force overtime and win the game. A 28-point fourth quarter comeback will turn heads.

Central Michigan (6-2): The Chippewas are flying high at 6-2, but their 5-0 conference record hasn’t been without its close calls. Three of their conference wins have been by three points or less, and it doesn’t get much closer than their one-point comeback win over Toledo last week. CMU’s only losses of the season have been against teams from BCS conferences, and they will dive back in to that pool this week for their second game of the season against a Big 10 team. THIS WEEK: @ Indiana

South Carolina (5-3): The loss to LSU took some of the steam out of a nice run, and the Gamecocks have had a bye week to regroup for the home stretch. There’s still quite a lot to play for, and it’s very reasonable that they could win three of their last four games to finish 8-4 and head to a decent bowl. First they’ll have to face a Tennessee team playing for its own postseason fate and the fate of its coach. The strong South Carolina defense should see no reason to fear the Vol offense. THIS WEEK: Tennessee

Arizona State (2-5): Georgia’s marquee nonconference opponent has gone down the drain. The defense, as we saw, is porous, but the high-powered offense also isn’t doing much. Things don’t project to get much better on a road trip to Corvallis. THIS WEEK: @ Oregon State

Alabama (8-0): Pundits wanted to see Alabama close the door on a team, and they did it in Knoxville. The Tide didn’t come out of the gate with all guns blazing and even gave Tennessee several chances to take early control of the game. But the Alabama defense, even without Cody, was too much for the punchless Vols. They get the next best thing to a bye this week before the big showdown in Baton Rouge next week. THIS WEEK: Arkansas State

Tennessee (3-5): The Tennessee defense did what it could to give the team a chance in the rivalry game with Alabama, but it was painful to watch that offense try to cash in on its opportunites. The usual lightweight November fare actually gives Tennessee an even shot at finishing 7-5, but they’ll have to win this weekend in Columbia. If they’re going to pull the upset, it’s going to take big plays by Eric Berry and the defense. THIS WEEK: @ South Carolina

Vanderbilt (5-3): Heading into their first bye week a month ago, Vandy was 4-0 and on top of the world heading into the Auburn game. Now they’ve dropped three in a row with a week to rest up for Florida. The opponent mistakes on which they feasted early in the season aren’t occurring as often, and games which had been won by the narrowest of margins are losses now. Is Bobby Johnson still doing a great job and likely to be in demand after the season? THIS WEEK: BYE

LSU (5-2): LSU has two losses as they did a year ago, but neither was an overtime nailbiter. With two sound defeats already and Alabama still out there, the Tigers are in danger of three regular season losses for the first time since 2002. Like Alabama, they get a lightweight nonconference game this week to prepare for the showdown next week. THIS WEEK: Tulane

Florida (6-1): We wondered if another 12:30 start would find the Gators still asleep against Kentucky, but it took about five minutes for them to prove otherwise. Florida has put up over 100 combined points in their last two games, and the defense and special teams aren’t too shabby either. No excuses this time – Georgia will get a Florida team playing out of its mind lately. THIS WEEK: Georgia

Kentucky (5-3): A tight win over Arkansas stopped the bleeding after a pair of close losses, but Kentucky never had a chance at Florida. The Wildcats were down before the Florida band returned to their seats and were simply overwhelmed for the first time this season. Injuries took their toll for sure, but even the healthy part of the team fell apart in Gainesville. There’s no time to dwell on that blowout though – they remain on the road for what’s become a must-win for the homestanding Bulldogs. A win locks up at worst a .500 season for the Wildcats and all but closes the door on MSU’s postseason hopes. THIS WEEK: @ Mississippi State

Auburn (4-4): With Georgia and Alabama still to go, this week’s game at Ole Miss would seem to be do-or-die for Auburn’s postseason chances. Needless to say, it hasn’t been a pleasant time for Auburn since the West Virginia loss. THIS WEEK: @ Ole Miss (Nov. 1)

Georgia Tech (6-2): Tech’s presence in the rankings didn’t last long, and a loss to Virginia might only be the beginning. Some strong teams remain on the schedule starting this week against FSU when the ACC’s top two rushing offenses meet the conference’s top two rushing defenses. Turnovers continue to be an issue; Tech has lost a staggering 14 fumbles this year. THIS WEEK: Florida State

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