The World#039;s Largest Outdoor Beverage Party

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2006

For the third time this season, we saw Mike Shula come to the podium and speak about being close, fighting hard and just coming up short as the Vols turned the tide on Alabama Saturday in Knoxville, 16-13.

Tide fans are becoming sick and tired of the same old song and dance (both by the team and by the coaches after the game) and if Shula can't start winning against rival teams like LSU, Tennessee and Auburn, in which he is 1-9, then University President Robert Witt and Athletics Director Mal Moore are going to start losing their already extended patience.

Here are this week's picks (home team listed first):

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Alabama vs. Florida International

Bring out the metal detectors and hire some guards; Florida International is coming to T-town for homecoming.

Actually, with the suspensions of 18 FIU players and the off-field problems Alabama has had recently, everyone should be on their toes for this one.

This might be one of those games where you go to a fight and football game breaks.

The Tide struggled offensively, again, at Tennessee, but FIU is reeling from the suspensions and many freshmen are starting for just their second game.

If Alabama quarterback can hook up with receivers D.J. Hall, who set an Alabama record last week for consecutive 100-yard receiving games, and Keith Brown, then the Tide should roll for the homecoming crowdŠ

Alabama 35, Florida International 14.

Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Auburn

Hotty toddy Tommy Tubby.

The Riverboat Gambler makes another return to Oxford, Miss., or Tuberford as it has affectionately become known in many Auburn circles, and the Tigers are closing in on being healthy again for the first time in many weeks.

The last time the Tigers visited Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Jason Campbell led the perfect Tigers to a 21-point victory.

This year, Brandon Cox is nearing full speed and so are his running backs, Kenny Irons and Brad Lester, and that could spell doom for Ed Orgeron's 2-9 Rebels.

Auburn needs this one bad if they want to stay in the title hunt, but the Tigers must win big in order to keep national title hopes aliveŠ

Auburn 33, Ole Miss 20.

No. 6 Florida vs. Georgia @ Jacksonville, Fla.

Welcome to The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

There. I said it.

School and SEC officials have asked that the annual title of the game not be mentioned in order to clean up the image of this game, but I don't care.

This game has and always will be known as THE WORLD'S LARGEST OUTDOOR COCKTAIL PARTY, just as the Alabama-Tennessee game will always be the Third Saturday in October and the Auburn-Georgian game will always be the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.

The Gators are still the team to beat in the SEC East, but a win today by the Dawgs would shake things up and put Tennessee back into the driver's seat.

Leak-bo, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, are the best 1-2 punch in the SEC, if not the nation, and if the Bulldog defense doesn't learn to stop them early, then Tennessee's 51 points make look like chicken feedŠ

Florida 38, Georgia 21.

South Carolina vs. No. 11 Tennessee

The Vols escaped the Third Saturday in October last weekend against Alabama with a close 16-13 win.

Had the Tide elected to go for a touchdown instead of kicking the field goal to end the first half, we may be talking about Fulmer on the hot seat instead of Tennessee making a run at the SEC Championship or possibly a BCS bowl.

Erik Ainge has officially been bumped up from &#8220completely inept” status to &#8220partially inept,” thanks to the return of offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, but the junior must have a big game against the Gamecocks to keep his Vols alive in the SEC East.

Although the Vols struggled offensively against the Tide, with Arian Foster scoring the only touchdown, Ainge still passed for more than 330 yards.

Steve Spurrier has always been a thorn a Phil Fulmer's side, and if the Ol' Ball Coach can keep quarterback Syvelle Newton, who has already passed for 1,010 yards and 10 touchdowns in limited starts, under control, then the Gamecocks could fly the coup with a winŠ

South Carolina 20, Tennessee 17.

No. 24 Georgia Tech vs. Miami

Chan Gailey's Yellow Jackets were completely destroyed at the hands of the Clemson Tigers last week and Patrick Nix's offense looked nonexistent.

Miami is still reeling from losing 13 players to suspension following the &#8220Orange Brawl” with Florida International, but quarterback Kyle Wright has stepped up for the Hurricanes and has thrown for 1,323 yard and seven touchdowns during the season.

Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball has rushed 79 times for 323 yards, which is almost as much as Miami's leading rusher Javarris James who has 416 yards on 72 carries.

Through the air, Ball has 1,046 yards and 11 touchdowns while key receiver Calvin Johnson has 35 receptions for 559 yards and eight touchdowns.

If the Yellow Jackets want to stay in the heat of the ACC lead, the need this one desperatelyŠ

Georgia Tech 23, Miami 19.

Last week: 4-5

This week: 4-0

Overall: 44-22

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at