Archive for September, 2013

SEC Power Rankings Week 5: Red Rises To The Top

OK, so the best game of the week (predictably) was in Athens, when Georgia took on LSU. The game wasn’t exactly defensively-minded, with the Dawgs coming out 44-41. In other worlds, Alabama reminded Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss that they had a lot of work to do still, while South Carolina and, er, Tennessee survived scares against mighty UCF and the even mightier South Alabama. Oh, and the Tyler Murphy experiment in Florida rolled to 2-0 after they slapped Kentucky.

So here are our SEC Power Rankings:

1) Alabama – Beat Ole Miss comfortably. There are still worries about the running game (which came good in the second half), but the defense is one of the best in the SEC. Theirs and Florida, anyway.

2) Georgia – There’s no doubt for us that the Bulldogs have the offensive talent to win the SEC East, but despite the ‘D’ coming up with the stop when they needed it at an ear-shattering Sanford Stadium, it’s still a worry. Still, winning a game 44-41 is better than losing a game 44-41, eh?

3) LSU – This is a young LSU team that fell down our SEC power rankings poll after their loss against Georgia, but Zach Mettenberger throwing to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry can keep any team in a game. Those two NFL wide receivers are unreal. Defensively, they definitely lack though.

4) Florida –  Tyler Murphy’s got the offense just beginning to click. That’s why they put up 407 yards on Kentucky on Saturday. Yes, we know it’s not Kentucky, but this team’s ‘D’ is absolutely tremendous. LSU and Georgia: Watch out. This is a team on the rise.

5) Texas A&M – Failed to beat the spread about Arkansas, but Johnny Manziel is still fantastic. Even if the defense really, really isn’t. Still the funnest team in college football to watch….by a mile.

6)  South Carolina – The injury to Connor Shaw could well put Shaw out for a few weeks, but Dylan Thompson is a ready-made replacement. That’ll be why the Gamecocks QB tandem is one of the best in the conference. Their running game is solid, thanks to Mike Davis – and we saw that with a 167 yard, 3-TD performance against UCF, who gave them the scare of their lives. Defensively-wise, can they continue getting in these shoot-outs? Steve Spurrier’s still not loving the defense, either. And as for Jadeveon Clowney….

7) Ole Miss – We thought Rebels fans were crazy when they talked about beating Alabama and the Crimson Tide being unable to deal with their fast-paced offense. Well, they were shut-out and limited to 205 yards total, including just 46 rushing.

8) Vanderbilt – No huge points for beating the crap out of UAB, but we will say this: It was never close (unlike the UMass game last week), and Jonathan Krause is looking like a legitimate No.2 receiver for the Commodores after getting his second straight 100-yards receiving game. But defensively we’re not excited about the Commodores, and when Vandy plays strong opposition (South Carolina, Georgia and Florida), we think they’ll struggle. Badly.

9) Auburn – This fast-paced Auburn offense is going to be fun to watch, folks. But the defense will give you heart attacks. The Ole Miss game this week is going to be awesome to watch. Unless you like defense.

10) Missouri – The latest evisceration of a not-particularly-quality opponent hasn’t got us standing and saying: ‘This Mizzou team could upset some people!). But as we’ve said repeatedly, the James Franklin-to-Dorial Green-Beckham combo could be a lot of fun. Still, we wait to see how Mizzou will do against quality SEC opponents.

11) Arkansas – Gave Texas A&M the scare of their life, and it’s no shame losing 45-33, especially with a rebuilding team at home. Alex Collins had ANOTHER 100-yard (plus) rushing game (that’s four out of five), which is a plus. But Brandon Allen makes too many mistakes at QB and their defensive game really isn’t strong. Don’t expect a huge about from the Hogs, fans. Bret Bielema’s got a huge rebuilding project.

12) Mississippi State – Had a bye week which will help the team offensively. Dan Mullen’s team aren’t really that good, though.

13)= Tennessee – You know when a team’s in trouble when they SURVIVED SOUTH ALABAMA.

13)= Kentucky – Offense was quietened by one of the best defenses in college football in Florida on Saturday. Something has to click somewhere to give Wildcats fans a reason to be optimistic, and funnily enough, the defense hasn’t played horrifically. We still predict that the battle of the SEC Zero-fors will happen when the Wildcats play the Vols on Nov 30th.

 

 

Week 5 Predictions: Dawgs? Tigers? Rebels? Or Tide?

The SEC wasn’t exactly up to scratch last week. Tennessee reminded us how poor the bottom of the conference actually is, while Arkansas reminded us that if they are truly ‘back’, they’d better beat superpowers like Rutgers…..which they didn’t but should have.

Anyway, on the slate today are exciting match-ups between LSU and Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss, and a tricky one for Texas A&M (who can’t stop the run) against Arkansas.

So here we go…

LSU at UGA

There’s usually fireworks when these two play each other – which is why Les Miles and Mark Richt are 4-4 in the last eight meetings between each other. Some Georgia fans are still FUMING about the AJ Green celebration penalty in 2009.

This year, both sides have been pretty great. UGA is 3-1 after losing at Clemson (no disgrace), while LSU’s offensive co-ordinator seems to be making miracles with QB Zach Mettenberger, who’s looked sharp in his games for the Tigers. Of course, he’s been helped by the SEC’s best WR duo of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, and a good running back stable which includes formerly disgraced running back Jeremy Hill, who was let off after just one game for one of the world’s worst blindside punches. Speaking of which, Hill’s been delivering a lot of those ON the field too- just ask Auburn.

However, Aaron Murray’s doing a pretty great job at QB this year for the Dawgs, and RB Todd Gurley continues to be something special. But what’s not special – we’re sad to say, are both team’s defenses. Their inexperience are a big reason why this one’s going to be fun.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a three-point spread in Georgia’s favour, which means that Vegas believes this going to be pretty even. We predict Georgia by more than the spread. But in one hell of a game.

Ole Miss at Alabama

Dear University of Alabama, this is NOT the same Ole Miss side that you’ve played recently. This Ole Miss side can pass, catch, run, and also disrupt your offensive line, too. This is a pretty good Ole Miss side, Alabama. Hugh Freeze has got the Rebels energized, excited, and his incredible recruitments have meant that Ole Miss is on an upward curve.

Don’t worry, Alabama, you’ll be OK. You’ve got one of the best QBs and THE BEST game manager in AJ McCarron. Your offensive line is raw but it’ll be OK. Amari Cooper’s a great wide receiver. Your running back TJ Yeldon is almost unstoppable. And your defense – despite getting ripped to shreds by Hurricane Johnny at Kyle Field – is still great. Oh, and you’ve got the best coach in college football in Nick Saban. And you’re at home.

BOTTOM LINE: 

Alabama to win, but by under the 14-1/2 points that they are favorite.

Texas A&M at Arkansas

For a moment there, Texas A&M was a four point favorite against Arkansas. But now, we know Vegas was slightly out of its mind. In the quick of an Aggies drive, A&M moved to a more spirited 14-1/2 points in the favourite column. And we still think it’s a little low. Here’s why: Arkansas has pretty much struggle all season long. Yes, Alex Collins is no doubt a great running back. We get that. But Brandon Allen has struggled at Arkansas’ QB. The Arkansas defense has struggled in most of the games it’s been in – even the likes of lowly Samford.

Speaking of defensive struggles, Texas A&M’s ‘D’ is going to get a lot of credit for actually playing OK last week. The problem? It WAS AGAINST SMU. SMU ARE HARDLY WORLD BEATERS, PEOPLE. In what seems to be fashionable in the State of Texas, they can’t stop the run, and they aren’t great against the pass, either. But they have Johnny Football and one of America’s best wide receivers in Mike Evans.

BOTTOM LINE: And the Aggies’ offensive assets should carry them through. Aggies, on the road, by 17.

FLORIDA AT KENTUCKY

Are we so excited about Florida QB Tyler Murphy that we’re suddenly persuaded that the Gators offense suddenly is going to be wonderful and Florida’s going to be unbeatable, or are so excited about Tyler Murphy that we’re forgetting that Florida’s really struggling with injuries – and the injury to DT Dominique Easley that puts him out for the year hurts the defense….badly.

The good thing for Kentucky after killing Tennessee with turnovers on Saturday is that they travel to Kentucky this week…who really isn’t that good either. And by ‘isn’t that good’ we mean ‘really poor indeed’. The Wildcats might have an idea that Maxwell Smith is going to be their starter, but do they have any idea how to play their ‘Air Raid’? We think not.

BOTTOM LINE: Comically, Florida’s a 13-point favourite. We think that they’ll win by 2 touchdowns (or two pick-6s).

SOUTH CAROLINA AT UCF

Listen to us…..Central Florida is not a bad team. They aren’t a bad team at all. They put up 34 points on Penn State and did it using the speed of Storm Johnson, who’s a very good running back. We’re convinced he could play in the SEC. And Blake Bortles might be a minor celebrity in the view of the podcasters The Solid Verbal, but he’s a pretty good QB.

However, we think that if Carolina can sort  its run defence and get Jadeveon Clowney somewhere near his best (he’s been struggling with THE BIGGEST BONE SPUR INJURY KNOWN TO MAN), and the Connor Shaw/Dylan Thompson QB duo continues its brilliant way….and Mike Davis can pound the UCF ‘D’ in the way that he has to defenses all season, then the ‘Cocks should win by more than 6-1/2.

BOTTOM LINE: South Carolina struggles, but wins by 10.

ARKANSAS STATE AT MISSOURI

Missouri delivered the SEC Football Blog a whole can of ‘shut up’ when they beat Indiana comfortably on the road last season, so we’re going to say this: James Franklin and Dorial Green-Beckham are a good QB/WR duo. In fact, they are above-average in the SEC. They aren’t world-beaters, but they are pretty darned good.

BOTTOM LINE: Missouri’s a 21-1/2 point favourite, and we think they’ll win by more against a team that managed 7 points at Memphis last week. And Memphis isn’t exactly Alabama.

UAB AT VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt struggled at a decidedly medicore UMass team. The offenses are quite evenly-matched (UAB’s 70th and Vandy’s 79th), but Vanderbilt’s far better defensively. Vanderbilt has a major difference maker in Jordan Matthews, and QB Austyn Carta-Samuels is improving every game. After Jonathan Krause’s great game last week, Vandy may well have found a weapon.

BOTTOM LINE:  Vanderbilt’s a 20-point favourite. We think they’ll win by more than that.

SOUTH ALABAMA AT TENNESSE

Tennessee thanks God for Kentucky every day because without Kentucky, they would be the worst team in the SEC by an absolute mile.

But they are still a mile better than South Alabama (who beat Western Kentucky, who lost to Tennessee a few weeks ago).

BOTTOM LINE: Tennessee wins, and is better than the 20-points given to South Alabama by Vegas.

 

Tennessee Chomped, Tigers beat Tigers: Week 4 SEC Rankings

It wasn’t a good week for Jeff Driskel. He saw his season end with a broken fibula against Tennessee…..which he broke while throwing a Pick 6. That capped what has been a fairly awful start to the year.

But the good news for the Gators is that they bounced back with replacement QB Tyler Murphy, and the Gators chomped Tennessee, who looked dreadful offensively AND defensively.

Oh, and LSU beat Auburn in rainy Death Valley. And Arkansas embarrassed the SEC by losing at Rutgers.

Anyway, here are our power rankings after Week 4:

1) LSU: The LSU Tigers are STILL No.1 in our rankings, because of their first half performance against Auburn. The game, while interesting as LSU lost concentration and Gus Malzahn’s hurry-up offense began to cause John Chavis some worries, was always in the hand of the Mike Tigers. The most disappointing bit about the night was the fact that so many LSU fans left at half-time to get away from the rain. Jeez, and there was me thinking that it never rained in Tiger Stadium. Seriously though, Jeremy Hill’s getting back to his best. That should worry Georgia who, you know, don’t have a running defense.

2) Alabama: Sorry, but we’re not convinced that being 17-6 up against the mighty Colorado State until the fourth quarter is really that great. Listen, we know that Alabama’s probably going to win a National Title this year, but there are problems with this all over the place at the moment. But when it clicks, God help us all.

3) Georgia: A report from my buddy who was at the 45-21 win over North Texas: “UGA gave up two special teams touchdowns and won by 24. The defense played okay, and the offense was dominating after they settled down and remembered that they were playing in a football game. It was a typical “look ahead” performance. Murray had 70% passing with 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. Gurley had about 90 yards and a TD. I think 9 different players caught a pass. All in all, there were two serious concentration lapses that resulted in 14 points (99 yard kick return and a blocked punt on a bad snap – which appears to be a real problem – for a TD). Should’ve been 45 – 7. I’m not really happy with the performance, but it’s a typical let down game before a big opponent.” So in other words, we’re pretty good on just about everything except special teams.

4) Texas A&M: Did what they were meant to do against a weak SMU side: Beat the crap out of ’em. Johnny Manziel had around 300 yards of total offense and 3 TDs. And an INT. I was perhaps more impressed that the A&M ‘D’ only gave up 13 points, bearing in mind how weak they are. Still, doing your job puts you up the rankings in our power rankings.

5)  Florida: After a weak start, the Gators found another gear and dealt with Tennessee 31-17. Tyler Murphy might just have more for this offense than Jeff Driskel. Controversial? Perhaps. But with the love the kid’s getting in Gainseville after the UT’s victory, you would have thought this was the second coming of Tim Tebow. By the way, the ‘D’ is still awesome, by the way.

6) South Carolina: No punishment for a week off. The defensive line probably needs a week off. You know, to spend some time in the gym and learn how to not get gassed with a high-octane offense.

7) Ole Miss: By damn!! The biggest non-SEC news is from the Rebs’ No.1 tackler Denzel Nkemdiche, who thinks he might be back for the showdown with Alabama. Good news if that’s true.

8) Auburn: Quick lesson for the future: The Auburn/Ole Miss game is going to be FUN, y’all. Bet on the ‘over’ for points. Auburn fans were rightly proud of the way the Tigers hung in there against LSU despite going down 21-0 early, and our vision of the way Gus Malzahan’s offense will click in the latter end of 2013 and in 2014 should make SEC rivals very worried indeed. It was exhausting to watch. And a lot of fun. On the other side, they don’t seem to be able to stop the run one jot.

9) Missouri: After the longest time of giving the Tigers crap, we’re going to give Mizzou some credit now. We thought that Indiana would be a trap for the Tigers, but they were 28-14 up at half-time en route to a convincing 45-28 victory. James Franklin’s 328 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT performance was good…..Dorial Green-Beckham’s 105 yard, 1 TD performance was better. If the offense continues its confident form in SEC play, Missouri could give their SEC East competitors a scare.

10) Vanderbilt: Really struggled to beat U-Mass.  Jonathan Krause came into his own and had 105 yards receiving (Jordan Matthews had 76), so he might well be a viable No.2. We still struggle to believe that they haven’t taken a step backwards this year. On the other side, their ‘D’ limited Mass to under 250 yards total offense…which is what you’d expect from a SEC school.

11) Mississippi State: Rebounded nicely from the horror show of Auburn to drop 60 on Troy. We still think they are better than Arkansas.

12) Arkansas: Arkansas had the Rutgers game. They could have painted Times Square Hog Red on Saturday night. They were 24-14 and coasting. And then in the fourth quarter, the unimaginable happened (you know, unless you watched the Hogs at all in 2012). Rutgers reeled off two late TDs, and the upset. Oh, and all the talk of Alex Collins? He managed 63 yards. That’s what we call ‘Karma’.

13) Tennessee: Tennessee is so bad that every day, they thank The Lord Football Jesus for Kentucky. And here’s what Vols fans have got to look forward to in 2014: Their offensive line will all leave for the NFL. Urghh.

14) Kentucky: Can’t wait for the ‘Air Raid’ offense to play Tennessee in The Battle To Avoid Zero. Coming to you on Thanksgiving Weekend, folks.

 

 

Week 4 SEC Previews: Is Auburn (LSU) Tiger Bait?

TIt’s Week 4 in the SEC, which apparently means meaningless opposition for more teams unless you’re Auburn (playing at LSU) and Tennesseee (playing at Florida). No doubt their fans will get called all kinds of “bait” (Tiger and Gator), and their replies about corn dogs and jorts hopefully will come back thick and fast.

Anyway, here’s our SEC predictions, folks.

AUBURN AT LSU

This is a new-and-improved Auburn team, sporting a good young quarterback in Nick Marshall and an unbeaten record after victories against Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State. In the fourth straight of its ‘State’ match-ups, Auburn travels down to Death Valley to face sixth-ranked Louisiana State University, which is also unbeaten. Zach Mettenberger, the LSU QB has found some rhythm under new offensive co-ordinator Cam Cameron, and he’s got two weapons at wide receiver in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham who have been making circus catches. Oh, and his running stable’s pretty fierce, too. On the other side of the ball, LSU have looked leaky in defence with their young, intrepid warriors, and Auburn RB Tre Mason’s going to cause them some problems. Auburn tigers, watch out – you may be (LSU) Tiger bait.

Auburn always seems to play LSU close – remember 2012 when they lost 12-10? This could be that way until the 4th quarter.

BOTTOM LINE: LSU will win this one, but by less than the 17 point spread.

TENNESSEE AT FLORIDA

The last time these two played, everyone was very excited about Tennessee because they hadn’t lost yet. Well, Florida came into Neyland Stadium that day, broke some hearts, and helped to send Tennessee on the road to another bowl-less season, which ended in the firing of Derek Dooley. This year, Tennessee jumped out to a 2-0 record before going into Oregon and getting absolutely smashed. We said in our tip last week that Oregon’s winning by 28 points would ‘be a risk’, and we were wrong. Well, any over-smashing by Florida would be a risk, because the Gators offence thus far this season has been, er, offensive. It was the big reason why they lost at Miami in Week 2. But their defence, on the other, hand, is fantastic. They have playmakers all over the shop, including soon-to-be-NFLer Loucheiz Purifoy, who’s one of the most talented DBs you’ll see in the country. Don’t be surprised for him to ‘Volunteer’ an interception on Saturday.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida’s 1/7 for victory and Tennessee’s 5/1. We don’t like Florida’s 16.5-point handicap, either. We’ll take Tennessee, but only to lose by less than 17. Straight-up, we’re taking Florida.

 MISSOURI AT INDIANA

Indiana is scoring a ton of points (6th in the nation – although the big win was jacking up 73 points against Indiana State) and passing the ball well (11th in the nation), and they are at home, in one of the under-the-radar games of the day. Missouri’s pretty handy too (10th in scoring in FBS – although 58 of those were against Murray State). This is going to be a lot of fun. Have a bet of Dorial Green-Beckham on get well over 100 yards receiving.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re calling for Indiana to ‘upset’ Missouri, but it’s going to be the first to 400.

ARKANSAS AT RUTGERS

Actually a bigger game than a lot of people give it credit for. Rutgers lost to Fresno State on the road in overtime, while Arkansas hasn’t beaten anyone good all season long, and actually struggled defensively. Alex Collins is definitely for real (his three straight 100-yard games is better than Emmitt,Cadillac and Herschel managed), but is Brandon Allen? This is going to be a struggle for the ‘Backs, folks.

BOTTOM LINE: Rutgers is a 2.5-point favourite. Were taking Arkansas, and the points. Even if they win by 3.

SMU AT TEXAS A&M

After losing by seven in a classic game against Alabama, Texas A&M will be fired up for the visit of Texas ‘rivals’ SMU, who come into Kyle Field 1-1 and not very good. Like Texas A&M, SMU has been unable to stop anybody, and while QB Garrett Gilbert and the tandem of WRS Jeremy Johnson and Darius Joseph have helped the Mustangs to 10th in the country in overall passing, Texas A&M has a fantastic QB-WR tandem in itself in Johnny Manziel and Michael Evans. Both are nigh-on unstoppable when they are on their game and SMU don’t seem to very good at stopping anybody. Having said that, the Aggies secondary isn’t exactly the second coming of Darrelle Revis and Ed Reed, either, so imagine – if you will – Gilbert & Co at least getting a touchdown or two on the board.

BOTTOM LINE: Texas A&M win, and win handsomely – by more than the 28.5 handicap.

TROY AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

Mississippi State probably should have won at Auburn, but they lost with 10 seconds to go. They’ll face an offense who can definitely pass the ball (7th in the nation), so watch out. MSU fans will be frightened until the fourth quarter.

BOTTOM LINE: Troy’s a 13-1/2//14-point dog in this one. I’ll take Mississippi State by more. Just.

VANDERBILT AT UMASS

Vandy’s biggest headline over the last week was booting receiver Chris Boyd for covering up a rape. Now, onto the football. I expect U-Mass to double-team Jordan Matthews, the Commodores best receiver. This will give them some sort of a hope. At least until the third quarter.

BOTTOM LINE: Vanderbilt wins, but by less than the 31 point spread.

This is going to brief…

NORTH TEXAS AT GEORGIA

BOTTOM LINE: Georgia’s a 33-point favourite against North Texas. They’ll win by more. Enough said.

COLORADO STATE AT ALABAMA

BOTTOM LINE: Alabama will be fine against Colorado State. They’ll win by more than 39 points. They should have beaten the spread last week….but the late Johnny Manziel show infuriated bettors in Vegas.

 

 

ESPN: Nick Saban’s agent spoke with Texas regent, Saban rebuffs story

Nick Saban’s agent spoke with a Texas regent, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The AP report – which does nothing to scotch rumors that the Alabama coach might become the next coach at Texas after Mack Brown leaves at the end of the season – said: “Regent Wallace Hall of Dallas told the AP he spoke by telephone with agent Jimmy Sexton a few days after the Jan. 7 title game. Tom Hicks, a former regent who is the brother of current regent Steve Hicks, also was on the call. Tom Hicks, the former owner of the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars and the English professional soccer team Liverpool, was a regent in 1997 when Brown came to Texas and was instrumental in hiring him away from North Carolina.

It is not known who initiated the contact.

Saban rebuffed the story saying: “Nothing went on that I know of. I haven’t talked to anybody about that situation,” and added: “Quite frankly, I’m just too damn old to start all over some place else.”

BOTTOM LINE: Whether we like it or not, this plunges Nick Saban’s career in Tuscaloosa into uncertainty. Expect this to be the topic of conversation for the next, well, 12 months.

 

Vanderbilt boots WR Boyd

Vanderbilt has said that it has expelled its second starting wide receiver Chris Boyd in connection with allegations around the rape case at the school earlier this year.

Boyd was accused of helping to cover up the rape of an undisclosed woman at a university dorm in late June.

A warning: This excerpt from a USA Today post will make your stomach turn: “On Friday at a plea hearing for former wide receiver Chris Boyd, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman read details in court that indicated Boyd and two others helped move an unconscious 21-year-old woman from a hallway back into a dorm room after she had been raped. He didn’t name the other individuals, but read a text out loud in which Boyd identified Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels and tight end Dillon van der Wal, as helping to move her.”

Apparently, the text identifying Vanderbilt’s QB as one of the people helping to move the woman’s body was simply an identification rather than fact.

The DA said: “However, based upon the evidence collected to date, Boyd wrongly identified student Austyn Carta-Samuels as someone who participated in helping move the victim.

BOTTOM LINE: This is an horrific crime, and Boyd – if this is true – deserves to go to jail. On the footballing end, the loss of Boyd will continue to weaken Vanderbilt’s offense – especially with Georgia and Florida still to play. The good news for Vandy fans is that Austyn Carta-Samuels will continue to play.

After Alabama wins, Game Of The Century’, Ole Miss Macks Texas: Week 3 SEC Power Rankings

Sooo…..Alabama beat Texas A&M in the ‘Game Of The Century’, while Ole Miss beat Texas 43-23 to pour on the pressure on tired, beaten and sad-looking Mack Brown, and Kentucky surprised us by only losing to Louisville by 14. And Tennessee surprised nobody by getting annihilated at Oregon.

Anyway, here’s our SEC Power Rankings: 

1. Alabama – Alabama’s win over Virginia Tech and at Texas A&M is a better 2-game schedule than LSU’s wins over TCU, Kent State and UAB. The 49-42 victory over Texas A&M was actually more comfortable that the scoreline suggested – especially as they were up 42-21 at the start of the 4th. Can we start talking about AJ McCarron’s Heisman campaign please?

2. LSU – The 45-13 victory over Kent State wasn’t world-beating in itself, but Zach Mettenberger’s 13-18 for 264 yards and 3 TDs (and no picks) is showing an improvement. And some of the throws he made were pretty great, too. Having said that, there’s still a little worry about the injury to Odell Beckham’s finger prior to the Auburn game next Saturday. But it’s little. This team is young – and may be quite special. Too early to say though.

3. Georgia – With Mark Richt and Aaron Murray now having won a ‘big game’, what did Georgia fans do on their week off? Could it be that they relaxed?

4. Texas A&M – Wonderful putting up the yards but horribly weak defensively. You and I could run on the Aggies defense, sir (he said, talking to his 80-year-old grandfather). We said this repeatedly about the Aggies’ defense before the season but we were ignored or shouted down: THE AGGIES HAVE NONE. Oh, and if Johnny Manziel plays like he did against Alabama, he should get a Heisman again. There’s no doubting that.

5. Florida – Were on a break this week, which is nice, because they will be using it to correct their offensive awfulness that lost them the game against Miami. They don’t have to do a lot with the ‘D’, though, which is plain nasty.

6. South Carolina – They would be higher, but the way Carolina managed to try and fiddle away their big lead against Vanderbilt should definitely worry Gamecocks fans. Steve Spurrier made all the nice voices during his press conference, but you could see he wasn’t happy. At all. Oh, and the fact that Jadeveon Clowney needs an operation at the end of the season to deal with his bone spurs is hardly good news for, either.

7. Ole Miss – There’s a fire in Austin, and Ole Miss poured on the gas. It’s funny, because the 44-23 victory wasn’t really about the poorness of the Texas defense, it was more about Ole Miss’ opportunism when it came to grabbing turnovers (1), and a punt return taken back to the house (1). They still put up 449 yards of offense, mind. This team is going to be GOOD, folks.

8. Auburn – ‘War Eagle’ cried the crowd, and the Auburn Tigers roared. Sure, they should have lost to Mississippi State, but the last minute drive and victory with 10 seconds left (24-20) was vintage Malzahn. No, we don’t think they are going to trouble LSU on Saturday, but this Auburn team has won its first SEC game in over a season. And Auburn fans can celebrate that. Oh, and great play by Nick Marshall, too.

9. Vanderbilt – Nice comeback to make the loss at South Carolina respectable, but this 10-point loss and a 0-2 SEC start is hardly going to make James Franklin beam from ear to ear.

10. Arkansas – Pounding running game won’t make Vegas happy when people think that they’ll win every game by 30 (when they play poor teams), but Alex Collins is definitely good….even if Brandon Allen is a struggle.

11. Mississippi State– Should have won at Auburn, but lost in heartbreaking fashion. The defense definitely played well enough too, causing 3 turnovers, including 2 INTs. Dak Prescott at QB? We like his legs 133 yards, 2 TDs, far more than we like his arm (213 yards, 0 TDs).

12. Missouri – We just saw Tennessee’s defense for real. And now we’re pretty convinced that Mizzou is better than Tennessee.

13. Kentucky – Kentucky can come out of the 14-point local rivalry loss with their heads held high. The defense kept Heisman challenger Tedy Bridgewater pretty quiet, and they kept on going. The worry is – of course- the offense, which is still a struggle. Mark Stoops needs to decide on a QB – either Jalen Whitlow or Maxwell Smith.

14. Tennessee – Yay! Tennessee managed to keep the score to under 60 against Oregon! Seriously though: This should have been reported to PETA- it was cruelty to Smokey.

 

 

Can Ole Miss score revenge in Austin? Rest of the SEC Week 3 previewed

Yep, there’s a small game in College Station this weekend. But let’s just make this clear: There are other SEC games out there and some of them could be pretty exciting.

OLE MISS AT TEXAS

OK, to Ole Miss runs a similar – if faster – offense to BYU’s, which ran for nearly 560 yards against Texas’ defense last Saturday. UT’s defensive frailties cost defensive co-ordinator Manny Diaz his job (he should have gone at the end of last season, in my view), but the eyes of Texas are now on coach Mack Brown, who is sitting on a white-hot hot seat. His Texas ‘D’ will be facing a fast-paced Hugh Freeze offense, which is on the up after two straight victories. Texas, who won this match-up easily last season, is a 2 ½ point favourite, despite these issues. This is strange, since they don’t have QB David Ash, who left the BYU debacle with head and shoulder injuries. QB Case McCoy, who didn’t exactly look like Joe Montana against BYU, will deputize. Look, there’s no doubt that Texas has the talent on both sides of the ball. No doubt at all. But can their defense keep them in the game? You would not be stupid in playing a cheeky quid on Ole Miss at 6/5.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re going crazy and saying that Texas actually shows up and wins by more than the field goal. This is a major risk though, bettors.

VANDERBILT AT SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina’s loss at Georgia was a lot closer than the Bulldogs 11-point victory suggests. Both sides had the chances to win the game, but it came down to Georgia – strangely for their fans – coming through in the clutch. But we’ve worked this out – if Vanderbilt can get a good running game together, they’ve got the weapons to scare South Carolina to death. Georgia did. They beat Carolina by keeping the ball away from Jadeveon Clowney, making sure Chaz Sutton was under wraps, and running the ball hard. They can also air it out bearing in mind that Jordan Matthews is an exceptional wide receiver, and Austyn Carta-Samuels can move around the pocket like anyone’s business.

Having said that, South Carolina isn’t a push over – particularly at home. Connor Shaw is the better of the two QBs, and their running game – which includes Mike Davis, a punishing RB who was pretty exceptional for Carolina despite their loss.

BOTTOM LINE: South Carolina’s a 13 ½ point favourite to beat Vanderbilt, and we think it’ll happen by more than the scoreline suggests.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT AUBURN

Mississippi State’s offense may have put up the points against Alcorn State, but when they played anyone good (ie against Oklahoma State on Week 1), they were awful, and could have lost by a lot more.

Auburn, on the other hand, is very excited by their future after beating Washington State on Week 1, and quitening Arkansas State on Week 2. With the horrible team Auburn had last year, you could have been forgiven to have made Auburn an underdog in both games last year. But now, Auburn’s buzzing with Gus Malzahn at the helm, and Nick Marshall’s certainly doing a better job than Kiehl Frazier did last year.

Mississippi State will be hoping that Tyler Russell’s back from injury for Week 3 – he really makes this offense tick.

BOTTOM LINE: Auburn’s a 5-1/2 point favourite, but we think they’ll win by more. We’ll take the over.

TENNESSEE AT OREGON 

I’d like to say a prayer for Tennessee’s defense, today. Sure, they were opportunistic against Western Kentucky and scored five turnovers in their opponents’ first five plays, and beat the Hilltoppers comfortably. However, they play an Oregon side who only had the ball for 21 minutes in their game against Virginia….and scored 59 points. There is nothing you can do to stop this offense, which has more weapons than an Uzi convention. Tennessee is going to have to pound the ball with Rajon Neal and pray that they don’t have turnovers, because Oregon will kill them. Oh, and Tennessee’s missing starting DT Mo Couch, who’s got eligibility worries after a report surfaced of him accepting payments. That won’t make their lives any easier against an offense that hasn’t stopped since Chip Kelly left for Philly. And if you’re watching the game, keep an eye out for  Oregon’s speedy RB DeAnthony Thomas and QB Marcus Mariota. They are something special. 

BOTTOM LINE: Oregon’s a 28 ½ point favourite in this one, which is really steep if Tennessee’s D steps up. We’re going for an Oregon victory (no surprise there), but beating the handicap will be a risk.

LOUISVILLE AT KENTUCKY

OK, so I’d like to say two prayers today: One for Tennessee, and one for Kentucky. Sure, people will say that this is a rivalry game, but we think that Kentucky’s going to get owned against Louisville- especially as the Cardinals have got impressive QB Tedy Bridgewater, who’s beaten Florida recently.

Maxwell Smith might have put a couple of smiles on Kentucky’s faces after their first win of the season, but we don’t think he’ll cope against Lousiville’s ‘D’.

OUR TIP: Louisville’s just a 14 point favourite against Kentucky. Not only do we think that Louisville’s going to beat Kentucky, but we think it’s going to be by more than 14. You’re underrating Kentucky in this one. 

SOUTHERN MISS AT ARKANSAS/ KENT STATE AT LSU

Arkansas by a mile. LSU by a mile.

OUR TIP: Arkansas by far more than the 23-point spread. LSU by more than 36, despite the worries surrounding Les Miles with regards to the Oklahoma State case.

 

 

 

 

 

Can Texas A&M upset Alabama? Preview of the ‘Game of the Season’

There will be no bigger hyped game in college football this season than Alabama and Texas A&M, featuring the National Champions playing ‘Johnny Football’, with the winner suddenly becoming a de facto favourite to go to the National Championship (despite the fact that there will be still 9 games to go in the season).

In last season’s game, Texas A&M beat ‘Bama at home, creating a nuclear explosion throughout college football. The win helped to snare Manziel the Heisman Trophy – the award given out for the country’s best player – in 2012, and to make sure that ‘Johnny Football’ became a celebrity.

Alabama on their first game of the season – offensively – did very little, scoring just one offensive touchdown. The offensive line – newly assembled after three of its best starters went to the NFL – looked uncomfortable against Virginia Tech’s different defensive schemes, and the offense stuttered. They were definitely helped by Christion Jones, who took a kick-off and punt back to the house.

Texas A&M, in their first two games of the season have struggled. There is no denying the fact that with their controversial-but-brilliant quarterback Johnny Manziel, their offense can score with anyone in the country. Manziel can perform wonders in his feet, and his throwing game seems to have improved, but will it be enough for an Alabama defence which is nothing short of suffocating. The Crimson Tide will definitely take advantage of the absence of Luke Joeckel, Manziel’s trusted right tackle who was one of the NFL’s first round picks.

The thing which really scares us in Texas A&M’s lack of defence, and we think they are going to struggle against Bama’s rushing duo of TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry, which couples fluidity and grace (Yeldon) with a battering ram (Henry). If Alabama’s offensive line can stop Texas A&M’s defensive rushers and let their running backs control the game, the Aggies have problems. And if ‘Bama quarterback AJ McCarron – who is good at winning the big games – can connect with his best wide receiver Amari Cooper – then A&M’s pretty weak secondary will suffer.

But as we’ve mentioned, the Aggies themselves have a weapon in Manziel, who ran the Crimson Tide ragged in 2012. They’ve also got one of the game’s best wide receivers, Michael Evans, to take advantage of ‘Bama’s young secondary.

Alabama’s big advantage is on the coaching sidelines. Why? Nick Saban’s the best coach in college football, and there’s no denying it. He’s not been beaten on the road since a loss at LSU in November 2010. He’s won two straight National Championships and the last two out of three. He prepares like no-one else in the country… and he’s had an extra week to prepare. In fact, Alabama has been preparing for this game all off-season long.

BOTTOM LINE: Alabama wins, and by more than the spread of eight points. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t going to be a great game, but a late Alabama TD (while the Tide are up a field goal), makes the loss look worse than it actually is. This will be a classic.

Tennessee starting DE, Fluker, Bray, Bumphis, 2 others named as receiving benefits

Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch and four former SEC players have been named in a report as receiving illegal benefits during their time at schools.

Alabama star DJ Fluker, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis and defensive end Fletcher Cox, were named by a Yahoo! Sports report.

The payments are said to come from former Tide star Luther Davis, the report said.

Yahoo Sports also found that three NFL agents and three financial advisers engaged Davis in transactions totaling $45,550. The three agents were Andy Simms, Peter Schaffer and John Phillips. The financial advisers were Jason Jernigan, Mike Rowan and Hodge Brahmbhatt“.

Yahoo said that Simms, Schaffer, Rowan and Phillips confirmed the payments to Davis, but did not say that the money should go to the players elsewhere.

The report added: “A defensive end for the Crimson Tide from 2007-10, Davis acted as a “concierge” between budding NFL draft picks, agents and financial advisers following his college career, five sources told Yahoo Sports. Davis signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2011, but has not been on an NFL roster since being released in training camp prior to that season.

The report added that if the investigation proves to be true by the NCAA, it could violate NCAA Bylaw 12.3.1.2, which prohibits athletes from receiving benefits from agents or marketing representatives.

Yahoo! added: “Like the highly publicized NCAA case against the University of Southern California and Reggie Bush, a violation of that bylaw could retroactively nullify a portion of each player’s eligibility, including Fluker, who was an All-American at offensive tackle during Alabama’s 2012 national championship season. It could also raise additional issues for Tennessee and Mississippi State, which are both currently on probation until the summer of 2015 for previous rules violations in their respective football programs.

BOTTOM LINE: In other words, Fluker was a key part of Alabama’s 2012 season. The NCAA could take away Alabama’s championship, because he was not eligible on the team. As for Tennessee and Mississippi State, this could cost them scholarships and wins for Bray, Bumphis and Cox, who were all key players for the Vols as the time. Right now – and this is the bad bit – Tennessee could be really affected like this. Their already weak defense could lose another starter, who has had four tackles in a pretty restful 2-0 start for Tennessee.

 

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