GAMEDAY:

VS.

It’s gameday, game four of a 12-day murderer’s row that college football calls the Southeastern Conference.

We have broken down this game all week (although not as thoroughly as I would have liked due to other obligations), but I think it is pretty clear that LSU is a heavy favorite in this game.

I think this game will be won and loss on third downs.

Mississippi State is 107th out of 119 DI teams in third down offense. If LSU can hold down Anthony Dixon on first and second downs and force 3rd and 7’s or 3rd and 8’s and force the inconsistent Bulldog quarterbacks to throw the ball, I think LSU will be able to shut down Mississippi State’s offense cold.

On the LSU side of the football, I think LSU will look to run the football in an attempt to open up the passing game later. If LSU can gash Mississippi State early and force that 8th or 9th man into the box, then you will see quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch (whom I expect to both play) go to the playaction and then hit guys like Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd down the field for long gains.

It’s really that simple in my opinion. I know it sounds basic. I know it sounds simple. But Mississippi State has a solid defense. But when their offense goes three-and-out three and four times in a row like they sometimes do, then it wears out that defense and causes major problems, especially in the second halves of games.

So with all of that being said, I think State will come out motivated, not wanting to be embarrassed again like they were last weekend against Georgia Tech. But I also think they just do not have enough depth and do not have enough offense to keep their defense fresh.

I’ll go with LSU big.

My Pick:

LSU 27

MSU 3

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There is also plenty of other good action on the slate this weekend in the conference.

Here is the SEC schedule and my picks.

Ole Miss at Florida 11:30 a.m.

My pick: Florida 41-10

Arkansas at Texas

My pick: Texas 48-13

Tennessee at Auburn

My pick: Tennessee 21-14

W. Kentucky at Kentucky

My pick: Kentucky 34-17

UAB at South Carolina

My pick: South Carolina 24-10

Bama at Georgia

My pick: Georgia 28-17

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With all of that being said, here is the list of games we will be picking from this week.

1. North Carolina +7.5 at Miami

2. Ole Miss +22 at Florida

3. Va Tech +7 at Nebraska

4. Bama +6.5 at Georgia

5. Tennessee +6.5 at Auburn

6. MSU +24.5 at LSU

7. Arkansas +27 at Texas

8. Illinois +16 at Penn State

Pro:

1. 49ers +5.5 at Saints

2. Green Bay +1 at Tampa Bay

3. Vikings +3 at Titans

4. Redskins +11 at Cowboys
Over/Under:

LSU/MSU: 39

Bama/Georgia: 45

Saints/9ers: 48.5

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The Saints return to the field on Sunday and return to the Dome to take on the upstart 49ers.

The 49ers are a young and talented team led by journeyman and former NFL Europe ringer JT O’Sullivan.

The Saints, on the other hand, are a black and blue, battered team who has fought injuries, poor defense and an even worse running game through three games this year and as a result have stumbled to a 1-2 mark.

Here are my keys and also the prediction for this game — which should be a good one.

Keys for the Saints:

1. Pass rush – JT O’Sullivan has played well. But let’s be real. Peyton Manning is not walking out of that locker room for the 49ers, so if the Saints can hassle O’Sullivan, he will make some mistakes and get the Saints some extra possessions.

2. Bush-league – Reggie Bush has done everything on offense that the Saints could have asked for. With Jeremy Shockey and Marquis Colston both out, Bush needs to have another 80+ yard receiving game for the Saints.

3. Inside running – It has failed the Saints each of the last two weeks. But Sean Payton could not and should not abandon running the ball between the guards. Because let’s face it, if the Saints can not figure out how to play ‘ground and pound’, then they will have a very long season, because dink and dunk football does not work in January cold and wind.

Keys for the 49ers:

1. Gore- The Saints have a bad pass defense. You know that, I know that. The 49ers know that. It’s no secret. But the key to this game is Gore and the 49ers rushing game. If Gore gets loose a few times, it could spell danger, because the Saints are in no position in the secondary to commit an extra player into the box to control the running game.

2. What you talkin’ bout, Willis? – Patrick Willis is probably the best linebacker in the NFL. And it might not really be all that close, either. With that being said, I expect to see Willis spying out on Reggie Bush when he is lined up at tailback. If he wins that matchup and controls Bush, the Saints offense may crumble.

3. Issac Bruce – Issac Bruce is the typical receiver that give the Saints fits. He’s technically sound, he’s deceptively quick and he runs good routes. O’Sullivan will be looking for Bruce early and often and if he can hit him down the field a couple of times, it could be a bad day for the secondary.

My Pick: Too much Brees. Too much Bush. Too much Saints.

Saints 31

49ers 21

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I do not focus on some of the smaller sports of LSU — to a fault of mine, because there are many small sports at LSU who have tremendous success, too.

Today, I’d like to give some love to the 7-0 and 1-0 in the SEC LSU soccer team, who defeated Mississippi State 4-1 in their first league game tonight.

These ladies are fresh off a 2007 season where they made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament and returned the majority of that team this year.

But also adding to the mix this season is freshman keeper Mo Isom, who has been brilliant so far this season for LSU.

Here are three players to look out for as LSU makes a march through the SEC soccer season.

1. Rachel Yepez

Yepez comes into her junior season, fresh off a 2007 season when she led the SEC in goals. Look for Rachel to have another fabulous season down the stretch in 2008 with pin-point precision on her shooting and a natural knack for making the ball find the net.

2. Michelle Makasini

Makasini is one of the best midfielders in the SEC and like Yepez, is just a junior. She scored 9 goals last season and was one of a handful of Tigers to start every game for the team. She brings a ton of leadership to the table on a young roster.

3. Casey Crawford

LSU lost one of the best defenders in school history, Caroline Vanderpool to graduation following last season’s completion. But Crawford is more than capable of filling the void on an LSU defense that is currently first in the SEC and one of the best in the nation.

So good luck to those ladies as the season comes to the stretch run!

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Headlines:

USC drops a game to Oregon State – I did not get a chance to shoot on this yesterday, so I’ll take it tonight. The Trojans were outplayed, outcoached and out-everything’ed last night against a far outnumbered Oregon State team. I know ole Petey gets all the love out there in California. But to me, great coaches are not coaches who get their teams up to win big games. That’s easy to do. To me, great coaches are the ones who get their kids up to play teams you’re supposed to beat. I’m not so sure USC always does that.

Santana to go on short rest for Mets – I admire the move and this is why they got Santana in the first place. But I really do not think it matters. The Mets are a mess and are the weakest-minded professional sports team ever.

Kim up two, Garcia awaits at Tour Championship – Remember the beating Kim gave Sergio last weekend at the Ryder Cup? I am sure Sergio does, too. Should be an interesting pairing tomorrow.

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YouTube Video of the Day:

Gotta love these guys.

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