Tigers trying to avoid big hole
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
During an interview back in August, Hartselle coach Bob Godsey told me something that seems eerily prophetic right now.
"We could be a pretty decent football team but sitting here 0-3 after the first three games, just because of the quality of competition," he said.
After losses to Austin and Decatur, Hartselle now faces a daunting task to avoid that 0-3 start when it hosts the Russellville Golden Tigers at home this Friday. Here's what I see happening at that game, as well as other local games.
Russellville Golden Tigers (2-0, 1-0 in Region 8) at Hartselle Tigers (0-2, 0-1): Russellville comes into J.P. Cain Stadium holding a 43-game region winning streak and a Top 3 ranking in Class 5A. Last week the Golden Tigers had no trouble at home against Brewer, but this week Russellville should have much more difficulty with a Hartselle team that has played the Golden Tigers tough in the past. Hartselle is a team hungry for a win, and Russellville has a huge target on its back. I think Hartselle's defense can help hold Russellville's offense at bay, but I just don't know if the Tigers can score enough to pull off the upset…Golden Tigers 24, Tigers 14.
Muscle Shoals Trojans (1-1, 0-1) at Brewer Patriots (1-1, 0-1): The Trojans will be looking to beat up on Brewer after Muscle Shoals was shut out at home by Athens last Friday. But if the Patriots can mentally move past last week's shellacking by Russellville, then Brewer has enough talent to keep this thing close. The biggest question might be whether the Patriots can stop Muscle Shoals' running back Avery Jackson, who scored four touchdowns against Brewer in 2006…Trojans 28, Patriots 14.
Priceville Bulldogs (0-2, 0-1 in Region 7) at Columbia Eagles (1-1, 0-1): Both teams are coming off lopsided region losses (Priceville lost to East Limestone 41-13 while Columbia fell to Madison County 56-26). This game should be much more competitive, and I like the Bulldogs' strong rushing attack to be the difference…Bulldogs 31, Eagles 28.
Sumiton Christian Eagles (2-0, 1-0 in Region 7) at Danville Hawks (0-2, 0-1): These two teams played a whale of a game in 2006, with Sumiton Christian coming away with a 32-31 victory. The Eagles have played stingy defense so far this season, allowing just 12 points in their first two games, while the Hawks have struggled to score…Eagles 17, Hawks 10.
Fultondale Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 in Region 5) at Falkville Blue Devils (2-0, 1-0): Looking at pure numbers, one might figure Fultondale to be a heavy favorite – the Wildcats have outscored their first two opponents 121-10. But those two wins have come against sub-par competition and Falkville shutout Fultondale 19-0 last season. The Wildcats have improved this year, but so have the Blue Devils…Blue Devils 24, Wildcats 13.
Arkansas Razorbacks (1-0, 0-0 in SEC) at Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0, 1-0): This game was a compete disaster for Alabama last season, including three missed field goals and a missed extra point by Leigh Tiffin that led to a 24-23 double overtime victory for the Razorbacks. Arkansas boasts one of the best running games in the country with Heisman Trophy hopeful Darren McFadden leading the way. But Arkansas also allowed 26 points to Troy in the first game of the season, and Alabama's got a little more offensive power than Troy…Crimson Tide 31, Razorbacks 24.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) at Auburn Tigers (1-1, 0-0): This could be a fashionable upset pick this week. The Tigers' offense has been abysmal so far, and Mississippi State actually isn't that bad at defense. It depends on whether Auburn can bounce back from its tough loss to South Florida; if the Tigers are mentally ready for the Bulldogs there's no way Mississippi State can win. If Auburn comes out feeling sorry for itself, look out…Tigers 28, Bulldogs 10.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-2) at Michigan Wolverines (0-2): There is the old question about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The better question for this game might be what happens when a weak force meets a fragile object. Each team has a major weak spot – Notre Dame is dead last in the county in rushing average with a lovely negative (yes, negative) 4 yards per game and has also allowed an NCAA-high 15 sacks. Meanwhile Michigan's defense is horrendous, having allowed 505.5 yards per game to its first two opponents. I believe that Notre Dame's own vastly improved defense will be the difference in a sloppy game, especially if Michigan quarterback Chad Henne is out with an injury…Fighting Irish 24, Wolverines 13.