Amen Corner just a prayer away

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Ol' Ball Coach returns to Gainesville for the first time as an opposing coach today as the South Carolina Gamecocks will try to topple the No. 4 Florida Gators and the &#8220Deep South's Oldest Rivalry” kicks off its 110th installment with the Georgia Bulldogs invading Jordan-Hare Stadium looking to upset the No. 6 Auburn Tigers.

And those two games aren't even the biggest games of the week.

The biggest game of the week was held Thursday night as the No. 13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights pulled the biggest upset of the BCS season with a 28-25 win over the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals.

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Rutgers came back from a 25-7 deficit to score 18 unanswered points and kicked a field goal with 0:13 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

The upset shook the BCS world and now it seems Florida, Texas, Auburn, USC, California and Arkansas are left to fight it out for second.

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

No. 6 Auburn vs. Georgia

For the 110th time in history, the Tigers and ‘Dawgs will square off in the &#8220Deep South's Oldest Rivalry,” but with the game being at 11:30 a.m., most of the nation probably won't notice.

Rutgers did Auburn the biggest favor since Alabama hired Mike Shula by defeating Louisville Thursday night, thus positioning the Tigers that much closer to the BCS National Championship Game.

Auburn is still going to need help getting in both the SEC and National Championship Game, but a win today is the first step forward.

Georgia has lost four of its last five, including embarrassing losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, making this year's rivalry showdown much less interesting.

The Tigers have not played well in early morning games this season (see Arkansas and Ole Miss), but with 21 Georgia natives on the Auburn roster, there should be no reason not to be up for this one.

The Bulldogs usually save their best game for Auburn, especially in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and this year should be no different.

The Auburn band plays Bon Jovi's hit song &#8220Livin' on a prayer,” during Tiger home games and if the Tigers, and Auburn faithful, don't get up early and get loud for this one, then the next two weeks could go from &#8220Amen Corner” to &#8220Hell on Earth”Š

Auburn 21, Georgia 20.

No. 12 LSU vs. Alabama

The Tide players suffered a scare during this week's practice when all the players and coaches were evacuated from the practice field when a white, powdery, unidentified substance was found.

Alabama players and coaches were allowed to return a short time after the substance was found when it was determined the white powder wasn't anthrax but instead was the goal line.

That joke, among many others, has been circling the Internet this week following the Tide's embarrassing home loss to Mississippi State.

For the second game this season, the Alabama offense failed to find the end zone while the Tide has also scored only one offensive touchdown in two other games.

LSU is coming off a huge, last-second win over Tennessee Saturday and returns home for an ESPN night game in the bayou.

Although the Tigers are a long shot to make the SEC Championship Game, today's game is a must win if LSU expects to contend for a major bowl bid.

Speaking of must-win, no coach in America is more desperate for a win than Alabama head coach Mike Shula and a victory today could not only salvage a season, but it could also salvage his job.

The Tide always plays well in Death Valley and emotions will be high for this one.

Unfortunately for the Tide, a night game at LSU gives the Tiger fans plenty of time to bourbon up and get loud for the game.

LSU fans are known for smelling like corndogs, but this one smells like victory for the TigersŠ

LSU 35, Alabama 16.

No. 4 Florida vs. South Carolina

Steve Spurrier makes his long awaited return to &#8220The Swamp” today as the Ol' Ball Coach looks to improve to 2-0 against his former team.

The Gamecocks fought valiantly against the SEC West leading Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday but came up just short in the end.

Florida is riding high, both on the field and in the BCS rankings, and looks poised to make a run at the No. 2 spot with Louisville's loss Thursday coupled with the Gators' current No. 4 ranking.

It didn't matter to the pollsters and the computers that Florida struggled and barely hung on Saturday in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores, but the Gators did clinch a berth in the SEC Championship Game with the win.

CBS stepped out on a ledge by selecting this game over the likes of Tennessee-Arkansas, Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-LSU, so expect but Urban Meyer and Spurrier to pull all of the tricks out of the hat in order to impress the national television audience.

The Gamecocks have been competitive all year, even in the losses, and with the greatest Gator coach in history now roaming the opposing sideline, this one should really rock the BCS standingsŠ

South Carolina 24, Florida 20

No. 11 Arkansas vs. No 16 Tennessee

Wasn't it at the end of last season and at the beginning of this season that experts everywhere were saying Houston Nutt and Phil Fulmer are two SEC coaches on the hot seat?

Perhaps what those experts meant was that Nutt is now one of the hottest coaches in America and Fulmer has turned his Vols from hot-and-cold last season to solid as a rock this season.

Tennessee dropped a thriller to LSU Saturday while the Hogs escaped Columbia, S.C., with a huge SEC road win, meaning both teams should be hungry for this ESPN2 showdown.

&#8220Gameday” will set up live from Fayetteville for the first time ever today and you better believe the Hogs will use the added exposure to their full advantage.

The Razorbacks can all but seal the SEC West race with a win while Tennessee can avenge both of their close losses with a nationally televised road win.

Both the Hogs and Vols are having quarterback issues, which means this one could go either way.

Freshman Vol quarterback Jonathan Crompton looked solid under the pressure and he could be the difference in the gameŠ

Tennessee 17, Arkansas 14.

Last week: 6-3

This week: 3-0

Overall: 60-28

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