Sunday, September 30, 2007

Week 5 Recap

What a crazy Saturday, as nearly everyone in the top 10 either lost or struggled. Speaking of struggling, two straight bad weeks against the spread actually has me batting below .500 for the season now. But that's the beauty of college football...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jason Whitlock gets it

Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star is probably my favorite sports columnist around. I would actually watch the Sports Reporters on ESPN and listen to Mike Lupica whine and Bob Ryan drool on himself and John Saunders make himself out to be a martyr just to hear what Whitlock had to say. When ESPN ran him off, I gave up on that show and lost even more respect for the network as whole.

Anyway, Jason Whitlock wrote a column this week about the whole Mike Gundy/Jenni Carlson event last weekend. He's the first media member I've seen actually defend Gundy and his actions.

Read the column if you get a chance. It's well worth the time.

Week 5 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Football in the Sec (Southeastern Conference) (Inside College Football)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jasper Brinkley's Worst Fear

All-SEC Linebacker Jasper Brinkley may have jinxed himself earlier this season.

Anyone who follows SEC football at all knows that Brinkley is out for the season after suffering a knee injury very early in South Carolina's game against LSU game last weekend. I was flipping through an ESPN magazine at my house and stumbled across this quote from the 9/24/07 issue regarding his biggest fear...

(My biggest fear is) tearing my ACL. It seems like every person in their senior year gets hurt, and it's always the ACL. I remember I tweaked my hamstring in practice, and all I could think was ACL, ACL, ACL.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Week 5 Predictions

After high drama in 4 inter-division games last week, this weekend seems to be a little slower pace. There are 3 more inter-division games – Ole Miss @ Georgia, Mississippi State @ South Carolina, and Auburn @ Florida – but none seem to offer the appeal that last week's slate had. Alabama ventures out of conference to tangle with Free Shoes University Florida State University while the rest of the league dines on cupcakes.

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

(#2, #2)LSU (4-0, 2-0) @ Tulane (1-2)
11:00 CDT, ESPN2
Wednesday's Line: LSU -40

LSU travels 80 miles down I-10 to New Orleans to take on Tulane in the Superdome. LSU has won 15 straight in this series (avg score 34-16), including 49-7 last year.

Tulane RB Matt Forte had 303 yds rushing and 4 TDs last week against SE Louisiana, but my Spidey-sense tells me he won’t approach that number Saturday against the Tigers. Fresh off a victory over South Carolina, the Tigers basically have an off weekend to rest players like QB Matt Flynn, who is still nursing an ankle injury.

Not to write this game off as a gimme for LSU, but… LSU beat Mississippi State 45-0 in Starkville. Mississippi State beat Tulane 38-21 in New Orleans. LSU can name their score in this one. HC Les Miles will probably feel like rubbing it in, as the national media (like ESPN) is still having fun with his preseason postulating that USC has an easier road to the BCS Title Game. And they’ll be rubbing it in these new unis, now with pelican goodness!

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

Mississippi St (3-1, 1-1) @ (#16, #21)S. Carolina (3-1, 1-1)
11:30 CDT, LFS
Wednesday's Line: USC -13.5

Mississippi State takes their 3-1 record north to South Carolina this weekend for a conference showdown featuring two of the stingiest defenses in the league. The Gamecocks have won 4 in a row in this series was one of three SEC teams (LSU and Auburn were the others) that shut Mississippi State out last year. MSU was shutout again by LSU this year, but rebounded to beat Auburn. MSU has won 3 in a row for the first time since 2000.

This will be Gamecock FR QB Chris Smelley’s first career SEC start, replacing the surprisingly inefficient Blake Mitchell. Smelley has thrown for 2 TDs and 2 INTs this season, so it will be interesting to see how – if at all – Spurrier’s game plan for the Bulldogs changes. The Gamecocks will also be without LB Jasper Brinkley for the rest of the season, which is a big blow to the defense, which already lost starting DE Nathan Pepper for the season. The Bulldogs will also be without their starting QB Michael Henig, and backups Caroll and Ridell should both see PT.

This will be a low scoring game featuring two strong defenses and two lackluster offenses. After giving 45 points to LSU in the opener, MSU has only allowed 46 in its last 3 games. USC currently ranks 2nd in the league allowing only 14.2 ppg, though their rush defense has struggled, allowing more than 200 ypg. Spurrier will have his team ready to go Saturday. The Bulldog’s defense will keep them in the game for a while, but an inefficient offense will be their ultimate undoing. No way Spurrier drops two in a row.

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

Florida Atlantic (3-1) @ (#14, #15)Kentucky (4-0, 1-0)
12:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: UK -22

This will be the first time these two programs have met asFAU has only been playing football since 2001. Kentucky is 6-1 all time against teams currently in the Sun Belt, but only beat Louisiana Monroe by 2 points last year at home. FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger was an All America performer for UK in the mid 50s under HC Bear Bryant.

Kentucky needs a break from the rigors of the SEC after back to back emotional wins over Louisville and Arkansas. Next weekend, they start a 3-game stretch playing the 3 best teams in conference - @USC, vs LSU, vs UF – so this is a good chance to fine-tune anything that needs to be worked on, as well as rest some starters. UK’s secondary will be tested as FAU QB Rusty Smith has thrown for 1100+ yds and 8 TDs in 4 games. FAU has beaten Minnesota this season, but fell to OkSt 42-6 on the road.

With the emotional 2 weeks Kentucky has had and the impending schedule of doom, UK’s focus won’t be entirely on this game. They’ll win, but won’t cover the 22 points.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Florida Atlantic

(#22, #24)Alabama (3-1, 1-1) @ Florida State (2-1)
4:00 CDT, CBS
Wednesday's Line: FSU -2.5

Alabama HC Nick Saban squares off against his former OC Jimbo Fisher in the SEC’s marquee non-conference matchup in Jacksonville this weekend. The Tide have never lost to FSU (2-0-1), but there’s no recent history, as the teams last met in 1974. The Seminoles are coming off a bye week, but have won 2 in a row, including 10-point wins at home over UAB and on the road at an upstart Colorado team. FSU HC Bobby Bowden actually played QB for the Tide as a freshman before transferring.

Tide freshman RB Terry Grant has been spectacular this year, averaging 120 ypg and scoring 5 TDs. He’ll be tested this weekend against a stout FSU defense allowing less than 75 ypg on the ground. Tide QB John Parker Wilson will have to make plays downfield to open things up for Grant and the other Tide backs.

Meanwhile, FSU averages 132 ypg on the ground and 200 ypg through the air. Junior QB Drew Weatherford has been average adapting to Fisher’s system, completing 54% of his passes for 4 TDs and just 1 INT. He’ll face a decent Tide pass defense allowing 180 ypg and has picked off 4 passes.

This Alabama team is battle tested. They’ve beaten Arkansas and battled UGA down to the final seconds before losing last week in OT. FSU has underachieved for a few years now, having not won 10 games in a season since 2003. The Tide will be playing for SEC pride, while the ACC gave up any hope for pride a long time ago. The Crimson Tide will pull the mild upset.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Alabama

Ole Miss (1-3, 0-2) @ (#15, #16)Georgia (3-1, 1-1)
12:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: UGA -15

The Rebels head to Athens Saturday looking to avenge a 14-9 loss to Georgia last season. The Bulldogs have won 7 straight in the series and own the all-time series 29-12-1. Four of those 7 games have been decided by 7 points or less. UGA has won 14 of the last 16 against Ole Miss in Athens as well as their last 13 in weeks before they play Tennessee.

If moral victories counted, Ole Miss HC Orgeron’s career record would be much better. The Rebels nearly upended Florida last week in Oxford, but now have to avoid a letdown this weekend. QB Seth Adams continues to be the foundation of the offense as he ranks 5th in the conference in pass efficiency and has throw 7 TDs, just 2 fewer than the Rebels threw for last season.

Georgia avoided what would have been a disastrous loss last week, nipping Alabama in OT with just one offensive play. An 0-2 start would have all but eliminated them from the tough SEC East race. SO QB Matthew Stafford is licking his lips looking at an OM secondary allowing a 67% completion rate and 284 ypg and 8 TDs. Freshman RB Knowshon Moreno leads UGA with 86 ypg and 2 TDs.

Both teams need this game, though for different reasons. For OM, it would prove that last week’s valiant effort the Gators wasn’t an aberration. For UGA, it would put them at 2-1 in conference and keep them tied with the Gamecocks and just one game behind UF. In the end, Georgia will pull out close game. The Rebels play well, but drop another close game to the more-talented Dawgs.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

North Texas (0-3) @ Arkansas (1-2)
6:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -36

This will be the 9th time that these two programs will square off, with Arkansas holding an 8-0 record. The Razorbacks are 21-0 against teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference and have outscored the Mean Green 300-104 in their previous 8 games. NTU hasn’t beaten an SEC team since 1977.

This is just what the doctor ordered for Arkansas. After back to back crushing losses to Alabama and Kentucky, the Razorbacks can use this game to right the ship a bit. NTU ranks last in the country in scoring defense (51.3 ppg) and is ranked 9th in ESPN’s Bottom 10.

Arkansas can expect the Mean Green to throw the ball a whole lot. NTU QB Casey Meager hit 46/64 passes a couple of weeks ago for 601 yds against SMU, and has completed 99/154 passes on the season… in just 3 games.

By the time this one’s over though, the Mean Green will do little more than serve as punching bags for a frustrated Hogs team. DMac and Felix Jones will run wild in this game, and QB Casey Dick will be able to build his confidence against a horrendous defense. I really hate the line being so large, but Arkansas has some face to save, so they’ll run up the score.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Eastern Michigan (2-2) @ Vanderbilt (2-1, 1-1)
6:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Vanderbilt -20

This will be the first ever meeting between the Commodores and the Eagles. Vanderbilt sits at 2-1 and should be fully rested after their bye week. They’ll look to get their first win under HC Bobby Johnson after a bye week (0-4). EMU is riding a 2-game win streak after opening the season 0-2. Their 2 wins this season double their total from all of last season.

Vanderbilt has 3 straight SEC games after this one, so it’s imperative to win and to play well to build some momentum. EMU’s offense is mediocre at best, averaging less than 280 ypg and 19.5 ppg. Last week’s 38 point outburst against 1AA Howard skews those numbers a bit. Vandy has a solid defense (top 5 in both passing and rushing ypg in conference) that should have a fairly easy time with the Eagles.

When Vandy gets the ball, the Eagles will be very quickly introduced to VU WR Earl Bennett, who will promptly reintroduce himself to the end zones on Dudley Field. Bennett hasn’t scored a TD since week 1, so he’s chomping at the bit. The off week last week gave QB Chris Nickson time to heal as well, so he should have a solid game as well.

When it’s all said and done, the ‘Dores will win consecutive games for only the 5th time in the last 8 years and be half way to bowl eligibility. I think the spread may be a bit much for them to cover though.

Straight Up Winner: Vanderbilt
Against the Spread: Eastern Michigan

Auburn (2-2) @ (#4, #3) Florida (4-0, 2-0)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: Florida -18

Florida will host the Auburn Tigers this weekend, looking to avenge their only loss last year, a 27-17 defeat on the Plains. Only Arkansas scored more points against the Gator D last year (28 in the SECCG) despite Auburn scoring 0 offensive TDs. Auburn has won 2 of the last 3 in this matchup, but Florida has won 8 of the last 10.

Auburn’s offense finally woke up last week, pouring in 55 points against Hal Mumme’s NMSU. The defense stepped us as well, holding the Aggies scoreless in the second half. RBs Ben Tate and Mario Fannin both eclipsed the 100 yd mark, and QB Brandon Cox was steady, completing a high percentage of passes and managing the game well. This weekend will be a different story though, as the Gator defense is getting more and more experience with each passing game.

The Gators’ll take the 6 point win in Oxford last week, but I’m sure most thought it would be a little easier than that. Penalties have to be a major concern to HC Urban Meyer and staff, as UF is far and away the most penalized team in the league. QB Tim Tebow turned in another unbelievable performance, with 166 yds rushing and 250+ yds passing. They’ll need to avoid a trap game here, before embarking on a season-defining stretch against LSU, UK, and UGA.

This game may looked a lot better on paper before the season started. Auburn has won 4 of the last 5 games when Florida is ranked in the top 4 of the AP poll, but they just don’t have the horses on offense to run with the Gators. UF survived a scare last week in Tebow’s first road start, but back home, at the friendly confines of The Swamp, the Tigers will just be plain ol’ out manned. They probably won’t reach their scoring average (49.3), but Auburn won’t reach 20. The bigger drama in this game may be waiting to see if Mike Patrick inexplicably references Britney Spears again...

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jimmy Clausen for Heisman

I know it's not SEC-related, but Notre Dame is now officially half way to their 0-8 start to the season, which to me is the feel good story of the year. I wanted to share the following video with you, as it proves two very important points.

A) Charlie Weis is not the offensive genius that everyone wants to think he is. The Irish have been brutally unprepared in all four of their games this year, and that's a reflection of Fat Charlie.
B) Anything - and I mean anything - is funny when set to that music from Benny Hill...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mike Patrick and Britney Spears?

Can anyone who watched UGA/Bama Saturday night please tell me why Mike Patrick decided to bring up Britney Spears in overtime of the game? That has to rank as one of the most random non sequiturs in history. It literally left Todd Blackledge dumbfounded before he could muster "Why do we care?"

Check it out if you haven't seen it...

SEC Week 4 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: Florida QB Tim Tebow
Defensive: Kentucky LB Wesley Woodyard
Special Teams: Auburn P Patrick Tatum
Offensive Lineman: Kentucky G Jason Leger
Defensive Lineman: LSU DT Glenn Dorsey
Freshman: UGA RB Knowshon Moreno

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

Random Thoughts about Week 4 Games

Florida QB Tim Tebow turned in his best performance of the season Saturday against Ole Miss, accounting for 427 yards of total offense and all 4 Gator TDs. You have to wonder how much punishment his body can take handling hte ball as often as he does... The Gators' youth showed with 14 penalties for 127 yards. Florida is far and away the most penalized team in conference, averaging 87 ypg. They can get away with that on the road against a team like Ole Miss, but what about in Columbia or Lexington or Baton Rogue?

The Rebels had one of their best performances in 2+ seasons under HC Orgeron, but just couldn’t keep up with Tebow and Co. QB Seth Adams continues to exceed expectations, while preseason All-SEC RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis continues to struggle.

LSU HC Les Miles took a page from Steve Spurrier’s book Saturday, scoring a TD on a nifty fake FG. Even Spurrier had to grin after the play. LSU’s offense struggled a bit against a solid South Carolina defense, but in the end, there was just too much Glenn Dorsey and the rest of the LSU defense for the Gamecocks to handle. This was the 3rd game in a ridiculous 5-game homestand for the Tigers.

Gamecock back-up QB Chris Smelley got significant playing time in place of Blake Mitchell after Mitchell was ineffective. Smelley has been named the starter for this weekend's game against Mississippi State. Their defense did play well, holding LSU to a season low in points, but an inefficient offense and 3 turnovers doomed the Gamecocks in the end. As an aside, I know Spurrier is 1000x smarter than you or me when it comes to football, but there were a couple of calls I really questioned. Going for it on 4th & 1 inside your own 30 in the 3rd quarter is one thing, but handing the ball off 4 yards deep in the backfield, so your back needs 5 yards to pick up 1? And why kick that FG late in the 4th? USC still needed 3 scores after that, which is the same number they needed before they kicked it…

Even watching the Kentucky/Arkansas game on TV, you could just feel the air sucked out of the stadium late in the first half when Kentucky scored a TD on a fumble recovery. Arkansas had been in control of the game the majority of the first half until Trevard Lindley rumbled 66 yds for a TD to cut the Razorback lead to 20-14. Arkansas will be favored in their next 5 games, but until they shore up their passing defense (11/12 in conference) and generate a more consistent passing game (11/12) of their own, they’ll continue to struggle against legitimate opponents. They’ll be playing for a while with out third string RB Michael Smith, who was suspended indefinitely after running up ~$100 in charges on a stolen credit card.

I thought Kentucky was a basketball school… The Cats have jumped up to #14 in the new AP poll and QB Andre Woodson is a legitimate Heisman candidate, as long as the Cats continue to win. While UK’s defense hasn’t been spectacular – 9/12 ppg, 9/12 ypg – they have been opportunistic, forcing 11 turnovers through 4 games, which is 2nd in the conference behind LSU.

The Nicktatorship hit its first speedbump Saturday as Alabama dropped its first game of the season to Georgia. It looked the Tide would score a second straight come from behind win, but the Dawgs scored a TD on their first play of OT to win by 3. Spurrier may have gotten the Dawgs fired up by talking about them after South Carolina beat them 16-12 in Athens a couple of weeks ago. He said – among other things - “It wasn't like they were some big, powerful team”. The UGA D responded, holding Bama to 164 yds rushing and the offense generated 377 yds.

As for Bama, QB John Parker Wilson returned to earth after slicing up a porous Arkansas secondary for 327, completing less than 50% of his passes for 185 yds against UGA. This was the 3rd time in 4 games that Alabama has failed to complete a TD pass.

Tennessee QB Erik Ainge continued to dominate lesser opponents, throwing for 334 yds and 4 TDs against an overmatched Arkansas State team. UT has a off day this Saturday, before playing 4 straight conference games, including UGA, @Bama, and South Carolina. While the offense rolled up 523 yds against Arkansas State, the defense continued to struggle, giving up nearly 400 yards to the Indians. You have to wonder if their inconsistencies on both sides of the ball will be too much for them against conference foes.

Apparently, all Auburn needed to get rolling was a visit from NMSU. Auburn nearly doubled their season point total (55 Saturday, 68 first 3 games) against the Aggies, and the defense pitched a second half shut out. QB Brandon Cox played his best game of the season as well, completing 68% of his passes and no turnovers. The Tiger defense meanwhile forced 6 turnovers of their own. This week’s trip to Gainesville will shed a little more light as to where this team actually is.

Mississippi State matched their win total from each of the past 3 seasons with their 31-15 win over 1AA Gardner Webb. RB Anthony Dixon had another 86 yds rushing and 2 TDs. Backup QBs Josh Riddell and Wesley Carroll filled in admirably for starter Michael Henig, who miss the game with a broken hand. Mississippi State will be big underdogs in 4 of the next 5 games, so it will be interesting to see how this team continues to improve.

High Flyin' SEC (cont.)

In a previous post, I referenced this article detailing the significant increase in scoring average for the conference as a whole.

The original article is comparing this season to last after 3 weeks. I've changed the format a little bit, updating this year's scoring averages after each week's games and comparing them to the final scoring averages for each team from last year.

I'll keep this updated throughout the season.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mike Gundy is Okay in my Book

This video is making it rounds on the web, but if you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out. Oklahoma State HC Mike Gundy takes umbrage with an article published in the The Oklahoman and voices his frustrations to Jenni Carlson, the author of this article. In it, Carlson calls OkSt QB Bobby Reid a chicken and admittedly uses "rumors and rumblings" to build her case as to why he was recently benched.

I just wish the camera would have been on her face during this...

Week 4 Recap

Ouch... Not a good effort by the Dead Guy this week, missing 5/6 games against the spread. The SEC East answered any questions about the better division, going 3-1 against the West yesterday, including straight up wins by road underdogs UGA and UK. A very entertaining day of football in the SEC.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Excerpt from Meat Market

There's an interesting excerpt from Bruce Feldman's new book called Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting on right now. I haven't read it it yet, but the early reviews have been good.

I've linked book below in case you're interested in finding out more...

Week 4 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

High Flyin' SEC

There’s a lot of talk about the high flying SEC this year, but you may be surprised at just how much scoring numbers are up this season compared to last. According to this article in the Birmingham News, as a whole, the league is averaging 33.7 ppg, up from 23.4 last season, or a 43% increase. Only two teams – Georgia and Auburn – are scoring at a lower clip than they did through three games last season, while two other teams – Arkansas and Vanderbilt – have more than doubled their point totals from last year.

Sure, a lot of it has to do with scheduling, as most teams have played one or fewer conference teams, but it’s impossible to attribute strictly to the schedule. More and more teams are utilizing the spread offense and others have some followed Arkansas’ lead and installed some variation of their “Wildcat Formation”.

There are tons of other interesting tidbits in the article you should definitely check out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Week 4 Predictions

Saturday’s SEC docket includes just 7 games, the lowest total of the season so far. Of those games, 4 of them are conference games and all pit the Eastern division against the Western division. Some very intriguing conference games, as South Carolina travels to LSU, Georgia travels to Alabama, and Kentucky travels to Arkansas. Florida travels to Ole Miss in a not-so-intriguing game. Tennessee, Auburn, and Mississippi State all venture out of conference, while Vanderbilt has the weekend off.

Here’s how the weekend will shake out…

(#3, #3)Florida (3-0, 1-0) @ Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Florida -23

In September, under HC Orgeron, the Rebels are 3-0 against Memphis and 0-8 against everyone else, and are 2-14 against the spread in their last 16 September games. Ole Miss is 11-9-1 all-time against Florida, but these are certainly different times from even 2002-03, when the Rebels swept the Gators in Oxford and Gainesville. The Gators have lost their last 3 trips to the state of Mississippi.

This is the perfect SEC game for Tebow to make his first road start. So far this season, he’s been nothing short of spectacular, completing nearly 75% of his passes for 835 yards and has also rushed for close to 200 yards. The Gators’ defense stepped up last week and played its best game of the season forcing a high powered Tennessee offense into 3 turnovers and held them to just one offensive touchdown. On the negative side of things, they have been penalized 28 times in 3 games, which is far more than HC Meyer would like.

QB Brent Schaeffer will get his first start of the season for the Rebels Saturday, as Seth Adams is still out. If you don’t know the Schaeffer saga, Google it, not enough room on this page for it. Suffice it to say, he’s been a disappointment for the Rebels. After rushing for a career high 226 yds against Mizzou, BenJaurvus Green-Ellis came back to earth with a 21 carry/66 yard day against Vanderbilt, just one week after Bama sliced/diced Vandy for 221 yards. The Rebels face an inexperienced Florida defense this week, but unless the offensive line plays its best game of the season, the athletic Florida D will wreak havoc all game long.

This will be the 4th time in 4 games that the Rebels have faced a spread offense. While I would normally say that’s an advantage for them, they’ve been torched in those 3 games for an average of 401 ypg (110 rushing/291 passing) and 30 ppg. The Gators are currently averaging 572 ypg (287 rushing/235 passing) and 56 ppg, so the math is not difficult. This one won’t be close.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

(#12, #14)S. Carolina (3-0, 1-0) @ (#2, #2)LSU (3-0, 1-0)
2:30 CST, CBS
Wednesday's Line: LSU -16.5

In a preview of the SEC Championship game, the Gamecocks venture down south to their personal house of horrors. South Carolina is just 2-14-1 against LSU all time, including a 1-9 record in Baton Rogue, their win coming 1994, 18-17.

The Gamecocks survived their first road test in Athens a couple of weeks ago and currently sit 1-0 in the SEC. QB Blake Mitchell’s 3/3 TD/INT ration isn’t near where HC Spurrier would like it to be, or where it needs to be for South Carolina to continue winning in the SEC. Unlike Spurrier’s teams of the past, it’s been the defense and special teams that have been the foundation for this team. The defense did take a blow this week as starting DL Nathan Pepper is out for the season with a knee injury. The offense has been steady, but not spectacular.

As for LSU, everything has been spectacular. 137-7 in 3 games. 3rd in the conference in scoring. 2nd in the nation in pass defense. +7 turnover margin. Best punting average in conference. The list goes on and on. HC Les Miles has the Tigers flying high. He even rested his starting QB Flynn last week and backup Perrilloux threw for ~300 yds and 3 TDs. Flynn will be back for the Gamecocks, though it’s a nice contingency plan to have Perrilloux as #2.

This will undoubtedly be LSU’s biggest test of the year so far. The Gamecocks’ D will be the stiffest Matt Flynn and company have faced this year, and there are few better big game coaches than Spurrier, who, by the way, is 11-1 against LSU (all at Florida). Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, they just don’t have enough on offense to get through the immovable object that is the LSU defense. Mitchell will be under pressure all game, and his tendency to force throws plays right into the Tigers’ hands. This game will not be decided until the second half, but a late defensive TD will ice it for the Tigers.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

(#21, #23)Kentucky (3-0, 0-0) @ Arkansas (2-1, 0-1)
5:00 CST, ESPN2
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -6.5

The last time these two got together on the gridiron, the Hogs won 71-63... in 7 OTs. UK beat Ole Miss to start 1-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1987 last year, and would love to make it 2 seasons in a row. This is the first road game of the season for UK.

Kentucky is coming off its biggest victory in years (arch-rival, first top 10 win since 1977, ranked for the first time since 1984), and this would seem an obvious time for a letdown game. But this Wildcats team has been through the ropes of an SEC season before and is full of veterans. QB Woodson established himself as a legitimate Hesiman candidate with his performance last week, but the Wildcats will need to keep on winning.

Arkansas is left to wonder what could’ve been after last week’s heartbreaker in Tuscaloosa. The Hogs lost by only 3, despite digging themselves a 21-0 hole after just 1 quarter. They actually had the lead for about 8 minutes in the 4th before another passing TD doomed them.

The Hogs rank 11/12 in conference in passing D, while the Wildcats come in at 10/12 in rushing D. Neither team will be able to stop the other team’s strength. Arkansas will be able to control the clock with their power running game, and DMac and company will be looking to atone from their loss last week. Andre Woodson’s conference record of consecutive passes with no interceptions will come to an end, and the Razorbacks grind out an exciting, high scoring win.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Arkansas State (1-1) @ Tennessee (1-2, 0-1)
6:00 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Tennessee -19

This is the first meeting between these two programs, but Arkansas State is 1-44-3 versus current SEC teams. Tennessee needs a game like this after the shellacking they took on national television last week at the hands of the Gators. Arkansas State had a controversial 8-point loss to Texas in Week 1, so the Vols better not take them too lightly.

Last week appeared to be the first time QB Ainge was affected by the broken pinky on his throwing hand. He did complete 63% of his passes for ~250 yds, but he only threw for 1 TD against a Florida D that had allowed ~280 yds passing and 2 TDs to Troy the week before. Granted, Troy looked like world beaters last Friday against OKSt, but Vols fans would like to think they’ve got better talent than Troy.

For Fulmer’s sake, Tennessee needs a solid effort in all aspects of the game this weekend. The rumblings in Knoxville are getting louder with each passing week. Both Tennessee’s losses – Cal & UF – have come to teams that outclassed them in speed. UT’s defenders have looked flatfooted trying to run down the speedy skill-position guys. While Arkansas State seems to be improved this year, there’s no reason they should hang with Tennessee this weekend.The Vols nearly hung 40 on Southern Miss, they'll eclipse that this weekend.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

New Mexico St. (2-1) @ Auburn (1-2, 0-1)
6:00 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Auburn -17

Offensive guru, cheater, and former UK head coach Hal Mumme returns to the SEC this weekend with his NMSU Aggies. NMSU is 0-13 against current SEC teams, and has lost 15 straight non-conference road teams. This will only be the second time these programs have ever played with Auburn winning 55-14 in 1993. They would have to play this game 3 times for Auburn to score 55 points.

Auburn’s offensive woes have been well documented. The offensive line has been horrid and QB Brandon Cox has struggled, throwing 7 INTs to just 2 TDs. The defense will be tested this week, as – like all Mumme teams – NMSU likes to chuck it all over the field, and currently averages ~400 yds passing. The Aggie D surrenders 370 ypg and 27 ppg, so the opportunity to score is there. QB Kodi Burns may see more PT this weekend, after providing some spark for the Tigers last weekend.

HC Tuberville has made sure his Tigers realize the importance of this game. They need this to get to .500 and preserve any hope of a respectable season. NMSU can’t match the athletes that the Tigers have, but you have to wonder why Vegas thinks this Auburn team could outscore anyone by 17 points. Auburns wins, but not by much.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: NMSU

Gardner-Webb (1-1) @ Mississippi State (2-1, 1-1)
6:00 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: No Line

Mississippi State HC Croom looks to equal his win total from each of his first three seasons with a victory over 1AA Gardner-Webb this weekend. MSU did stumble against a 1AA opponent in 2004, losing 9-7 to Maine, but this is a fired up Bulldogs team now, with a very strong defense. They haven’t allowed a 2nd half point in either of the last two games, and probably won’t give up a single point all game Saturday.

MSU will be able to control the tempo of this game from the outset with RB Anthony Dixon. Reality will set back in with a trip to Columbia, SC next weekend, but the Bulldogs can enjoy being 3-1 for the first time in a long time.

Straight Up Winner: Mississippi State
Against the Spread: N/A

(#22, #21)UGA (2-1, 0-1) @ (#16, #20)Alabama (3-0, 2-0)
6:45 CST, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -3.5

The Georgia Bulldogs travel to Tuscaloosa this weekend to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. Georgia has won 2 in a row in this series, though they're just 1-7 all-time in Tuscaloosa, with current HC Mark Richt winning 27-25 in 2002.

Georgia is trying to avoid an 0-2 start in conference play, basically eliminating them from the SEC East race. They’ll try to build on their performance last week against Western Carolina. They’ve dominated their two non conference opponents, but failed to score a TD in their conference game against South Carolina. UGA will try to establish its running game early and let QB Stafford ease in to passing game. South Carolina was very effective taking away the deep ball, as Stafford averaged only ~5 yards per completion

Alabama HC Saban’s main jobs this week were to calm down the emotions after a shocking victory over Arkansas with :04 seconds left last week, and to get his defensive linemen rest. They were dragging at the end of that game after chasing down DMac, Felix Jones, and other Arkansas RBs. Saban inherited a veteran team, so the emotions should be in check this weekend. If Alabama wins this one, they’ll be 3-0 in conference before stepping out of conference the next 2 weekends. Freshman RB Terry Grant has been spectacular, ranking 2nd in conference behind DMac in rushing ypg. The Tide’ll have a similar game plan this week as they have all year – disciplined football, power running, efficient passing. QB Wilson gave Georgia something else to think about last week, throwing for 327 yds and 4 TDs.

Talent-wise, Georgia is the superior team in this game. They have big play capability on both sides of the ball. But, until they show consistency against a legitimate opponent, it’s hard to pick them to win in a hostile environment, especially against a veteran team and coach like Saban. Alabama will control the clock with Grant running the ball, and the D and QB Wilson will make just enough plays for the Tide to eke out a tough conference win.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Alabama

Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 3 SEC Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson
Defensive: Mississippi State DB Derek Pegues
Special Teams: Florida RB Brandon James
Offensive Lineman: Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams
Defensive Lineman: Georgia DT Jeff Owens
Freshman: Alabama RB Terry Grant

Terry Grant has won SEC Freshman of the week all 3 weeks this season.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Random Thoughts from Week 3 Games

Wild and wacky games were the MO for SEC games on Saturday. On the plains of Alabama, Auburn not only had their 6-game winning streak against Mississippi State snapped, they also dropped consecutive home games for the first time since 1999, when Ole Miss and Mississippi State beat them. Yesterday was especially painful, as the defense played very well. MSU was held to just 5/18 passing for 41 yards and one offensive touchdown. The Tigers outgained the Bullies 323-213, but repeatedly shot itself in the foot with 5 turnovers, including 3 interceptions. Backup QB Kodi Burns gave the Tigers a spark off the bench, throwing for 65 yds and running for 87 more an a TD, but a costly interception in the 4th quarter set up MSU's only offensive TD.

Hats off to the Bulldog defense, allowing no points in the second half of a game for the second straight week. The last couple of seasons, dropping a home game to MSU has been the end of two coach's tenures. Ron Zook and Mike Shula were both "Croomed", but obviously, the same won't happen to Tuberville.

Chalk up some Captain Obvious points for Tennessee HC Phil Fulmer for his post-game quote of "certainly this wasn't representative of what we intended to do today." So the Vols didn't plan on giving up 554 yds of offense and turning the ball over 3 times? That must be a load off the Vol Nation's back, because watching that game yesterday, it looked like they were trying to. Poor tackling, bad offensive execution, silly turnovers... Tennessee has a ways to go to get back to where they once were.

And what about Florida? They certainly announced their presence in the National Title race with this win. Human cyborg Tim Tebow continues to silence doubters of his throwing ability, with another solid day - 299 yds, 2 TDs - and chipped in with 61 yds rushing and 2 TDs for good measure. He did make one very ill-advised throw that was returned 96 yards for a UT TD. The defense played better than most expected, holding the normally explosive UT offense to less than 300 yds and only 1 offensive TD. Not to be nitpicky here, but UF did struggle punting the ball, averaging less than 34 ypk and a long of 37. That could be an issue later on against a stout defense like South Carolina or LSU...

Georgia used their game against Western Carolina to get things back on track. After being kept out of the end zone last week, the Dawgs scored 6 times against the hapless Catamounts, hoping to build some momentum heading into this weekends showdown in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama got a little late-game home-cooking from the officials in their last second victory over Arkansas. In an otherwise perfectly even game (450 yards for each team, time of possession was 30:27-29:33 Arkansas), the biggest play of the game was a highly questionable pass interference call in the end zone on the game winning drive. Any questions about Alabama's ability to throw the ball were answered with John Parker Wilson's 327 yds and 4 TDs, but now questions arise about their run defense. After stonewalling Western Carolina and Vandy, Alabama was shredded by DMac, Felix Jones, and company for 301 yds.

Arkansas did what it needed to do to win, which was run the football, and get a solid game from QB Casey Dick. If you had told Hog fans before the game that they'd rush for 300+ yds andDick would throw 3 TDs, they'd have thought it would be a blowout there way. Credit the Tide for hanging in there and making the plays down the stretch, though it didn't hurt that DMac was out the last several minutes of the game for precautionary reasons.

South Carolina was actually trailing SCSU 3-0 early in the game before scoring 38 straight. With a huge game against LSU this weekend, this isn't exactly what Spurrier wanted though, his senior QB tossing 3 INTs. The defense was again rock solid and the OL was on its game as the Cocks rushed for 223 yards.

The porous Ole Miss defense was just the remedy Vanderbilt needed to fix its early season rushing woes. The Commodores hadn't had anyone who rushed for 100 yards total through 2 games racked up 183 yards, including Cassen Jackson-Garrison's 118. How would you like to have been the PA announcer for this one, with Cassen Jackson-Garrison and BenJaurvus Green-Ellis touching the ball a combined 45 times? All SEC WR Earl Bennett was stellar again - 11 catches, 100 yards - but was held out of the end zone for a second straight game.

When the Rebels hired John Thompson as DC, I don't think this is what they had in mind. For a third straight week they faced a spread offense, and for the third straight week, they were lit up, this time surrendering 383 yards to a VU team that struggled mightily a week ago against Bama. And it couldn't have been much fun for Rebels fans to see Brent Schaeffer under center after Seth Adams got hurt. Despite throwing a 54 yd TD on his first play from scrimmage, Schaeffer finished the game 1/5 for those 54 yds, was sacked twice, and none of his other 4 passes were close to their intended receivers.

LSU continues its domination of everything in sight, shutting out MTSU a week after they hung 42 on Louisville. The Tigers rolled up 500+ yards and held the Blue Raiders to just 90. This team is just plain nasty. Anyone who wants to argue they're not the No. 1 team in the country based on what they've accomplished so far this season is either blind or stupid, or probably both. Another major statement game looms this weekend when South Carolina rolls into the Bayou...

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks silenced many of his detractors with UK's incredible win over Louisville last night. For the 12th straight matchup between these two, the team that had more rushing yds won the game. In an amazingly even game - Louisville: 467 yds, 29:37 TOP, UK: 460 yds, 30:23 TOP - UK rushed 35 times for 185 yds and the D made just enough big plays , forcing 2 TOs. On the first play after an unbelievably bad-timed 15-yd personal foul late in the game, QB Andre Woodson threw his 4th TD of the game and 2nd to fellow senior Steve Johnson, who couldn't have been more wide open if he were Britney Spears' mouth at a hot dog eating contest. Sweet redemption for the BlueGrass Miracle of a few years back.

As an aside, what was going with Louisville HC Steve Kragthorpe acting like such a baby after the game? He was caught on film yelling/cussing at UK fans who weren't even glancing his way. He seems to be a clown who's not cut out for football in a BCS conference.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Week 3 Recap

Well, it had to come to an end at some point, but I finally missed a game straight up. Actually 3 games straight up. Still a solid week, going 5-3 straight up and 3-2-1 against the spread.

Poll Results

59 people voted in the poll asking about the two biggest conference games today - Tennessee @ Florida and Arkansas @ Alabama. Florida and Arkansas were landslide winners in the poll, with the Gators getting 85% of the vote and the Hogs taking in 69% themselves. Both should be great games today and have major impacts on the final standings.

On a side note, it really is a shame that Michigan is going to pick up its first victory of the season today. After listening to Lloyd Carr (and other pundits) assert that the Wolverines should have played for a national title last year, despite not even winning their own conference, I'm really enjoying the squirming in Ann Arbor.

The only silver lining to the whole thing is that Fat Charlie and Notre Dame will drop to 0-3, and still be 6 weeks away from their first victory. With a rotund belly trumped only by the size of his ego, the $30-$40M man Notre Dame bet the farm on has no significant victories in his 2+ years at the helm in South Bend, unless you count a 5-loss Michigan team two seasons ago. The offensive "genius" has masterminded 2 games in which they have yet to score an offensive touchdown. They really have become Stanford with a TV contract.

Meanwhile, out west, Tyrone Willingham is smiling...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Week 3 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Week 3 Predictions

Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0) @ Auburn (1-0, 0-0)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Auburn -13

What looked to be a gimme win for Auburn before the season started, now seems as though it may be something of a battle. Auburn has won 6 in a row in this series, and Mississippi State hasn’t scored in this game since 2004, but this a different Tiger team than the one that's 33-5 the last 3 seasons.

Auburn’s offense has struggled in both games this season, particularly the offensive line. QB Brandon Cox has assumed most of the blame for Auburn’s offensive woes, as he’s barely completed 50% of his passes and has 4 interceptions and just 2 TDs. It doesn’t hep that the Tigers rank last in the conference in rushing ypg either. The defense has played well enough to give them a chance to win, but too many mistakes by Cox and company doomed them against USF.

Mississippi State rebounded from their dismal week 1 performance against LSU to pick up a much needed win against woeful Tulane. The defense played well again, limiting the Green Wave to 243 yards. They’ll face a fired up Tiger team this weekend looking to rebound form last week’s loss. The key matchup will be the Auburn O-Line vs the MSU D-Line.

This will be a low-scoring game, as neither offense is capable of putting up a lot of points against an SEC-caliber defense. It will be all about the in-game adjustments, and Auburn keeping Brandon Cox on his feet. When it comes down to Tuberville vs. Croom, give me the Riverboat Gambler any day of the week, and twice on a football Saturday. Auburn will win the game outright, but the 2 TD line may be too much to ask…

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

Western Carolina (0-2) @ (#23, #25)Georgia (1-1, 0-1)
Noon CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: No Line

This game against the Catamounts falls at a perfect time for UGA. Their offense was held in check last week against South Carolina, so HC Mark Richt and staff can use this game as an opportunity to get things rolling again. In their other visit to an SEC stadium this year, WCU was rolled 52-6 by Alabama.

After an impressive opening game against Oklahoma State, the Dawgs sputtered badly against South Carolina, scoring scored 23 fewer points and converted only 3/18 3rd downs. QB Matthew Stafford should be able to get things back on track this week, and the holes should be much bigger for RBs Moreno and Lumpkin. With 4 SEC games the next 4 weeks – including 3 on the road – this is their last chance to get things back together.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: N/A

(#22, #24)Tennessee (1-1, 0-0) @ (#5, #3)Florida (2-0, 0-0)
2:30 CST, CBS
Wednesday's Line: Florida -8

This is another huge early season SEC matchup, much like Georgia/South Carolina last week. While both the Gators and Vols have been explosive on offense, averaging 54 and 35 ppg respectively, neither has shown much on defense. Cal ran roughshod over UT in Week 1 while Florida surrendered 336 yards and 31 points to Troy last week.

UT struggled against the team speed of Cal in Week 1, and they’ll be faced with a faster overall team in Florida. The Vols defense played better last week against USM, forcing 3 TOs and only allowing 2/16 3rd down conversions, but they did surrender 354 yards of offense. QB Ainge was fairly sharp again despite a broken pinky on his throwing hand. Not helping UT’s cause is losing defensive captain Antonio Gaines for the season last week to a knee injury.

If human cyborg Tim Tebow can pull this one out, his cult hero status in Gainesville will begin approaching Legendary. In two games this year, he’s already thrown for 536 yards and 6 touchdowns and rushed for 130 more yards. Florida’s going to score, no doubt, but the question remains if they can stop a real team on offense. The Vols will easily be the most explosive offense they face the first 5 games this season and will provide a stiff test for the Gator’s young D.

This has been a remarkably close series of late, with 6 of the last 9 being decided by 4 points or less, including UF’s 21-20 win last year. Both teams know how important this game is, as the loser of this game hasn’t made it to the SEC Championship Game since 1997. This will be a high scoring affair, but Florida’s got too much speed for the Vols to handle for 60 minutes.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

(#16, #16)Arkansas (1-0, 0-0) @ Alabama (2-0, 1-0)
5:45 CST, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -3

Two serious contenders for second place in the SEC West do battle at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa this Saturday. Arkansas is coming off an off weekend, while Alabama slogged out a wet and wild victory in Nashville last week, winning 24-10 over an improved Vanderbilt squad. Arkansas has won 3 of the last 4, including 2 in double overtime.

Alabama dominated last year’s game in every aspect… except for the final score. Constant miscues led to a 24-23 loss in a 2OT game that jumpstarted Arkansas’ unlikely run to the SEC West title. This season, the Tide appear more disciplined than the last few years, having committed only 11 penalties and 1 turnover through 2 games. RB Terry Grant leads the SEC in rushing at 154.5 ypg. and TDs scored with 5.

When it comes to RBs though, Grant will only be the third best in this game. Arkansas’ dynamic duo of Felix Jones and Darren McFadden will be turned loose against a Tide D that is only allowing 66.5 yards per game. In its one game earlier this season, Arkansas ran for 350 yards (7.0 ypc) against Troy. While they won't come close to that, Arkansas should find some success on the ground. The question is, how much success will they have through the air. QB Casey Dick or DMac will need to stretch the Tide D to open up the running lanes for the potent ground attack.

This should be a great game. These are two evenly matched teams and I expect this to be a close game throughout. Despite the fact Alabama is playing at home, I give the slight edge in this one to the Hogs. The power running of DMac and Felix Jones will wear down the Tide defense and the Hogs will score on some kind of trick play late in the game to ice it. The Tide just don't have enough offense through the air to counteract Arkansas' ground game.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

South Carolina State (1-1) @ (#17, #23)South Carolina (2-0, 0-0)
6:00 CST, PPV
Wednesday's Line: No Line

Between the emotional high of beating Georgia on the road last week and the excitement of traveling to Baton Rogue next weekend, it’s a good thing the Gamecocks draw SCSU this weekend. Any kind of “real” opponent here would certainly qualify as a trap game.

While the defense has been stout – 2 TDs allowed in 2 games – and the special teams solid, eventually the Gamecocks will need to score a few more points. With Spurrier lurking on the sidelines, you know there’s always the potential to just draw up a pass play in the dirt, but that explosion has been lacking this year. After missing the first game of the season, QB Blake Mitchell played fairly well against UGA, completing a high percentage of his mostly short, safe passes. He should be able to find a solid rhythm early against SCSU, and build for the remainder of the season.

Straight Up Winner: South Carolina
Against the Spread: N/A

Ole Miss (1-1, 0-0) @ Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1)
6:00 PM, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Vanderbilt -5

Ole Miss travels to Nashville Saturday in what appears to be their best chance for a road SEC victory since 2004. The Rebels saw their long-stagnant offense come to life against a porous Missouri defense Saturday, while the Commodores not only lost the game, but star QB Nickson is questionable for the game Saturday. The Rebels have won 6/7 in this series, including the 17-10 victory last year.

Former walk-on QB Seth Adams has performed admirably for the Rebels in his two starts, throwing for 506 yds and 4 TDs, including 2 to DE Greg Hardy. All-SEC RB Benjaurvis Green-Ellis rushed for a career high 226 yards last week, and currently ranks 2nd in the conference in ypg. The Rebels have struggled in road games under Orgeron though, going just 2-9.

Vandy All-SEC WR Earl Bennett exploded in week 1 against Richmond, but against a tougher D last week, was held to 52 yards. Ole Miss surrendered 560 yards to Mizzou last week, including 330 through the air. Vandy doesn’t have that type of firepower, particularly if Nickson isn’t available or isn’t 100%. Vandy also doesn’t have the ground game to make up for any decline in the passing game, as they don’t have a single player who’s reached 100 yards yet for the season.

This game is important to both teams. For Vandy, bowl hopes ride on getting this win, while for Ole Miss, this would be the closest thing to a signature win for Orgeron. The Rebels want to use second half of last week’s game as a springboard for better times this season, as they outscored Mizzou 18-3 over the last 27 minutes. Vandy meanwhile will be searching for a ground game and some sort of offensive consistency. The Rebels should get the job done in Nashville Saturday and pull the mild upset.

Straight Up Winner: Ole Miss
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

(#9, #9)Louisville (2-0) @ Kentucky (2-0, 0-0)
6:30 CST, ESPN Classic
Wednesday's Line: -6.5

While these two schools really dislike each other, even they have to admit this game has the potential to be one of the highest scoring of the year. Both teams sport ridiculously high scoring offenses (65.5 ppg for Louisville, 53 ppg for UK), Heisman candidate QBS (Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson), and defenses that, well, aren’t very good. Louisville gave up 554 yards and 42 points to Middle Tennessee State last week and UK gave 453 yards and 26 first downs to Kent State, and had a very hard time getting off the field.

This has been a tough series for UK lately, as Louisville has won 4 in a row and 7/8, including a 59-28 win in Louisville last season. If Kentucky is going to beat Louisville anytime soon, this is the year to do it. The Triplets – QB Woodson, RB Little, and WR Burton – are 0-3 against the Cardinals and know they can go to a much better bowl than the Music City Bowl if they pull the upset here. The onus falls on the Defense to get off the field and hold an explosive Cardinal offense in check. Even FGs will be something of a victory, as Kentucky will put up a lot of points in this one.

The Wildcats should pull the upset here, they’re at home, playing at night, and have the bad taste of all the recent losses to Louisville in their mouths. Louisville lost three starters in the secondary during the offseason, so there will be a lot of inexperience in the defensive backfield against a team currently averaging nearly 250 ypg through the air. This could very well be a five hour game with 80 or more points between the two of them, but in the end, the Big Blue Nation will be happy.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Kentucky

Middle Tennessee State (0-2) @ (#2, #2)LSU (2-0, 1-0)
7:00 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: LSU -40

No team in the country has been even half as impressive as LSU has through 2 games. After predictably bombing Mississippi State in the opener, they hosted Virginia Tech last weekend in what was supposed to be a tight, low scoring game. Both defenses were great in Week 1 and both offenses struggled. Needless to say, LSU not only won, but embarrassed VTU on both sides of the ball, racking up 598 yards of offense and holding VTU to 149 yards, 11 first downs, and 7 points.

MTSU is coming off a game in which they gave Louisville all they could handle before falling 58-42. While their offense is explosive, they are defensively challenged, which spells disaster in Baton Rogue Saturday night.

Just like South Carolina (their next week’s opponent), LSU faces a trap this weekend. While MTSU is clearly better than South Carolina State, there’s no way LSU slips up Saturday, particularly with another late night kickoff. It’s hard to imagine that LSU’s focus will be entirely on this game though, or at least enough to cover this ridiculously large spread.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: Middle Tennessee State

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some Early Season Highlights

In just two games this year, Tennessee has already been involved in a couple of the early season's most exciting plays. Vols fans will enjoy seeing one of these... the other not so much.

Jeremy Young... Meet Rico McCoy

DeSean Jackson's Incredible Punt Return

Monday, September 10, 2007

SEC Week 2 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: Florida QB Tim Tebow
Defensive: Mississippi State LB Gabe O'Neal
Special Teams: South Carolina K Ryan Succop
Offensive Lineman: Kentucky G Jason Leger
Defensive Lineman: LSU DE Kirston Pittman
Freshman: Alabama RB Terry Grant

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

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Random Thoughts from Week 2 Games

Alabama redshirt freshman RB Terry Grant was impressive again against a porous Vandy D. Through 2 games, he's rushed for more than 300 yards and 5 TDs. He should easily win SEC Freshman of the Week for the second straight week.

Things didn't go quite the way Vanderbilt imagined. QB Nickson was banged up and WR Earl Bennett was held in check more than expected, mustering only 52 yards receiving. If Vandy doesn't cut back on the penalties, this season of high expectations may fall by the wayside.

Defense and special teams... not exactly how we're used to Steve Spurrier winning games, but as long as South Carolina's defense plays like they did yesterday, I think he'll take it. They kept Georgia out of the end zone for the first time in 6 seasons, when former Gamecock coach - and current babbling idiot - Lou Holtz did it. With a trip to Baton Rogue in 2 weeks, South Carolina had to have this one.

Speaking of Baton Rogue, what happened to the Hokies last night? LSU beat them like a rented mule. Can you imagine what was going through their fans' minds who made that trip? They play in a pseudo-football conference at best, and to be thrown in to Death Valley for an 8:22 PM kickoff, on national television, with Gameday in town... That's like taking a nun to strip club.

The Ole Miss Rebels put up their best offensive showing of the Ed Orgeron era last night against the terrible defense of Missouri. Unfortunately for them, their defense gave up 5 TDs in 16 minutes from the 2Q-3Q. The D buckled down after that, but it was far too little too late. The signs of life give some hope for the weekend showdown with Vandy, particularly if Nickson is still banged up. They'll need to play 4 full quarters to have a chance to win though...

Yes, Florida won, and scored 50+ points. They also surrendered 31 points and 330+ yards of offense. They did recover 2 fumbles, but still have 0 interceptions for the season. That young defense will be stretched when UT comes to town this weekend. The Tennessee Vols rebounded from their opening loss to Cal nicely, and Ainge continued to play well despite his broken pinky.

Kentucky fans will take the win I'm sure, but they gave up 450 yards of offense and had a -10:00 time of possession differential. The D did force 4 turnovers, but if they can't get the Kent State off the field, what happens when Louisville rolls into town this weekend?

Mississippi State is already off to a better start than last season, scoring their first points in the second game of the season, instead of the third like last year. They rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense, returned a pick for a TD, and QB Henig rebounded nicely, throwing and running for TDs and was only picked once. This game should give them confidence heading into the Auburn game.

Here's my impression of the Auburn/South Florida game:
Auburn - Here's a fumble, please win
USF - No thanks
Auburn - No seriously, here's another fumble, please win
USF - No thanks
Brandon Cox - Really and truly, I just threw it right to you, please, for the love of everything that is holy, please win this game
USF - (begrudgingly) Fine...

All kidding aside, Auburn is in trouble this season. They had 5 turnovers yesterday and didn't force any. If not for an apparently intoxicated USF kicker, Auburn never would have sniffed OT.

Week 2 Recap

Another solid week for the Dead Guy, picking 9/9 straight up winners and 7/9 winners against the spread. South Carolina and South Florida both pulled the upsets to make me look particularly smart.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Week 2 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Week 2 Predictions

Four more teams open conference play, as Alabama hits the road to play Vandy and South Carolina heads to Athens to take on UGA. This week should produce more competitive games as a whole, as only Kentucky and Florida have lower mid-major games scheduled – Kent St. and Troy respectively. Auburn, LSU, and Ole Miss take on BCS schools, Tennessee hosts a very good mid-major in Southern Miss, and there are no gimmes for Mississippi State, even if it is a Tulane team that finished (4-8) last year and has yet to play this year.

Here’s how the weekend will shake out…

Alabama (1-0, 0-0) @ Vanderbilt (1-0, 0-0)
11:30 CST, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -3.5

HC Nick Saban and the Tide make trip to Nashville this weekend to open conference play against Vandy. Both teams blew out 1AA opponents last weekend, so neither has really been tested this year. Alabama has won 19 straight in this series and 33 of the last 34.

At the top of the Tide's to do list defensively is to try and reign in All-SEC receiver Earl Bennett, who had 13 catches for 220+ yards and 3 TDs last week against Richmond. While Bennett won't approach those numbers against a strong Bama secondary, I don't believe there's a team in the conference that has a good matchup for him.

Of concern to Vandy should be that they surrendered nearly 150 yards rushing and a 4.2 ypc average to Richmond last week. Tide RB Terry Grant ran for 134 yards and a 7.3 ypc average last week against Western Carolina. His ypc won’t be nearly as gaudy this weekend, but he should still have a productive day.

Both of these teams want this game badly. The Tide would love to welcome Saban back to the SEC with a road conference win. For the Commodores, every home game is critical to their goal of reaching a bowl game for the first time in 25 years. In the end, Alabama's defensive pressure and power running game will be too much for the 'Dores to handle.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Alabama

South Carolina (1-0, 0-0) @ (#11, #12) Georgia (1-0, 0-0)
4:45 CST, ESPN2
Wednesday's Line: UGA -5.5

This game will go a long way in determining which team will win the SEC East. The winner of this game will certainly have the early inside track, though each will have Florida to contend with down the line as well. South Carolina will be seeking a measure of revenge, as last year's 18-0 loss was only the second time in HC Steve Spurrier's career he'd been shut out. Overall, UGA has won 5 in a row in this series and is 11-4 in the last 15 years.

Georgia looked impressive in their season-opening win against OKSt last weekend. After leading by only a touchdown at half time, the Dawgs opened it up in the second half, shutting out the high-powered Cowboys offense. Georgia did only muster a 3.0 ypc average on 47 attempts last week, which they'll have to improve on if they want to continue to win. SO QB Matthew Stafford looked confident as he completed 75% of his passes for 2 TDs and no INTs.

South Carolina opened with a sloppy 2 TD win over ULaLa last weekend, playing only their 2nd & 3rd string QBs, as starter Blake Mitchell was suspended for skipping classes. USC did surrender 252 rushing yds (5.4 ypc) last week, as the Ragin' Cajuns moved the ball very well against them all game long. Even if Mitchell had played, the score wouldn’t have been very different. Spurrier called a vanilla offense last week to not show his hand to UGA HC Mark Richt and staff.

While all signs point to UGA having the upperhand, something tells me USC pulls this one out. Spurrier believes this team has what it takes to win the SEC East. I'd feel more comfortable picking it if Mitchell had played last weekend and gotten back adjusted to game speed. Regardless, I’m looking for USC and Spurrier to knock of the Dawgs between the Hedges.

Straight Up Winner: USC
Against the Spread: USC

Missouri (1-0) @ Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0)
5:00 CST, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Mizzou -6

The Rebels' season began to unravel last year in Columbia, as Mizzou crushed them 31-7. Fortunately for the Rebels, the Tigers return only 5 starters from the defense that stifled them so badly last year, and Illinois lit them up for 34 points last week. Unfortunately, for the Rebels, the offense that carved them up returns 9 starters, including QB Chase Daniel, and appears in midseason form, hanging 40 on the Illini.

If the Rebels can find some sort of offensive rhythm, this could be a high scoring affair. Mizzou surrendered 430 yards of offense to Illinois last week, while Ole Miss gave up 480 to Memphis. Mizzou can expect a healthy dose of RB Green-Ellis, while Daniel will again look to carve up the Rebel secondary, much like Memphis QB Hankins did.

While this game will not be a blowout like last year, the Tigers will again prove to be too much for the Rebels. Ole Miss' offense sputtered last week, only scoring one offensive touchdown for the game against Memphis. Unless the defense plays like it did in the first half of the Memphis game for the entire Mizzou game, Daniel and the Tigers should pull out a solid non-conference win.

Straight Up Winner: Missouri
Against the Spread: Missouri

Troy (0-1) @ (#4, #3) Florida (1-0, 0-0)
Wednesday's Line: UF -27

Troy, apparently thinking they were snubbed from playing in the SEC Championship game last season, continues its quest to right that wrong. After a 20-point loss to to Arkansas last week, they now head south to Gainesville and take on the Gators of Florida, fresh off a 49-3 thumping of Western Kentucky.

Another easy game to ease Tebow into a full-time player's role, though after last week, it looked like he's got it under control. With next week's huge game against Tennessee, look for the Gators to keep things fairly simple (as simple as the spread option can be) and try and solidify the leaders on defense.

As with last week against Arkansas, I hate the spread being so high. It burned me last week, and UF may reign it some with UT looming next week.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Troy

Kent State (1-0) @ Kentucky (1-0, 0-0)
Wednesday's Line: UK -13

Fresh off an upset of Iowa State in Ames last weekend, Kent rolls into Lexington this weekend looking for another major road victory. Kent's offensive numbers weren't overwhelming, but it was obviously enough to get the job done. Unlike Iowa State, under first year HC Gene Chizik, Kentucky is fully aware of who they are and what their gameplan is... score a whole bunch and hope the D makes a couple of key plays.

This is UK's last game before arch rival Louisville rolls into town next weekend. The high flying offense scored a 51-yd TD on its first snap of the season, and continued to soar, tacking on 6 more touchdowns in a 50-10 rout of Western Kentucky. This one won't be as ugly, but it won't be pretty. UK is 5-0 in this series with an average score of 35-6. Kent State just doesn't have the horses to run with UK for 4 quarters.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Kentucky

Mississippi State (0-1, 0-1) @ Tulane (0-0)
6:00 CST, CSS
Wednesday's Line: MSU -6

Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, they’ve seen this script before. Preseason hope for a return to a bowl game. A national showcase on Thursday night ESPN week 1. Opening conference season at home. But for the second straight season, Mississippi State was shut out with the entire nation watching. A loss to #2 LSU was a foregone conclusion, but Bulldog fans wanted to see progress. What they saw was a veteran QB who still looks lost in Croom’s system, often throwing into triple coverage against one of the top defenses in the country, on his way to tying a school record with 6 interceptions. The Bulldogs can take solace knowing their defense played well, but they constantly had their backs against the goal line with the careless turnovers on offense. The 45-0 final is more a reflection on the inept (to put it nicely) offense than the defense.

The interesting thing to watch in this game will be QB Henig's confidence level. HC Croom will probably have a much shorter leash with him this weekend, as a loss to Tulane would be devastating to State's hopes of a successful year.

As long as Henig - or JuCo transfer Josh Ridell - can minimize mistakes, MSU should win this game. Their defense is solid and SO RB Anthony Dixon is a solid back. This game will probably be an ugly, low-scoring affair. The Green Wave will be making their debut under new head coach Bob Toledo, so they may struggle a bit as they adapt to a new system offensively. The Bulldogs realize how important this game is to their season, and bounce back against a poor offense in Tulane.

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

Southern Miss (1-0) @ (#24,#24) Tennessee (0-1, 0-0)
6:00 CST, CSS
Wednesday's Line: UT -11

USM HC Jeff Bower has done a great job in Hattiesburg. They love to brag they'll play anyone, anytime, anywhere. And while they rarely score a big non-conference win, they normally play the big boys close. They believe that this weekend in Knoxville presents a solid chance for a huge non-conference win, while Tennessee feels they can use it as a chance to lick their wounds from their opening loss to Cal.

I can’t see USM winning this game though. UT is 48-12 under HC Fulmer against non-conference opponents and is 11-0 against CUSA schools since 1998. Cal exploited some weaknesses on UT's defense, but USM doesn't have nearly the speed and athletes that Cal does. QB Ainge will have had another week to heal his broken pinky as well as adjust to the tape on his hands and should perform as well or better than his 271 yd/3 TD day against Cal.

The line is a little bigger than I would like it to be, but UT has the firepower to cover.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

South Florida (1-0) @ (#17,#13) Auburn (1-0, 0-0)
8:00 CST, ESPN2
Wednesday's Line: AU -7

Auburn, fresh off skating by Kansas State by the skin of their teeth - welcomes the South Florida Bulls to the Plains this weekend. USF is a chic pick to make some major noise in the Big East this year, so Auburn looks to have its hands full for the second straight weekend.

Key for Auburn will be limiting the hits on QB Brandon Cox, who was battered and bruised all game by Kansas State. HC Tuberville needs to come up with a scheme that either allows for more time for Cox to make throws, or gets the ball out of his hand quicker. Auburn only rushed for 62 yards (1.7 ypc), putting more pressure on Cox to connect.

USF struggled with Elon last week, only winning by 15. Hard to know if it was opening game jitters, a conservative offense, being overrated, or a combination of factors. This will be a big showcase for them with national exposure, on the road, against a top-tier SEC school.

Everything is in place for a USF upset here. They return 16 starters from a 9-4 team last year and they catch Auburn in a rebuilding mode. Auburn is normally very tough at home, but after last week's performance, I'm not sure they have it all in place this year... at least not yet.

The Bulls will pull the upset Saturday night on the Plains.

Straight Up Winner: South Florida
Against the Spread: South Florida

(#9,#9) Virginia Tech (1-0) @ (#2,#2) LSU (1-0, 1-0)
8:15 CST, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: LSU -13

This promises to be one of the marquee non-conference matchups of the season. Both teams bring smashmouth defenses and offensive question marks to Baton Rogue Saturday night. Last man standing wins.

Everyone knows about the terrible tragedy VTU suffered back in April. It's absolutely despicable how ESPN and other media outlets just won't leave them the hell alone and get on with their lives, but that's another post all together... VTU's hopes for a magical season almost hit an early snag, as they trailed East Carolina for the majority of the first half and compiled only 278 yds of offense for the entire game. Their defense was stout - as usual - and rescued them with a Pick6 in the first half and held ECU to 261 yards.

Don’t let last week’s final score form Starkville fool you. While LSU thoroughly dominated the overmatched Mississippi State Bulldogs, the 45 points can be misleading. LSU’s offense sputtered at times, but long drives were rarely needed with MSU’s propensity to turn the ball over in their own territory. VTU's defense is quicker than MSU's and their offense (most likely) won't commit as many turnovers.

This - much like the MSU/Tulane game - could be a low scoring game, reminiscent of LSU's 7-3 loss to Auburn last year. These are two of the biggest, strongest, and fastest defenses in the country, and VTU's special teams send chills down coaches' spines every FG or Punt attempt. You can bet they'll key in on WR Early Doucet and make QB Matt Flynn go elsewhere with the ball.

In the end, the LSU D-Line will wear down VTU's O-Line and LSU wins this one late. LSU showed more on offense last week, compiling nearly 350 yards against MSU. They did stall sporadically, but with the raucous atmosphere in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night, you can be sure the Tigers will ready to go.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: VTU

Off Week: Arkansas

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tommy West's "apology"

A little off topic, but still SEC-related...

I'm not sure University of Memphis HC Tommy West gets it. He has apologized for using strong language in defense of his team before Saturday's game against Ole Miss, but looking at his choice of words, it's obvious he feels he did no wrong dropping multiple F-bombs in front of young children.

When you go to a game, it's pretty much assumed you'll catch some foul language from college students who may have over-imbibed. You don't expect to hear it from a head coach, before the game, directed at opposing fans. And his rationale of "(if) I’m walking my team into our tunnel and there’s a crowd of the opponents’ fans harassing our team, then I am going to defend my football team" is a joke. Do his offensive linemen really need protection from a fratboy yelling "Tigers Suck!"? Are his linebackers really cowering at the taunts of Ole Miss alumni? If they are, West has other issues besides a lack of a distinguished vocabulary.

West is a good coach and has won more at Memphis than any other coach there, but acts like this and his infamous outburst in Starkville a few years back make it easy to see why he's still at a CUSA school.

Monday, September 3, 2007

SEC Week 1 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: Vandy WR Earl Bennett
Defensive: Ole Miss DB Dustin Mouzon
Special Teams: Arkansas RB Felix Jones
Offensive Lineman: Georgia OL Fernando Velasco
Defensive Lineman: Auburn DE Quentin Groves
Freshman: Alabama RB Terry Grant

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

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Random Thoughts from Week 1 Games

LSU: Dominant defense. Dorsey maybe the best player in the country. Offense sputtered at times, but overall efficient. Have to wonder if combination of Les Miles coaching and starting RB Hester will be enough for them to have the type of season they should with the other talent on that team, particularly defensive. Hester is a solid back, but he's doesn't give you the gamebreaking ability that so many other SEC backs do.

Mississippi State: Very good defense. They bottled up LSU for the entire first half, but were eventually done in by the offense's propensity for turnovers. LSU's 45 points is not an accurate reflection on MSU's defense. And speaking of their offense, is Henig really the best option for MSU? He consistently threw the ball into double and triple teams against LSU. Maybe Croom's West Coast offense is too complicated for him. MSU's defense is good enough to at least keep them in the majority of their games, but unless the offense dramatically improves, another 3 win season is in line.

Florida: Obviously passed their first test with flying colors. Tebow was outstanding throwing the ball, hitting 13/17 passes for 300 yds and 3 TDs. He ran one in for good measure. UF's biggest questions this year will have to be answered on the defensive side of the ball though. Against an overmatched WKU team, the Gators D was impressive, surrendering only a single FG. They didn't force any turnovers though. It will be interesting to see how that inexperienced defense progresses during the season.

Ole Miss: Two different Ole Miss teams showed up yesterday. A dominant defensive one in the first half and a not-so-good defensive one in the second half. The first half highlights included a blocked punt for a touchdown and a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Rebels scored the first 23 points of the game before hanging on for dear life as Memphis scored the last 21. Only a failed 2 point conversion with 31 seconds left prevented OT. Walk-on QB Seth Adams was steady in his debut, and RB Benjarvaus Green-Ellis picked up 83 yards as well. Will learn much more about them this week against Mizzou.

Kentucky: Explosive offense. It took the Wildcats all of one snap to get rolling this season, as QB Andre Woodson threw a 51-yard TD pass on UK's first play from scrimmage. UK rolled up 569 yards of offense in an almost perfectly balanced way - 289 passing, 280 rushing. Hard to tell a lot about a team when they play a 1AA opponent, unless you're Michigan...

Georgia: Georgia may have had the most impressive Week 1 of any team. Sure LSU's score is gaudier, but if you watched that game, you know they were a little sloppy. UGA came out and whipped a solid Cowboys team that averaged 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game last year. Early on, it looked like this would be a 45-42 game, as both teams were really locked in offensively. Once the UGA defense got going though, the obviously more talented Bulldogs ran away with it in the second half.

Arkansas: The Dynamic Duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones were too much for Troy. This game was close throughout the first half, but Arkansas was too strong on offense for Troy to hold on. Casey Dick was solid and didn't commit any turnovers, which is all they need from him. McFadden tossed a 42-yard TD pass and Jones ran a kickoff back 90 yards for a score as well.

Vanderbilt: The Chris Nickson/Earl Bennett connection was alive and well in Nashville last night, as the two hooked up 13 times for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. Vandy struggled early on with the spiders, but too much firepower down the stretch. The Commodores rolled up nearly 450 yds of offense, including Nickson's 281 yds passing.

South Carolina: RS Fr QB Chris Smelley got his first career start in the place of suspended Sr Blake Mitchell. Spurrier also played So QB Tommy Beecher. Each tossed a TD pass. Only a late 2Q TD gave the Gamecocks a halftime lead. Spurrier may have been playing coy with his offense with a huge divisional game @UGA this weekend, but he couldn't have been too pleased with this effort.

Alabama: The Nicktatorship is off to a running start in Tuscaloosa, as the Tide blitzed the 1AA Catamounts of Western Carolina 52-6. Bama rolled up 6 rushing TDs and veteran QB John Parker Wilson was steady, but didn't throw for a TD.

Auburn: Unless things get much better on the Plains, the Tigers may be in for a longer season than anticipated. The offensive line was manhandled last night by KSU's D, and QB Brandon Cox was a human pinball more times than he'd care to remember. The 10-point margin hardly represents the flow of this game, as the Tigers scored a defensive TD late in the 4th to ice the game. If they can't protect Cox better than they did last night, he'll be lucky to survive the season in one piece.

Tennessee: A year after the Vols thoroughly dominated Cal, the Bears returned the favor last night. UT's offense again looked impressive under David Cutcliffe in his 2nd stint back in Knoxville, but the D looked slow, especially in comparison to the skill guys Cal had. And did you see the step back move DeSean Jackson used on that punt return TD? That's just not fair.

Week 1 Recap

Straight Up: 11-0
Against the Spread: 5-2

A pretty successful week all in all, especially considering it's the first week and no one really knows what to expect. Almost had an absolute perfect week, but Ole Miss (-2.5) missed a PAT and a chip shot field goal and only won by 2 and Troy scored a touchdown with 2 seconds left to cut the Arkansas (-24) lead to 20.

But that's how Vegas make its money.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Great Read for all SEC Fans

If you haven't seen it yet, this article on really captures the sentiments that many SEC fans (and Southerners in general) have regarding college football. There really is nothing else like it.

It's long, but if you like SEC football, it's well worth the effort.

Pulled Pork & Pigskin: A Love Letter to Southern Football