Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Scoring Averages

Last year, one of the big storylines throughout the season was the ridiculous scoring numbers a lot of the teams put up. This year's numbers are down 8.44% from last year though. Only a handful of teams - Alabama, Georgia, and Florida - returned experienced QBs and - not surprisingly - they rank 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the league in scoring. LSU and Kentucky round out the top 5, but aside from LSU's game against Auburn, neither has played anyone worth mentioning.

* Only 4 teams - Ole Miss, Vandy, Alabama, and Georgia - are scoring more than last year. As everyone faces mostly SEC defenses the rest of the season, that could actually drop to 3.

* Ole Miss has upped their scoring average more than 50% over last year. I guess that's what happens when Ed Orgeron is no longer in charge of game planning.

* Both Tennessee and Arkansas are down more than 40% from last year. Everyone knew Arkansas would be bad, but I don't think many knew UT would be this useless on offense. Sure there's an adjustment period with a new QB and a new OC, but with the talent that shows up in Knoxville every year, that's inexcusable.

* When Tuberville instituted the spread, I don't think he anticipated scoring 18.2% less than Auburn did last year. Unless something changes, this'll be the third straight year for a scoring decrease for the Tigers.

* Unless Stephen Garcia can really get things going, this will be the second straight year that the Gamecocks' PPG decreases

My Week 5 SEC Power Poll Ballot

What a crazy weekend of SEC football. Here's how I see it after 5 weeks:

1.Alabama – Systematically picked apart the ‘Dawgs in as dominant a half of football as you’ll ever see. Let up in the second half, but if they stay as fundamentally strong as they have been, they’ll be in the BCS.
2. LSU – Almost fell victim to the trap game against MSU last weekend, but rode Charles Scott to victory. Off this weekend before heading down to the Swamp.
3. Georgia – you knew the penalties would bite them in a big game at some point. Negating the turnover on Alabama’s first drive of the game set the stage for an ugly, ugly game for the ‘Dawgs.
4. Florida – Offense was sloppy and defense played well except for a handful of breakdowns that resulted in big plays for OM. Instead of complaining that the PAT block was illegal, Urban needs to work on technique with his linemen.
5. Vanderbilt – They’re 4-0, ranked for consecutive weeks, and hosting GameDay. These aren’t your father’s ‘Dores. Or even your ‘Dores.
6. Ole Miss – Lose at home to Vandy, then beat Florida in the Swamp. Rebels, welcome to the Houston Nutt era.
7. Auburn – It’s a damn good thing AU’s defense is so good.
8. Kentucky – Impressive again against a nobody, but real questions will be answered Saturday when they head to Tuscaloosa.
9. South Carolina – The Stephen Garcia era begins Saturday in Oxford. Whether it’s enough to turn their conference season around remains to be seen.
10. Tennessee – The Vols are bad. No two ways about it.
11. Mississippi State – Saturday night was a real State of the Union Game for the Bulldogs. Their best offensive effort of the season wasn’t enough to beat a completely disinterested LSU team. MSU is destined for 1-7 this season in conference.
12. Arkansas – On the bright side, the defense scored a TD. Now they get to deal with an angry Gators team. Life in the SEC’s grand, ain’t it Bobby?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week 5 Grades

Alabama: A+
Aside from a blip against Tulane, the Tide have been the league's most consistent team this season. Thoroughly dominated UGA from opening kick, though 11-point margin may say otherwise, this game was never close.

Ole Miss: A-
Forced UF into their first three TOs of the year and took full advantage of it. That defensive line is going to bother a lot of teams the rest of the year. Tebow may have seen Greg Hardy in his sleep last night.

Kentucky: B+
The 'Cats blew out another patsy last night, holding WKU to 8 FDs and 157 total yds. The offense seemed a bit more in sync as well, particularly under center. They'll be catching Alabama at a good time next weekend.

Mississippi State: B
Even MSU's best offensive effort of the year wasn't enough to beat a sleepwalking LSU team. You know your team isn't thought of very highly when this is the headline to your recap. Last night's effort at least gives a shimmer of hope for future games.

South Carolina: B-
UAB is horrid and, while the Gamecocks won, hard to say it was impressive. Stephen Garcia probably did enough to earn the starting job for next week's tussle with Ole Miss, but I don't know that he's the answer to the Gamecocks' offensive woes.

Sleepwalked through last night's game and still won, though not by as much as they should've. Charles Scott continues to impress.

Tennessee: C
Hard to even watch the AU/UT. Two bad offenses on display, headed by the Orange and White. The Vols couldn't even get 200 yds of offense on the books. Defense played much better, but Auburn's offense tends to do that to teams.

Auburn: C-
Another day, another game where the defense bails the offense out. Worse grade than Tennessee because they're better than the Vols and should win that game by more than 2 points. Gotta figure Kodi Burns is the guy for that offense...

Florida: C-
Picked a bad day to turn the ball over three times as a hungry OM team stunned them in the Swamp. Tebow was off on a couple of seemingly easy throws and even apologized to the Gator Nation after the game. But it wasn't him who missed tackle after tackle on the Rebels' big plays yesterday.

Arkansas: D
Basically the only thing that saved them an "F" is the fact they're horrible and would probably get beat by close to 42 points each time if they played Texas 100 times.

Georgia: F
The winning margin is deceiving. Alabama dominated this game from the opening drive. They exposed UGA' OL and DL as soft and capitalized on the 'Dawgs' tendencies to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. UGA looked scared and timid and completely lost.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts from a crazy Saturday

This may just be the Fat Tire talking, but:

* When healthy, Ole Miss may have the best defensive line in the SEC. They ended up with 7 TFL this afternoon and basically wore Tebow's jersey for him all day long.

* Urban Meyer is a very good coach, so far be it from me to question him, but that last possession seems like it could have been handled significantly better.

* Houston Nutt may not be the best Xs and Os guy in the world, but the man can motivate his players. He's won 2 road games at top 5 opponents in his last 6 games coaching.

* It's a damn good thing Auburn's defense is so good.

* Things are getting ugly in Knoxville. Barring a remarkable turnaround, I don't see how Fulmer's back next year. Even with last year's extension, the natives are getting a wee bit restless.

* No way Tommy Bowden is back at Clemson either.

* Arkansas is just plain bad. Any game they win the rest of the year is an upset.

* South Carolina won again, but only put up 6 points in the 2nd half against a UAB team that was shredded by the otherwise inept Tennessee offense. Garcia played well at times, but you gotta believe that more points should've been put on the board.

* Georgia really was going to a motherfarking funeral.

* Georgia's receivers drop the easy balls and make the spectacular catch. It's uncanny.

* Alabama's getting my #1 vote in next week's SEC Power Poll.

* How much money did Croom pay Bob Davie to continually wax poetic about what a great coach Woody McCorvey is?

* LSU's disinterest and lack of effort in tonight's game cost them some "style points" later on in the season.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Incredible Catch

Who knew that Winston-Salem State and Morgan State would provide one of the most amazing receptions you'll ever see. Edwin Baptiste is a BMF. Nothing else to say about it. Just watch.

Sylvester Croom's gmail account

Ever wondered what's in Sylvester Croom's gmail account? Take a look.

Click on picture for full size

See Bobby Petrino, Houston Nutt, Tommy Tuberville, and Phil Fulmer here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Week 5 Picks

A few snoozers this weekend, but the evening will be capped off with a matchup of Top 10 teams Between the Hedges in Athens. UT and Auburn play a game in which the loser is pretty much relegated to divisional-irrelevance for the remainder of the season.

Off this weekend: Vanderbilt

Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1) @ (#4,#4)Florida (3-0, 1-0)
11:30 CDT, Raycom
All Time Series: Ole Miss 11-10-1
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -22.5

This was a surprisingly close game last year, with the gators escaping Oxford with a mere 6-point win. This year, the Gators aren’t putting up the same gaudy offensive numbers they were last year, but neither are their opponents. The Gators currently rank 2nd nationally in scoring D (6.3 ppg) and 5th in total D (21.3 ypg). The Rebels have a better offense than any of the prior Gator opponents, so the D will be tested again.

OM is coming off a head-shaking loss to Vandy in which they barely gave up 200 yds of offense, but repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with 6 TOs. They scored their only TDs on a fumble recovery and kickoff return, so the offense must be chomping at the bit to get back onto the field. The Gators also scored while their offense was resting last week as they returned another punt for a TD, as UF basically toyed with Tennessee in yet another rout.

Last year, OM basically shut down everyone except Tebow, who became a man show late in the game. This year, the Gators’ more balanced offense presents a different set of challenges, but the finally whole OM DL will be ready. They’ll need to limit their own turnovers and force UF’s first turnover of the season or it will be a long day in the Swamp. Finding ways to slow down Percy Harvin will be difficult as well.

The Rebels actually lead the series in Gainesville 5-3-1. While I don’t think the Rebels have enough to win this game, I do think that 3+ TDs is too much for Florida to give. Nutt is a master motivator and the Rebels will knock off somebody this year, I just don’t think it’ll be the Gators this weekend. UF wins by 14-17, sending OM to its 10th straight SEC loss.

Straight Up: Florida
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

Tennessee (1-2, 0-1) @ (#15,#16)Auburn (3-1, 1-1)
2:30 CDT, CBS
All Time Series: Auburn 25-21-3
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn -6.5

This is the first meeting since Auburn’s 38-28 win in the 2004 SEC Championship game. The Tigers are 6-2-1 on the Plains against the Vols. The Vols have won 12 straight games the week after Florida while the Tigers have won 7 in row following LSU. Something’s got to give.

After a dismal performance against MSU a couple of weeks ago, the AU passing game got moving Saturday night against LSU. On the flip side, the Tigers averaged just 1.9 ypc, which is about half what they averaged against MSU (3.6 ypc).While they’re obviously still working out some kinks, that’s got to be a disturbing trend for Tuberville and his staff. The Vols have been strong against the run this year, ranking 26th in the country in Rush D giving up just 95 ypg and holding opponents to a 2.96 ypc average.

Both teams have struggled offensively. UT ranks 73rd in total offense (355.3 ypg) and is facing AU’s 20th ranked defense (259.8 ypg). Auburn ranks 55th in total offense (390.7 ypg) and is facing the Vols’ 22nd ranked defense (268.7 ypg). Turnovers have been a problem for both teams – 10 for AU, 7 for UT – so the team that handles that aspect will be at a decided advantage.

This one’s going to come down to the coaching, and you’d be hard-pressed to convince me to take Fulmer over Tuberville in this game. AU has a distinct special teams advantage in this one and will be working with a shorter field. While this one may be an ugly turnover fest, I gotta believe that at home, AU is a full TD better than UT.

Straight Up: Auburn
Against the Spread: Auburn

Arkansas (2-1, 0-1) @ (#7,#7)Texas(3-0)
2:30 CDT, ABC
All Time Series: Texas 55-21
Wednesday’s Line: Texas -27.5

With all the preseason talk about UGA’s schedule, lost in the shuffle was the Hogs’ brutal 4-game stretch exacerbated by Ike. The 2nd of 4 straight Top-15 games takes place in Austin this weekend. The Hogs are actually 3-1 in the last 4 meetings, but these teams haven’t played since 2004.

This one probably won’t be as ugly as the Bama beatdown from Saturday, but no reason to think the Hogs have even a puncher’s chance in this one. The Horns are scoring nearly 49 ppg so far this season while the Hogs have struggled, scoring just 23.3 ppg. Both teams move the ball efficiently – Arkansas is 46th in the country at 403ypg, Texas is 9th at 502ypg – but the Hogs sport a -6 TO margin. Also, Texas QB Colt McCoy has completed 77.8% of his passes for 833 yards and an 11/1TD/INT ratio, for a passer rating of 206.5.

I think the power of the rivalry may keep this one closer than the number. Petrino and staff will probably try to run more of a ball control offense to minimize UT’s possession time. While I don’t expect this one to be close, the Hogs’ll keep it within 4 TDs.

Straight Up: Texas
Against the Spread: Arkansas

Western Kentucky (2-2) @ Kentucky (3-0, 0-0)
6:00, PPV
All Time Series: First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: Kentucky -21.5

Surprisingly, this is the first time these two schools have met. WKU joined 1A this year and will be a member of the Sun Belt Conference next year. They also have the greatest mascot on the face of the planet.

Kentucky continues their quest of dominating all non-SEC opponents before being exposed as a very flawed team in Tuscaloosa next weekend. Until they play an actual opponent and not a cupcake, I’m not going to waste my time thinking about their games.

Straight Up: Kentucky
Against the Spread: Western Kentucky

UAB (1-3) @ South Carolina (2-2, 0-2)
6:00, PPV
All Time Series: South Carolina 1-0
Wednesday’s Line: South Carolina -24.5

How bad are the Blazers? In 3 games against 1A competition, they’ve been outscored 129-59. The Vols scored 31 points them. FAU averages 15.5 ppg this season, yet hung 49 on UAB. If USC can’t get rolling against these guys, they might as well pack it up and go home. Smelley and/or Garcia should have easy pickings all game long.

In a schedule front-loaded with home games (4 already), this will be another nice, easy tune up for the rest of the meatier schedule. While the Gamecocks continue to look for answers under center, the defense will have its way with the hapless Blazers. They’ll score at least once in this game and help the ‘Cocks cover the larger-than-I-wish-it-were number.

Straight Up: South Carolina
Against the Spread: South Carolina

Mississippi State (1-3, 0-1) @ (#5,#5)LSU (3-0, 1-0)
6:30, ESPN2
All Time Series: LSU 65-33
Wednesday’s Line: LSU -24

No point in even attempting to break this one down and try to make it interesting. Here is all you need to know: Over the last 8 years, LSU has outscored the Bulldogs 340-81 (43-10). They’ve won 15 of the last 16, including 8 straight in Tiger Stadium. MSU is currently ranked 94th out of 120 teams in total offense with just 318 ypg. LSU is ranked 18th in total defense, surrendering just 252.7 ypg.

Don’t get me wrong, MSU has a fairly serviceable D, but even it rolled over last week as Georgia Tech rolled up 500 yds of offense. Two predictions: A) MSU OC Woody McCorvey will not be reading any message boards late Saturday night and B) This is the biggest no-brainer of the week. Anything under 5 TDs would be.

Straight Up: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

(#8,#10)Alabama (4-0, 1-0) @ (#3,#3)Georgia (4-0, 1-0)
6:45, ESPN
All Time Series: Alabama 35-25-4
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -7

Surprisingly, this is only the 6th time in 65-game history of this matchup that both teams are ranked, and only the 3rd time both are ranked in the Top 10. Alabama has lost 3 straight to UGA and hasn’t beaten the ‘Dawgs since 1995.

All eyes will be on Athens Saturday night as the Tide and the ‘Dawgs square off. Each has notched a big non-conference win and each won its conference opener, though the Tide with significantly more ease. The ‘Dawgs sport a more formidable offense, ranking 22nd in the country in ypg with 450, while the Tide ranks 57th with 387.5 ypg. The Tide is actually scoring half a point more per game (36.0 to 35.5). Each team boasts a top 25 total defense – UGA 14th at 243ypg, UAT 24th at 275ypg – as well as a top 20 scoring defense – UAT 8th at 9.3 ppg, UGA 18th at 13.8 ppg. Two of the country’s best freshman WRs will be on display as well in UGA’s AJ Green and Bama’s Julio Jones.

In the end, this game will boil down to QB play and UGA has an obvious advantage there. Both Ds will do an adequate job of at least containing the others power run game and both Stafford and JPW will be called on to convert some precarious 3rd down situations. Alabama’s youth/inexperience will also manifest itself in this one and the ‘Dawgs will capitalize. In what should be the game of the week (if not beyond), the ‘Dawgs win a tightly contested thriller, somewhere in the neighborhood of 27-21.

Straight Up: Georgia
Against the Spread: Alabama

SEC Power Poll, Week 4

1. Georgia, 247 points (11 first-place votes)
2. Florida, 245 (8)
3. LSU, 232 (3)
4. Alabama, 199.5
5. Auburn, 167.5
6. Vanderbilt, 161
7. Kentucky, 111
8. Mississippi, 100
8. South Carolina, 100
10. Tennessee, 86
11. Mississippi State, 34
12. Arkansas, 33

To read all the comments, check out Garnet and Black Attack.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Phil Fulmer's gmail Account

My investigative team is really earning their paychecks. Behold, I present the current contents of Phil Fulmer's gmail account.
Click on picture for full size image

See Bobby Petrino's and Houston Nutt's, Tommy Tuberville's, and Sly Croom's as well.

Houston Nutt's gmail Account

In the interest of Freedom of Information, I had my people tap into Houston Nutt's email. Same as they did with Tommy Tuberville's, Bobby Petrino's and Phil Fulmer's and Sly Croom's.

Click on picture for full size.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Week 4 SEC Power Poll Ballot

1. Georgia – Still working out some issues with penalties and leaky kickoff coverage, but clearly the most complete team in the league so far this season.
2. LSU – Great win for the Bayou Bengals Saturday night. If Charles Scott keeps running like he is, he’ll challenge Moreno for SEC RB supremacy.
3. Florida – While the defense is markedly better than the 2007 version, there may be some concerns for the offense. The coaches in the SEC are the best in the country and they’re picking up on ways to slow the Gators down.
4. Alabama – Convincing victory made even more impressive when you factor in the number of freshmen and sophomores Saban is playing.
5. Auburn – On the plus side, the offense finally showed up. If they ever put a good game together on both sides of the ball, they’ll be tough to beat.
6. Vanderbilt – The comparisons to last year’s Mississippi State team are remarkable: mediocre offense coupled with an opportunistic defense and good special teams.
7. Kentucky – Their offense is just as impressive in their bye week as it is when they actually take the field.
8. South Carolina – unimpressive, but at least they won… more than the bottom 4 can say.
9. Ole Miss – The second of coming of Eli Manning is playing a lot more like a second coming of Brent Schaeffer.
10. Tennessee – Fulmer needs to get on the phone with Duke AD Kevin White about firing Cutcliffe. The Vols really aren’t the same without him.
11. Mississippi State – MSU’s offense has taken a major step backwards this year, which is tough considering how bad it was last year. You’ve got to think that Woody McCorvey’s days in Starkville are coming to an end.
12. Arkansas – Welcome to the SEC Mr. Petrino

Bobby Petrino's gmail account

Through my sources, I was able to obtain a sneak peek into Bobby Petrino's gmail account. If you must know, my best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who hacked into it at 31 Flavors last night.

Click on picture for full size

*UPDATE* Tapped into Tommy Tuberville,Houston Nutt, Sly Croom, and Phil Fulmer's email as well.

Week 4 Grades

Georgia: A-
Another workmanlike effort from the Bulldogs. They rolled up 461 total yds, held ASU to just 4 yds rushing, committed 0 turnovers, and watched as Knowshon added another ridiculous run to an already ridiculous highlight reel. The 12 penalties for 105 yds are a bit disconcerting as is the kickoff coverage.

In another classic LSU/Auburn game, the Bayou Bengals had a few more tricks up their sleeves and came out victorious. In something of an offensive explosion for this series, LSU rolled up nearly 400 yds of offense with two QBs making their first appearances in true road games in one of the most hostile environments in the country against one of the stoutest Ds in the country. Sure they gave up a lot of yds to a team that mustered just 3 points against MSU last weekend, but games in this rivalry take on a life of their own. Miles and staff will take it.

Alabama: B+
Another strong effort from the Tide this week, particularly considering the number of young guys playing their first true road game this season. Granted the competition was weak, but still no hiccups. The defense again proved to be stout, picking off 4 passes total, and returning 2 for TDs. A 9.4 ypc average is never a bad thing, though JPW was again off target, hitting on just 43% of his passes for 73 yds.

Florida: B
A dominating defensive performance for UF, but it’s not like UT is an offensive juggernaut. The Gators again struggled a bit on offense – only 243 total yds – but the defense and special teams stepped up in a big way. The Gators forced 3 Vol turnovers, returned a punt for a TD, and connected on all 3 of their FG attempts.

Vanderbilt: B
This was a huge road win in a swing game for Vandy’s bowl eligibility, but there still has to be some concern about the offense. The defense again bent but didn’t break as they gave up yardage but no offensive scores and forced 6 turnovers. The offense though only managed 202 yds.

Auburn: B-
While the defense was shredded by LSU, there were definite signs of life from a thus-far impotent offense… at least in the passing game. With LSU stacking up against the run, AU QB Chris Todd threw for 250 yds. The defense also returned an INT for a TD in one of the strangest looking plays you’ll ever see. My hunch is that the defensive lapse was an aberration and the Tigers will be back on track next week against UT.

South Carolina: C-
The Gamecocks were predictable flat against Wofford Saturday night, but they did come away with a much needed win. Surprisingly, Spurrier stuck with one QB – Smelley – for the entire game and was rewarded with fair-ta-middlin’ play – 204 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs – which is about par for the course this year for the ‘Cocks. The defense gave up a 4.3 ypc average, but given the circumstances, I don’t think that’s anything to be concerned with.

Tennessee: C-
The Vol defense did a great job bottling up Tebow and company, holding them to less than 250 total yds. The offense though continued its inconsistency. While they outgained the Gators 258-243, the Vols had a -3 TO margin and averaged just 3.1 ypc. The 95 yds in penalties certainly didn’t help the cause.

Ole Miss: D
Can’t flunk the Rebels as the defense held Vanderbilt to just over 200 yards and scored a TD on a fumble recovery. They also returned a kickoff for a TD, so it wasn’t all bad... just the offense, which was again careless with the ball. The yardage total is not terrible – 385 yds – but 6 turnovers in this league is a recipe for disaster.

Mississippi State: D-
The Bulldogs finally managed to roll up some yards offensively – 407 to be exact – but still continued to shoot themselves in the foot with 4 more turnovers. The defense never got off the bus, giving up 500 yds of offense and 38 points, which is well over half as many points as MSU has scored in 4 games this year. This one was never close.

Arkansas: D-
The Hogs faced their first real test Saturday and predictably thigns didn’t go so well. The Razorbacks were outclassed at every position and it showed. Casey Dick did throw 3 TDs… but 2 of them were to Alabama DBs. At least the punter did his job, averaging 43.4 ypk and leaving 3 inside the 20.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2008 Vanderbilt = 2007 Mississippi State?

Hats off to Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt making their first visit to the Top 25 in 24 years. The Commodores have run out to a 4-0 start and have a handful of winnable games left on their schedule. Barring a collapse, they'll be bowling for the first time since the Reagan administration.

Looking at how they're winning though, it's hard not to be reminded of Mississippi State last year. They're getting little production from their offense but riding special teams play and an opportunistic defense to one improbable win after another.

Take last night for an example. In their conference road opener in Oxford, the 'Dores returned an INT for a TD, forced 5 other turnovers, and walked out with a 23-17 win despite mustering only 202 yards of total offense. Last year in their conference road opener, MSU went to Auburn, completed just 5 passes, amassed just 213 total yards but returned an INT for a TD, forced 4 other TOs, and walked out with a 19-14 win.

This 'Dores team is built the same way. They're off to a better start than MSU was last year - LSU buried MSU on ESPN to open the season - and the Bulldogs never cracked the Top 25 like Vandy has. What remains to be seen is if they can duplicate the season-long success. Looking down the line, only the Florida and Georgia games seem impossible.

With East Carolina losing yesterday, Vandy has assumed the role of the Nation's Darling and Bobby Johnson is the unquestioned Coach of the Year. What a story it will be if the 'Dores can keep it up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friendly Reminder to all Auburn Fans

Be nice this weekend. The school administration demands it:

Dear Auburn Student,
I wanted to remind each of you about the importance of your support for our team and displaying character this weekend when L.S.U. fans and other guests arrive this weekend. First, please join me by agreeing to demonstrate your support for, and not criticism of, our football team. That means no booing! Remember, the team isn't trying to lose the game—the players work hard all spring and during fall camp to be ready to compete in the S.E.C. Let's show our appreciation for their hard work by encouraging them with loads enthusiasm! Secondly, help me show the world what I get to experience everyday: that Auburn men and women are special, dedicated, loyal, fun loving, bleed orange and blue, are compassionate, and demonstrate good will to others, even our competitors.

ESPN Game Day will be in town this weekend and we need everyone to come out and show them how much we support our team. Let's show Chris Fowler, Kirk Hebstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard true fan support and loyalty for Auburn!

The nation will be watching the next two weeks (ESPN, CBS next week), and lets remember to have a great time, enjoy the weekend's activities, watch our language and behavior, and display class, taste, and character in everything we do. I have every confidence you will.

War Eagle!!

Dr. Johnny Green, '85
Office of the Dean of
Suite 3248
Auburn University Student Center
Auburn Univ., AL 36849
Phone: 334-844-1304

SEC Power Poll Roundtable Responses

The full results are up here at Garnet and Black Attack, and there's some good stuff.

Highlights include:

Red Solo Cup's response on which game he wishes the Rebels could've postponed:

Could we go back in time and have Hannah postpone the Wake game? We played them so well but our inexperience got the best of us. To think that we actually threw a touchdown pass on fourth and 2 on the 3 only to give Wake Forest one minute to get into field goal range and win the game by two really reminds us that we are, in fact, Ole Miss.
Sea of Blue's response to which game you would most regret missing if the world were to end:
With the bad blood that has developed between these two teams, the kickoff of this game could be the collision that forms the black hole that eats the world.
And the Joe Cribbs Car Wash's response to the same:
Even if the Hadron Collider did destroy the Earth, I think the Gators want this one bad enough that their spirits would live on and try to goad the Dawgs into having a spirit-game on some other ... plane.
My full responses are here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rivals Top 100 NFL Draft Prospects

Yesterday, Rivals put up their early look at the NFL Draft Top 100 prospects. Needless to say, the SEC was well represented, landing 28 players on the list, including the top 3 spots. The wealth is spread out amongst the league as 10 teams land at least one player in the Top 100 and 7 teams have multiple players listed.

Given the SEC’s success churning out 1st round draft picks over last decade though, this should hardly be a surprise. It’s interesting to see the differences between Rivals and ESPN’s 2009 mock draft 1st round.

LSU leads the way with 6 players, followed by Florida with 5, Georgia with 4, Tennessee and Alabama with 3, Arkansas and Ole Miss with 2, and Auburn, South Carolina, and Mississippi State with 1 a piece. Here’s a look at the players and what Rivals has to say about each.

* indicates underclassmen

1. Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
Oher has a rare blend of size, athleticism and girth. He entered the 2008 NFL draft, then pulled out a few days later even though he was considered a first-round pick. New coach Houston Nutt is glad he stayed. This time around, Oher – now a senior – could be the first player taken in the draft. He is No. 1 on the list of the top 100 pro prospects and could be the second consecutive offensive tackle chosen No. 1 overall; the Miami Dolphins took Michigan's Jake Long with the No. 1 pick earlier this year.

2. Andre Smith *, OT, Alabama
A massive tackle with great feet, in the mold of former first-round pick Shawn Andrews.

3. Matthew Stafford *, QB, Georgia

The most natural pocket passer in the nation. He has a skill set similar to Carson Palmer's.

12. Knowshon Moreno *, RB, Georgia
He is the most "natural" running back in the nation, with a combination of vision, quickness and balance. He has a good burst and a second gear.

16. Jonathan Luigs, C, Arkansas

The best center prospect we have seen in the past five years.

18. Ricky Jean-Francois *, DT, LSU

Was the quickest and most disruptive LSU defensive lineman in the national championship game last season and, yes, that includes Glenn Dorsey.

20. Jermaine Cunningham *, DE, Florida

A compact, powerful end with speed, power and change-of-direction skill on the edge.

22. Herman Johnson, G, LSU
He's an amazing physical specimen at 6 feet 8 and 360 pounds who can move and re-direct in space. He's fluid and agile for a man his size.

23. Percy Harvin *, WR, Florida

An explosive athlete in space who can make a play any time he has the ball.

31. Tim Tebow *, QB, Florida

A dual run/pass threat who has all the intangibles. He can buy time in the pocket but needs to learn to read defenses more consistently in the passing game.

32. Geno Atkins *, DT, Georgia
Another explosive SEC three-technique defensive tackle. He will get a lot more attention from opposing linemen with the season-ending injury to Bulldogs DT Jeff Owens.

35. Derek Pegues, FS, Mississippi State
He is built and runs like a corner, but is a ballhawk as a safety.

36. Rico McCoy *, LB, Tennessee
Undersized but has the most impressive fluidity and range of any linebacker in the draft. He should really rise up draft boards.

39. Ciron Black *, OT, LSU
Displays a compact stance and moves well laterally. He can re-direct and has the quickness to reach the corner.

47. Greg Hardy *, DE, Ole Miss
His long limbs and speed make him difficult to block. He has the quickness to beat tackles outside or inside off the snap.

48. Brandon Spikes *, LB, Florida
A powerful linebacker who showcases good instincts inside, and does a nice job stacking and shedding versus the run.

53. Louis Murphy, WR, Florida
Showcases great deep speed and is a constant vertical threat. Is a raw route runner and lacks consistent hands.

57. Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina
A smooth tackle who can handle speed off the edge. He is coordinated re-directing but needs to improve his technique.

58. Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama
Has a great combination of power and athleticism. He is natural in space and gets a good push as an in-line run blocker.

64. Dannell Ellerbe, LB, Georgia
A sideline-to-sideline athlete who has a nose for the ball and makes plays all over the field.

68. Sen'Derrick Marks *, DT, Auburn
A big-bodied tackle who can eat up space on the inside, and shows the power to push the pocket and anchor versus the double-team.

69. Mitch Petrus, G, Arkansas
Ideal for a zone-blocking scheme. He displays great feet and body control, and can really get out to the second level.

72. Darry Beckwith, LB, LSU
Has a big, strong frame and is powerful attacking downhill. He has the athleticism to run sideline-to-sideline.
A strider who is sudden out of his breaks and does well going up and attacking the ball.

75. Anthony Parker, G, Tennessee
He's thickly built, with a compact frame. Has smooth lateral mobility and a strong punch, showcases good body control and never over-extends.

78. Keiland Williams *, RB, LSU
Dynamic with the ball in his hands, but lacks the girth and instincts to be successful between the tackles.

82. Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Possesses great size, length and suddenness off the edge. He needs to play with more power and more of a mean streak.

94. Arian Foster, RB, Tennessee
Possesses great size and quickness through the tackles, but tries to run like a scatback too often and doesn't lower his head and drive for tough yards.

100. Terrence Cody *, DT, Alabama
Displays amazing athleticism for a man who weighs 370 pounds. He could really soar up draft boards with a strong season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Week 4 Picks

No hurricane-delayed games this week as there's finally a healthy slate of conference games, including 2 major divisional showdowns in Auburn and Knoxville. All 5 conference teams in the AP Top 10 are in action.

Off This Week: Kentucky

Mississippi State (1-2, 0-1) at Georgia Tech (2-1)
11:30 CDT, ACC Raycom
All Time Series:
Georgia Tech 2-0
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia Tech -8.5

The Bulldogs will head down to Atlanta this weekend hoping to redeem themselves from one of the worst offensive showings ever nationally-televised. MSU mustered just 116 yds last week against Auburn, but - as usual - their defense kept them in the ballgame until the very end of it. They be facing another stout defense as GT ranks 27th in the country in total defense (255.7 ypg) and 37th in scoring defense (16.7 ppg). That's unfortunate for MSU as their offense ranks a woeful 106th (16.7 ppg) in the country and that's with 34 points against a 1-AA school.

The Bulldog D will be tested by the Yellow Jackets' triple option. It's been a successful transition so far this year for Paul Johnson and his staff, though it will be interesting to see how it works against a defense as quick and good as MSU's. They won't have to put up many points to win, but they may find the points tougher to come by than their previous games though.

When it's all said and done, the Yellow Jackets win this one. After such an anemic showing at home last weekend, there’s no way to pick MSU on the road this week. The Bulldogs haven't beaten a non-SEC BCS opponent since the Snow Bowl on NYE 2000.

Straight Up: Georgia Tech
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

(#9,#13)Alabama (3-0, 0-0) at Arkansas (2-0,0-0)
11:30 CDT, Raycom
All Time Series:
Alabama 10-8
Wednesday’s Line: Alabama -9.5

Arkansas will be out for revenge this year after last season's *ahem* controversial ending. But really, the biggest question in this game is which Alabama team will show up? The one that dominated Clemson and Western Kentucky? Or the one that needed its special teams to step up to get by Tulane. My hunch is that it's the former as Saban will have his players focused and ready to go.

The Hogs are averaging nearly 60 yds more per game than UAT (450-383), but based on competition level, it's not surprising. What's more telling though is the Tide is allowing 90 yds less per game than Arkansas is on defense (221-302). The Razorbacks - even with the extra week of preparation will find much tougher sledding this week. The rumor is that Petrino hasn't shown his full hand yet and was saving some tricks for the now-postponed Texas game, but until the Hogs put up points against a legitimate defense, that's just hearsay. The fact that they haven’t forced a turnover on defense is also disturbing.

The home team has won 4 straight in this one, but that trend stops this year. The Hogs just don't have the manpower to compete day in and day out in the SEC this year. Alabama wins big.

Straight Up: Alabama
Against the Spread: Alabama

(#4,#4)Florida (3-0, 0-0) at Tennessee (1-1,0-0)
2:30 CDT, CBS
All Time Series:
Tennessee 19-18
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -7.5

It's always entertaining when these two schools hook up, as the games are normally competitive and there's certainly no love lost between the two fan bases. This will a big test for UT QB Crompton as it will be just his 3rd career start. He was sharp last week against UAB, but looked lost for the majority of the UCLA game in week 1.

This will be the Gators' toughest defensive test to date. The Vols are rushing for 220+ ypg and averaging nearly 5 ypc. UF is only giving up 60 ypg, but have obviously not played a RB or OL like they'll encounter on Saturday. The Vols ability to pound the ball gives them a real shot at this game as the team that's rushed for more yds is 16-2 over the last 18 seasons. UT is only allowing 68 rush ypg, but like UF haven't faced an SEC-quality backfield.

In the end, the Gators just have too much firepower for the Vols to keep up with. Urban Meyer is 3-0 against Tennessee so far in his tenure in Gainesville and it's never been a good matchup for Fulmer, who's just 5-11 vs UF. Tebow shredded the Vols last year for 4 total TDs, and I expect more of the same this year, though a much closer game than the 39-pt blowout.

Straight Up: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

Wofford (2-0, 0-0) at South Carolina (1-2,0-2)
6:00 CDT
All Time Series:
South Carolina 17-4
Wednesday’s Line: N/A

The Gamecocks are the only team in conference playing a 1AA school this week, but after their last two games, they deserve it. This should (ideally) give Spurrier a chance to find a QB to stick with as his guy, but that won't happen. The Gamecock D may be a little disinterested in game after repeatedly holding the UGA offense down last week and not being rewarded for their efforts. South Carolina will obviously win this game, but it won't be pretty.

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

Vanderbilt(3-0, 1-0) at Ole Miss (2-1, 0-0)
6:00 CDT
All Time Series:
Ole Miss 46-34-2
Wednesday’s Line: Ole Miss -6.5

Vanderbilt heads down to Dixieland this weekend to take on Ole Miss. This has been a very competitive series lately. Though OM has won 12 of the last 15, many of the games have been very close. Vandy has taken 2 of the last 3, but both were in Nashville.

The ‘Dores have already exceeded some people’s expectations this season. They lead the conference in sacks with 10 and are 2nd in interceptions with 6, but rank just 68th in total defense in the country (357.3 ypg) and allow a surprising 5.1 ypp. The Rebels are actually ahead of VU in total defense, ranking 57th (333.0 ypg). They also sport the conference’s leading TD-tosser in Jevan Snead. He’ll have his work cut out for him against VU’s DBs.

If Vanderbilt can throw the ball effectively in this game, they’ll be tough to beat. QB Nickson and RB Hawkins average 170 ypg rushing, but the ‘Dores struggle through the air. With the Rebels’ DL getting healthier by the day, they’ll need a reliable aerial attack to keep the Rebels from stacking 8 or 9 guys in the box to stop the run.

If Vanderbilt wins this game, they’ll be 4-0 (2-0 in SEC) and ranked in the top 25. Let that sink in for a minute… now exhale, because it’s not gonna happen. The Rebels will be too hungry to pick up their first conference win since November 2006 and will pull this one out.

Straight Up: Ole Miss
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

(#6,#6)LSU (2-0, 0-0) at (#10,#9)Auburn(3-0, 1-0)
6:45 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series:
LSU 22-19-1
Wednesday’s Line: LSU -2.5

This is always one of the most entertaining and hard-fought games of the conference season and typically serves as a de facto SEC West Championship Game. LSU pulled a rabbit out of its hat last year to win 30-24 while AU used a few fortuitous calls from the men in stripes to win 7-3 in 2006. The last 4 games in this series have been decided by a combined 14 pts. The last two games in Auburn, the teams have combined for a total of 29 pts.

This year’s game will much more resemble the 2006 slugfest than last year’s offensive explosions. Both teams have questions on offense – LSU wonders which QB will play, Auburn wonders why they switched to the spread… We all knew there would be growing pains going to the new offensive scheme, but no one expected what they saw Saturday night. As an aside, the offense looked pretty crisp last year against Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, rolling up 420 yds and only committing 1 turnover all game. What happened?

This game is going to come down to the QBs. Both teams have stout Ds – Auburn ranks 1oth in the country 213.7 ypg, LSU 12 at 219.0 ypg – and a handful of explosive RBs, and Tuberville says that Brad Lester may even be back this weekend. The QBs are a different story. LSU and Auburn rank 76th and 96th respectively in passing offense. At this point, the advantage has to go to LSU as Auburn doesn’t have a QB on its roster who moves around well enough and smart enough to effectively operate the spread.

AU was my preseason pick to win the West, but now I’m not so sure. LSU is certainly not without weaknesses, but theirs are less glaring than AU’s. If LSU can minimize mistakes offensively, they’ll win this one behind the strength and size of their gargantuan OL and DL. The home team has won this game 8 straight years, but that trend ends this season.

Straight Up: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

(#3,#3)Georgia (3-0, 1-0) at (NR,#24)Arizona State (2-1)
7:00 CDT, ABC
All Time Series:
First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -7

This was hyped as one of the big marquee non-conference matchups of the year headed into the season. It’s lost some of its luster with the Sun Devil’s tank job last week against UNLV, but it will still be a statement game for one of the teams involved.

While it’s hard to get a read on ASU so far this year – their stats (except for that whole W/L record) have been propped up by mediocre competition – they do typically score a lot of points. QB Carpenter has been on the roster since the Reagan administration and has put up some gaudy passing #s in his tenure. If this game comes down to a FG, the advantage goes to the Sun Devils as they boast one of the country’s top kickers.

As for the outcome, I’ll believe it’s going to be competitive when I see it. I don’t think that the Sun Devils have the talent to handle the ‘Dawgs for 4 quarters. I also don’t believe UGA’s offense will struggle like it did last week for 2 consecutive games. This one may be competitive early, but in the end, the ‘Dawgs run away with it.

Straight Up: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

SEC Power Poll, Week 3

1. Florida, 261 points (8 first-place votes)

2. Georgia, 257 (14)

3. LSU, 233 (1)

4. Alabama, 205

5. Auburn, 174

6. Vanderbilt, 161

7. Tennessee, 122

8. Mississippi, 121

9. South Carolina, 96

10. Kentucky, 89

11. Arkansas, 39

12. Mississippi State, 36

It's interesting to me to see that UGA got 14/23 first place votes, but dropped to 24 points behind Florida for the top spot. While the Gators and 'Dawgs duke it out at the top, Arkansas and Mississippi State are - in the eyes of our voters - easily the two worst teams in conference. This whole thing will start to shake itself out in the next two weekends as most teams get away from a diet of cupcakes.

To read all the incredibly intelligent and snarky comments voters made, check out the original post on Garnet and Black Attack.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My SEC Power Poll Ballot, Week 3

The full poll is coming out later tonight, but here's how I see it:

1. Georgia: Didn't play well Saturday in Columbia, but they got the win. That's the mark of a great team

2. Florida: We'll know much more about the Gators after this week as the defense will face tough test against Vols power run game

3. LSU: Even with up and down QB play, these Tigers seem to have less questions on offense than Auburn. This week's showdown on the Plains will be another classic.

4. Auburn: Al Borges, please pick up the white courtesy phone

5. Alabama: Much better effort than the near debacle against Tulane. Can they keep it up headed into conference play?

6. Vanderbilt: If not for Skip Holtz, Bobby Johnson would be the national coach of the year so far

7. Ole Miss: If the Rebels beat Vandy on Saturday, they'll match their win total from last year. Of course, that's a big if

8. Tennessee: Much improved performance for the Vols, dominating UAB. Now, can they stop the mighty Gators?

9. Kentucky: Still not convinced the 'Cats will be able to win in conference with that offense, but so far so good

10. South Carolina: The Gamecocks just don't have an SEC-ready QB on the roster. With all the rotating Spurrier does, they'll never be able to develop one either

11. Mississippi State: Bulldog fans have to wonder about Croom's decision-making after the game Saturday night

12. Arkansas: Actually benefitted from Hurricane Ike as they remain undefeated for an addition week

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week 3 Grades

Alabama: A
The Tide rolled up 557 yds of offense, held the ball for 37:21, had a 30-9 first down edge, and converted 9/14 3rd downs. Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers managed less than 160 yds of offense.

Tennessee: A-
Much better effort than inexcusable loss @UCLA 2 weeks ago. The Vols amassed 540 yds of offense and actually stuck with the running game this week, instead of abandoning it like Game 1. Their running game gives them at least a puncher's chance against the Gators next week.

Vanderbilt: B+
Another solid win for the 'Dores. Positives - The defense pitched a shutout in the 2nd half, VU rushed for 270+ yds, and they committed 0 TOs. The only real negative was that they were again inefficient throwing the ball. Once they get to the meat of conference season, they'll need to be able to go to the air to keep the Ds they face off balance.

Georgia: B-
It wasn't easy or pretty, but the 'Dawgs got the job done, and I guess that's the bottom line. They committed 0 TOs, held SC to 18 yds rushing, and averaged nearly 50 yds per punt.

Let's assume it was rust from the hurricane, but North Texas gave up 45 pts to Kansas State and 56 to Tulsa, so it's somewhat surprising to see LSU "only" score 41. The D was again dominant, but the QB play was less than great against a porous pass defense.

South Carolina: C+
The defense again was stout, holding UGA to ~250 yds of offense, but - again - the offense just couldn't score any points. It's hard to grade them any lower here because I don't know how much better they really could've done.

Kentucky: C-
UK was a shoestring tackle on the 2 yd line away from almost a repeat of the Bluegrass Miracle against LSU a few years back. The 352 yds passing they gave up is way too much, though 1.3 ypc the defense put up is much better. Offensive inefficiencies still concern me headed towards conference play.

Ole Miss: C-
The Rebels were flat as expected after the heartbreaker last weekend @Wake Forest. The defense forced 0 turnovers and QB Snead didn't throw a TD, but did end up with 2 interceptions. A 77 yd punt return for a TD was the bright spot in an otherwise lackluster game.

Mississippi State: D+
The defense was good, forcing 3 TOs, but the offense set new records for ineptitude: 6 first downs, 118 yds of offense, 0/14 on 3rd downs, 1,3 ypc, etc. etc. One of the ugliest games I've ever seen.

Auburn: D
Yes, their defensive numbers were gaudy, but that had as much or more to do with the fact that MSU's offense is horrible than it did AU's performance. AU managed just 3/16 3rd downs and lost 3 fumbles. It's a win, and Tuberville will take it, but his confidence can't be high heading into the uber-showdown next week with LSU.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Random Thoughts before I go to bed...

* Auburn and Mississippi State just set football back 50 years. I mentioned earlier I love hard-hitting defensive battles, but the inept offenses were as bad as the defenses were good in this one. I gotta believe LSU is the team to beat in the West now.

* Another type of football game I enjoy is the kind where Ohio State gets pounded like the rented mules they are. Although it sucks for Florida or Georgia to have to play a legitimate opponent in the BCS title game, at least the game will be somewhat competitive. Those hacks in Columbus have nearly bored me to tears the last two seasons.

* If the Tide play like they did today and in Week 1, they'll beat the Hapless Hogs by 4 TDs. next week. They won't need phantom pass interference calls to do it either.

* Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks are toast. Judging by his demeanor on the sidelines, the OBC has lost his passion for the game. While the D kept the game close today, the offense was sad again. 18 rushing yds? The Gamecocks are 0-2 in the SEC East and have a -4 TO margin in conference play.

* Vandy is 3-0. Again. Will this be the year they come through and go bowling? Next week's game in Oxford will be a big test. Looks like the Rebels were flat tonight, but after last week's heartbreaker, that's not surprising.

* Just saw how that UK/MTSU game ended... wow. A little karmic retribution for the Bluegrass Miracle a few years back. What a devastating loss that would have been for the Big Blue.

* Stumbled across this flow chart on "How to Argue College Football". Good stuff.

Friday, September 12, 2008

SEC Power Poll Roundtable, Week 2

1. Pretend for a minute that Vanderbilt wasn't 2-0, then answer this question: What has been the most surprising thing in the SEC so far this season?

While I’m sure a lot of people are going to say Arkansas’s ineptitude, I can’t say that’s the most surprising thing. They were projected to be bad. Maybe not this bad, but bad.

To me, it’s how poor the QB play has been for the Gamecocks this year. While it’s obvious Spurrier’s best days are behind him, it’s still amazing to me that he can’t get a QB to just manage the game and not lose it for him. Through two games, USC QBs are completing a respectable 60% of their passes, but have thrown 6 interceptions to just 4 TDs. The Gamecocks have a strong defense, but unless someone steps up under center, it’ll be a disappointing year in Columbia.

2. Conference action has either just begun for most teams, or will Sept. 20. (The exception is Kentucky, which I believe plays I-AA teams until mid-November.) From what you've seen so far, how will your team fare in your division? If it's not going to win, which team will?

Even with its offensive ups and downs so far this year, I still think Auburn wins the West. We’ll know much more next weekend after LSU visits the Plains, but there’s few better gameday coaches than Tuberville and I suspect the AU Tigers will be sharp in that game They just need to avoid a letdown Saturday against MSU.

As for the East, I’ll stick with my original pick of the Gators. UGA took over my #1 spot in the SEC Power Poll, but I’ll stick with my guns and the Gators until proven otherwise.

3. Which SEC player that few of us are paying attention to is poised to have a breakout season? Try to choose someone not on your team.

Almost by default, it seems you could choose nearly any pass receiver on Arkansas’ team. After years of being in a run-first offense, they’re now immersed fully in the pass-happy Petrino offense. TE DJ Williams is the obvious choice so far, already doubling his reception total from last year (10/5) and catching his first two career TDs.

4. Both Arkansas and LSU have had games delayed because of hurricanes. If you could choose a game on your team's current schedule to get postponed because of inclement weather, which game would you choose and why?


5. So, the Large Haldron Collider hasn't destroyed the Earth -- so far, anyway. But had the world ended Wednesday morning, which SEC game would you have most regretted missing? Assuming, of course, you had been around to regret it. (Head...hurts...)

If the LSU/Alabama game were in Baton Rouge last year, it would be the no-brainer. This year, some of the hatred has dissipated as the Tigers are the defending BCS champs. The Cocktail Party is probably the default answer here as it’s most like a de facto SEC East Championship game. For me, I like hard-hitting defensive battles, so I’ll take next week’s LSU/Auburn game. These two teams always play classic battles and there’s always a lot on the line as they’re the two marquee programs in the SEC West and have been for several years.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rivals 2008-09 Preseason Basketball Rankings

As usual, lost in all the hoopla surrounding the football season is the rapidly approaching basketball season. Rivals is well in to their preseason countdown of the the top 65 teams. Here's how they see the SEC teams:

#10: Tennessee
#19: Florida
#39: LSU
#40: Kentucky
#42: Ole Miss
#45: Alabama
#55: Vanderbilt

SEC Power Poll Week 2

Beginning this season, I joined up with several other SEC Bloggers in the voting on the Weekly SEC Power Poll. My apologies for not posting it last week, but I was fighting a losing battle against the Stomach Bug of Doom.

To see what voters had to say about each team, check out Garnet and Black Attack.

The way I see it:
1. Georgia
2. Florida
3. Auburn
4. Alabama
5. LSU
6. Vanderbilt
7. Kentucky
8. Ole Miss
9. Tennessee
10. South Carolina
11. Mississippi State
12. Arkansas

Week 3 Picks

For the second straight week, the SEC slate will be one game short as Ike makes its way towards Texas. Hog fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they’ll stay undefeated one more week.

Off This Week: Florida, Arkansas

UAB (0-2) at Tennessee (0-1, 0-0)
11:30 CDT, Raycom
All Time Series:
Tennessee 2-0
Wednesday’s Line: Tennessee -30

With 2 weeks to sulk about the inexcusable loss at UCLA, the Vols will not be in the best of moods when they take on the Blazers Saturday. The hapless Blazers will be the perfect punching bag for UT, as they’ve already give up 94 points in two games this year against Tulsa and Florida Atlantic. They also sit squarely on the waiting list of ESPN’s Bottom 10 List.

The last time the Blazers rolled into Knoxville, they nearly pulled the upset. No chance this year. While I don’t want to give up 4+ TDs to a team that looked as inept as the Vols did in Week 1, my guess is Fulmer doesn’t call off the dogs until late in this one as he tries to get his team in rhythm with Florida visiting next week. Fulmer will improve to 17-1 against current C-USA teams with a big victory this weekend. Look for the Vols to just hit the number, possibly with an Eric Berry TD to put them over the edge.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

(#2,#2)Georgia (2-0, 0-0) at South Carolina (1-1, 0-1)
2:30 CDT, CBS
All Time Series:
Georgia 44-15-2
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -7.5

A revenge-minded UGA team will head to Columbia this weekend to face a desperate Gamecock squad needing a win to even stay relevant in the SEC East race. Last year, South Carolina held UGA to 4 FGs and pulled the upset. This year though, will be an entirely different story.
These are two teams heading in opposite directions. After going through the motions in the Week1 victory over Georgia Southern, the Bulldogs were sharp last week, dismantling a capable MAC foe in Central Michigan. The Gamecocks blew out a terrible NCST team in week 1, but had their offensive inefficiencies exposed against Vanderbilt last week. The revolving door QB situation in Columbia has already proven ineffective and shows no signs of getting better, particularly against a defensive front like UGA’s.

While the Gamecock D is stout, they’ll wear down by the end of this game. The offense – regardless of which QB is in - will produce too many 3 & Outs for the D to remain fresh. This game should be close at half time, with the ‘Dawgs tacking on 10-14 points in the 4th to win comfortably. Look for a 27-10 final, and USC's 6th straight SEC loss.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

Western Kentucky (1-1) at (#11,#16)Alabama (2-0, 1-1)
6:00, PPV
All Time Series:
First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: Alabama -28

After rocking Clemson in Week 1, Alabama was understandably flat against Tulane in Week 2. With conference season opening up next week, the Tide will be a bit more focused this week against a game WKU team. The Hilltoppers return 14 starters from last year’s 7-5 team and are coming off a win at Eastern Kentucky. While they obviously don’t have the horses to run with the Tide for 60 minutes, 4 TDs is too much to give in this one.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Western Kentucky

(#7,#7)Auburn (2-0, 0-0) at Mississippi State (1-1, 0-0)
6:00 CDT, ESPN2
All Time Series:
Auburn 56-23-2
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn -10.5

It should’ve been obvious to everyone what sort of season MSU was in for last year when they upset Auburn on the Plains. The Bulldogs completed just 5 passes and Tommy Tuberville outcoached himself as the Bullies pulled the 19-14 upset of the Tigers. No chance of a repeat this year.

While the Tigers’ offense has certainly been less than perfect this year, the defense has been stout. Couple that with an MSU offense that has been paltry at best and it’s an easy pick for AU to when this game. Much like the USC/UGA game, MSU’s defense will probably keep the Bulldogs close for a half. In the end though, the offense just won’t be able to get it done against AU and the defense will wear down.

MSU was the feel-good story of the year in the SEC last year. Unfortunately, nearly every other team in the league improved, while the Bullies seemingly stayed about the same. Look for the AU RBs to wear down the MSU front 7 as the game goes along and the Tigers pull away in the 2nd half.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Auburn

Samford (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-1, 0-0)
6:00 CDT
All Time Series:
Tied 1-1
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

About the only thing interesting I can come up with for this game is that Samford just rolled Faulkner 62-0 and Oxford was home to Pulitzer Prize winning author William Faulkner. Nutt will use this game to pad his RBs’ stats.

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

Rice (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0, 1-0)
6:00 CDT
All Time Series:
Vanderbilt 2-1
Wednesday’s Line: Vanderbilt -7.5

The ‘Dores are one of the real surprises this year, scoring 2 upset victories to start the season. The Rice Owls were expected to score a lot of points and have certainly not disappointed, having scored 98 through 2 games. This will be a stiff test for the ‘Dores’ vaunted pass D. Rice chucks the ball all over field – 7 pass TDs – and compliments it with an adequate running game. Defensively, the Owls are not strong and VU QB Nickson should find plenty of running room off the edges.

When it’s all said and done, I think the ‘Dores walk away with a 1 TD victory, somewhere in the area of 31-24. The VU offense should move the ball well and, while the Owls will put points up, they’ll turn the ball over one too many times to steal a win.

Straight Up Winner: Vanderbilt
Against the Spread: Rice

MTSU (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0, 0-0)
6:00 CDT, PPV
All Time Series:
Kentucky 1-0
Wednesday’s Line: Kentucky-16.5

The only real drama here will be if UK can open the season with three straight games of not allowing a TD on defense. The offense should continue to improve as the brutal conference slate draws nearer, but it’s still a work in progress. Look for a low scoring game and the Big Blue coming out on top.

Straight Up Winner: Kentucky
Against the Spread: MTSU

North Texas (0-2) at (#9,#9)LSU (1-0, 0-0)
7:00 CDT, PPV
All Time Series:
LSU 3-0
Wednesday’s Line: LSU -41.5

Like OM/Samford, there’s no way to make this game interesting if you’re not an LSU fan. It’ll be ugly from the opening kick.

Normally, I’m against giving anyone 6 TDs. But it’s a night game at Tiger Stadium against the worst defensive team in the country and LSU has some on—field practice to be had with Gustav postponing last week’s game. The Mean Green have already give up 101 points this season. Look for LSU to have 42 points at half time.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: LSU

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Week 3 Picks will be late

Week 3 picks will probably be up tomorrow morning. Between my bout with the stomach virus and playing catch up at work, I doubt I have time today to everything pulled together.

Until then, I'll leave you with this gem from the Commercial Appeal.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week 2 Grades

Dead Guy's Tip of the Day: Avoid the stomach virus going around at all costs. I've been laid up since Thursday afternoon, so these are a day late. Hopefully not a dollar short though.

Vanderbilt: A
What can you say about the 'Dores? They were picked last in the East by nearly everybody and have opened the season with two nearly flawless performances. They beat South Carolina despite being outgained by 100 yards, though they did force 3 turnovers. Bobby Johnson may start to live up to his hype this year.

Georgia: A-
With a stretch of tough games coming up, UGA was much more in rhythm this week, blowing out a good MAC team.

Kentucky: A-
Two games in and no touchdowns allowed by the Big Blue. While the competition has been weak, it's still a marked improvement over the porous 'Cat D from last year. The offense was much better in Week 2 as well.

Auburn: B+
Much better passing game for the Tigers Saturday, throwing for nearly 250 yds. The defense basically turned USM one-dimensional, holding the Eagles to 37 yds on the ground.

Florida: B
Speaking of improved defense, the Gators again looked strong, holding the 'Canes to less than 150 yds of offense. They did struggle a bit running the ball though, only gaining 3.3 ypc.

Mississippi State: B
Much better effort all around form the Bulldogs this week. The offense managed 401 total yds and the defense held the Lions to less than 150. While it was against 1AA competition, it's still something to build on for future games.

Ole Miss: B
The Rebels were one play here or there from earning a huge win. The QB situation seems to be well in hand, but they're obviously still learning the "Wild Rebel" formation. Still, hard to fault the effort in a last second loss to ranked team on the road.

Alabama: C
Not an unexpected flat effort by the Tide. I'm sure it's hard to get up for Tulane after embarrassing Clemson in front of a national TV audience. The offense was horrible - 173 total yards - but the special teams and defense were dominant.

Arkansas: D+
A fantastic effort by the offense - 500+ yds - was nearly wasted as the Hogs again had to rally in the final minutes to beat an opponent they should handle with ease. Lots of kinks to work out in Fayetteville.

South Carolina: D+
Being handled by Vandy on Thursday night in front of the country was not the way Spurrier and USC imagined opening conference season. The QB situation in Columbia may be beyond repair

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Week 2 Picks

OFF THIS WEEK: Tennessee, LSU (postponed due to hurricanes)

(#24,#24)S. Carolina (1-0, 0-0) at Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0)
7:30 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series:
South Carolina 14-3
Wednesday’s Line: South Carolina -10

Both teams picked up blowout wins last week, but only Vandy can really feel good about the way they won. Spurrier has benched original starting QB Beecher in favor of Chris Smelley who was average at best last season, but looked good in mop up duty last week. Meanwhile the Commodores hope to get QB production like they did last week when Nickson accounted for 255 total yards and 3 TDs. The 'Dores also picked off 3 passes, so USC's QBs will have to be smart with the football.

Last year was Spurrier's first ever loss to Vanderbilt (14-1) and he wants no part of a 2-game losing streak to Vandy. While the offense will most likely sputter again, the defense is too strong for the 'Dores to counter. Nickson won't be able to find the same holes he did against Miami(Ohio) last week. VU is just 1-8 in Nashville against the Gamecocks, soon to be 1-9. With revenge on their mind, look for the Gamecocks to earn a comfortable victory.

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

Southern Miss (1-0) @ (#9,#10)Auburn (1-0, 0-0)
11:30 CDT, Raycom
All Time Series:
Auburn 16-5
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn -17.5

The Tigers are coming off an impressive defensive performance against Louisiana-Monroe. Much like South Carolina though, the Tigers have a lot of room for improvement on the offensive end. While they gashed ULM for 320+ yds rushing, their QB tandem was... well... awful, finishing 13-27 for 85 yds, much of which came in garbage time. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, are coming off a huge offensive performance against ULaLa, running up more than 600 yds of offense.

While USM inexplicably fired long-time HC Bower last season, new HC Fedora made a big impression in Game 1. Not so much in game 2. The offense that ran wild against ULaLa will find much tougher sledding against these Tigers. Auburn OC Tony Franklin says he's going to work on the QB rotation to try and shore up the offense. He'll need to get it figured out this week as conference play starts next weekend. While this one will be closer than AU would like, the Tigers' stout D and stable of SEC-caliber RBs will be too much for USM to handle for 60 minutes.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: USM

Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0) @ (#20,#20)Wake Forest (1-0)
2:30 CDT, ABC
All Time Series:
Wake Forest 1-0
Wednesday’s Line: Wake Forest -8.5

Both Ole Miss and Wake Forest are coming off Week 1 blowout wins and impressive offensive performances. The Rebels handled Memphis while the Deacons took out Baylor. Neither football powerhouses, but both teams needed good starts to the 2008 season. While Wake did most of their damage through the air - WFU QB Riley Skinner was on target hitting on 75% of his passes for 220 yds and 3 TDs - the Rebels used a power running game - 216 rush yds and 3 TDs to win Houston Nutt's debut as HC in Oxford.

If Hurricane Hanna has anything to say about this game, OM may keep it close enough to scare Wake. With a stable of good backs and a huge OL, a mudfest would favor the Rebels. Chances are though, talent and experience will win out though. The Deacons have established themselves as one of the top programs in the ACC, and while that's not saying much, at this point, WFU is farther along in the game than the Rebels are.

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

Central Michigan (1-0, 0-0) @ (#2,#2)Georgia (1-0, 0-0)
2:30 CDT, FSN South
All Time Series:
First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: Georgia -24

The Chippewas roll into Athens Saturday afternoon looking for back-to-back victories to open the season for the first time since 2002. Obviously, it's not going to happen. Apparently, calling the 'Dawgs off last weekend with the score 38-0 over a 1AA opponent wasn't the right call in the voters' minds as UGA dropped to #2 in both polls. This is just another example of how worthless polls are at this point.

Look for the 'Dawgs to play their starters more this week to establish a good, crisp rhythm heading into the first killer stretch of their ridiculous schedule. For that reason alone, the 'Dawgs may just cover the larger-than-wanted number.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: Georgia

Louisiana-Monroe (1-0) @ Arkansas (1-0, 0-0)
6:00 CDT (Little Rock)
All Time Series:
Arkansas 7-0
Wednesday’s Line: Arkansas -13

After scraping by 1-AA Western Michigan last week, the Hogs welcome in ULM, fresh off being shellacked by Auburn. Arkansas will be looking for a significantly better offensive performance. Arkansas has scored 44+ points in the last 4 meetings between these two schools, but they may score 24 this go round. ULM has beaten 3 SEC teams since 1995, so an upset is not an impossibility. As bad as the Hogs looked in week 1, you gotta figure they'll bounce back a little better, right? At this point though, 2 TDs is probably a little much for Arkansas to give.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: ULM

SE Louisiana (1-0) @ Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0)
6:00 CDT
All Time Series:
First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

The Bulldog offense was as bad last Saturday as it was in the Spring Game> They couldn’t get anything done and while the defense looked good at times, it’ll be without Jamar Chaney for the rest of the season. MSU will be fine without him against SELA this weekend. The offense though will need to improve. SELA already has one road victory in the state of Mississippi (Alcorn St last week) and MSU has lost inexplicable games at home before (Maine). It won’t happen again this weekend though. The Bully RBs will have an easy time with SELA and hopefully open up the passing game for the MSU QBs.

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

Norfolk State (1-0) @ Kentucky (1-0, 0-0)
5:00 CDT
All Time Series:
First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

It’s a new era for the Big Blue Nation when they win a game with defense. The ‘cats smothered Louisville last week and will have another gimme this week. This is Norfolk State’s 2nd game ever against a 1A opponent, having been thrashed by Rutgers last year 59-0. UK could theoretically start the season by not giving up a defensive point in the first two games of the season. A win Saturday will give UK HC Rich Brooks 27 wins, and will move him out of a tie for 6th on the school’s all-time list. He currently is tied with slow-talking Bill Curry. Big win for the Big Blue.

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

Tulane (0-0) @ (#13, #17)Alabama (1-0, 0-0)
6:00 CDT
All Time Series:
Alabama 26-11-3
Wednesday’s Line: Alabama -30

No team across the country had a more impressive opening game than the Tide did. They dominated an overmatched Clemson team from the word “go” and basically embarrassed them on national TV. They’ll be sky high when they take the field Saturday night against Tulane. The Green Wave will be making their season debut, so who knows how crisp they’ll be. Actually, it won’t matter how well they operate. They’ll be overmatched against this Tide team, particularly with this being the home opener in Tuscaloosa.

This is the line this week that I just can’t get a feel for. Alabama should beat them by 4 TDs, but how focused will they be after such a perfect performance last week? With the Tide having another gimme next week against Western Kentucky, I can’t see Saban playing his starters too deep into this one. I see something like a 38-10 game in this one.

Straight Up Winner: Alabama
Against the Spread: Tulane

Miami (1-0) @ (#5, #5)Florida (1-0, 0-0)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series:
Miami 28-25
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -21.5

It’s been 23 years since the Gators beat the Hurricanes and UF will have their best shot to break that 6-game losing streak to Miami Saturday night in the Swamp. Both teams looked good in season-opening romps, though neither involved stiff competition.

For the Gators, they’ll welcome back WR/RB/BMF Percy Harvin. As good as UF’s offense was last week against Hawaii, you’ve got to think it can’t hurt to bring a 1st team All-SEC performer back into the mix. With less Tebow and more explosive speed at every position, the Gators should have no problems scoring against Miami.

The Gator secondary should have another solid outing Saturday as the ‘Canes brought back just 11 starters from last year’s team. Prior to last week, no Miami QB had thrown a pass in a college game. In addition to the hype that naturally surrounds this game, QB Robert Marve will be making his debut for UM this weekend as well.

This should be a good chance for the Gators to let off some steam and beat a rival to a pulp. No current Gator or Hurricane has played in this rivalry, but they know all about it. It’s embarrassing for UF to have gone 2 ½ decades without beating UM and they’ll do their best to make it up to their fans Saturday night. Urban Meyer’s not much on letting up on lesser foes, so the 3 TDs is reasonable.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida