Editors Note: This season, on top of the usual SEC picks, we will be picking the best games on the Virginia D-1 slate. We, as in the LCB, all spent our formative years in Virginia. So, we probably should have been doing this all along.
SEC Game of the Week
Vanderbilt v Tennessee @ 7:00 on ESPNU:
This week is the annual SEC/SoCon challenge. Four games where teams pay an FCS team to come play so they can pad their bowl resume. This leaves us with slim-pickings when it comes to SEC football. Georgia hosts Kentucky, in what is likely to be a beatdown of the Cats. LSU visits Oxford, essentially an extra bye week for the Tigers. Mississippi State goes to Arkansas, where they will get rolled. That leaves us with the biggest game in Tennessee, Vandy versus the Vols.
It has been 6 years since the 'Dores left this match-up with a W. But for the first time in the rivalry's long history, Vandy is favored to win at Neyland. Although they're favored by just one point, that they're favored at all, says a lot about how far the Volunteers have fallen and how much Vanderbilt has improved under James Franklin. If Vandy wins, they clinch a bowl birth, knock UT out of the bowl picture and likely force UT to hire a new coach. If UT wins, they can keep their bowl hopes alive for at least one more week, while returning the football balance in the Volunteer State back to Knoxville.
This game will come down to the QBs, Tyler Bray and Jordan Rodgers. One is a future great, the other's brother is an NFL great. One is healthy, the other is returning from a hand injury. One is 7-2 as a starter, the other is 2-2 (with wins coming against UK and Army). One has a big arm, the other struggles to complete passes past 20 yards. That's enough for me to take the Vols with the upset. They may not be as deep as Vandy, but as long as Bray is healthy, they're better. Also, if the Mannings and McCoys are any indication, there can only be one great QB per generation when it comes to brothers. Sorry, Jordan, but it appears as if Aaron soaked up all the talent in this gene pool. UT 24, Vandy 22.
Virginia Game of the Week
Virginia v (25) Florida State @ 7:30 on ESPN2:
Mike London is a miracle worker. He has UVA, in his second year, just a game back from the mighty Hokies. If they can win the next two games, they will supplant the team from Blacksburg as the Coastal representatives in Charlotte. Which could end up being the first domino to fall in UVA taking back the Commonwealth. Which would make perfect sense; they have the better school, town, campus, facilities and it's not in the middle of nowhere. But for all that to happen, they need to beat FSU in Tuscaloosa. Which won't happen. Since FSU blew a 4Q lead against Wake Forest, they've won five straight and outscored the opposition 177 to 58. The Noles are rolling and UVA just isn't quite ready to take back the Commonwealth, yet. FSU 31, UVA 24.