Monday, December 31, 2007

College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 31)

Three SEC teams - Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss - remain ranked through the waning days of non-conference play. The Vols moved up to #8/#9 from their #11/#12 rankings last week to remain the highest ranked SEC team. The Commodores held tight at #15/#15, while the Rebels moved up to #18/#18 from a #22/#25 ranking last week. Florida and Arkansas are both receiving a few votes.

UT's win over Gonzaga on Saturday is another marquee win for the conference, but is almost certainly offset by yet another embarrassing loss for Kentucky at home, this time to San Diego, which, as we all know, is German for Whale's Vagina. BigFootFool at LWS sums it pretty well here as does 3SIB here. Maybe Billy Gillespie should try something like this... Wisconsin just went on the road and knocked off Texas, so he must be doing something right.

A Look at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Auburn (8-4, 5-3)
Clemson University (9-3)
Atlanta, GA
Today’s Line: Clemson -2.5

AU Tiger Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 327.8 (10th, 101st)
Offensive PPG: 24.3 (9th, 82nd)
Total Defense: 298.3 (2nd, 8th)
Defensive PPG: 16.7 (1st, 6th)

CU Tiger Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 412.4 (2nd, 47th)
Offensive PPG: 34.2 (1st, 23rd)
Total Defense: 297.2 (2nd, 6th)
Defensive PPG: 18.3 (2nd, 10th)

Forget what ESPN tried to tell you about the Holiday Bowl being the best pre-New Year's Day bowl. This is it. Two fast, hard-hitting defenses will dominate this game between a pair of Tiger teams that were headed in opposite directions at the beginning of the season.

This isn't Tuberville's best Auburn team. Far from it. But, after dropping 2 of their first 3 games, Auburn is 7-2, with losses to LSU and UGA, both representing the SEC in BCS bowl games. The defense has been consistent all season, as evidenced by a Top 10 national ranking in both Total D and Defensive PPG. The offense - to put it nicely - hasn't. So Tuberville fired OC Al Borges and brought in Tony Franklin, who has instituted a no-huddle spread attack since bowl practice began.

It will interesting to see how Auburn responds to the new offense. Senior QB Cox is not known for his mobility, so FR QB Kodi Burns - a much better - athlete may see the field much more than usual in this game. One thing's for certain, the Auburn D will come ready to play.

This should be one of the most entertaining matchups of the year - before or after New Year's. While Clemson has gaudier stats, they are 0-2 against ranked teams this year, outscored 61-40 against BC and VTU. Auburn comes in ranked #22 and will have something to prove, particularly offensively. Look for AU's version of the Tigers to pull out a tough, close win.

Dead Guy sees:
Auburn 17
Clemson 13

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Look at the Music City Bowl

Kentucky(7-5, 3-5)
Colorado University (6-6)
Nashville, TN
Today’s Line: Kentucky -9

Wildcat Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 438.6(4th, 25th)
Offensive PPG: 36.7 (4th, 15th)
Total Defense: 390.3 (10th, 65th)
Defensive PPG: 29.8 (12th, 80th)

Seminole Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)

Total Offense: 360.0 (4th, 82nd)
Offensive PPG: 22.9 (8th, 90th)
Total Defense: 350.4 (8th, 36th)
Defensive PPG: 21.9 (7th, 31st)

What originally was shaping up to be a entertaining clash of offense vs defense has become a game that Kentucky should win handily now. Unless you've resided in a cave the past few weeks, you've heard that more than 30 Criminoles Seminoles are not playing in this game, because of injuries, grades, or cheating.

Even with 1/3 of the roster unavailable for this game, UK cannot afford to take it lightly. FSU HC Bobby Bowden is undefeated in December Bowl games, and is 20-7-1 in bowls for his career. While he may not have faced a situation exactly like this before, he'll do what he can to get the remaining players healthy.

That said, I had Kentucky penciled in as a winner in this game even before the cheating scandal became public knowledge. FSU struggled in a very weak ACC this year, and while Kentucky lost 5 games, they played one of the toughest schedules in the country. They're a battle-tested group of experienced players that can score points on anybody. Which is a good thing, because they haven't stopped many people this year on defense.

If they can get over playing in the Music City Bowl in consecutive years, they'll be bowl champions in consecutive years for the first time since 1950/51.

Dead Guys sees:
Kentucky 38
FSU 24

Friday, December 28, 2007

A look at the Independence Bowl

Alabama (6-6, 4-4)
Colorado University (6-6)
Shreveport, LA
Today’s Line: Alabama -3

Crimson Tide Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 372.6 (7th, 75th)
Offensive PPG: 26.8 (7th, 65th)
Total Defense: 341.2 (5th, 28th)
Defensive PPG: 21.8 (4th 29th)

Buffalo Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)

Total Offense: 377.0 (10th, 72nd)
Offensive PPG: 27.6 (10th, 63rd)
Total Defense: 389.4 (6th, 64th)
Defensive PPG: 29.3 (8th, 78th)

Everyone's heard the story. The Crimson Tide finished with the same record and wound up in the same bowl as they did last year. Last year it was Mike Shula's fault for being such a bad coach. This year it's Mike Shula's fault for being such a bad recruiter. And to make it worse, Tide fans will have to drive by this billboard on their way to Shreveport.

Alabama wasn't motivated for this game last season. They looked slow and disinterested in their 34-31 loss to Oklahoma State. It makes me wonder, if they couldn't get up for the game last year, what's their motivation to play better this time? On the other side of the field is a Buffalo team looking to officially announce it has recovered from the transgressions of Rick Neuheisal and Gary Barnett. Their HC Dan Hawkins has been around the block a time or two as well, having laid the majority of the foundation of the current Boise State program.

Alabama should win this game based on talent and coaching ability. But Colorado will win the game based on effort and motivation.

Dead Guy sees:
Colorado 34
Alabama 28

Newsflash: Paterno is old

I'm don't know much about Joe Paterno. I know he's been at Penn State since 1784, he and Bobby Bowden have won more games than any other D1 coach in history, and he's coached PSU to yet another bowl game this year. I know that a faction of the PSU fan base wonder if it may be time for him to retire. I also know that he doesn't care what those people think and he's going to hang around as long as he wants.

What I don't know is why some chodemonkey cheerleader Yell Leader for Texas A&M would attempt to run smack on the man saying they needed a casket for Paterno because he's "on his death bed". The man is as spry an octogenarian as you'll find. There are drivers on the Penn State campus who could have warned aTm about that...

But seriously, who does Texas A&M think they are? They've won exactly 1 bowl game in the last 10 years and just 3 since 1990. Only one of those wins is against a BCS conference opponent. Penn State has won 9 over that same period. They're at best the third best football school in their own state and their little-man syndrome is blatantly obvious in their fight song, in which they mention "Texas University".

They just hired a fired NFL coach to man the helm of their program since, you know... that worked out so well for Nebraska. They were in the market for a new coach, as their previous one was selling inside information in a newsletter to those alumni willing to shell out the cash. The same asshat that never finished higher than third in his division, let alone the conference. The same clown who - when hired at TAMU - informed his players at Alabama via teleconference, ranking him in the same category as current SEC West villains Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino.

But have your little fun now Aggies. aTm officials have apologized for the remarks, but it's not going to appease a lot of Nittany Lion faithful. Do you think really think it's a good idea to get Penn State fans riled up? The death bed man is coming for you tomorrow night, and it won't be pretty.

**UPDATE 12/31**
Scottstradamus on Fox Sports sums up Texas A&M pretty well in his rant...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A look at the Liberty Bowl

Mississippi State (7-5, 4-4)
University of Central Florida (10-3)
Memphis, TN
Today’s Line: UCF -3

Bulldog Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 305.2 (12th, 112th)
Offensive PPG: 22.4 (10th, 93rd)
Total Defense: 341.2 (5th, 28th)
Defensive PPG: 24.8 (8th, 47th)

Knight Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)

Total Offense: 426.5 (4th, 32nd)
Offensive PPG: 38.4 (2nd, 13th)
Total Defense: 379.3 (3rd, 58th)
Defensive PPG: 27.8 (2nd, 65th)

Saturday’s Autozone Liberty Bowl kicks off the first of 9 bowl games for the SEC this season. The Bulldogs are making their first bowl appearance since the infamous Snow Bowl game when they defeated Texas A&M in a driving blizzard in Shreveport. The fans, players, and coaches are certainly excited to be in Memphis for the game, but the inexperience all around may serve as the undoing for MSU.

UCF head coach George O'Leary may not always tell the truth on his resume, but he’s a proven head coach who’s been to – and won – bowl games before. The Bulldogs were very fortunate this season in catching teams at the right time (Auburn, Kentucky) or getting to face certain teams at all (Gardner-Webb, Ole Miss). They certainly took advantage of the opportunities given to them, which is more than had done the previous years.

Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, they just don’t have the offensive firepower to match the Knights for 60 minutes. UCF RB Kevin Smith won’t break Barry Sanders record (he needs 181 yds, and that ain’t happening against MSU’s defense), but he will help the Knights control the clock and pound away at MSU. This game features two similar offenses in that each like to pound the ball with talented RBs while the QBS are relied upon to make short, smart throws to keep the opposing D honest. UCF just does it better than the Bulldogs do.

Dead Guy sees:
UCF 27
MSU 17

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to duck away from the family for a minute to say Merry Christmas to everyone who visits this page. Even if you don't observe Christmas, I hope your day is just swell as well.

And, if you're looking for a way to kill some time after consuming too much egg nog, check out What If Sports. You can choose any college football team since 1996 and simulate a game between the two. For fun, I simulated this year's LSU title game participant against their 2003 national title team. The 2003 version won 27-0. It even gives complete stats for all the players. (A big tip of the hat to 3rd Saturday in Blogtober for the find)

College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 24)

Break up the SEC! There's finally (again) a 3rd conference team ranked as the upstart Ole Miss Rebels parlayed their win over former #15 Clemson into their first ranking since ending the season at #14 in 2001. Tennessee and Vanderbilt come in at #11 and #15 respectively. Florida, despite a horrid performance this weekend in Columbus, is still receiving a handful of votes, while Arkansas has fallen completely out of the ARV column.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In the Words of the great sage Paula Abdul...

*I take two steps forward...*
- Tennessee, a 2.5 point underdog, went into #24 Xavier yesterday afternoon and knocked off the Musketeers by 7, despite sharpshooter Chris Lofton's continuing struggles from the field. Arizona transfer JP Prince exploded for 23 points in just 20 minutes of action.

- Ole Miss, a 2.5 point underdog, knocked off #15 Clemson yesterday in the de facto championship game of the San Juan Classic. The Rebels got 19 points from senior F Dwayne Curtis and freshman PG Chris Warren and matched the best start in school history at 11-0.

*... I take two steps back*
- If the Florida State game earlier in the season didn't convince you that these Gators are a long way removed from the 2-time defending national champs, this game had to. They couldn't score 50 points against a rebuilding Ohio State squad. They shot 33.3% from the floor and 53.8% from the foul line. Worst of all, Ohio State should never beat the SEC in anything.

- What the Pel? The Razorbacks dropped a home game (well, in Little Rock) to Appalachian State? The Mountaineers were hot, hot, hot, knocking down 66.7% of their shots, while the Hogs shot just 41.7%, including 27.3% on 3s. Not much was expected from the Gators this season, but the Hogs were the preseason pick to win the West. With the way Ole Miss has played this season and the way Mississippi State has played in their last two games, the Hogs may have their work cut out for them.

Overall, the SEC was 9-2 yesterday, and 10-2 for the weekend as MSU won Friday night, so it wasn't a bad day for the conference, but the Gator and Hog losses are a little disturbing. The Gators looked discombobulated from the word go. It seems as though they've played enough games together to be a little farther along than that. As for Arkansas, that's inexcusable no matter how you slice it. The majority of their team from last year returned and expectations were higher than this under new coach Pelphrey.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Big 12 Bowl History Over the Last Decade

***UPDATE: 1-8-08 I've created a master chart with all 6 BCS conferences and their bowl records against each others, including BCS games here. It's current as of last night's game.***

Okay, so we've already covered the SEC and Big 10 bowl records here and here, so here's the Big 12.

The cold hard facts pretty much toss the Big12 out of the "best conference" argument, as they're behind the SEC and Big 10 at least. Surprisingly, there's not a single team in the Big 12 that has been to a bowl game after each of the last 10 seasons. The SEC had 2 - Florida and Georgia - and the Big10 had Michigan, but no team from the Big12 can claim that consistency. Also, only 2 Big12 teams (Nebraska and Texas) have winning records in bowls in the last decade, while the SEC had 6 (UGA, LSU, AU, OM, USC, MSU) and the Big10 had 3 (tOSU, Wisc., PSU). The Big12 also has a losing record in BCS games (5-7), which drops them further behind the SEC and Big10 in accomplishments over the past decade.

Big Saturday for Basketball

In addition to the 3 bowl games today, there's a lot of great basketball going on. While the SEC has struggled on the court this season, today offers something of a chance to get the ship righted, as there are a handful of noteworthy games today.

*In one of the marquee matchups nationwide today, #12 Tennessee travels to #24 Xavier. This is the third big non-conference game the Vols will play, having defeated West Virginia and lost to Texas. The X is always tough at home and the Vols will need ace SG Chris Lofton to snap out of his shooting slump if they’re going to win this one.

*Florida takes on Ohio State in Columbus today. The Gators spanked tOSU twice last season, but neither teams even resembles their former selves this year. The Gators have yet to venture out of the O-Dome this season, so it will be interesting to see how they handle a hostile crowd for the first time this season. A victory would land the Gators back in the top 25.

*Ole Miss, though undefeated, has yet to play a marquee opponent. That changes today as they take on #15 Clemson in Puerto Rico today. It will be by far the biggest test of the non-conference season for the Rebels. If the Rebels can pull the upset today – Clemson is favored by 2.5 – it would rank with Tennessee’s win over West Virginia as the best non-conference wins of the season for the SEC.

*LSU takes on Oregon State today. While the Beavers certainly aren’t a marquee program, they are a name program from a BCS conference. The Tigers are 5-0 at home, but are coming off a 20-point loss at Wichita State Wednesday night. With no significant wins to date, the Tigers need to win this one to get back on track.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last Chance to join ESPN College Bowl Mania

As the bowls start tonight - perhaps the greatest bowl game ever featuring schools with 4-letter team names - today is the last day to join Dead Guy's Group on College Bowl Mania. It's free to play and join and the winner of the Dead Guy Group will get a $10 gift card to

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Freshman Point Guard Comparison

While it will be nice to have a few more months of Dick Vitale free basketball on ESPN, he's certainly not the only thing wrong with their hoops coverage. Their fixation on certain teams and conferences shows an obvious bias and definitely skews their objectivity. Their constant talk of certain members of this year's freshman class is no different.

Take a look at the stats for 3 freshmen point guards below. One of them is a guard who you probably know all about, as the talking heads on ESPN wax poetic about him incessantly. Another is a guard you’ve probably heard of if you follow SEC basketball. The other you may not have heard of even if you do follow SEC basketball. Tell me - based on these stats - which one deserves all the hype, while the others get little to none...

Ok, enough with the suspense… Guard A is Florida’s Nick Calathes, Guard B is Memphis’ Derrick Rose, and Guard C is Ole Miss’ Chris Warren. I understand that Memphis is the best team of those 3 – Florida lost nearly everyone of consequence off their back-to-back title teams and Ole Miss is still recovering from the Rod Barnes era – but when you compare player to player, there’s very little difference in any of the three.

So, you tell me, based on season stats, what has Derrick Rose done to be deemed “one of the best freshman guards in America” and Calathes and Warren haven’t? The teams are a combined 26-1 and Ole Miss is the lowest ranked team at #32 in the new polls. I’m sure it has nothing to do with ESPN picking Memphis #1 in their rankings or that Memphis (justifiably) is on the family of ESPN networks more than Florida and Ole Miss combined.

I’ve seen very little to justify Rose’s hype. He’s remarkably strong and tall for a guard of any age, but he’s no outside threat at all. The majority of his points come inside the paint and from the foul line. As the season wears on, teams are really going to start playing off of him and making him prove he can shoot the ball.

That’s not to say he isn’t the best player of the 3 of them. He’s certainly got the best chance for a pro career, as Warren is listed at 5’10 and Calathes is a bean pole at 6’6, but only 185. Neither comes close to the strength packed into Rose’s 6’4, 195 frame. My argument is that Rose has done no more to distinguish himself as a top freshman than Warren and Calathes have. If he has, please feel free to comment or email me to let me know...

**UPDATE: 8:30 PM CST (12/19)** Okay... so just hours after I posted this, Rose scores 26 points, including 5 3s. He looked great for the most part tonight, but his 6/5 A/TO ratio still needs improving. That said, his updated numbers still don't put him significantly ahead of Calathes and Warren for season stats.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

OT: Jimmy Dean Complaint Call

Ok, this has absolutely, positively nothing to do with SEC sports or even sports in general, but I'm still putting it up. This literally made me laugh out loud at my computer screen which is pretty rare. For some reason, I can't get it to embed to the site, so here's a link...

One word of warning though, there is a lot of NSFW language, so turn your speakers down (or up) as you deem necessary.

Jimmy Dean Complaint Call

Petrino loses recruit

You have wonder if things like this are going to be a theme between now and Signing Day. Junior Okpara, a DB from TX, has switched his commitment from Arkansas to Boston College of all places and cites Petrino's gypsy tendencies as his reasoning.

"The problem with Arkansas was the reputation of Coach [Bobby ] Petrino leaving during the season," Okpara said. "And not staying there and his name not being highly thought of like when he was at Louisville. I didn't want to play ball for a coach that had a reputation like that. That kind of drove me away from Arkansas."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the remainder of the recruiting season. Many kids will ignore Petrino's nomadic past and only see the winning % and the offensive numbers. Others, like Okpara, will be somewhat hesitant to commit to a guy who seems unable to return that commitment.

Monday, December 17, 2007

College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 17)

Another lackluster week for the conference hoops wise, as Kentucky lost at home to UAB, Mississippi St lost to Miami at home and South Alabama in Mobile, Tennessee struggled to beat Western Kentucky, and Florida struggled with Georgia Southern. Tennessee and Vanderbilt are still the only teams from the SEC ranked, though Florida and Ole Miss are creeping ever closer. Arkansas would have jumped into the ranks with a win over Oklahoma Saturday, but fell apart down the stretch.

Other than Tennessee's 74-72 win over West Virginia, no team has a real marquee win yet this season. As far as I can see, the best of the rest are:
* Ole Miss over New Mexico
* Vandy over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest
* Georgia over Wake Forest
* South Carolina over Providence
* Arkansas over Missouri

In Joe Lunardi's latest projected brackets, only 4 conference teams (UT, VU, UF, Ark) are "in" and the Rebels are included in his "Last Four Out". I think the SEC will get 5 in, if based on name alone, but I don't expect anything too spectacular come March.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Big 10 Bowl History Over the Last Decade

***UPDATE: 1-8-08 I've created a master chart with all 6 BCS conferences and their bowl records against each others, including BCS games here. It's current as of last night's game.***

I detailed the SEC's bowl records over the last decade in this post earlier in the week, but figured I'd look at the lesser conferences too. The Big10 is the conference that is most frequently paired up with the SEC, with 26 matchups in the last 10 seasons. The familiarity has helped contribute to the 13-13 record in those games. While the Big 10 has split those games with the SEC, their bowl resume as a whole is not as impressive as the SEC's.

* The Big 10 has won 48.5% of its bowl games the past decade, the SEC 56.7%
* The Big 10 has had 10 schools make a total of 66 bowls or an average of 6.6 each. The SEC has had 11 schools make 74 bowls or an average of 6.72 each.
* The Big 10 has 3 teams with winning bowl records over the last 10 years, the SEC has 6
* While the Big 10 has had two more participants in the BCS over the last decade, the SEC has more wins (SEC: 9-4, Big10: 8-7) and a significantly higher winning percentage (SEC: 69%, Big10: 53%).

And last, and quite possibly most importantly, Erin Andrews has her memories as a Dazzler while in the SEC...

... and memories of being groped by the Big 10. You tell me which is better...

More Petrino flack

I think it's safe to say that Sean Salisbury won't be receiving a Christmas card from new Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.

Add him to a long list of pundits, former Petrino players, and bloggers (including me) who think that he's a sleazeball with loyalty to no one but his bank account. He phoned in his resignation for Falcons' ownership, then - in lieu of actual face to face contact with his players - he wrote them a letter announcing his departure.

Jacksonville DE Grady Jackson called him a coward with a yellow stripe down his back. Falcons RB Warrick Dunn calls him classless, but also hints that no one on the team is sad to see him go, and Falcons DB Lawyer Milloy calls it like he sees it: "Everything he said he stood for was a lie... He wasted a year of my life." And a whole plethora of Falcons chime in with their thoughts in this article from the AJC.

Nick Saban probably couldn't be happier with this scenario. With all the attention focused on Petrino now, it's easy to forget that he pulled a similar stunt last year, but at least had the courtesy to finish the season out. But that's Petrino. He's signed 20 years worth of contracts in the last 18 months. He's a offensive guru who - with the right players and right opponents - can design a high-powered offense. But, how much will he have to work with at Arkansas next year? More importantly, will he be around to coach the players he brings in?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Simulated College Playoff

Since we're likely to never see a legitimate playoff format in Division 1 College Football, we're left with silly little widgets, like this one on You can set up a bracket-style playoff based on the Top 16 BCS Rankings, the ESPN Power 16, ESPNU Allstate Top16, or customize your own. Unfortunately for Ole Miss and Vandy fans, it doesn't quite go that deep into the available pool of teams...

It appears to be completely random and offer no real insight as to why a particular team should win. I ran it through 3 times - one on each of the predetermined rankings - and came up with not only 3 different champions, but 6 unique title game participants as well.

- BCS Rankings: LSU defeated Ohio State
- ESPN Power 16: Georgia defeated Florida
- ESPNU Allstate 16: USC defeated Virginia Tech

So basically, if you're looking for something stupid on the internet to waste 10 minutes on, by all means, visit the link above. If you're looking for anything useful - even in the least - in making your bowl Selections for the College Bowl Mania game, you should seek assistance elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Petrino to Arkansas

On the same days that insiders were reporting that Auburn DC Will Muschamp was headed to Fayetteville, SportsCenter just announced that Bobby Petrino resigned from his head coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons to take the Arkansas job.

Here's the story on ESPN's site. Looks like Falcon fans picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue...

**UPDATE: 12/12: And now that it's official, expect a lot more pieces like this one and this one questioning the integrity of Petrino who always seems to have one foot out the door. Hog fans can take solace knowing he'll never land another NFL job, but I can't imagine that he views the Arkansas job as a final destination.

Why should anyone believe he'll be there more than 1 year? He phoned in his resignation at 5:45, he's had 13 jobs since 1983, and in 4 years at Louisville, he lost 45 signees (either through grades or kicking them off his team... that's nearly 50% of his signees.

The Ballad of Nick Saban

Found this on Losers With Socks. It's the Ballad of Nick Saban as sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies theme. 11 of the 12 fanbases should get a nice laugh from it. Bama fans not so much...

Rebels hire Tyrone Nix, Hogs close to deal with Muschamp

Is today the day the Hogs finally get their first second third man? Looks like they’re close to hiring Will Muschamp, the Defensive Coordinator from Auburn. If this comes through, expect to see/hear a lot about this video…

Meanwhile, former Arkansas head coach and current Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt lured Tyrone Nix away from South Carolina today to be the defensive coordinator position in Oxford. I know the Gamecock defense basically fell apart in the latter half of the season, but it's not fair to judge him based solely on USC's last 4 games. The Gamecocks were decimated by injuries and played 4 teams currently ranked and playing in bowls. As long as everyone stays healthy in Oxford, he’ll have a solid pool of talent to work with and should improve a Rebel D that ranked near the bottom in nearly ever statistical category.

Also, he's returning to his home state and will aid Houston Nutt in recruiting Mississippi, something he's never been especially proficient at.

Monday, December 10, 2007

SEC Bowl Records Since 1997

***UPDATE: 1-8-08 I've created a master chart with all 6 BCS conferences and their bowl records against each others, including BCS games here. It's current as of last night's game.***

It’s Bowl Season again, which means it’s time for SEC fans everywhere to speak of their supremacy and fans of other conference to call it into question.

Taking a look at the SEC's Bowl Records over the last 10 seasons - games following the 1997 season - the SEC is a combined 42-32 in 74 bowl games. When you break down the records against other conferences (see chart below), the SEC has owned the ACC, handled the Big 12, split 26 bowls with the Big 10, but has struggled mightily in its random meetings with Big East schools.

While a 42-32 record is not the dominating prowess many SEC fans would like to think they have, it's not bad to have a winning record against 2 of the other 4 conferences the SEC plays the most often with bowl tie ins and a .500 record against another. Most of the bowl games have the SEC participant playing a higher seeded team from the other conference. More importantly, the SEC is 9-4 all-time in BCS Bowl Games and is the only conference to have 3 different teams win the BCS Championship. The Big East is 5-4, the Big 10 is 8-7, and the Big 12 is 5-7.

**NOTE**: For this chart, opponent schools are included in the conference they were in at the time of the bowl game. Florida’s loss to Miami in the 2001 Sugar Bowl, Georgia’s loss to BC in the 2001 Music City Bowl, and Alabama’s loss to Virginia Tech in the 1998 Music City Bowl are reflected in the Big East standings, not the ACC.

College Basketball Rankings (Dec. 10)

Nothing different from last week as far as the SEC is concerned. Tennessee and Vanderbilt are the only teams ranked. Florida, Arkansas, and Ole Miss are still lingering in the ARV column. It's going to be a very interesting season this year as the league may be pressed to even get 5 teams in the Dance come March.

Bowl Mania Group Still Open to Join

So I've officially locked my bowl picks into place, including a 6-3 record (more on that after entries lock) for the SEC this year. For anyone else who wants to join the Community Group, I've set up a Dead Guy Group. There are 50+ SEC fans in there now, but the more the merrier.

To play, you just pick the winners of all 32 bowl games and assign a confidence value to each one, 1-32. If you're right, you get the points, if you're wrong you don't. The winner of the Dead Guy's College Bowl Mania Group will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card, perfect for all the post-Holiday deals they'll have up.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More random randomness

* I'm not sure how long this site has been around, but is an incredibly comprehensive site for any college basketball fan. Whether you want to see stats for an individual player, team, conference, or nationwide, it's all there. Just a quick glance shows me that Ole Miss is 2nd in the country in scoring, Tennessee is 2nd in the country in steals, and LSU is 4th in the country in blocks.

* From what I'm hearing, there's no truth to the rumor that Alabama is going to withdraw from the Independence Bowl because they can't get past Monroe.

* I think another factor working against Colt Brennan tonight regarding his Heisman campaign are the numbers put up by the backup QB while Brennan was out for all of the Charleston Southern game and only attempted 2 passes against Nevada. In those 2 games combined, Graunke threw for 533 yds and 5 TDs.

* How much longer until Michigan ponies up and goes and gets Brian Kelly from Cincinnati to be their new head coach? He should have been their first choice from day one.

* The Big East/SEC Invitational format needs some tweaking. Why only 4 teams from each conference? And how did they choose those 4 teams? Auburn has been a huge disappointment this season and Alabama has missed Ronald Steele from the season's opening tip. South Carolina was picked to finish at or near the bottom the conference. And what about LSU? They had Villanova beaten and then choked that game away. That was painful to watch.

* Speaking of painful to watch, what's wrong with Kentucky this season? They lost at home to Gardner-Webb by 18 and a 10-point home win over Stony Brook. I'm pretty sure Tubby Smith never lost to a school like G-W and always handled the like of Stony Brook by more than 10 points. Their impending beatdown by IU today will only make matters worse for the 'Cats.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Heisman Finalists announced

The Heisman finalists were announced today with Florida QB Tim Tebow, Arkansas RB Darren McFadden, Missouri QB Colt Brennan, and Hawai'i QB Colt Brennan earning free trips to the Big Apple. This is the most wide open race in years and no one's really sure who's going to take it home.

Here's my guess how it's going to shape up this weekend...

4) Chase Daniel - He was incredible this season, leading the upstart Tigers to a late-season #1 ranking and just one win away from a berth in the BCS Championship game. While he has the numbers and success to win the trophy, I don't think he has the prerequisite preseason hype or the household name recognition that the other 3 candidates do.

3) Colt Brennan - He put up ridiculous numbers this season- again - and has set close to 40 records throughout his career. His competition level is the by far the weakest of the four finalists, but he's the only one playing in a BCS Bowl. Another strike against him is the simple fact that Island time is a whopping 6 hours behind EST and a lot of voters never got to see him play a full game. I just can't see him taking it home.

2)Darren McFadden - Yes, his numbers are better than last year. Yes, he's a junior and Tebow's only a sophomore. Yes, he had the hype in the preseason as well as the credentials from last year. Most years, he'd walk away with the trophy in a landslide, but he just hasn't had the consistency this year that Tebow has. If you take away his ridiculous game against South Carolina where he rushed for 321 yards, his numbers are actually a little behind last year's pace and Tebow's numbers are better than Troy Smith's, last year's winner.

1) Tim Tebow - If you throw out class and go strictly on body of work this season, this is definitely Tebow's Heisman to lose. He threw for 29 TDs and ran for 22 more. That should be enough to win it right there, but he also had a 177.85 QB rating and anchored one of the highest scoring offenses in the country. Shame on any voter who penalizes him for "only" being a sophomore.

Bowl "Attractiveness" per

Mike Huguenin of ranks the 32 bowls according to attractiveness. Not surprisingly, the majority of bowls involving SEC teams fared well, with 6 of the top 10 games offering some sort of neutral fan appeal. Only Alabama's repeat visit to Shreveport ranks low, coming in at #30.

*#1: BCS Championship Game (LSU)
*#3: Sugar Bowl (Georgia)
*#5: Capital One Bowl (Florida)
*#6: Cotton Bowl (Arkansas)
*#7: Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Auburn)
*#10: Outback Bowl (Tennessee)
*#13: Liberty Bowl (Mississippi State)
*#17: Music City Bowl (Kentucky)
*#30: Independence Bowl (Alabama)

Monday, December 3, 2007

ESPN College Bowl Mania has launched their annual College Bowl Mania game. I've set up a Dead Guy Group if any of you want to join a group with other SEC fans. You pick the winners of all 32 bowl games and assign a confidence value to each one, 1-32. If you're right, you get the points, if you're wrong you don't.

**UPDATE (12/4): Due to popular demand, the winner of the Dead Guy's College Bowl Mania Group will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card, perfect for all the post-Holiday deals they'll have up**

New Basketball Rankings

It's a good thing the SEC was so strong in football this year, because it's not looking very good for in basketball. Only two teams are ranked, Tennessee at #10 and Vanderbilt at #23. Arkansas and Ole Miss are the only other teams even receiving votes.

Towards the end of the month, the focus of this site will shift primarily to roundball as it becomes the predominant sport. Bowl breakdowns and predictions will come sporadically, probably a day or two before kickoff of each one.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nebraska hires Pelini

In a move that should come to a surprise to no one, Nebraska has hired LSU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini as their new head coach. This, for all intents and purposes, leavesthe Tigers with no head coach and no defensive coordinator heading into their bowl game, as current head coach Les Miles is set to meet with Michigan next week.

It's unfair to the LSU players that, while they're pouring their heart and soul into the games each week, the coaches are not giving the same effort. I understand it's a business and there's nothing really to do about it, but it's an unfortunate situation that follows many successful programs.

As for Auburn head man Tommy Tuberville, he's yet to issue a "pine box" promise, at least for now, and denies interest in the Arkansas head coaching job. Why he would want to leave Auburn to go the on-going soap opera that is Fayetteville is beyond me. I know he's from the Natural State, but the fan base just ran off a coach that has won 3 Division titles in 10 years, including 2 trips to Atlanta.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SEC Championship Game

LSU and Tennessee head to Atlanta this weekend for the 2007 edition of the SEC Championship game. LSU watched its national title hopes go out the window last week, while the Vols continued their winning ways with yet another gutty victory, this time over Kentucky.

SEC Championship Game
(#14, #15) Tennessee(9-3, 6-2) vs (#5, #7) LSU(10-2, 6-2)
3:00 PM, CBS
Thursday’s Line: LSU -7.5

This game will be all about LSU’s focus, as in whether or not they have any. At all. After sleepwalking through the Ole Miss game, the Tigers tried that same tactic against a fired up Arkansas team, and watched as Darren McFadden and Peyton Hillis ran out of Tiger Stadium with their national title aspirations. This LSU team has been something of an enigma since the 5th week of the season when they played Tulane. They struggled mightily in the first half against the Green Wave and then never played like they did in the first 4 weeks that saw them outscore opponents 165-23, including wins over 2 Top-10 opponents. They teetered on the brink of disaster in the Florida, Auburn, and Alabama games but because of superior talent (and a little bit of luck) were able to pull those games out. Les Miles’ Magic 8 Ball ran out of luck against Kentucky and the Tigers were just flat-out outplayed and outcoached by Arkansas.

For Tennessee, 4 games into the season, many Vol fans were ready to run Fulmer out of town. UT had been embarrassed on national TV by both Florida and California, and their defense struggled to stop lightweights in Southern Mississippi and Arkansas State. Since that week, UT is 7-1, with the one a loss a big egg laid in Tuscaloosa. The Vols’ 3 losses have been by a combined 67 points, and all 3 have been away from Neyland Stadium.

Even if the LSU coaching staff isn’t entirely focused on this game, the seniors will be. Guys like Matt Flynn, Glenn Dorsey, and Early Doucet will get the rest of the team up and ready for it. Tennessee has certainly been the better team the last 8 weeks of the season, but LSU has the talent advantage at nearly every position on the field. Look for Miles’ Magic 8 Ball to come up Aces this weekend, as the Tigers wrap up a Sugar Bowl berth.

Now they’ll just need to figure out who’s going to coach them in the Bowl…

LSU 34
UT 27

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: Tennessee

Bobby Knight did NOT shoot your house

This is a little off topic since it's technically Big 12 basketball related, but it's still pretty funny. It's hard to imagine that such an affable fellow as Robert Montgomery Knight would have a run-in with a neighbor, but apparently it's true. And his neighbor filmed the whole thing. I also had no idea that Bobby Knight was so offended by yelling and cussing. It seems his neighbor is lucky Bobby Knight didn't mistake him for Neil Reed.

*And, no, it's not lost on me that basketball season has started. We'll delve more into basketball as conference season draws closer.

Bowl Projections: Week 14

It's the last round of projections before the actual selections are announced next week. Barring any major upsets this weekend, most teams have at least a good feel for where they'll be headed.

It would be interesting to see how the bowl matchups would shake up if Tennessee pulled the minor upset this weekend and knocked off LSU. The Vols would obviously wind up in the Sugar Bowl, but would the Cotton take LSU over Arkansas even thought the Hogs just beat LSU straight up in Baton Rouge? If not, would LSU fall from a likely berth in the BCS Championship Game all the way down to a spot in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Final Scoring Differential Numbers

With the regular season over, just like Florida HC Urban Meyer predicted preseason, the Gators offense was much better this season, improving scoring wise by a league-leading 31%. The Gator defense on the other hand... not so much. As a whole, the league was up significantly from last season (23.59%) despite 3 teams - Vandy, South Carolina, and Auburn - all scoring less than they did last season.

That it was those 3 teams who actually took a step back in scoring is a mystery to me. All 3 returned their starting QBs from last season, and for both the Gamecocks and Tigers, that was in the form of a 5th year senior. For the Commodores, this was supposed to be their year to turn the corner and get bowl-eligible, but their only win of note - at South Carolina on October 20th - hardly looks like an upset anymore as it marked the beginning of the Gamecock's current 6-game losing streak.

BOLD (or maybe not so much) prediction for next year... Ole Miss increases by the largest percentage, Kentucky and Arkansas decrease by the largest percentage. Not really going out on a limb those, but I wanted to be on record as the first to say it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Most Cost Efficient Coaches

Just for fun, I figured I’d take a look at the most cost-efficient coaches based on annual salary* divided by the number of wins.

Former Arkansas/current Ole Miss HC Houston Nutt tops the list, barely skimming in under Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom and Kentucky’s Rich Brooks. While it’s certainly not an exact science, it’s an interesting look at things. The three highest paid coaches – UF’s Meyer, UAT’s Saban, and AU’s Tuberville – rank 10-12 in conference, as they'd need nearly perfect seasons to rank closer to the top. Surprisingly (or not), former Ole Miss HC Orgeron ranked 9th in conference in cost efficiency despite being the 2nd lowest paid coach in the conference.

*I got this idea (and all salary data) from, a great reference site that - in a lot of cases - actually has a scanned copy of a coach’s contract available for viewing.

Houston Nutt to Ole Miss

Just 3 years after striking out tremendously by hiring a nut as their head coach, the Ole Miss brass seems to have reversed their fortunes with the hiring of Houston Nutt. Nutt took a $.5M paycut to get out of Fayetteville, where he was the 2nd winningest head coach in Arkanasas history and had won 3 SEC West titles in 10 years, 2 of which earned the Razorbacks trips to Atlanta.

He’s stepping into a good situation in Oxford. While Orgeron couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper sack (PUNT THE BALL!), his tireless recruiting efforts restocked the barren cupboard left by former HC David Cutcliffe. Nutt is a proven winner and will come in with a chip on his shoulder and relishing the underdog role that Arkansas so often had. He’s shown an ability to win the big game (see last weekend), which is something the Rebels have lacked so desperately under Orgeron. Many times in this brief tenure, the Rebels played a superior talent close before Orgeron began to think… Once that happened, it was normally a bad thing for the Rebels.

As for the Hogs, not sure why so much of their fan base is celebrating Nutt’s departure. Sure he could have handled the Springdale situation better and he never won the SEC Championship Game anymore, but this isn’t the Southwest Conference anymore Hog fans… this is the SEC. The toughest conference in the country. You’re not going to win the conference every year and every team is going to have a down year.

Nutt was a consistent winner and rarely – if ever – had the most talented team. The Hogs won 8 games this year with nothing that even resembled a passing game with star WR Monk missing the majority of the season. His players would run through a wall for him and he would do the same. You could tell that with his interaction with McFadden after they beat the #1 team in the country on the road last weekend.

The Hogs are going to get much of the same reaction nationwide as Ole Miss got when they fired Cutcliffe 3 years ago. The difference being Cutcliffe left after a 4-7 season with no light at the end of the tunnel. Other than Patrick Willis, he left no SEC talent for his successor to work with. Meanwhile, Arkansas has won 18 games the last 2 seasons and is poised for another January bowl this year.

While the Hogs won’t turn to someone as unqualified as Orgeron, they may soon be wishing they never drove out Houston Nutt.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Random Randomness

*Not surprisingly, the recent firing of Ole Miss HC Ed Orgeron has sent waves of sadness through the other 11 schools in conference. Not only will there be no more Hummer commercials, but the Rebels are all but guaranteed to hire a more qualified candidate.

My guess is that this is the first of many tribute videos that pops up, though I doubt any will have a better soundtrack.

*MSNBC has a surprisingly in-depth breakdown of 7 of the top Heisman candidates.

*Many of you have probably already seen this elsewhere, but in case you haven't, listen to ACC referee Don Cherry's call from the Maryland/NCState game Saturday...

And if sounds vaguely familiar to anyone...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

YawYawYawYaw YawYaw YawYaw Fired

If you're an Ole Miss fan, I imagine that today was a happy day for you. Three years after OM brass toured the country interviewing qualified candidates and ended up hiring the most untalented candidate (possibly ever in conference), they've realized the error of their ways and parted ways with Ed Orgeron.

While Orgeron certainly improved the talent level since the Rebs (justifiably) axed David Cutcliffe, O's in-game decision making was... well... bad. If you saw any of the Egg Bowl yesterday, you saw a Rebel team dominate an MSU team for 51 minutes before O decided to go for it on 4th down from midfield.

To mark the occasion, and just for old times' sake, let's all sing along...

Unemployment Line

Already, there have been 3 high-profile jobs open up this week with Lloyd Carr stepping down from Michigan, Dennis Franchione resigning from Texas A&M, and Bill Callahan being relieved of his Nebraska coaching duties after giving 60+ points yet again. Both the Michigan and A&M jobs have SEC West coaches as the leading candidates to replace the departed with Miles and Tuberville respectively.

For Miles, I can see the decision to leave making sense, particularly in the light of another silly loss yesterday. "Two-Loss" Les played at Michigan and has done less with more than any other coach in the conference this season and his magic 8-ball let him down yesterday. The Tiger fan base is becoming more and more divided on his credentials and any number of top coaches would jump at the opportunity to not only coach in the SEC, but also at a school with the tradition, resources, recruiting hotbed that LSU has.

For Tuberville though, I'm trying to figure out why he would leave Auburn for Texas A&M? Have you been to College Station? How could that move be anything but lateral at best? He not only survived "Petrino-gate" a few years back but he has thrived since and would seem to have the administration wrapped around his fingers. I can't imagine that the A&M job - where you'll always be the 2nd or 3rd school in the state - is more appealing than coaching in a great college town like Auburn and owning your arch rival.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Week 13 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

20 Most Valuable College Football Programs

In case you need yet another reason that the SEC is the greatest conference in all the land, check out this article in Forbes which ranks the 20 Most Valuable College Football Teams in the country. Their rankings are based what the football programs contribute to four important beneficiaries:

* Their university (the value of contributions from football to the institution for academic purposes, including scholarship payments for football players)
* Their athletic department (the net profit generated by the football program ultimately retained by the department)
* Their conference (the distribution of bowl game revenue)
* Their local communities with a vested interest in the team (incremental spending in the county during home-game weekends)

Not surprisingly, the SEC has 8 of the top 20 teams, including:
#3 Georgia ($90M)
#5 Florida ($85M)
#6 LSU ($76M)
#7 Tennessee ($74M)
#8 Auburn ($73M)
#9 Alabama ($72M)
#12 South Carolina ($69M)
#15 Arkansas ($53M)

Somehow, Fat Charlie the Fraud and his pathetic Irish top this list. The Big 10+1 is 2nd behind the SEC with 5, the Big 12 has 4, and the Pac-10 places 2.

(Not quite as)High Flyin' SEC (cont.)

With just one week left in the regular season, scoring is still up significantly from last season, just not nearly the rate it was early in the season when it was first pointed out in this article from the Birmingham News.

Week 13 Predictions

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Picks are a day late this week, but it's been hard to find the time with all the hustle and bustle of the Holiday. Anyway, 3 conference games this weekend with Egg Bowl and Iron Bowl taking place, and LSU/Arkansas tangling for the rights to the Golden Boot. 4 teams venture out to the JV league known as the ACC for intrastate rivalries.

Here's how the weekend will shake out...

Ole Miss (3-8, 0-7) at Mississippi State (6-5, 3-4)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday’s Line: Mississippi State -6.5

Ole Miss owns this series all time 59-38-6, including last year’s 20-17 win Oxford. The Rebels have won 4 of the last 5, but lost 35-14 in Starkville in 2005.

The Rebels will undoubtedly come out fired up for this one. Their season has been in the tank since the Doyle Jackson Alabama game last month, but this is their chance to send their cross-state rival into a bowl game with a 2-game losing streak. After that emotion wears off though, and MSU continues to pound the ball with RB Dixon, the better team will win out in this game. The Rebels will start QB Schaefer, who anchored the Rebel offense that moved the ball very well against #1 LSU last weekend. Whether HC Orgeron will mysteriously sub him out in key situations remains to be seen. Look for MSU QB Carroll to bounce back from his 4-INT game against Arkansas last week with a solid game against a weak Rebel secondary.

Straight Up Winner: Mississippi State
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

Arkansas (7-4, 3-4) at (#1, #1)LSU (10-1, 6-1)
1:30 CST, CBS
Wednesday’s Line: LSU -12.5

LSU owns this series all time 33-17-2, including last year’s 31-26 victory. The Tigers have won 5 of 6 and 10 of 15 since Arkansas joined the SEC. The Hogs haven’t beaten a #1 team since 1981.

The Tigers looked like they just went through the motions last week in their victory over Ole Miss. They weren’t particularly sharp, but the talent differential was enough to cover for them. That won’t be the case this week. Both RBs McFadden and Jones racked up 100+ yds last year against the Tigers. The Hogs would like nothing more than to play spoiler and knock the Tigers off their #1 perch. If you believe the rumors, this is McFadden and Jones’ regular season finale as Razorbacks, so they’ll be jacked up and ready to go. The Razorbacks have the talent to bother LSU, but not to beat them. The game will be close, but the Tigers will pull it out in the end.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Wake Forest (7-4) at Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-6)
Wednesday’s Line: Wake Forest -1.5

Vanderbilt leads this series all time 7-3, including a 24-20 victory in 2005. The Commodores have won 5 in a row in this series. The Demon Deacons are just 31-61-2 vs current SEC teams.

Wake snapped a 2-game losing streak last week with a 20 point win over NC State on Senior Day. They’ve got a bowl bid locked up, but their bid could certainly be bolstered by a quality road win such as this one. Meanwhile, the ‘Dores will be looking to shake off the funk after somehow letting a 15 point 4th quarter lead evaporate last week against Tennessee. This could well be WR Bennett’s last game in the Black and Gold, so he’ll be looking to make big plays against a solid WFU secondary. These are the types of games that good teams find ways to win. Vanderbilt has had chances this season – particularly last week and Georgia – to prove they are a good team and worthy of a bowl, but have let those game slip away. It doesn’t look like they know how to win the close games, which this one seems destined to be. While it should be a fun, exciting game to watch, it will end with heartache and no bowl bid for Vandy.

Straight Up Winner: Wake Forest
Against the Spread: Wake Forest

(#19, #19)Tennessee (8-3, 5-2) at Kentucky (7-4, 3-4)
1:30 CDT, CBS
Wednesday’s Line: Kentucky -3

Tennessee has dominated this series all-time 70-23-9, including last year’s 17-12 win. The Vols have won 22 straight in this series. UT is 33-3-1 when ranked in this game.

The Vols need to win this game to wrap up the SEC East. Like Arkansas, the ‘Cats have an opportunity to play spoiler. If they’re ever going to snap the streak, this is the year to do it… a home game, senior-laden offense on senior day, a slight favorite in the oddsmakers’ eyes. This promises to be a high scoring game as two of the most efficient offenses in conference go against two of the weakest defenses. The Vols will be focused after narrowly escaping Vanderbilt last week, while the ‘Cats will be looking to rebound from a game in which they surrendered an early 10-0 lead to Georgia. All of Tennessee’s losses this year have come on the road, and this is their first road game since being hammered 41-17 by Alabama. If it were in Knoxville, the Vols would be an easy pick. But on the road against a hungry UK team, Andre’ Woodson and the ‘Cats will be too much for the Vols in the end.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Kentucky

(#6, #7) Georgia (9-2, 5-2) at Georgia Tech (7-4)
2:30 CDT, ABC
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -3.5

Georgia owns this series all-time 58-36-5, including last year’s 15-12 victory. The
Dawgs have won 6 straight in the series, though the last 3 have come by 16 points combined.

With their hand cast in the SEC, the ‘Dawgs venture out of conference to do a little scoreboard-watching on the Kentucky/Tennessee game. A ‘Cats win would put UGA in the SEC Championship Game with LSU. All the while, they’ll be taking on a Georgia Tech team that has been up and down all season, but is coming off back-to-back blowout of perennial basketball powers and football patsies Duke and North Carolina. While the Tech defense has been very good at times, they’ve not seen the speed and power of a RB like UGA’s Moreno. UGA QB Stafford will need to continue his recent steady play of handing the ball off to Moreno and making enough plays downfield so the defense can’t stack 8 or 9 in the box to stuff the run. As long as the ‘Dawgs can keep their eyes off the scoreboard long enough to handle the task at hand, they’ll continue their dominance of their lesser cross-state rivals.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

Florida State (7-4) at (#12, #14)Florida (8-3, 5-3)
4:00 CDT, CBS
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -13.5

Florida leads this series all-time 30-19-2, including last year’s 31-14 win. The Gators have won 3 in a row in this series.

With no national title implications in this game (4 titles between these 2 since 1992), this one is all about pride. UF HC Meyer is 2-0 against FSU so far in his career. Both teams will look to pound the ball early, as the team who has rushed for more yards is 16-2-1 in the last 19 seasons. That gives the advantage to the steadily improving Gator front 7, who have been consistent against the run all season. While the FSU passing attack has improved somewhat throughout the season, they don’t have the weapons to fully exploit the Gator secondary that has been picked apart all season. This will be a tight game as usual, but the Gators have too many offensive weapons to lose to an offensively challenged team like the Seminoles.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida State

(#21, #22)Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5, 3-5)
6:00 CDT, ESPN2
Wednesday’s Line: Clemson-3

Clemson owns this series all time 63-37-4, but the Gamecocks pulled the upset last year 31-28. The Tigers are 8-2 over the last 10 seasons against USC.

At one point this season, the Gamecocks were ranked in the top 10, controlled their destiny in the SEC East, and had one of the toughest defenses in the conference, as well as the country. Then the injuries came along with inconsistent play from the QB and RB positions, and the ‘Cocks find themselves mired in a 4-game losing streak. Clemson, denied an ACC Division title last weekend with a loss to BC, will look to take out their frustrations on the battered Gamecocks. Their offense has been explosive led by QB Harper. Even with a much-needed extra week of rest, the Gamecocks don’t seem to have the weapons to score enough points to win this game. Unless the Ole Ball Coach can pull some magic out of his visor, the Tigers will continue their dominance in this series.

Straight Up Winner: Clemson
Against the Spread: Clemson

Alabama (6-5, 4-3) at (#25, #25)Auburn (7-4, 4-3)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn -6

Alabama leads this series all time 38-32-1 but Auburn has won 5 straight in the series. HC Tuberville is 4-0 against the Tide in Auburn.

These two teams have swapped roles since the beginning of the season when Auburn was plagued by inconsistency and the Tide started 2-0 in conference against Vandy and Arkansas. Now Auburn has righted the ship (except the UGA game two weeks ago) and Alabama is coming off a loss to Louisiana-Monroe that HC Saban likened to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The key to this game will be how the Tide come out of the gate. Last week’s loss was an embarrassment for everyone associated with the program and players’ efforts were being openly questioned. For the Tigers, they’ll be looking to shake the funk of getting blown out by UGA after taking a 3rd quarter lead. With more at stake for the Tigers, look for a hard-fought, close battle early on. As the game wears on though, the AU RBs will start to wear down the Tide and send Bama to a 6th straight loss in the series. The most Bama fans can hope for is Saban not comparing it to the recent cyclone or tsunamis that have claimed so many lives in Asia in recent months.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Aubrun

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bowl Projections: Week 13

More and more consistency arising in the bowl projections. LSU and Georgia seem locked into BCS berths, while Kentucky is apparently heading to Atlanta. It will interesting to see what happens if Vanderbilt can pull the mild upset this weekend and knock off Wake Forest. That would mean 11 bowl-eligible teams from the SEC and only 9 tie-ins.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Week 12 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Week 12 Predictions

Florida Atlantic (5-4) @ (#14, #14)Florida (7-3, 5-3)
11:00 CST, PPV
Wednesday's Line: Florida -34

Though this is the first meeting between these two programs, FAU HC Schnellenberger has a winning career record against the Gators, having gone 3-2 in the early 80s while HC at Thug U Miami. Florida is 19-1 in their last 20 games prior to FSU and is 9-0 against current Sun Belt members.

This will be a good game for the Gators to rest up some dinged up players including QB Tebow. With the annual grudge match looming next week against the Seminoles, don’t look for anything to spectacular from Florida. They’ll win, easily and comfortably, but the Owls aerial attack and UF’s weak secondary will keep the margin within 5 TDs.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida Atlantic

(#22, #20)Kentucky (7-3, 3-3) @ (#8, #9)Georgia (8-2, 5-2)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Georgia -7.5

Georgia owns this series all-time 47-11-2, though the ‘Cats beat the ‘Dawgs last year 24-20 in Lexington. UGA though, has won 14 straight in Athens dating back to 1977.

Apparently the inconsistency that plagued Georgia the first several weeks of the season is a thing of the past. They’ve scored 40+ points the last 3 weeks and RB Moreno has SEC Freshman of the Year wrapped up. He should have another huge game Saturday as UK’s run defense gives up nearly 200 ypg. UGA will need to put points on the board as the ‘Cats have the firepower to match them. QB Woodson has cooled off of late, but has stil thrown for 2653 yds and 29 TDs this year. UGA’s pass D has surrendered just 9 TDS this season, fewest in the conference, so it will be interesting to watch that battle.

Georgia can clinch a share of the SEC East with a win Saturday against UK, though they’ll need Tennessee to slip up against Vandy this weekend or Kentucky next weekend. Moreno should find plenty of running room against UK and the ‘Dawgs will control the clock and the flow of the game. This will be a high-scoring affair, but in the end, the ‘Dawgs get revenge for last year’s loss.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

Mississippi State (6-4, 3-3) @ Arkansas (6-4, 2-4)
1:00 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -11

Arkansas leads this series all-time 11-5-1, including last year’s 28-14 win in Starkville. MSU has never won in the state of Arkansas, posting an 0-6-1 record. The Hogs have won 8 straight matchups and 12 of the last 13.

The Bulldogs have already had their best season since 2000, regardless of what happens the rest of the way. They come to Arkansas on the heels of a dramatic, emotional win against Alabama. Their rush D (149.8 ypg, 8th in SEC) will be tested as they take on the NFL-caliber backfield of Darren McFadden and (possibly) Felix Jones. FR QB Carroll threw his first INT of the season last week, and now faces a tough Arkansas Pass D that allows just a 44% completion ratio and has 15 INTs on the season. The Hogs were – surprisingly – bottled up by a typically porous Tennessee run defense last week, collecting only 127 yds on the ground. Whether the Bulldogs can emulate the Vols’ schemes remains to be seen.

Both of these teams are headed to bowl games, but the loser of this game is most like relegated to Shreveport, which should be plenty of motivation to win. This is – for all intents and purposes – Senior Day for McFadden and Jones. Jones sat out practice again on Tuesday, so he may not play. McFadden and crew will have their work cut out for them against a good Bulldog D, but should make enough plays down the stretch to pull out a win. It won’t be easy, but the Hogs extend their dominance of MSU.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

Louisiana-Monroe (4-6) @ Alabama (6-4, 4-3)
1:30 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -25

This is only the 2nd meeting between these two schools, as the Tide rolled to a 41-7 win last season. Alabama is 15-0 against current Sun Belt Members. ULM is 2-27-1 against current SEC members having beaten UK in 1994 and MSU in 1995.

A game like this couldn’t come soon enough for the Tide. They were held (for a 3rd straight season) without an offensive TD against MSU last weekend, just one week after losing a 4th quarter lead to LSU. The offense should have its way with a Warhawk D that surrenders more than 30 ppg. The Tide D will be tested some, as ULM averages about 405 ypg, but not enough to pull the upset. With the Iron Bowl looming next week, the focus may not be there, so 3.5 TDs may be asking too much.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Lousiana-Monroe

Vanderbilt (5-5, 2-5) @ (#19, #19)Tennessee (7-3, 4-2)
1:00 CST, PPV
Wednesday's Line: Tennessee -11.5

Tennessee owns this series all-time 68-27-5, including last year’s 39-10 win in Nashville. The ‘Dore snapped a 22-game losing streak to UT 2 years ago in Knoxville, which is UT HC Fulmer’s only career loss to VU (13-1).

The Vols are wrapping up a 4-game homestand that’s seen them outscore opponents 120-44 through 3 games. They’re unbeaten this season at Neyland. While they rank 11th in conference in total D (400.1 ypg), the ‘Dores offense ranks 11th as well, mustering just 330 ypg. The Commodores will need a huge game from WR Bennett against a soft Vols secondary (236.5 ypg) for the chance at an upset and bowl-eligibility. As for the Vols, expect much of the same… a consistent diet of pounding the ball on the ground and a quick, controlled passing game from QB Ainge.

The Vols need to only beat Vandy and Kentucky – 2 teams they have historically dominated – to clinch an unlikely SEC East title. They’ll take the first step towards that Saturday, cruising to an easy victory over the Commodores.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

(#1, #1) LSU (9-1, 5-1) @ Ole Miss (3-7, 0-6)
1:00 CST, PPV
Wednesday's Line: LSU -19.5

LSU leads this series all-time 54-37-4, including last year’s 23-20 OT win in Baton Rouge. LSU has won 5 in a row, though 4 of the 5 have been by a FG or less. The other was a 40-7 romp 2 years ago in Oxford.

The Tigers roll into this game the newly anointed #1 team in the country after Illinois knocked off tOSU last weekend. They basically went through the motions last week in routing Louisiana Tech. They’ll have the talent advantage in nearly every position on the field Saturday, but will need to be focused for a Rebel team that will undoubtedly be fired up to play. The Rebels have had many a close SEC loss under HC Orgeron, and they’re convinced this weekend is when they take the next step. It will be interesting to see if they can move the ball at all against a Tiger D that ranks 1st in the conference in scoring D, rush D, Total D, Pass Efficiency D, Opponents 1st Downs, and Sacks by. It also ranks 2nd in Pass D and Opponent 4th Down Conversions. Did I mention Ole Miss ranks last in nearly very offensive (and defensive for that matter) category?

CBS must have picked this game specifically to showcase LSU’s dominance to national voters who may not be sure of it yet. There’s no other that this game should be on TV. It’s certainly not more appealing than Arkansas/MSU with two teams fighting to improve bowl positions or Georgia/Kentucky, with two teams that have both been in the top 10 this season. Regardless, they’ll get their wish. Things have been ugly in Oxford this season, and Saturday will be no different.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

Maturity Test

This is a highly scientific litmus test, specifically designed to test the maturity of football blog readers. The format is simple, as it consists of merely 1 yes/no question.

Pencils ready... and... go!

1) Does this picture make you laugh?

Tabulated results show that an overwhelming number of participants not only fail, but fail miserably.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bowl Projections: Week 12

Putting these out a couple of days earlier than normal, since bowl talk seems to be the hot topic these days.

Most notable in this whole equation is, of the 3 pundits listed so far, none has South Carolina reaching a bowl with an SEC tie in. They're predicted to end up in the Texas Bowl or Armed Forces Bowls, only because the PAC-10 and Conference WhoAreThey USA won't have enough bowl eligible members. This is a Gamecock team that was #6 in the country at one point and some people... ahem... actually thought they'd win the East. Now they're relegated to the leftover scraps of bowl games.

*UPDATE (11/14)*: I added in the Fox Sports predictions, though I'm now confused. Last week, Fox Sports had Georgia slated for a Sugar Bowl appearance. This week, despite the 'Dawgs smacking around one of the hottest teams in the country in Auburn, UGA is demoted (in their eyes) to a Cotton Bowl appearance. Not winning the East is the best thing possible for the 'Dawgs' bowl chances. As well as they've played lately, they're a lock for the Sugar Bowl unless they lose. They close with Kentucky and Georgia Tech, 2 teams they should handle, which would leave them 10-2 and a Top 10 team. As long as LSU beats Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Tennessee, no way UGA heads west to Dallas.

Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football

Monday, November 12, 2007

Week 11 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: Florida QB Tim Tebow
Defensive: Mississippi State DB Anthony Johnson
Special Teams: Alabama K Leigh Tiffin
Offensive Lineman: Georgia C Fernando Velasco
Defensive Lineman: Kentucky DE Jeremy Jarmon
Freshman: Tennessee DB Eric Berry

Click HERE for more information from the SEC's official site.

Random Stuff

-Seeing Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson dancing – together – in the booth of Saturday’s Auburn/Georgia game was… well… strange. I really can’t phrase it any better than that. Between their impromptu boogie and Danielson’s jacket being stolen – then rescued – at the September 22nd game between South Carolina and LSU, it’s been a strange year in the broadcast booth for those two.

At least we can be happy Verne didn’t try to emulate Joakim Noah and his dance after the Gators defeated Ohio State in the National Title Game earlier this year.

-Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn has quietly built up a fairly decent football program out there in the land of square states, but he took a big step in demolishing his respectability this weekend. After guaranteeing a victory over Utah, Glenn took umbrage with Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham attempting an onside kick with a 43-0 lead in the 3rd quarter. To express his discontent, Glenn pointed at an as-of-yet undetermined object in the sky.

-Just when Hawai'i QB Colt Brennan thought his day was going well - 396 more yards and tying Ty Detmer's career record with 121 TD passes - he forgot to slide...

-And hey, let’s face it, the economy sucks, gas prices are high, and the Christmas shopping season is rapidly approaching. Money’s tight these days. But seriously, before committing armed robbery, may I offer some advice?

* Don’t wear anything with your school colors on them. It's just not the type of publicity they want

* Secondly - and I thought this one would go without saying, but apparently not - Leave. Your. Toddler. At. Home. While they'll most likely discover a life of crime in due time, trying to force it on them at an early age is probably too much for their young minds...

My guess is that these two clowns have ever stepped foot in Starkville or Knoxville respectively. They may have just picked up their new threads from the clearance rack at Wal-Mart. Hell, maybe they stole ‘em from Wally World… who knows?

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day from the Dead Guy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thank Goodness

I, like any non Big 10 homer, would like to thank Illinois for fulfilling their civic duties today by knocking off #1 Ohio State, in the Horseshoe no less. The Buckeyes had to be the weakest team in recent memory to be ranked #1 this late in the season. The Big 10 is a joke this year and had they sent a participant into the BCS Championship game, it would have been a sham equivalent to Oklahoma reaching the Sugar Bowl after getting rolled by Kansas State in 2003. Besides, no one wearing a sweater vest should be allowed to attend a football game, let alone coach one.

This puts LSU in the driver's seat as the clear #1 team in the country, with Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma left to battle it out for the role of sacrificial lamb to Les Miles and his magic 8-ball. It looked - for a while - like an Ohio State/Boston College matchup in the championship game, which actually may have ended the BCS format. No way the real power conferences like the SEC and PAC-10 would stand by idly while two average teams which won mediocre conferences dueled for the National Title.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Week 11 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bowl Predictions: Week 11

There's really starting to be some balance, at least across the top, as ESPN, CBS, and Fox are all projecting LSU in the BCS Championship game and Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. If Auburn knocks off the 'Dawgs this weekend though, all that will be thrown out the window. Bubble teams like Mississippi State are hoping that the SEC manages to get two teams into BCS bowls, thus opening up another bowl spot in the regular bowl rotation.

My biggest problem with these projections is Ivan Maisel putting Mississippi State in the Independence Bowl and leaving South Carolina at home for the holidays. South Carolina will finish with a better overall record - 7-5 to 6-6 - and, more importantly, will have a head-to-head victory this season. That may all change by Saturday night though as there are five conference games this weekend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Week 11 Predictions

We've officially turned the corner and are headed down the home stretch of the season. While the SEC West is all but wrapped up, the SEC East is anything but. There's even a feasible scenario with a 6-way tie at 4-4. (See Balance of Power on righthand side) As for this weekend's games, we've got five conference games and the road team is favored in 3 of them and another is a Pick ‘Em game. Welcome to SEC Football at its finest.

(#21, #23)Alabama (7-3, 4-2) @ Mississippi St. (5-4, 2-3)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -5.5

Alabama owns this series all-time, holding a 71-17-3 lead in the series, and is the longest running series for the Crimson Tide. MSU HC Croom played and coached at Alabama before ending up in Starkville. Though the Bulldogs have 2 road conference wins this year, their 24-16 win in Tuscaloosa snapped a 23-game road conference game losing streak. It also – for all intents and purposes – marked the end of HC Shula’s Tide career.

Imperative for the Tide in this game is to actually score an offensive TD. The Bulldog D has held the Alabama without and offensive TD the last 2 seasons. Alabama is scoring 31.8 ppg this season, while the Bulldogs are surrendering 25.2 ppg, so that streak will come to an end this year. They’ll need a better game from QB Wilson, who last year threw for just 187 yds and 2 INTs. If he can get the ball to WR Hall, he should be alright. Hall leads the league in ypg (93.3) and is tied for 3rd in TDs (6). Wilson’s performance will need to resemble his game against UT (32-36, 363 yds, 3 TDs) than his game last week against LSU (14-40, 234 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT). They’ll need improved efforts from their RBs as well (23 carries for 54 yds).

Much of this game will come down to how FR QB Carroll handles the pressure of the game, as well as a Tide pass D with 17 sacks and 15 interceptions. He played very well in the upset of Kentucky a couple of weeks ago and MSU will need a similar effort this weekend. RB Dixon will need to find some holes in a strong Tide run D (3.6 ypc) to but Carroll some more time in the pocket. Dixon is tied with Arkansas RB McFadden for second in the SEC with 12 rushing TDs. He’ll definitely need to add to that total for the Bullies to spring the upset.

This is the first sellout since MSU expanded their stadium to its current capacity in 2001. The Tide will be looking for revenge after last year’s embarrassing loss, while the Bulldogs will be looking to clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2000. While the atmosphere will be as raucous as it’s been in years in Starkville, the Tide players are used to rowdy crowds. While MSU is improved, they don’t have the talent to overcome the number of penalties likely to be called on them. The Tide will make a few more plays down the stretch and pull out a tough road win.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Alabama

Arkansas (6-3, 2-3) @ (#22, #24)Tennessee (6-3, 3-2)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Pick ‘Em

Tennessee has dominated this series all time, holding a 12-3 record, including 5-1 in Knoxville. Arkansas won last year 31-14 in Fayetteville, though UT QB Ainge sat the game out with a bum ankle. The last time Arkansas trekked to Knoxville, it took 6 OTs to determine that UT was 3 points better.

If QB Dick is ever going to have a breakout game, this would be the time to have it. The Vols pass defense ranks last in conference, allowing nearly 245 ypg. The Hogs basically eschewed the passing game last week against South Carolina, as they rushed the ball58 times for 542 yds, 487 yds by RBs McFadden and Jones. Dick did play well, completing 8/10 passes for 86 yds with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. The defense allowed 489 yds, but was on the field for more than 37 minutes of the game, so those numbers are skewed.

Tennessee continued its improved play at home with a thumping of hapless ULaLa last week. Ainge was his usual consistent self – 69.6% completions, 125 yds, and 1 TD. The Vols will need more this weekend to keep up with the Hogs. Ainge isn’t asked to throw downfield much, but the Hogs defense is strong enough to make a few plays and disrupt dink-and-dunk drives. With McFadden and Jones able to break a long TD run any time they touch the ball, look for the playbook to open up a bit. RB Foster will need step up to the challenge of having the best 2 RBs in conference invading his home stadium.

After less-than-stellar beginnings for these two teams, it’s hard to believe this game is as significant as it is. Tennessee has been dominant at home lately and Arkansas has been on fire lately, averaging 50 ppg the last 3 weeks. You could argue that the Hogs are the 3rd best team in conference right now behind LSU and Auburn. Tennessee has had trouble stopping teams this season and has had to outscore people. That won’t happen this weekend. McFadden and Jones will both have an easy time with a porous UT run D giving up 4.5 ypc and 167.7 ypg. In what should be another high-scoring affair, the Hogs will run to a road win in Knoxville.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

(#24, #22)Kentucky (6-3, 2-3) @ Vanderbilt (5-4, 2-4)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Kentucky -3.5

Kentucky leads this all-time series 38-37-4, including last year’s 38-26 win in Lexington. In addition to nearly an identical win-loss record, the games in this series have been close, with 32 (41%) of the games decided by a TD or less. The teams are 14-14-4 in those games.

It was a stellar game for both QBs last season, as UK’s Woodson threw for a career high 450 yds (4 TDs/0 INTs) and VU’s Nickson nearly matched him with 446 yds of his own. Each team’s marquee receiver played well, with UK’s Burton tallying 171 yds and 2 TDs and VU’s Bennett added a then-career-high 220 yds. Don’t look for either team to approach those numbers this year.

UK’s high-powered attack, all but grounded by MSU a couple of weeks ago, will look to return to its early season form against an up and down Vandy defense. After playing well for 3 weeks, the ‘Dores D allowed nearly 500 yds to Florida and dug itself a 35-7 hole by halftime. With a senior-laden ‘Cats team playing their last few games together, they’ll be rearing to go and will put some points on the board early. When Kentucky scores though, the fun may just be beginning. If it’s windy enough to keep the ball out of the end zone, VU KR Moore averages nearly 30ypr and seems more and more due to break one for a TD with each passing week.

The loser of this game is normally relegated to the cellar of the SEC East (which would still be 3rd in the Big 10, but I digress). That may not be the case this year as no team has more than 4 wins or fewer than 2 losses. It will be Vandy to tests out the theory though. Kentucky played too poorly at home 2 weekends ago to not bounce back with a solid performance this weekend in Nashville. The game will most likely be close – as they – all seem to be, but Woodson and crew have too much firepower for the ‘Dores.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Kentucky

(#18, #17)Auburn (7-3, 4-2) @ (#10, #10)Georgia (7-2, 4-2)
2:30 CST, CBS
Wednesday's Line: Georgia -2

Auburn leads this series 53-49-8, but Georgia blew out the Tigers 36-15 last year in Auburn. The Tigers actually lead the series 18-9 in Athens, and have won 10 of the last 12 there.

Auburn is playing some of the best football in the country right now, having won 6 of 7, with the lone loss a heartbreaker to LSU. Their success is tied directly to the fact that QB Cox has thrown just 1 INT in those 7 games. He won’t beat you with his arm – only 6 TDs in those same games – but he doesn’t have to. He’ll look to move the ball against a UGA pass D that leads the league in pass TDs allowed (8) but is last in interceptions (4). RB Lester rested against TTU last weekend, but he and fellow RBs Tate and Fannin will be called upon to attack a Dawg rush D that has given up 14 TDs, tied for 2nd worst in the league.

As for the ‘Dawg O… little has gone wrong the last two weeks, having rolled up 878 yds and 86 points in wins over Florida and Troy. Their job will be a little tougher Saturday against an AU defense that has allowed fewer TDs than any other team in conference ranks 2nd in total defense behind LSU. RB Moreno – a virtual lock for SEC Freshman of the Year – spearheads a ‘Dawg running attack ranked 5th in conference with 173.7 ypg. He’ll need QB Stafford to continue his recent hot streak – 434 yds, 5 TDs last 2 games – trying to stretch out the stout Tiger D. Without the threat of a vertical passing attack, the running lanes with be few and far between.

AU HC Tuberville ranks as one of the best big game coaches in the country. His Tigers are 9-2 in their last 11 games against Top 10 opponents, including their victory over Florida earlier in the season. While the “good” UGA offense has been out the last 2 games, AU’s D will bring out the ‘Dawgs that struggled against South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. As usual in this series, the hometown fans will go away unhappy.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Auburn

(#17, #18)Florida (6-3, 4-3) @ South Carolina (6-4, 3-4)
6:45 CST, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: Florida -6.5

Florida has dominated this series through the years, holding a 20-4-3 advantage in the series, including last year’s 17-16 squeaker in Gainesville. The Gators are 14-1 against the Gamecocks since they joined the SEC in 1992, though that 1 loss was 2 years ago in Columbia.

Just 7 days after being run over by McFadden and Arkansas, the Gamecocks must somehow regroup and play a desperation game against a bitter divisional rival. One bright spot from last week’s game was the play of QB Mitchell who threw for 364 yds and 2 TDs with his team in catchup mode all night. He’ll have a chance to exploit a young, banged up UF secondary allowing a 60% completion rate. They’ll need some kind of production from RB Boyd though. He’s rolled up 254 yds the last 2 weeks, but the Gators are allowing only 105.6 ypg and 3.1 ypc.

As for the Gators, they really made a statement last week against an improved Vanderbilt team scoring 5 TDs in the first half. QB Tebow continues to play well despite a dinged up shoulder. His pass game will be tested this weekend by a strong USC secondary allowing only a 51.9% completion rate and 149.2 ypg. BMF Harvin and RB Moore should be able to find success against a USC defense probably not sleeping well from dreams of the Razorback dynamic duo.

I picked the Gamecocks to surprise and win the SEC East this year, but key defensive injuries, lack of a running game, and inconsistent QB play have all but ended those chances. While the East is muddled enough to where just about anything is possible, the Gamecock chances will officially be nil after another gut-wrenching loss Saturday. The defense will rebound from being embarrassed last weekend, but the offense just doesn’t have the guns to run with the Gators for 60 minutes. A close game, but too much Tebow/Harvin at the end of the day.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: South Carolina

Louisiana Tech (4-5) @ (#2, #2) LSU (8-1, 5-1)
7:00 CST, PPV
Wednesday's Line: LSU -36.5

LSU owns a 16-1 record all-time against Louisiana Tech, including a 49-10 win in 2003 the last time they played. LaTech has managed just 32 points in the 17 games and has been shutout 12 times. LSU is 16-0 against WAC members, but HC Miles is just 1-1 against LaTech (from his OKSt days).

One fact sums up this matchup… This Bulldog team couldn’t score against Ole Miss. That’s all you need to know. This game won’t come down to Les Miles’ magic 8-ball of questionable coaching moves. No one cares if QB Perrilloux plays or not. This will just be an ugly, massacre of the most talented team in the country running over its ugly, red-headed stepchild on a chilly night on the Bayou.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LTU