Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OT: Penn State Fans are Classy

While this has nothing to do with SEC football, if you haven't seen or heard about this, it's worth your while...

There have been a couple of SEC student sections have thrown objects onto the playing fields this season - Alabama against Georgia, Ole Miss against Alabama - but neither even approaches the actions of a Penn State fraternity's treatment of some Ohio State fans at last weekend's game. While the Buckeye football team is used to being embarrassed by the SEC on the field, no visiting fans should have to put up with this sort of harassment.

And, by the way, kudos to the genius who decided it would be a good idea to not only film this, but also put it online for others to view. It's not going to be difficult to identify people from this video. You and your buddies should be run over by Joe Paterno.

*WARNING: Some NSFW language

Week 10 Predictions

There are 7 games on the SEC slate this weekend, but just 3 conference games. Vanderbilt and Florida square off, with the loser joining Kentucky in the cellar of the East. South Carolina travels to Arkansas with the loser being relegated to a lower-tier SEC bowl game. And LSU travels to Alabama for a meaningless, ho-hum conference game where both sets of fans wish that Bama HC Saban could come out victorious… or not.

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

Vanderbilt (5-3, 2-3) @ (#18, #17)Florida (5-3, 3-3)
11:30 CDT, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Florida -15.5

Vanderbilt heads to the Sunshine state for a surprisingly important conference game. Florida leads the series 29-9-2 and has won the last 16 meetings. They’ve also won 18 straight Homecoming games and 20 straight immediately following Georgia. Vandy is 1-17-1 all time in Gainesville. The last two games have been decided by a total of 13 points though, including a 2OT game 2 years ago in Gainesville, and the Gators are just 1-4 the last 5 against Vandy.

Vandy WR Bennett had one of his best games as a ‘Dore last year, hauling in 13 catches for 157 yds. VU currently ranks 11th in conference in passing ypg, but the Gator D ranks 11th in stopping the pass, so Bennett will have another opportunity for a big game. Running the ball may be another story, as the Gators rank 2nd in the conference, allowing just over 100 yds per game. One thing’s for certain, Vandy won’t be intimidated here, having played well in the Swamp 2 years ago and upsetting #6 South Carolina a couple of weeks ago in Columbia. The key for Vandy will be keeping it close early on, as they don’t have the firepower to play catch up with the Gators.

The Gators are happy to get back to The Swamp, having not played a home game in the entire month of October. QB Tebow is still banged up, so WR Harvin should get a lot of touches again this week after rushing for 97 yds on 10 carries last week. The Gators will need a better game from RB Moore, who pair a 20-yd effort with 2 fumbles. Tebow’s passing will be tested. He currently leads the nation in pass efficiency, but the ‘Dores rank 4th in the conference in pass defense efficiency and boast a 6/14 TD/INT ratio.

This is certainly a contrast of styles, as the Gators have scored only 3 fewer points (313) than the combined point totals from all of Vandy’s games (316). Florida needs this game to keep any hope alive to defend their SEC East title. Vandy needs this game to become bowl eligible. Vandy certainly has the defense to bother Florida, particularly with a banged up Tebow, but there’s no way he’s held to negative rushing yds like he was last weekend. While this game will be close, the Gators will find a way to pull it out in the end, but not by 2 TDs.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Vanderbilt

Troy (6-2) @ (#10, #10)Georgia (6-2, 4-2)
12:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Georgia -16.5

Georgia looks to extend their non-conference home winning streak to 20 games as the host Troy this weekend. This will be the first meeting between these two schools, though UGA is 6-0 all-time against Sun Belt teams. Troy is 1-7 all-time against SEC teams, including losses to Arkansas and Florida to open the season. UGA is 66-17-2 in Homecoming games, though their 11-game homecoming winning streak was snapped last year by Vanderbilt.

This is a tougher game for the ‘Dawgs than they might want, particularly coming off such an emotional win last week over Florida. This Trojan team can score points, having scored at least 24 in every game, including 26 and 31 against Arkansas and Florida respectively. For the season, they are averaging nearly 450 ypg and 34.5 ppg. The ‘Dawgs have been marked by inconsistency all season, but have moved the ball fairly well in every game except South Carolina. RB Moreno should have another big game, as the Trojan D surrenders 200 rushing ypg (5.5 ypc).

This one will be close, but Troy will have no answer for the ‘Dawg RBs. UGA will be able to pound the ball at will, and Stafford will have some time to make some throws. What they cannot do is get caught looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Auburn. Both teams break 20, but too much Moreno in the 2nd half means a UGA victory.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Troy

Northwestern State (3-5) @ Ole Miss (2-7, 0-6)
1:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: No Line

This will be the second meeting all-time between these two schools, with Ole Miss claiming a 27-7 victory last season again HC Orgeron’s alma mater. The Rebels are 38-10 since 1994 in non-conference home games.

The Rebels will take the field Saturday without DL Hardy, their best player and the SEC’s leader in sacks and TFL. They’ll also have something of a QB controversy, as starter Adams has been ineffective and injury-prone of late, though backup Schaeffer has been equally as bad. None of that will matter this weekend against the 1-AA Demons. RB Green-Ellis has scored just 2 TDs this season, but should get back in the end zone in this game. Expect the Rebels to pound the ball with Green-Ellis and run a simplified offense to try and build some confidence back for Adams. Orgeron picks up his 10th career win as Ole Miss’ head coach.

Straight Up Winner: Ole Miss
Against the Spread: N/A

Tennessee Tech (3-5) @ (#19, #16)Auburn (6-3, 4-2)
1:30 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: No Line

This will be the first meeting between these two schools. Auburn is 67-8-5 all-time in Homecoming games, including their current 15-game win streak. The 1-AA Golden Eagles are riding a 4-game losing streak. This is their first game against a 1-A opponent since last September when they were edged by Middle Tennessee State 44-0.

Auburn played another tight game last week against Ole Miss before scoring a late touchdown to seal the victory, their 5th in 6 games. The Golden Eagles and their porous defense (59 points to Sanford last weekend) will be a welcome sight after 3 straight grueling divisional games. With a huge rivalry game looming next weekend against Georgia, HC Tuberville will probably rest his starter late in this game. This will most likely be a shutout for the Tigers, as well as an easy day for the offense.

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

LA Lafayette (1-7) @ (#24, NR)Tennessee (5-3, 3-2)
3:00 CDT, PPV
Wednesday's Line: Tennessee -29

This will be the second all-time meeting between these two programs, with Tennessee HC Fulmer notching his first career HC win against the Rajun’ Cajuns. The Vols are 4-0 at home this year and averaging 430 ypg and 37.2 ppg. They’re 13-1 in Homecoming games under Fulmer. ULaLa opened the season in South Carolina with a 28-14 loss, and currently rank 9th in ESPN’s Bottom 10.

After a roller coaster win against South Carolina last weekend – complete with a blowing a 21-point lead, a fumble that netted them several yds, and getting a 2nd try at a FG because of a penalty on one of their own players – the Vols actually control their own destiny in the SEC East. The Cajuns bring the 8th ranked rushing attack in the country (242.5 rushing ypg), but the Vol run D should handle it well, despite ranking 9th in the conference and yielding 160 ypg. They’ll be looking to bounce from surrendering 501 yds to the Gamecocks last weekend. Offensively, the Vols should have no problems moving the ball against an ULaLa defense that gives up 38.4 ppg. QB Ainge and RB Foster should all have plenty of time and space with which to operate. Vols win this one big and probably beat the number.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

(#3, #3)LSU (7-1, 4-1) @ (#17, #18)Alabama (6-2, 4-1)
3:00 CDT, CBS
Wednesday's Line: LSU -7

Alabama has dominated this series all-time, holding a 43-22-5 lead. LSU has had the upper hand recently, winning 4 straight and 6 of 7, including 3 straight in Tuscaloosa. The road team is 7-4 in the last 11 years and LSU HC Miles is 2-0 against Alabama. This game features the SEC’s #1 scoring defense (LSU, 15.4ppg) against the #6 scoring defense (Alabama, 20.8). Both teams face off-field distractions. The Crimson Tide may be without the same 5 players suspended for the Tennessee game 2 weeks ago as the NCAA further investigates the Textbook violations. LSU will definitely be without the services of LB Odom and back up QB Perrilloux, who were suspended following their involvement in a brawl.

The key for the Tide will be finding ways to move the ball against LSU’s defense. Alabama had success throwing the ball last year, as QB Wilson hit for 291 yds and 2 TDs. The 369 yds the Tide put up were the most LSU allowed in 2006. This year though, the Tigers are allowing just 160.6 ypg and an 8/13 TD/INT ratio. Defensively, the gameplanning was a made a little simpler with the absence of the oft-troubled Perrilloux and the option threat he presents. UPDATE: LB Odom and walk-on Benton have been kicked off the team, while Perrilloux wasn't. He still won't make the trip to Tuscaloosa though, according to the The Huntsville Times.

LSU will rely exclusively on QB Flynn this game, so the stable of RBs will have to perform well. Bama sports the SEC’s 5th best rushing defense, allowing 131 ypg, so LSU will have its work cut out for them. The bye last week allowed additional time for DL Dorsey to heal his knee he injured after being chop blocked against Auburn 2 weeks ago. Alabama has given up just 14 sacks this year, but that number could rise significantly if Dorsey is back to 100%.

The best thing for Miles to do is to step back out of the way and let his players win the game. LSU has the talent advantage in the majority of key matchups, and doesn’t need Miles to jeopardize that with questionable judgment calls. He’s pushed mostly the right buttons so far this season, but a loss here would give LSU 2 this season and drop them behind Alabama in the West. What’s worse, it would be a loss to former LSU HC Saban, which would haunt Miles until next year’s rematch in Baton Rouge.

The atmosphere for this game will be electric. LSU fans (if not the players) have had this game circled since Saban abandoned the Miami Dolphins to come back to the SEC. The pressure in this game lies squarely on LSU though, as they still have a shot at a national title and were picked to win the West. When it’s all said and done, LSU is too deep at RB and too strong defensively for Alabama to hang with them for 60 minutes. The game will be close for a while, but a late Jacob Hester TD will ice the game.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

(#23, #25)S. Carolina (6-3, 3-3) @ Arkansas (5-3, 1-3)
7:00 CDT, ESPN2
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -4.5

Arkansas leads this series 9-6 all-time, including last year’s 26-20 win in Columbia. Arkansas HC Nutt is 6-3 against the Gamecocks.

While last week’s lost all but cost them a shot at the SEC East, the Gamecocks are still playing to improve their bowl standings. HC Spurrier has gone to something of a QB platoon system, as SR Mitchell got the majority of snaps last week, despite Smelley getting the start. They moved the ball well all game – 501 total yds – but committed 4 turnovers and missed several opportunities to win the game. They’ll be facing a tougher pass defense this week, as the Razorbacks lead the conference in pass defense efficiency, but opportunities for RB Boyd will be there, as the Hogs rank 8th in rush D (150 ypg).

For the Razorbacks, this game serves as another opportunity to flex their running muscles. South Carolina has real trouble stopping the run (169.2 ypg, 10th in SEC) and Arkansas far and away leads the conference with 287.6 ypg. RB McFadden shredded USC last year for 219 yds and 2 TDs. This season, he and RB Jones rank 1/2 in the conference with 124.1 and 107.9 ypg respectively. The pressure – as usual – will be on the Arkansas QB – whether Dick or Emert – to provide at least some threat of an aerial attack. WR Monk had 8 catches for 192 yds last season, but caught his first passes of the season just last week and may not be much of a factor against a very strong USC pass d (153.7 ypg, 1st in SEC).

According to the stats comparison I did, these are the league's most over-valued (USC) and under-valued (Ark) teams. The once stout Gamecock D has been decimated by injuries, and it’s taking its toll. Even when healthy though, they struggled to stop the run, and they’ll struggle this weekend in Fayetteville against the best 2 backs in the league. The Razorbacks will be able to move the ball at will on the ground and the defense will play with a renewed confidence, sending Spurrier to his 3rd straight loss.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

High Flyin' SEC (cont.)

The scoring numbers suffered a little bit this week as a whole, as Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Auburn, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss were all held below their scoring average. Only Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Georgia exceeded theirs. While the percentage of increase has dropped below 30% for the season, that should improve this weekend, as 4 conference schools play mid-majors or 1-AA teams.

For those new to the site, this an ongoing study of 2007 scoring averages vs last year's, first pointed out in this article in the Birmingham News.

The Legends of the SEC Southeastern Conference

Monday, October 29, 2007

Random Thoughts About Week 9 Games

Another crazy weekend in the SEC. It was obvious that Kentucky had nothing left after 3 straight huge games. The injury-depleted Wildcats looked flat and listless from the opening drive Saturday against a pumped up Mississippi State team. With the amount of seniors on the ‘Cats team, I figured they would be able to put the last 3 weeks behind them and focus on beating a lesser opponent. Instead, they committed 6 turnovers, including a fumble of the opening kickoff in the 2nd half, and looked like the Kentucky teams of previous years. They get a week off before taking on a recharged Vanderbilt team. The extra time should give injured starters RB Little and WR Burton time to heal up.

As for the Bulldogs, they’re playing like anything but the MSU teams of recent years. Their run game was solid as usual – 200 yds on 51 carries – but FR QB Carroll provided them with a spark through the air, throwing for 152 yds and 2 TDS, but he didn’t turn the ball over and made a few big throws when they needed him to. The Bulldogs have already notched their highest win total since 2000, and need just one more win to become bowl-eligible. All three games – Alabama, @Arkansas, and Ole Miss – are winnable, though they’ll only be favored in the season-ending Egg Bowl. With 2 conference road wins already this season, I think they’ll get that 6th win.

Arkansas followed up a thrashing of the worst team in the conference by thrashing the worst team in the country. DMac scored 4 TDs to bolster an all-but-lost Heisman campaign and the defense forced 7 turnovers. Most significant was the return of WR Marcus Monk, who caught his first 2 passes of the season including one for a TD. Starting QB Dick was knocked out the game in the 1st half, but SO QB Emert filled in admirably. Dick should be ready to go for this weekend’s game against South Carolina, but it’s nice for HC Nutt to know his backup has game experience now.

After only being tied with Miami (OH) at halftime, Vanderbilt responded with one of its best defensive halves of the season, holding the Redhawks to 86 yds. Whether it was a hangover from the South Carolina last week or not, Vandy struggled early, but WR finally set the SEC record for most career receptions, pulling in 8 catches for 85 yds. He was held out of the end zone for the 6th time in the last 7 games, but with the Commodores only one win away from bowl-eligibility, I think he’ll take it. The remaining schedule is tough – all 4 teams are either ranked now or have been this season – so they’re not a shoo-in, but with a stout defense and one of the top WRs in the SEC, there is certainly reason for optimism.

I’m glad to know I’m not the only who had no idea what was going on when Georgia’s entire team stormed the field after the ‘Dawgs scored their 1st of 7 TDs against Florida Saturday. HC Richt’s quote at halftime about “being mad at” his players if they didn’t get a 15-yard penalty after the TD. While the Gator Nation may not have liked it, it certainly got UGA fired up and they turned the tables on a Gator program that has dominated them in recent years. Saturday’s game showed how dangerous the ‘Dawgs can be when they play a complete game. RB Moreno is all but a lock for SEC Freshman of the year.

As for the Gators, the fears about replacing 9 starters off a ferocious defense are really manifesting now. UGA rolled up 413 yds, including 2 TDs of 50+ yds. The offense played well, but lacked its usual explosiveness with QB Tebow favoring his non-throwing shoulder throughout the game. The Gators never really settled into a comfortable rhythm in this game, particularly after the ‘Dawgs’ 1st TD celebration. Tebow was sacked 6 times, and held to -15 yds rushing, and the Gators lost 2 fumbles. Tebow won’t get much rest this weekend, as the Gators take on Vanderbilt, which leads the conference in sacks.

What a season it’s been for Ole Miss. They rank last in nearly every statistical category in the conference, they’ve scored 3 rushing TDs all season, are the only team in conference with a losing record, are likely to be the only team at the end of the season that’s not bowl-eligible, and now they’ve suspended DE Hardy, the SEC’s leader in sacks and TFLs. He missed Saturday’s game against Auburn, but his “indefinite suspension” was not announced until today. He was missed against the Tigers, but likely would have made no difference, as the Rebels had the ball for only 23:27 and mounted only 2 drives longer than 8 yds.

For the Tigers, it was just another day at the office. They pounded the ball on the ground (48 carries, 231 yds), dominated the time of possession and got a solid game from QB Cox. It was their 5th win in 6 games and kept them in line for a Cotton Bowl (or equivalent) bid after the regular season ends. RB Lester rushed for a career high 96 yds and a TD and RB Tate chipped in with 72 yds. The keys to their late season success will be to continue to play solid defense, keep pounding the ball on the ground, and find a way to ignore the annual barrage of Tommy Tuberville is headed to insert school name here.

The up and down season continued for Tennessee as Lady Luck helped guide them to a win over South Carolina. A few plays after fumbling the ball forward about 10-12 yards and recovering it, the Vols missed a 43 yd FG, but got a 2nd chance after the Gamecocks were unable to decline a false start penalty. In addition to salvaging a blown 21-0 lead, it also kept Tennessee in position to make a run at the SEC Title game, a proposition that seemed unlikely after last week’s blowout loss to Alabama. When this Vol team is on, they’re good enough to overcome a spotty defense, but when they’re off, they’re really off. I don’t know if they can play consistently enough down the stretch to win the East, but the Fire Fulmer gang will have to hold their peace for at least a week.

As for the Gamecocks, what started out as a season full of potential has spiraled away from them quickly, having dropped back-to-back games in their own division. Their underwhelming statistics appear to finally be catching up with them. But they dominated the game Saturday, nearly across the board. They had nearly 200 more yds than UT and held the ball for 13 more minutes, but turned the ball over 4 times and missed a couple of easy throws that would have resulted in big plays. Their run defense played better, limiting the Vols to 101 yds, but with a weekend jaunt to Fayetteville looming, the front 7 will be again be tested.

Week 9 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive:Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno
Defensive: Mississippi State DE Avery Hannibal
Special Teams: Tennessee PK Daniel Lincoln
Offensive Lineman: Vanderbilt C Hamilton Holliday
Defensive Lineman: Auburn DE Antonio Coleman
Freshman: Mississippi State QB Wesley Carroll

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

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Just for fun, I figured I’d see how the teams in conference stacked up against each based on several statistics I pulled from the SEC’s official site. For this comparison, I chose:

* Points per game (Offense and Defense)
* Yards per game (Offense and Defense)
* Yards per carry (Offense and Defense)
* Pass Efficiency (Offense and Defense)
* 3rd Down Conversions (Offense and Defense)
* Turnover Margin

While it’s certainly an inexact science, the numbers did rank LSU first and Ole Miss last. What’s interesting is that Arkansas – despite all their early season troubles this year – actually ranks second behind LSU. A lot of that stems from their patsy non-conference schedule, but they also endured some gut-wrenching conference losses too. Their next 3 games are against good – but flawed – conference teams, including home games against South Carolina and Mississippi State. The Hogs may make a run heading into their annual showdown with LSU.

See the chart below for all the rankings…

Aside from Arkansas and South Carolina, the chart falls pretty much in line with how the AP voters see the conference as well. Of the 8 SEC teams receiving votes in the AP Poll, only South Carolina's ranking is really skewed from the chart's ranking.

(Note: The AP numbers below are not the team's ranking in the national scene, merely their conference rank.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jason Whitlock calls out Tuberville

I've mentioned my respect for columnist Jason Whitlock before in an earlier post. He doesn't pull any punches with any player, organization, or team. He pretty much calls it like it is.

Here's an excerpt from his latest column on Fox Sports regarding Auburn's Chaz Ramsey's chop block on LSU's Glenn Dorsey. I'm on record as saying I thought the league should and would suspend Ramsey for the chop block on Dorsey, but apparently they're not going to. Whitlock brings the blame a little closer to home, calling out Auburn HC Tommy Tuberville for not delegating discipline of his own.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is an absolute coward and fraud for not suspending the freshman lineman who chop-blocked LSU's Glenn Dorsey in the back of the knees.

I've watched the highlight over and over and what transpired is completely unjustifiable. Tuberville claims all the linemen were supposed to cut block. You don't cut block a defensive linemen moving toward you on the back of his knees.

Not only was the block illegal, but it was as immoral as LSU coach Les Miles claimed. Plus, it's damaging to college football. Dorsey returned to LSU for his senior season. He could've turned pro after last season. Now every NFL agent is going to show every third-year defensive lineman the tape of the block that could've cost Dorsey millions of dollars.

The NCAA needs to step in here and suspend the freshman guard. No one is saying the kid is a bad kid. But the sport needs to send a strong message that those type plays will not be tolerated, even accidentally.

I seriously doubt that Ramsey had any intention of actually hurting Dorsey when he chop blocked him. I know that Tuberville and his staff didn't plan for that to happen. But it did. Ramsey wasn't blocked or pushed into Dorsey. He turned, saw Dorsey engaged with another lineman, and dove at his knees.

That sort of chop block was made illegal because of the severe damage it can do to the defender. The league or - as Whitlock points out, Tuberville - needs to step in and make sure Ramsey has learned his lesson. Anything less is sending the wrong message.

Week 9 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

SEC Football Trivia

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bowl Predictions: Week 9

A little bit more consistency throughout the projections, well… until you see that Fox Sports projects Arkansas to play in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. They also have WVU/tOSU in the BCS Championship Game, so take that for what it’s worth.

While no team is unanimous across the board, both writers from ESPN and the guys from CBS Sportsline agree on LSU, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, and Arkansas. While I’ve said previously that I believe that South Carolina would take the Sugar Bowl spot, that’s more wide open than ever now. If the Gamecocks can’t get up to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat, how are they going to get to a BCS game?

As usual, the highlighted cells are BCS games...

ESPN College Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Game

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Week 9 Predictions

A mere 6 games on the SEC docket this weekend for a 3rd straight week, but don't let that fool you... this is a huge weekend for the conference, particularly the East. Florida plays Georgia and Tennessee hosts South Carolina in two huge SEC East showdowns. The losers of those games can all but forget about an early December trek to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.

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

Miss. State (4-4, 1-2) @ (#14, #14)Kentucky (5-2, 2-2)
11:30 CDT, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Kentucky -13.5

Kentucky leads the series with Mississippi State all-time 20-14, including a 13-4 record in Lexington. Kentucky won last year’s meeting 34-31 in Starkville, despite MSU QB Henig throwing for 383 yds and 3 TDs. The Wildcat D held the Bulldogs to just 24 yds rushing on 24 carries. This is Kentucky’s homecoming game, and the 2nd of 4-straight games against ranked opponents for MSU.

After lining up against South Carolina, LSU, and Florida the last 3 weeks, MSU is a welcome sight to UK. The Wildcats will once again be without the services of SR RB Little, still nursing a leg injury. FR RB Locke has played well though, averaging 5.9 ypc for the season and scoring 3 TDs. UK will rely heavily – as usual – on the arm of SR QB Woodson, who threw for 415 yds and 5 TDs last week against UF. He’s thrown for at least 218 yds and 2 TDs in every game this season. He’ll be tested by an MSU pass defense surrendering just 187 ypg (6th in conference)

As for the Bulldogs, they’re looking to bounce back from a dismal performance against WVU last weekend in which they dug themselves a 4-TD hole after just one quarter. A normally smashmouth rushing attack was held to 45 yds on 33 carries, and the offense lost 3 fumbles. FR QB Carroll completed a little better than 50% of his passes for just 169 yds. Of more concern to MSU is the absence of a once strong D, which has surrendered more than 800 yds over the last two games. SO RB Dixon should have a good game as leads the SEC in carries (184) and rushing TDs (11).

While MSU’s inept passing offense won’t generate nearly 383 yds through the air, they’ll find plenty of room to run through Kentucky’s porous run D (191.8 ypg, 11th in conference). This could be a letdown game for UK. The Wildcats have played the 3 best teams in conference on consecutive weeks and have an off weekend next week. MSU will play well, but just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with the explosive ‘Cats. The senior-laden team – particularly on offense – will step up and make the plays needed to pick up a solid conference win.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Kentucky

Florida International (0-7) @ Arkansas (4-3, 1-3)
1:00 PM CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -39.5

Florida International travels to Fayetteville this weekend to serve as Arkansas’ punching bag for homecoming. The Golden Panthers have been playing D-1A football for all of 6 seasons now and were drubbed 38-3 last season by Alabama in their only other venture to an SEC stadium.

Do you really want to read any more about this game? FIU is 0-7, and has been outscored by an average of 38.9-8.3 each game, including 59-0 to Penn State and 55-3 to Kansas. They currently sit atop the standings in ESPN’s Bottom 10. Their QB completes 45% of his passes and has a 4/10 TD/INT ratio. Arkansas RBs McFadden and Jones can each name their yardage totals, but they better get it quickly. They’ll be watching this one from the bench in the second half. Hogs win really big in this one, taking out their season-long frustrations on the hapless Golden Panthers.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Miami (OH) (4-4) @ Vanderbilt (4-3, 2-3)
1:00 PM CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Vanderbilt -14

The Redhawks of Miami(OH) travel to Nashville to renew a rivalry that dates back to 1899. Of course these two teams didn’t play again until 2000, with the Miami (OH) Redmen stealing a 33-30 victory from Vandy. The Redhawks are 11-11-1 all time against SEC foes.

Miami is led by SO QB Raudabaugh, who’s thrown for nearly 1300 yds and 7 TDs this season. They average nearly 400 total ypg, and score 22.6 ppg. While their season record is respectable, they did lose to Cincinnati and Minnesota by a combined score of 88-45, so the potential for a bad game is there.

And it’s certainly there for Vanderbilt too, as they’re coming off the biggest win for the program in a long time, a 17-6 shocker over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. The defense – which had been stout all season – held USC to 25 rushing yds on 22 carries and forced 4 Gamecock turnovers. The offense took advantage of the early USC miscues, scoring 17 points in the 1st quarter, but was held scoreless through the final 3 quarters. It will be an historic day for VU WR Earl Bennett, as he needs just 2 receptions to become the SEC’s all-time leader. SO QB Adams is getting his 2nd career start Saturday, after directing the ‘Dore’s offense last weekend.

Even with the possibility of a letdown, Vanderbilt will win this game. Miami (OH) has struggled on the road this season, and Vandy knows this game is critical to their now-resurgent bowl possibilities. The line is a little bigger than I’d like it to be, but I’ll show a new found trust in these ‘Dores and say Vandy covers.

Straight Up Winner: Vanderbilt
Against the Spread: Vanderbilt

(#11, #9)Florida(5-2, 3-2) vs (#18, #20)Georgia(5-2, 3-2)
2:30 PM CDT, CBS
Wednesday's Line: Florida -9

Welcome to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, just don't let the SEC know you called it that. While Georgia leads this series all-time 45-37-2, you’d never know it lately, as the Gators have won 15 of the last 17, including last year’s 21-14 win. UF has won by a TD or less in each of the last 5 years.

The real question heading into this game is QB Tebow’s health. He’s taken a beating this season (16+ rushes in the last 6 games) and it’s starting to wear on him, as he’ll be have no contact in practice this week. ESPN just recently listed its 10 hardest players to gameplan for, and both Tebow and WR Harvin made the list, so it’s not like Florida is without weapons, even with Tebow less than 100%. Florida is coming off an impressive win at Lexington in which they held UK to 2.8 ypc, though their secondary was lit up for a SEC-season high 415 yards. Considering UK was in catch up mode the entire second half, it’s not surprising the numbers are skewed.

As for the Dawgs, in their last two outings, they were blown away in Knoxville and needed a careless Vandy turnover and a last second FG to beat the ‘Dores. Spotty play from QB Stafford played a big role in UGA’s struggles, as he completed just 50% of his passes for just 3 TDs. His up and down season has defined the Dawgs’ season, ans he’ll need a solid game Saturday for UGA to pull the upset. Florida’s pass D ranks last in conference, surrendering 256.6 ypg, so the opportunities will be there for Stafford. Yards will be harder to come by for RBs Moreno and Brown, as the UF Rush D ranks 2nd in conference (94.4 ypg).

Depending on which UGA team shows up, this could be a close game a Gator romp. UGA has struggled in its lat 2 games, but has had an extra week of preparation for the Gators. I’m not sold though. Until the Bulldogs show some kind of consistency for 4 quarters, there’s no way to pick them against a team that has dominated them for the better part of 2 decades. UGA plays well, but their inconsistency dooms them late.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: UGA

(#22, #23)Auburn (5-2, 3-2) @ Ole Miss (2-6, 0-5)
5:00 PM CDT, PPV
Wednesday's Line: Auburn -17.5

Auburn leads this series 23-8 all-time, including last season’s 23-17 win in Oxford. The games have been close of late though, with 6 of the last 8 decided by less than 10 points. Current AU HC (and former OM HC) Tuberville is 2-2 against the Rebels in Auburn.

For the Rebels, this game could very well define their season. While expectations weren’t high, last week’s blowout to Arkansas turned up the heat on HC Orgeron. SR QB Adams – who started off the year very well – has lost the touch, throwing 10 interceptions in the last 3 games… all at home. QB Schaeffer made a late appearance last week and led the Rebels to their only score. Orgeron says Adams will start Saturday, but his leash may be fairly short.

Auburn continued its much-improved play for 3 quarters last week, before surrendering 17 pts to LSU in the 4th quarter. SR QB Cox was on target again, connecting on 64% of his passes for 199 yds and 2 TDs. The RB tandem of Lester and Tate will be relied on heavily Saturday, as the Rebel run D gives up 206.9 ypg and has already allowed 18 rushing TDs. The pass D isn’t much better, allowing a 64.7% completions, so Cox should be in rhythm too.

Much like the UGA/UF game, this could be at least an interesting game if the same Rebel team that gave Alabama and Florida scares show up. The Rebels have won twice in Auburn in the last 10 years – 1999 and 2003 – but if they play like they did last week against Arkansas, they won’t score. It will be hard for Auburn to match the intensity they played with last week on the bayou, but even a lackluster effort should get them by the Rebs. I just don’t know if they have offensive firepower to cover 2.5 TDs.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

(#16, #15)S. Carolina (6-2, 3-2) @ Tennessee (4-3, 2-2)
Wednesday's Line: Tennessee -3

Tennessee has dominated this series all-time, posting a 20-3-2 record against South Carolina, including last year’s 31-24 win in Columbia. USC did pick up it first ever win in Knoxville in 2005, and HC Spurrier improved to 10-6 all-time against UT. UT HC Fulmer is 13-1 all-time against USC.

One to watch for in this game is the play of USC QBs – whether it’s Smelley or Mitchell. Spurrier pulled Smelley in favor of Mitchell in the second half of last week’s game. Part of the blame falls on the suddenly porous OL, which surrendered 7 sacks to Vanderbilt. That’s only 2 less than the Vols have all season, so the pass rush shouldn’t be as prominent this weekend. The Vols also surrender 249.0 ypg through the air, which ranks 11th in conference. Of utmost importance though is establishing some sort of running game. USC RB Davis played well last week (9.8 ypc on 5 carries), the rest of the Gamecocks combined for -17 yds on 23 carries. Currently, USC (115.0 ypg) ranks only ahead of Ole Miss (113.5) in rushing ypg.

Just when Vol fans thought their D may have straightened itself out, Alabama runs up 500+ yds, including 363 through the air. Last week’s blowout loss to the Tide actually leaves them with a negative scoring differential for the season (31.9/32.3). RB Foster provided the only highlights for UT, racking up 165 total yards from scrimmage. The USC run D continues to be a soft spot, allowing 177.8 ypg. The most interesting matchup will be UT QB Ainge vs the stout USC pass D. Ainge has complete 60% or better in every game this season, while USC pass D allows just 149.4 ypg and a 49.4% completion rate.

Both these teams are coming off disappointing losses last week, and know this game basically serves an elimination game for the SEC East race. Last time UT played host to a ranked team was 3 weeks ago, when they dominated UGA from the opening kick. That won’t happen this week. Look for Smelley to bounce back strong after being pulled from last week’s game. The Gamecocks right their ship this weekend and earn consecutive wins in Knoxville for the first time ever.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

High Flyin' SEC (cont.)

Here are the updated numbers on scoring differential for each team in 2006 and 2007. For those new to the site, this was first looked at several weeks ago in this article in the Birmingham News.

As a whole, the league is scoring nearly 30% more points than last year. Only South Carolina and Vanderbilt are scoring less than they did last year. That has to be of concern to USC HC Spurrier and VU HC Johnson, as each returned the majority of their starting offense from last season.

ESPN Guide to Psycho Fan Behavior

Monday, October 22, 2007

Random Thoughts About Week 8 Games

Okay, so maybe there is a scenario in which Vanderbilt beats South Carolina. Paced by SEC Defensive Player of the Week D.J. Moore, the Vandy D bottled up a surprisingly inept Gamecock offense. South Carolina was sloppy early, and Vandy jumped out to a 17-0 lead after just 1 quarter. The 17 points matched their season high in a conference game against a team not named Ole Miss. They didn't score again, but they did manage the clock well enough to keep USC off the field. Maybe Vandy will be bowl eligible after all...

South Carolina's D played well, holding Vandy to 269 total yards, but the offense committed 4 TOs and left the Commodores with a short field to work with for the majority of the game. And far be it from me to question HC Spurrier, but I disagree with the subbing in of QB Blake Mitchell. While QB Smelley was off his game somewhat, Mitchell looked just as bad if not worse. That can't help the confidence of Smelley heading into this weekend's show down in Knoxville.

Apparently Tennessee want to challenge Georgia for most schizophrenic team in conference. After winning their last two conference games by a combined 33 points, the early season version of the Vols showed up in Tuscaloosa Saturday. They gave up 510 yds to an average Alabama team, had the ball for only 22:22, and committed 11 penalties. All that added up to their 3rd loss this season by 2 TDs or more. RB Arian Foster was the lone bright spot, netting 165 yds rushing and receiving.

As for the Crimson Tide, this was the most complete game they've played this season. With a play here or a play there the last couple of weeks, the Tide could easily have been on a 4-game losing streak, but definitely righted the ship Saturday afternoon. WR DJ Hall had 13 catches for 185 (both career highs) and QB Wilson threw for 363 yds, the 2nd most in conference this season. All this without 3 starters and 2 reserves, who were suspended by Saban before the game.

Despite a 1-3 conference record, Arkansas has outscored its conference foes 118-100 on the season, thanks to the 36-point rout of Ole Miss on Saturday. After 3 close losses, a trip to Oxford to take on a Rebel still reeling from the Alabama loss was what the Hogs needed to get back on track. Both RBs DMac and Felix Jones rushed for more than 100 yds and QB Dick had his best game of the season. HC Nutt probably enjoyed the trip out of Arkansas, where he probably got a little reprieve from the pressure cooker he lives in in Fayetteville.

As for the Rebels, the Seth Adams experiment may be coming to an end, as the former walkonAdams finished the 3-game homestand with 10 interceptions. He played well at the beginning of the season, but has really struggled lately. Former UT QB Schaeffer managed to get the Rebels on the board with a late TD pass to WR Wallace. It will be interesting to see who gets the PT this weekend against a tough Auburn D. Even though he's only been there 2+ seasons, you have to wonder if the Rebels will start to see why they shouldn't have hired a position coach as a HC. Orgeron has improved the talent level since he took over, but hasn't proven he can have the team ready on a week by week basis.

Mississippi State's rush defense was ranked among the league's best a few weeks ago, but has since given up 473 yds on the ground to Tennessee and West Virginia. FR QB played respectably, but the tough Mountaineer D bottle up MSU's potent ground game, with RB combo or Dixon/Ducre combining for only 84 yds on 27 carries. As a team, MSU managed only 45 rushing yds, well below their season average of 157.6. MSU was out of the game early, as WVU scored a TD on its first play from scrimmage, and took a 31-0 lead just 6 seconds into the 2nd quarter.

While Florida let the world know they're still a factor in the SEC race despite 2 straight losses, they may have pushed their luck with QB Tebow one too many times, as he suffered a bruised right shoulder. It's his non-throwing shoulder, but it's still a concern as nearly every play in HC Meyer's playbook starts and end with Tebow making a play. He carried the ball 20 times against Kentucky Saturday, while the next highest Gator - WR Harvin - carried it 6 times.

For Kentucky, they may have lost the game, but QB Woodson played his best game of the season statistically, throwing for 415 yds and 5 TDs, both season highs in the SEC. This game was played on a higher level offensively than most SEC games this year. Both teams scored in all 4 quarters. Each team was whistled for just 4 penalties each. Each team converted more than 50% of 3rd down tries. And neither team turned the ball over.

Even though Auburn had their 3-game win streak (and 10-game road win streak) snapped, it's hard not to still view Auburn as one of the top 3-4 teams in conference right now. Against an incredibly stout LSU defense, they put up nearly 300 yds of offense, held the ball for more than 32 minutes, committed just 3 penalties, and didn't turn the ball over. While this game basically eliminated them from contention for the SEC Championship Game, it's looking the Tigers will be spending New Year's Eve somewhere warm and sunny.

Another crazy win for LSU, who seems to be making a habit of these crazy games. Again, I have to wonder what is going through HC Miles' head with his late game decisions. Two weeks after the challenge against Florida to save a few yards of field position with only one timeout remaining, and just 7 days removed from not handing the ball to RB Charles Scott in OT against UK, Miles again eschewed the timeout with less than 20 seconds left, down 1, and in FG range. If that pass is thrown 1 second later and not caught, LSU loses that game with a timeout in it pocket. It worked out this time, so more power to him, but wow... just... wow.

Tuberville Feels Bad About Chop Block on Glenn Dorsey

Tommy Tuberville knows his team should have been penalized for Chaz Ramsey's chop block on All America Tackle Glenn Dorsey. Tuberville said, "We do not teach it, will not teach it, and we won’t tolerate it."

The block happened midway through the 3rd quarter and Dorsey did not return. Somehow, the Umpire standing no more than 10 yards away from the play with a completely unobstructed view fails to throw a flag. Just chalk this up as another fine officiating job by the SEC officials this season. LSU is off this weekend, so Dorsey will have an extra week to rest before the uber-showdown with former HC Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide next weekend.

I wouldn't be surprised if Ramsey receives some kind of disciplinary action for the block. He clearly isn't pushed or blocked into Dorsey. Dorsey is engaged with Lee Ziemba and Ramsey lunges at his right knee. The video is below for those who haven't seen it.

Week 8 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: LSU QB Matt Flynn
Defensive: Vanderbilt CB D.J. Moore
Special Teams: Vanderbilt P Brett Upson
Offensive Lineman: Arkansas C Jonathan Luigs
Defensive Lineman: Florida DE Jermaine Cunningham
Freshman: Alabama CB Kareem Jackson

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

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ole Miss Fans Hate Doyle Jackson

It's safe to say that the Red/Blue nation still hasn't gotten over last week's game against Alabama. Replay Official Doyle Jackson and his ties to Alabama are at the center of all the controversy. Some Ole Miss fans who call themselves the Lexington Brothers even created a catchy little ditty about the whole incident.

Week 8 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

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

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Week 8 Bowl Predictions

Despite LSU's loss to Kentucky, CBS Sportsline, Fox Sports, and Mark Schlabach of ESPN still believe they'll play their back to the BCS Championship game. Kentucky and South Carolina are also being projected to make BCS bowls now by some. I agree that South Carolina winds up in the Sugar Bowl, but I see Kentucky winding up in the Outback Bowl.

Ivan Maisel of ESPN even believes that Mississippi State becomes bowl-eligible while Arkansas doesn't. He projects the Bullies to be headed to Shreveport for New Year's Eve.

The grey highlighted cells are BCS Bowl Games.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Week 8 Predictions

Another thin slate this weekend, with only 6 games for a second consecutive week. The Georgia Bulldogs take the weekend off, while the Mississippi State brand head to West Virginia for a big non-conference tilt. A couple of big games this weekend with UF@UK and the yearly 3rd Saturday in October showdown between Alabama and Tennessee.

Here’s how the weekend will shake out…

(#21, #20) Tennessee (4-2, 2-1) @ Alabama (5-2, 3-1)
11:30 CDT, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Pick ‘Em

The times have definitely changed when this game is available for JP LFS to pick up to air at 11:30. The Tide lead this series 44-38-7 all-time, but the Volunteers are 10-2 the last 12 years. The home team has won the last 3 meetings.

The Volunteers won on the road last week in Starkville, rolling up 47- yds of offense against a very good MSU defense. Tennessee leads the conference in passing yds per game with 270.5, and trails only Kentucky in passing TDs with 13. They’ll be facing a Tide D that is last in the league in passing TDs surrendered with 12. RBs Foster and Hardesty combined for 217 yds last week, and will be looking for similar numbers against the Tide.

After a 2-game slide, the Tide has rebounded with back-to-back down to the wire wins against Houston and Ole Miss. QB Wilson threw the ball 40 times last week against the Rebels but didn’t find the end zone. He struggled against UT last year, completing only 45% of his passes for 158 yds. He’ll have an opportunity to improve on those numbers against a soft UT pass D ranked 10th in conference.

This could be a high scoring affair, as both teams move the ball well consistently, but don’t always stop the other team from doing the same. Fulmer – as much grief as he takes from UT fans and opposing fans alike – owns Bama, much to the Tide’s chagrin. This year will be more of the same. The Tide have scraped by the last two weeks against inferior opponents, but their luck runs out Saturday against the Vols. The Vols are playing well right now, and will pick up their now customary 3rd Saturday in October win.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

Vanderbilt (3-3, 1-3) @ (#6, #6) South Carolina (6-1, 3-1)
11:30 CDT, PPV
Wednesday's Line: South Carolina -13.5

South Carolina leads this series all time 14-2, including victories the last 7 years. USC HC Spurrier will look to improve to 15-0 all time against Vanderbilt, a record he achieved against Kentucky 2 weeks ago.

For the Commodores, their season is approaching desperation mode. They led UGA by 10 last week at half, but were held scoreless in the 2nd half and lost on a last second FG. WR Earl Bennett continued to struggle against quality SEC teams this year, as the QB duo of Nickson and Adams can’t seem to get him the ball. Even with Bennett needing just 4 catches to become the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions, there’s no guarantee he’ll get there this weekend. USC’s pass D ranks 3rd nationally, surrendering less than 150 ypg. If RB Jackson-Garrison is ever going to have a breakout game, this would be a good time to have it against the soft USC run D. Yards through the air will be much tougher to come by.

The Gamecocks sleep walked through the second half of their game last week against UNC and it almost cost them, as the Tarheels had chances in the 4th quarter, but were unable to convert. QB Smelley continued to wage battle with UGA’s Moreno and Bama’s Grant for SEC Freshman of the Year, as he improved to 4-0 as a starter. This will be a good game for Spurrier to work on shoring up a porous run defense, as well as build on RB Cory Boyd’s 95-yd performance last week, his 2nd highest of the season. He and RB Mike Davis have 9 TDs between them this season, but have yet to score rushing TDs in the same game. That could change this week.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Commodores win this game. Unless the Gamecocks are looking ahead to the huge showdown with Tennessee next weekend, it’s hard to imagine this game is close. Vandy’s offense is struggling, ranking 11th in conference with just over 320 ypg. The Gamecocks will win this one comfortably, setting up a big game with major SEC East implications next weekend in Knoxville.

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

Arkansas (3-3, 0-3) @ Ole Miss (2-5, 0-4)
1:00 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -5

Arkansas leads this series either 28-24-1 or 29-23-1, depending on which side you ask. They’ve won 5 of the last 6, including last year’s 38-3 win, which was the most-lopsided win in series history.

The Razorbacks are coming off of their worst offensive outing of the year, after gaining only 193 total yds and 11 1st downs against a surging Auburn team. The defense played well though, holding Auburn to 3 FGs. RB/KR Felix Jones must be licking his lips as he leads the conference in KR average, and Ole Miss ranks last in KO coverage. With the Rebel offense much improved over last year, Jones will get a few shots to break one for a TD, just like he did to open last year’s rout in Fayetteville. QB Casey Dick will have a chance to play well against a Rebel pass D that ranks 11th in conference in pass efficiency defense. There’s even a chance that top WR Marcus Monk gets significant PT this week.

After the most frustrating loss in a growing number of painfully close SEC losses, it will be a real test of the coaching staff to get the Rebels ready to play. They were embarrassed last season in Fayetteville, and a win here would help out that game and last week’s debacle out of their minds. Rebels bottled up McFadden last season, as he had on 65 yds on 17 carries. But without all-world (apparently soon to be all-pro) LB Patrick Willis in the middle of the field, the Rebels’ run D is bad (at best), allowing 194.6 ypg, only slightly better than UK’s 194.7.

Unless the team has completely quit on Nutt, there’s no way that DMac and Jones get bottled up like that again. There’s a good chance the Rebels come out flat this week after last’s emotional game, and they’ve struggled against the run all year. Both teams will reach the 20s and first one to 30 wins. That’ll be the Hogs.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Mississippi State (4-3, 1-3) @ (#9, #9)West Virginia (5-1)
2:30 CDT, ESPN Regional
Wednesday's Line: West Virginia -24.5

Last year’s 42-14 win by West Virginia was the first ever meeting between these two schools. The Mountaineers gashed Mississippi State for 314 yds rushing, which is the most the Bulldogs have allowed under Croom. The Mountaineers are coming off a bye week, which gave star QB Pat White an extra week to rest his legs and chest, both of which caused him to miss portions of WVU’s last 2 games. They’re currently averaging 43 ppg and 510 yds of offense.

This will be a real test for the Bulldog defense. The D has carried them throughout the season, as the offense and the QB carousel has been paltry at best. The Mountaineers lead the Big East in Total Defense, and rank 4th in ppg allowed. FR QB Carroll played well at times last week, as the Bulldogs had a few sustained drives, but too many 3 & Outs. How he performs in a hostile, unfamiliar environment remains to be seen.

Last year’s score is misleading, as WVU tacked on 2 TDs in the final 3 minutes of the game. This is an improved MSU team – at least defensively – and WVU has a huge game next week against Rutgers, in a game that will greatly impact the Big L East standings. WVU will win, but MSU’s defense will keep it within 3 TDs.

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

(#15, #14)Florida (4-2, 2-2) @ (#7,#8)Kentucky (6-1, 2-1)
2:30 CDT, CBS
Wednesday's Line: Florida -6.5

The Gators travel to Lexington this weekend for an unusually important game for both these schools. Florida owns this series all time 40-17, and has won a ridiculous 20 straight against the ‘Cats by an average of 23 ppg. When ranked in the top 25, Florida is 24-3 against Kentucky. Kentucky, though, is 3-1 against the Gators when the ‘Cats are ranked.

The Gators had a much-needed off weekend last week. With QB Tebow getting banged around so much (105 carries, nearly 40 more than 2nd most on team) and a 2-game losing streak, the extra prep time will serve them well. The youthful Gators failed to close out LSU in Baton Rouge in their last game, but that experience will serve them well in the future. Kentucky ranks last in the conference in rushing D, so Tebow and the host of other Gators who run the ball will have their opportunities to make plays.

As for the Wildcats, all attention will be on QB Woodson. He played very well down the stretch last week against LSU, finishing with 250 yds and 3 TDs. While his completion percentages have been down the last 2 weeks, much of that credit goes to the pass D of LSU and South Carolina. The Gators – while very good against the run – struggle against the pass, allowing 230 ypg, 11th in conference. Starting RB Little is mostly like out for this game and next, meaning the ‘Cats will rely on FR RB Derrick Locke. He played well last week, but can he duplicate that success against Florida?

This concludes Kentucky’s brutal 3-game stretch against Top-10 caliber teams. They’ve split the first two, but who knows how much they’ll have left for the Gators? Meanwhile the Gators are coming off consecutive losses, and there’s no way they drop a 3rd straight. HC Meyer is 21-2 with an extra week to prepare. Both teams should move the ball well, as their offense match up well with the opposing Ds. This one might be close for a while, but in the battle of Heisman candidate QBs, a reinvigorated and rested Tebow will be too much for the ‘Cats in the 2nd half.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

(#17, #18)Auburn (5-2, 3-1) @ (#4, #5)LSU (6-1, 3-1)
8:00 CDT, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: LSU -11.5

One of the most even rivalries in the conference is renewed this weekend in Baton Rouge, with LSU holding a 21-19-1 lead over Auburn all time. The home team has won the last 7 games in this series, including Auburn’s 7-3 win on the Plains last year.

Not coincidentally, Auburn’s recent hot streak began when QB Cox stopped turning the ball over, which began when the offensive line started jelling as a unit. He’s completed 67.1% of his passes and thrown just 1 INT in the last 4 games – all wins. RB Brad Lester’s 2nd game of the season went well as he picked up another 89 yds. He and Ben Tate form a formidable tandem that will pressure that much-ballyhooed LSU defensive front.

As for LSU, they’ll need better play out of the QB position than what they got in Lexington last week. QB Flynn completed just 48% of his passes and had a QB Rating of 83.8. With the smashmouth brand of football LSU plays, they need more than that. LSU ranks near the top of the conference in nearly every significant defensive statistic, and they’ll need an All-American effort from Glenn Dorsey and Titus Jackson to bottle up Auburn’s power run game.

This has all the makings of another defensive slugfest. LSU ranks 2nd in the country in total D (223.1 ypg) and Auburn is 9th (279 ypg). The last 3 games have been decided by a total of 8 points, with Auburn winning 2/3. While these teams certainly seem more evenly matched than they did after Week 3, LSU will win this game. LSU is a different team under the lights of Tiger Stadium. The crowd noise, combined with a team desperate to stay in the National Title hunt will prove to be a little too much for the Auburn Tigers.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: Auburn

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

High Flyin' SEC (cont.)

I've been following the high-scoring trends in conference first pointed out in this article from the Birmingham News several weeks ago. While scoring is still up significantly (32%) for the league, it has predictably started to level off some the deeper we get into conference season. The Arkansas/Auburn 9-7 bloodmatch from Saturday night certainly didn't help either team's scoring average.

Kentucky continues to lead the way in both highest scoring offense for 2007, and largest percentage increase over last season. South Carolina, Auburn, and Vanderbilt are the least improved offensively, each scoring less that 5% more than last season. It hasn't hurt the Gamecocks or Tigers though, as each sit in a 1st place tie atop their respective divisions.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Random Thoughts About Week 7 Games

No one outside of the Tide Nation (except maybe Mississippi State fans) can watch the end of the Ole Miss/Alabama game and not think something fishy just went down. The on-field crew actually got the call right, but they were also the ones who had to relay Replay Official Doyle Jackson’s questionable ruling to the fans and players and coaches. You can debate all day whether OM WR Hodge was forced out of bounds or not and whether he or Bama DB Mitchell was the first to touch the ball. But to say that there’s conclusive evidence from that replay to overturn the on-field call is a joke. This won’t be the last we hear about this. I expect the SEC will issue Ole Miss an apology and reprimand Jackson, much like the crew that worked the Oregon/Oklahoma game last season.

Alabama HC Nick Saban crossed the line of good taste when he called the Rebel fans classless. Just three weeks ago, Tide fans pelted UGA WR Mikey Henderson with cups, bottles, etc. for merely catching a game winning TD pass. These same fans made threatening phone calls to assistant coaches after that same UGA loss.While there’s no excuse for littering the field at any point, the Rebel fans were protesting the decision made by the officiating crew, not making Alabama players their targets. Saban is no stranger to targeting students with attacks though, having only recently questioned the University of South Florida's academic standards. I also wonder how classy Dolphin fans think Saban is…

Lost in all the controversy is the play of OM DE Greg Hardy. He’s 6th in the conference in tackles from his DL spot, and leads the conference in Tackles for Loss (16), Sacks (8), and Forced Fumbles (3). He’s also broken up 3 passes and recorded 3 QB Hurries. He’s also caught 2 TD passes this year. Glenn Dorsey gets all the attention – and rightfully so – but it’s hard to ignore the numbers Hardy is amassing this season.

Tennessee continued its solid play, picking up a conference road win against Mississippi State. They gouged a usually stout MSU defense for 470 yds, and set up their annual 3rd Saturday in October showdown with Alabama in style. JR WR Lucas Taylor had a breakout game, catching 11 passes for 186 yds and a TD. Hard to believe, but after their disastrous start – particularly defensively – the Vols actually control their own destiny in the East.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs dropped a tough one at home, despite one of their better QB outings of the year. FR QB Carroll was solid all game, throwing for 200 yds and 2 TDs and not turning the ball over at all. All that after being diagnosed with a concussion at halftime. RB Dixon continues to impress. He had another 100+ yd day and a TD, and currently ranks 5th in conference in rushing ypg (99.1) and is tied for 3rd in total scoring this season with 60 points. He actually leads the conference in TDs scored with 10. MSU will need more solid play from the QB position if they want to pull an upset in either of their next 2 games - @WVU, @UK.

I think most knew it could happen, but hoped LSU had enough talent to overcome the coaching of Les Miles. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, their luck ran out in OT against Kentucky. Despite gashing the Wildcat D all game long, RB Charles Scott vanished in crunch time in favor of the plodding Jacob Hester. He reappeared on 4th and 2 in the 3rd OT, and was promptly stopped a yard short of the first down. A week after being lauded for his playcalling against Florida, Les Miles will be criticized with the same vigor for this game. Tiger fans will be shaking their heads about this one for a while.

Not to take anything away from the ‘Cats though. QB Woodson carried the Big Blue in the absence of star RB Rafael Little, lighting up the Tiger D for 250 yds and 3 TDs, doubling the number of passing TDs they’ve allowed this year. As the only team in conference with no remaining non-conference games, Kentucky has no margin for error if they want to win their first ever SEC East crown. Maybe now the Big Blue Nation can look back at the Bluegrass Miracle and appreciate it for what an amazing, improbable finish it actually was.

South Carolina HC Spurrier will take the win, but no way he’s happy with the team’s effort in the 2nd half. After moving the ball at will in the 1st half, the Gamecocks punted 5 times, threw an interception and missed a FG in the 2nd half. The nation’s stingiest passing D also gave up a season worst 285 yds, nearly 60 more than it surrendered to UK’s Woodson last week. Their run D was stout though, allowing only 113 yds to UNC and a 3.1 ypc average.

A year after losing to Vanderbilt on a last second FG, Georgia returned the favor Saturday in Nashville. For Dawg fans though, this couldn’t be the game they wanted to see. QB Stafford was shaky for a 2nd consecutive week, barely completing 50% of his passes. Thankfully FR RB Knowshon Moreno had another huge game in RB Brown’s absence. Kudos to HC Richt for quickly breaking up his players who were dancing on the logo at midfield after the game. They do know it was Vandy right? A game they’re supposed win every year…

As for Vanderbilt, if you want to go to a bowl, you’ve got to protect your home field. And to do that, you have to have a home field. While I’m sure the TV shots skewed it somewhat, the UGA red seemed to have an unusually large presence. WR Earl Bennett did move up to 2nd all time in receptions in SEC history, but you can just see him laboring to get open. With no other offensive threat, defenses can key on him, daring a Vandy QB or RB to beat them. In 3 SEC games against teams not named Ole Miss, Bennett has just 11 catches for 113 yds. While he’s just a JR, and could put the career receptions record out of reach for years next season, it’s hard to see him wanting to come back for another year of this.

Quick, name the SEC team with the longest winning streak right now. It’s Auburn. With perhaps the defensive effort of the year in college football – holding Arkansas RBs McFadden and Jones to a combined 85 yds. This was the Tiger’s 15th straight road win, made more impressive by the fact they won it despite not scoring a single TD. They dominated the Time of Possession (35:53 – 24:07), rushed for 189 yards, and held the Hogs to a 2.7 ypc average. QB Cox engineered another big win for the Tigers, completing 57% of his passes and taking care of the football. After 6 INTs in his first 3 games, he’s thrown just 1 in his last 4.

While Hog fans have to be somewhat encouraged by the defensive effort, this game seemed to all but clinch HC Nutt’s fate. It’s the worst kept secret in the country that a loud portion of Razorback Nation would like to see a HC change sooner rather than later. This loss – particularly with the stagnant offensive showing – will do nothing but fuel those already towering flames. I just wonder if he’ll survive the week…

Week 7 Players of the Week Announced

Congratulations to:

Offensive: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson
Defensive: Auburn LB Trey Blackmon
Special Teams: Alabama KR Javier Arenas
Offensive Lineman: Tennessee C John McNeil
Defensive Lineman: Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Freshman: Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno

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

Friday, October 12, 2007

Week 7 Official Scorecard

For those of you playing along at home...

Sport's Illustrated, SEC 75th Anniversary Commemorative 2007 Issue

Southern Living: A Weekend in the SEC

There's a huge section on called Southern Living: A Weekend in the SEC. Writers from ESPN went to all 8 home games last weekend in conference, as well as hung with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive as he traveled from Auburn to Baton Rouge to take in 2 games in person. There are articles and video reports from each tailgating location, and each conveys something any SEC fan already knows...

No other conference in the country even compares to the SEC when it comes to the quality of pre- and postgame activities.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bowl Predictions: Week 7

Now that we're basically halfway through the regular season, I think intelligible Bowl Predictions can be made. It's such a crap shoot in the early season, that until everybody has played a few games in conference, I won't even look at them myself.

Anyway, here's the Bowl Predictions from ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and Fox Sports. They all agree that LSU will be in the BCS Championship Game and that Florida will join them in the BCS in the Sugar Bowl. I still think South Carolina wins the East and takes that Sugar Bowl spot, but we'll see...

Sport's Illustrated, SEC 75th Anniversary Commemorative 2007 Issue

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SEC Midseason Report

Ron Higgins, SEC beat writer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal has his SEC Midseason Recap on right now.

He offers his general assessment of the league so far lists his candidates for Biggest Surprise (think Big and Blue), Biggest Disappointment (think airplane banners), Midseason MVP (think Razorback RB... now think of the other one), and Coach of the Year (think purple and gold).

While I don't agree that 10 teams will qualify for bowls, it's still an interesting read if you have a few minutes...


If I may deviate from SEC football for a minute... A buddy of mine just launched If you've ever thought about doing a multi-sport event such as a triathlon, this site provides all the information you'll ever need to take the first step.

Take a look at it if you get a chance...

Week 7 Predictions

Only 6 games on the SEC slate this weekend, with 5 conference games, South Carolina visiting Chapel Hill, and the Gators taking the week off to lick their wounds.

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

Alabama (4-2, 2-1) @ Ole Miss (2-4, 0-3)
11:30 CDT, LFS
Wednesday's Line: Alabama -6.5

This is one of the more lopsided rivalries historically in the SEC with Alabama holding a 43-9-2 record in the series, including 17 of the last 20 and 3 in a row. The last 2 wins have come by a total of 6 points though, and the Rebels have won 2 of the last 3 in Oxford.

For the Tide, QB Wilson has actually regressed this year under HC Saban. His QB rating is down, as are his ypg and ypa. The offense has been carried most of the season by RBs Grant and Coffee with more than 900 yds and 8 TDs between them. The defense has been steady under Saban’s tutelage, but has given up 21+ points in 4 straight games. The Tide secondary will be forced to handle a revamped Ole Miss aerial attack, led by QB Adams and WR Wallace.

As for the Rebels, last week’s shutout couldn’t have come at a better time for a beleaguered defense, but it’ll be a different story against the Tide Saturday morning. The Rebels D still ranks last in the league in rush defense (208.2 ypg) and will be tested by the power running game of the Tide. LB Ashlee Palmer is coming off a career day against LTU last weekend and he and All-Conference Greg Hardy will need to bottle up the run game enough to force the Tide to rely on Wilson to make tough throws.

Both teams snapped a multi-game losing streak last weekend against out of conference opponents. You have to figure that with all the close games this season and last, the Rebels have to beat somebody they’re not supposed to. While Alabama owns the Rebels all-time, the elements are in place for the Rebels pull this one out. I look for the defense to build off of last week’s shutout and pressure Wilson into bad throws. This will the first signature win of the Orgeron era in Oxford.

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

(#25, NR)Tennessee (3-2, 1-1) @ Mississippi St. (4-2, 1-2)
1:30 CDT, No TV
Wednesday's Line: Tennessee -7

Tennessee leads this series all time with a 26-15-1 record. The Vols have won 7 of the last 8 in this series, including the last 4 by an average score of 43-17. Mississippi State is receiving votes in both polls for the first time in years.

Much like Auburn, Tennessee experienced something of a rebirth last week with a drubbing of Georgia. Most telling in their win was that they did without much production from QB Ainge, who threw for 165 yds and 0 TDs. A trick play and 190 yds and 4 rushing TDs gave the Vols the easy win. The Vols pass defense, which ranks second to last in ypg and efficiency against, will get something of a reprieve this weekend against MSU’s QB situation, but their 9th in conference run defense can expect to be pounded from MSU’s first snap.

The Bulldogs manhandled UAB in the second half last week, outscoring them 27-3. The 2-headed RB attack of Ducre’ and Dixon combined for 172 yd and 3 TDs, but the QB was again terrible (11/20, 199yds, 0/2 ratio). The Bulldogs are last in the league in total yards by nearly 30 ypg. While they’ll be able to run the ball this weekend against the Vols, at some point in the game, the QB – whether it’s Carroll or Henig – will have to step up and make a big throw on a 3rd down. The Dead Guy just doesn’t see that happening.

The Bulldogs are flying high after picking up their 4th win last week, but like I said in an earlier post, reality sets in Saturday. Tennessee has too many athletes on the defensive side of the ball to be beaten by a one-dimensional opponent like the Bulldogs. With the Bulldogs bowing up to stop UT’s run game, Ainge should have another solid game. The Vols will cruise to an easy victory in Starkville.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

(#1, #1)LSU (6-0, 3-0) @ (#17, #18)Kentucky (5-1, 1-1)
2:30 CDT, CBS
Wednesday's Line: LSU -9.5

LSU leads this series all-time 38-15-1, including a 49-0 thumping last year in Baton Rouge. LSU has won the last 4, as UK hasn’t won since 1999 (31-5 win). LSU is 23-3-1 against UK when ranked in the Top 25.

LSU took over the top spot in both polls last week after a hard-fought victory over Florida. I will eschew the “immovable object versus the irresistible force” comparison many are making about this game. Suffice it to say, LSU’s defense has lived up to its preseason billing, leading the conference in basically every defensive category, including sacks, ppg, turnovers forced, rushing defense, and total defense. The offense hasn’t been bad either, putting up 37.8 ppg, 4th in conference.

Meanwhile, Kentucky’s offense continues to be the best in conference statistically, but the defense… well, isn’t. Neither was clicking last year in Baton Rogue, and it’ll take the best effort of the season from both sides to win this game. QB Woodson looked shaky against South Carolina last weekend, but back home at the friendly confines, he should be more confident, and hopefully hold on to the ball a little better. This is the 2nd of 3 games in UK’s midseason Schedule of Doom. An 0-3 record would almost certainly relegate them to a bottom rung standing in the SEC East.

It’ll be interesting to see how much LSU has left in the tank after such a draining game against Florida last weekend. If they were a team that relied more on their offense, I’d be more concerned about a letdown in this game. But that defense and those RBs are too good and too deep to have a let down. The D will play significantly better than they did against Florida last week as they line up against a more traditional offense in UK. LSU wins, though an inspired effort by Woodson keeps the margin less than 10.

While this loss will disheartening to the Big Blue Nation, it certainly won’t compare to the last time the Tigers came to Lexington.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: Kentucky

(#7, #12)South Carolina (5-1, 3-1) @ North Carolina (2-4)
2:30 CDT, ABC
Wednesday's Line: USC -7

These border rivals meet for the first time since 1991, with UNC holding a 34-16-4 edge in the all-time series. Both are founding members of the ACC before USC left for the much greener pastures of the SEC. HC Spurrier is 3-0 against UNC from his days roaming the sidelines for Duke. These two head coaches met in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, with Davis’ Miami Hurricanes besting Spurrier’s Gators 37-20.

The Tar Heels are coming off a big upset win last week over Miami, while the Gamecocks are riding high from their big win over UK. Talent-wise, this game shouldn’t be close. USC is ranked in the top 10 in the country for the first time since 2001, and they currently sit atop the standings in the SEC East. Their #1 ranked passing defense should handle UNC QB Yates, who has thrown for ~1400 yds and 9 TDs this season. USC QB Smelley continues to settle into his role as starter, tossing for 256 yds and 2 TDs against UK last week.

The Tarheels have been in every game this season except a 37-10 loss to USF. HC Davis will certainly have them in the top 25 by 2009, but it’s just not there yet this season. The Gamecocks will certainly have to avoid a letdown, but after a close 1st half, the defense will take over and USC wins easily.

Straight Up Winner: USC
Against the Spread: USC

(#24, #23)Georgia (4-2, 2-2) @ Vanderbilt (3-2, 1-2)
5:00 CDT, ESPN2
Wednesday's Line: Georgia -7

Georgia is 47-18-2 all-time against Vanderbilt, including 21-3-1 in the last 25. Vandy did spring the upset last year 24-22 in Athens though, snapping a 12-game losing streak to UGA. Vandy hasn’t beaten UGA in back to back years since 1956 – 1958. They haven’t beaten UGA in Nashville since 1991.

Georgia is the most schizophrenic team in conference, if not the country. One week after rushing for 300+ yds against Ole Miss, they managed less than 70 against a Tennessee defense that had served as a punching bag in its other two games against BCS competition. QB Stafford is at the heart of the inconsistency with game-by-game completion percentages of 75%, 43.2%, 70%, 54.3%, 61.9%, and 48.5%. FR RB Knowshon Moreno will have to step up in this game, as SR RB Thomas Brown is out with a broken collarbone.

All-SEC WR Earl Bennett needs just 7 catches to become the league’s all time leader in receptions. With no other offensive threat to mention – WR Sean Walker is 2nd on team with 10 receptions – teams have been effectively limiting Bennett’s touches. If Vandy is to win this game, Bennett has to get the ball early and often. That starts with good OL play, allowing RB Jackson-Garrison to get into open space. The ‘Dawgs are 5th in both passing and rushing defense, so yards may be tough to come by for the Commodores.

Based on the Stafford’s good-bad pattern, he’s due for a solid game in this one. Vandy has one of the better pass statistical pass defenses in the conference, but other than Ole Miss, hasn’t really faced a strong passing offense. The ‘Dawgs have their backs against the wall in this one, as another loss – particularly in the division – would all but eliminate them from title hopes. The ‘Dawgs bounce back from their UT loss and win a close game in Nashville.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Vanderbilt

(#22, #25)Auburn (4-2, 2-1) @ Arkansas (3-2, 0-2)
6:45 CDT, ESPN
Wednesday's Line: Arkansas -2.5

Auburn leads this series 9-6-1 all-time, including 3 of the last 4. The Razorbacks upset Auburn last year 27-10. The visiting team has won 4 of the last 5. Arkansas HC Houston Nutt is 6-3 against Auburn HC Tommy Tuberville.

Break up the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers manhandled Vandy last week, holding them 221 total yds, including just 88 passing. The Tigers also sport the conference’s 3rd best rushing D, which will be tested to the utmost extreme Saturday against the conference’s two best RBs in McFadden and Felix Jones. After opening the season with sub-par games, QB Cox has rebounded with 3 straight solid outings. He’s not throwing for a lot of TDs, but since the loss to Mississippi State he’s completed 71% of his passes and only tossed 1 INT.

The same can’t be said about the Hogs’ passing game. QB Casey Dick has yet to complete 60% of his passes for a game, and hasn’t thrown for more than 210 yds in any game. DMac and Felix Jones are great, but they need some help if the Hogs expect to win. The Hogs lead the SEC in total ypg, mainly due to their ridiculous rushing totals, but their defense ranks 9th in points allowed and ypg. While Auburn ranks 9th in total offense, those numbers are slightly skewed by pitiful offensive showings earlier in the year.

All the distractions surrounding this Arkansas team – particularly Nutt – will either serve as a rallying point for the team or the breaking point. The sheer omnipresence of the HogNation’s discontent for Nutt makes me think it’ll impact the team negatively this weekend. Well that, and the fact that Auburn is rolling right now after back to back conference wins, and the Hog defense has been less-than-stellar all season. McFadden and Jones will get their numbers, but an inefficient passing game and porous D will drop Arkansas to 0-3 in conference.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Auburn

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Mike Gundy Parody

This commercial is really making the rounds on the message boards and blogs, but if you haven't seen it yet, you need to. It's from Fowler Toyota in Oklahoma...

High Flyin' SEC (cont.)

We've reached the half way point of the regular season for 9 of the 12 conference teams, and scoring is up more than 38%. That number has come down a few points since this article first ran in the Birmingham news several weeks ago, but with so many of the nation's top offensive players residing in the SEC, it's not a surprise to see the numbers like they are.

Football in the SEC (Inside College Football)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Random Thoughts about Week 6 Games

South Carolina’s defense made a huge statement Thursday night, holding Kentucky to about half their scoring average and forcing the ‘Cats into 4 TOs. In one the no-brainers of the year, USC DE Eric Norwood was named this week’s SEC Defensive Player of the Week, after he returned not 1, not 3, but 2 fumbles for TDs. While HC Spurrier will certainly take the win, only grinding out 87 rushing yds (2.4 ypc) against a UK defense surrendering 184 ypg (4.6 avg) must be somewhat discouraging.

But not as discouraging as the night was to the Big Blue Nation. Heisman hopeful QB Woodson looked rattled from the opening quarter, completing a season low 57% of his passes, with a long of only 18 yds. RB Little has the only 20+ yd-play for UK, which has thrived on big plays all season. While Woodson is certainly not out of the Heisman race yet, something tells me he will be after LSU comes to town next week.

Someone forgot to tell Auburn that most people had them written off for dead a couple of weeks ago. They steamrolled Vanderbilt Saturday morning like the Commodores weren’t even on the field. 404 yds of offense, 239 rushing yds, 6.1 ypc average, QB Brandon Cox completed 82% of his passes, and, not to mention, Brad Lester made his return to the tune of 77 yds and 2 TDs on 13 carries. Probably a few too many penalties for HC Tuberville’s liking (11 for 87 yds), but he’ll take the dominant win.

And what’s happened to the ‘Dores? Many predicted a breakthrough season this year, but they’ve looked terrible in 2 of 3 SEC games. Only Mississippi State averages fewer yards per game than they do. They’ve got to find a way to get WR Earl Bennett the ball more. His 4 catches for 31 yards last weekend aren’t going to beat anyone. He did move up to 3rd in SEC history in career receptions with 202, and needs only 6 for the all-time conference record. He’ll need to break the record in the first half for VU to knock off a revenge-minded UGA team this weekend…

Kudos to the Ole Miss defense for proving they can stop somebody. Granted it was Louisiana Tech, but for a defense that has been rung up for 30+ points in 4 straight games (0-4), any shutout is reason for excitement. The Rebels also returned a blocked kick for a TD for the second time this season. Not so good was QB Adams’ tossing 3 interceptions on the day. It was nice for Rebel fans to see a win when their offense struggled like it did. It was the first goose egg put up by the Rebel D since 2003 when they shutout Arkansas State and Mississippi State.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, they continue to defy logic, winning with nothing short of horrid QB play. QBs Carroll and Henig combined for 55% passing for 119 yds and 2 INTs. A great game from RB Dixon (152 yds rushing, 3 TDs) provided all the offense needed to beat the Blazers. MSU actually trailed after 3 quarters before 21 unanswered points in the 4th, capped by their league-leading 4th defensive TD scored this season. With high-powered offenses in UT, WVU, and UK looming the next 3 weeks, it’ll be very interesting to see if that stout D can hold up.

The 1st quarter of the Alabama/Houston game on Saturday was a thing of beauty for Tide fans – 23-0 lead and the offense and defense clicking on all cylinders. So how did that turn into a scant 30-24 victory that involved an interception in the end zone as time expired to ice the game? QB Wilson was less than spectacular – again – with just 157 yds passing. RB Coffee paced the Tide with his career day – 121 yds, 1 TD – and D.J. Hall caught 3 passes to become Alabama's all-time receptions leader with 153, breaking the old mark set by Freddie Milons. The Tide did snap a 2-game skid, but certainly left doubt in the Tide Nation’s collective hearts.

Tennessee HC Phil Fulmer is one of the best when his back is against the wall. After being dominated by good competition earlier in the season, UT blew out Georgia from the opening kickoff. Coming off their off weekend, the Vols ran to a 28-0 halftime lead, then coasted in with a 21 point victory. With back to back games against Mississippi State and a struggling Alabama team, the Vols could be right back in the mix of the SEC East race by the end of next weekend.

Georgia HC Mark Richt dropped his first game in Knoxville as Dawgs’ head coach, and UGA stumbled to an embarrassing loss on the banks of the Tennessee River. The run game – after gouging Ole Miss last week for 300+ yds – was non-existent, amassing only 69 yds. QB Stafford, who has to be one of the streakiest guys in the country, was off target, hitting on less than 50% of his passes for just 174 yds. The defense hadn’t given up more than 23 points all season, gave up more than that by halftime and surrendered 411 yds to the Vols.

Things were ugly in Fayetteville for a while Saturday night. Arkansas only led 1-AA UTC by 5 at the half. While they won by a comfortable margin, the Hogs managed to turn the ball over 3 times, convert just 36% of 3rd down attempts, and give up 161 yds rushing. On the bright side, they held UTC QB Miller to 11 yds on 4/22 passing. That’s gotta be good for your passing efficiency defense. It’s a win, but not exactly what Arkansas fans wanted to see this weekend. And HC Nutt probably didn’t enjoy seeing this...

It’s great win big games actually live up to their hype, like LSU/Florida did Saturday night. Some of the luster has certainly come off of UF QB Tebow after the last two weeks. He struggled against LSU’s pass defense, completing less than 50% of his passes for just 158 yards. He also led the team in rushing attempts again, and on the season, he leads the Gators in attempts by 37 over RB Kesthan Moore. He did convert several 3rd down attempts Saturday though. He may want to hold off taunting the Tiger fans next time though… Tebow and the Gators have an off week to rest before trekking to Lexington, KY next weekend.

As for LSU, not much left to say about them. They were challenged again and they answered the bell. The D will be put to the test again this weekend with a game against UK, but the way USC’s defense handled the ‘Cats, no reason to think that LSU won’t do the same, particularly in light of last year’s 49-0 massacre. And I know they’re #1, and undefeated, and all that jazz, but I still wonder if HC Miles isn’t going to cost them a close game somewhere down the line. Risking his final timeout on that kickoff return to knock UF back 7 yds was a ridiculous call that could have changed the game had it not gone his way…