Kentucky Archives

SEC Predictions: Week 2

First of all, apologies for not giving the blog too much updatin’ recently. From Week 2, you’ll get everything that you need for the rest of the season….

Anyway, here are our predictions for SEC teams in Week 2 of the season. There are going to be some walk-overs, and some close games. We promise.

Georgia at Missouri

Georgia gave up 23 points against Buffalo, and nothing clicked for the first part of the game as Buffalo took a 6-0 lead. Thankfully, Todd Gurley’s kick-off return gave the Dawgs a 7-6 lead, and they didn’t relinquish it, putting up a 45 points in a 45-23 lead. Missouri – who smashed Southeastern Louisiana 62-10 in their opener – is going to be a tough test for the Dawgs, who are still missing players for off-season stupidity. T.J. Moe and Doral Green-Beckham are going to give Georgia’s secondary all that it can handle on Saturday, and a rowdy Columbia crowd (the first of two trips to Columbia the Dawgs are going to have to make this year!) at night is going to give this game an added edge.

BOTTOM LINE: Georgia by 3 in thriller. Although don’t be surprised if Missouri springs the upset.

Florida at Texas A&M

College Gameday’s at Kyle Field for this one, and the place is guaranteed to be a) hot and b) absolutely hopping. Florida fans won’t know what it’s like to show up to a team that doesn’t have any female cheerleaders (so don’t expect any ‘Replacements’-type antics on the Aggies sidelines), and why the Aggies take Lassie to class, but we’re sure that Aggies fans will explain to them traditions. And Gators, remember to ask: Who’s ‘Varsity’ they sing about? And why don’t they play them every year? Anyways, going back to the game, Texas A&M had its first game washed out by Hurricane Isaac, so their first game is going to be against one of the best defenses in the country. Aggies fans will be happy that they certainly aren’t playing one of the best offenses in the country, who looked absolutely clueless at times against Bowling Green in its 27-14 victory. The thing that Aggies are going to have to deal with is Florida’s speed, while hoping that Johnny Manziel can deal with the Gators defense. UF’s secondary should watch out for Ryan Swope at all times.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida spoils the party, winning by 7.

Auburn at Mississippi State

Don’t you love the sound of cowbell in the morning? Anyway, we can guarantee that Tigers fans and Tigers players will be glad to be leaving Starkville after their game at MSU, if only for the sound of cowbells rattling their cages. Auburn lost last week to a speedy Clemson team in an exciting game that Clemson managed to get hold of in the fourth quarter, and there’s going to have to be a ton of improvement from QB Kiehl Frazier, who was 11 for 27 for 197 yards on an offense that produced 374 yards at the Georgia Dome. Mississippi State, however, had things a little easier, putting up half a century in a 57-9 victory over that football powerhouse Jackson State. The highlight for the Bulldogs day was a balanced offense that didn’t punt the ball until late into the third quarter. That’s pretty good going….or a pretty poor opposition. Auburn’s going to give MSU all they can handle at home. This could be fun.

BOTTOM LINE: Auburn goes 0-2. Mississippi State by 7 in one of the under-the-radar, good games of the week.

NON-CONFERENCE

Washington at LSU

No-one expects the Huskies to spring an upset in Death Valley….and therefore no-one will be surprised if LSU wins, and wins this comfortably. LSU has everything this year and should be more than a match for a Pac-12 side that flattered to deceive against San Diego State (they won 21-12 last week). Zach Mettenberger had a strong day in the huddle against North Texas, throwing for a TD and 192 yards. The story this week is going to be about running back Kenny Hilliard, who put up 141 yards on just 13 attempts. As for the Huskies, Keith Price threw for 222 yards last week, and they’ll be hoping that his throwing ability tests LSU’s Tyrann-less secondary.

BOTTOM LINE: LSU roars. By 21.

Vanderbilt at Northwestern

The battle of the bright schools in Chicago sees Northwestern and Vanderbilt battle each other out. And no, we don’t think the tailgate is going to be an extended Math competition. For the record though, we prefer the color black to the color purple (Northwestern’s colors). Last week, Jordan Rodgers was unlucky not to get a pass interference call at the end of the Commodores’ battle with South Carolina, which ended in a heartbreaking 17-13 loss. Rodgers should impress again against a weaker Northwestern team – but will it be enough on the road?

BOTTOM LINE: Count it up! Vandy by 3 in a classic.

East Carolina at South Carolina

Connor Shaw left Vanderbilt a broken man (seemingly) in everything but result, after hurting his shoulder, coming in again, and then hurting it again in the 17-13 win over the Commodores. If the Gamecocks keep Shaw healthy – as well as the knee of Marcus Lattimore who looked excellent last Thursday night – this shouldn’t be close. At all.

BOTTOM LINE: Gamecocks by 30 in a game over by half-time.

UTEP at Ole Miss

Thanks to our love of college football, we stayed up late on Saturday night to watch UTEP’s battle with Oklahoma – and let us tell you, UTEP gave the Sooners all it could handle. And if the Miners had actually found a field goal kicker, the Sooners could well have been on the end of an upset in El-Paso on Saturday night. Anyway, Ole Miss is going to have to watch out for Nathan Jeffery, who ran for 177 yards on a pretty stout (ish) Oklahoma defense. And give him enough room, and Ole Miss could struggle. Let’s put it this way: Rebels fans must be dreading the SEC schedule this year after seeing some of the on-field, product, which sputtered to a 20-14 deficit until Ja-Mes Logan recovered a fumble in the end zone mid-way through the third quarter to give Ole Miss a 21-20 lead that they would extend through the game to a 49-27 victory as their offense at last clicks into gear.

BOTTOM LINE: Fear the Miner (if Jeffery’s playing)….but not too much. Ole Miss by 10.

Western Kentucky at Alabama

Alabama’s performance against Michigan was nothing short of brilliant on Saturday night – and that’s why they are the top-ranked team in the nation. This week, we expect running back sensation T.J. Yeldon to run for 150 yards against Western Kentucky, in a game that’s not going to be close.

BOTTOM LINE: Alabama by more than 40.

Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas

Knile Davis didn’t play a huge part in the 49-24 win over Jacksonville State on Saturday, and we’re not expecting him to play a huge part against ULM, either. Tyler Wilson had a great performance to start off his season, but is Cobi Hamilton going to be OK? Otherwise, the Razorbacks are going to have to worry – a lot – about the depth of their receiving corps. If they don’t already.

BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas by more than 30

Georgia State at Tennessee

Tyler Bray & Co were excellent in the win over NC State, giving Derek Dooley a little more cool on his behind and giving Volunteers fans some confidence for the year. And while the Wolfpack game was a worry for the Volunteers, we don’t expect UT to have any problems dismissing Georgia State.

BOTTOM LINE: Bray throws for over 300, Volunteers win by 50.

Kent State at Kentucky

When the highlight of the season for both sides has been a Kent State player running the wrong way against Towson, you know that both teams didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory last week. Having said that, Joker Phillips’ side will still be too strong for Kent State – regardless on how many of his players decide to follow the example of Andre Parker.

BOTTOM LINE: Kentucky wins by 21.

 

 

SEC Predictions: Week 1

It’s the start of the season, which means that we get to see some College Football again! Yaaaaay!

Anyway, here are our predictions for every SEC team playing this [long] weekend, apart from Texas A&M, who have seen their game against Louisiana Tech postponed to Hurricane Isaac, which is dumping its load all over New Orleans as we speak…

Anyway, here goes….

THURSDAY

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Everyone’s talking about Vanderbilt’s potential to upset USC in Nashville on College Football Kick-Off Night on Thursday night, but if Steve Spurrier gets Marcus Lattimore rolling and Connor Shaw finds a wide receiver or two, then James Franklin’s got his work cut-out. Sure, people believe in Jordan Rodgers, but will Vandy’s offensive line really measure up against Devin Taylor and Jadeveon “Insane Posse” Clowney?

PREDICTION: Sorry, James. Clowney and Taylor too strong. South Carolina by 10

FRIDAY

NC State vs Tennessee (Atlanta)

Da’Rick Rogers really hurt Tennessee when he got kicked off the team. Tyler Bray is going to miss out on a fantastic receiver – which means everything of any value’s really going to go through Justin Hunter and potentially a rather weak running game. As for NC State? Suddenly they are being talked about as having one of the better secondaries in the ACC (ie Bray better watch out), and on the other side of the ball, Mike Glennon can cause UT problems.

PREDICTION: A monster upset in the ATL. NC State by 7.

SATURDAY

Michigan vs Alabama (Dallas)

How will Alabama’s new and inexperienced defense deal with Denard Robinson? How will Michigan’s defensive line deal with Alabama’s incredible offensive line? Will Ed Lacy be the next Trent Richardson? Will AJ McCarron continue the excellence of his National Championship Game?

PREDICTION: A close one until Alabama pulls away. Alabama by 10.

Clemson vs Auburn (Atlanta)

Clemson’s biggest Achilles Heel will be the fact that their No.1 receiver – and Heisman Trophy Candidate – Sammy Watkins is out due to his own stupidity. Auburn’s biggest Achilles Heel is the suspension of their best offensive linesman – and the transfer of their top running back, Michael Dyer (due to his own stupidity). But this game’s going to be fun, because we’ve got no trust whatsoever in both team’s defenses.

PREDICTION: Clemson in an exciting high-scorer, winning out by 3 on a last-minute field goal.

Bowling Green at Florida

We know Florida’s defense is going to be good if not great. But Florida fans will begging Will Muschamp for one thing: Score points please!

PREDICTION: Florida by 35 in a game that still raises some eyebrows about UF’s offense. Gulp.

Buffalo vs Georgia

Regardless of whether Isaiah Crowell’s no longer on the team, this one’s not going to be close. However, we can’t wait for the Keith Marshall/Todd Gurley combination and what it will do – especially as we only expect Aaron Murray to play 3 quarters of what will NOT be a close game.

PREDICTION: Georgia by 50. At least.

North Texas at LSU

The biggest question of the night – and the season – will be: How can LSU cope without Tyrann Mathieu? Well, here’s the answer: It won’t be answered against North Texas, folks!

PREDICTION: LSU by 50 in a game that’s over by half-time.

Jacksonville State vs Arkansas

The only thing that will be remotely interesting about this game will be the return of Knile Davis and how fit he is after his injury. And possibly if John L. Smith does anything to change his team’s philosophy after the ‘fun and gun’ that was Bobby Petrino’s.

PREDICTION: Smith smothers J-State. Arkansas by 60.

Jackson State vs Mississippi State

Dan Mullen’s program has been through its own share of problems recently, so we’ll be interested as to whether MSU’s secondary has changed for the better with Tim Brewster in charge now. Otherwise, we expect MSU to roll.

PREDICTION: Ring the Cowbell. MSU by 35.

Southeastern Louisiana vs Missouri

Here’s to hoping that the University of Missouri gives the game receipts from this game to the American Red Cross to support those affected by Hurricane Isaac. They probably won’t. On the other side, Mizzou will need a new RB after the loss of Henry Josey for the year, and James Franklin (the QB) will get a chance to full test out his shoulder.

PREDICTION: Some of Missouri’s fledgling SEC season will be tough. This game won’t be one of them. Missouri by 50.

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss

Last season could be charitably called a ‘learning exercise’ for Ole Miss, who were pretty dreadful last year and currently have a double-digit losing streak in the SEC. This is Hugh Freeze’s opening game of the season, and he’ll be on his knees before the game to ask for a good start to the season. Central Arkansas is just hoping this game will go to the fourth quarter.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss by damn! A 21-point victory in Hugh Freeze’s first game.

SUNDAY

Kentucky at Louisville

UK once again starts the season with Louisville, and once again, Kentucky’s expected to do absolutely nothing and Louisville’s expected to compete in the Big East. There aren’t many times that Big East talent outmatches SEC talent, but this time is one of them. Next year’s going to be a good one, though – especially with the talent UK has coming through at quarterback!

PREDICTION: Louisville by 14 in a closer game than many expect.

 

SEC Preseason Preview: Can Alabama reload and re-win?

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Ready to reload Alabama?

It’s no secret that 2011-2012 National Champions Alabama lost a load of talent to the NFL, but this is Nick Saban. He’s recruiting brilliantly (again), he’s one of the best coaches in the game (name us someone better), and Alabama ought to be OK for the 2012-3 season – which is why they are again one of the favorites to go to the National Title game.

LAST SEASON

Y’all know what happened last season. Alabama won the National Championship, hammering LSU 21-0. Should they have actually been in the National Championship Game? Well, the argument is is that the Crimson Tide didn’t even get to their Conference Championship Game. The other argument is is that they were really the second best team in the nation, and deserved the spot. But the fact of the matter is this: Alabama are National Champions.

NFL-wise, Alabama lost a heap of talent. Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Brad Smelley were all drafted.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE DEFENSE?

The first question is simple: How on earth is Nick Saban going to replace all that talent?

Simple, really. Super-sized and larger-than-life nose tackle Jesse Williams (24 tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss) will anchor the center of the field, taking over the nose guard role from Josh Chapman, while defensive ends Damion Squire and Ed Stinson will be expected to shore up things up.

Nico Johnson (47 tackles, 1 sack, 5 1/2 Tackles for Loss and 1 INT), CJ Moseley (37 tackles)  and Adam Hubbard will try and replace the major loss of Hightower (85 tackles, 4 sacks, 7 Tackles for Loss).

Secondary-wise, things aren’t going to be as easy. Mark Barron (68 tackles, 2 INTs), Dre Kirkpatrick (30 tackles) and DeQuan McKenzie (41 tackles, 1 INT) are gone – which is a hell of a lot of talent to try and reload from. Sorry, Nick. SS Robert Lester (39 tackles, 2 INTs) will try and pick up some of the pieces, and we should all watch out for Dee Milliner, who’s getting some rave previews from writers about his potential. Will he be able to turn potential into brilliance in 2012. Auburn fans will be hoping not.

AND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BALL….

Last year in the National Championship Game, AJ McCarron made LSU’s extremely good secondary look extremely ordinary, picking them apart seemingly at will.

This season he’s getting some Heisman talk – and we think he’ll throw the ball a lot more what with Trent Richardson going to the NFL (he hasn’t had the greatest of starts). Much-heralded wide receiver Duron Carter’s departure from Alabama in the off-season has left McCarron with an even less-experienced receiving corps than last year – although Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Christian Jones, DeAndrew White and tight end Michael Williams won’t be bad at all.

Running backs-wise, we’re all going to miss Trent Richardson, who was as good at making players miss as he was simply running over them. We’ll miss you, Trent. Anyway, Eddie Lacy (674 yards, 7 TDs) is going to be depended on to put up the big ground numbers for Saban’s offense – although Jalston Fowler’s versality will also help, journalists say. Still, how are you really going to replace Richardson’s 1,679 yards?

The great thing for Alabama’s is that they are going to very, very solid up-front, still. Barrett Jones could be playing in the NFL right now, but he enjoyed being a member of the Tide that he decided to stay in school for another year. He’s moved to center on an offensive line that is so, so experienced. Antony Steen, Chance Warmack, DJ Fluker, Cyrus Kouandjio have nearly 100 career starts between them – and all are over 6 ft 3 and 300 pounds. That’s a ‘solid’ proposition for defenses and Alabama’s offense alike.

AND THE X-FACTOR IS…

Nick Saban. The guy is hands-down the best coach in College Football (certainly defensively, anyway!). While Alabama might have lost a lot of talent, Saban’s good enough to make sure that the season doesn’t unravel and the Crimson Tide are there or thereabouts when it comes to battling it out for a SEC West title.

THE SCHEDULE

September 1 MICHIGAN (AT Cowboys Stadium, Dallas)

September 8 WESTERN KENTUCKY

September 15 at Arkansas

September 22 FLORIDA ATLANTIC

September 29 OLE MISS

October 13 at Missouri

October 20 at Tennessee

October 27 MISSISSIPPI STATE

November 3 at LSU

November 10 TEXAS A&M

November 17 WESTERN CAROLINA

November 24 AUBURN

THE BOTTOM LINE… Alabama has a monster match-up on the first game of the season when they play Michigan in JerryWorld, and it’s road trip to Arkansas ain’t gonna be easy either. Oh, and they also have to travel to LSU (as well as Tennessee and Missouri), too. Having said that, the favorable home schedule and the fact that there’s too much talent on this team means this: Alabama loses to LSU in Death Valley this year, but finishes the season a tidy 11-1, and is in the conversation (once again) for the National Championship.

SEC Preseason Preview: Can South Carolina dominate the SEC East?

In Steve Spurrier, South Carolina is coached by one of the greatest coaches the SEC (and College Football), has ever seen. And he’s great with doing something from nothing, because  South Carolina’s not historically Georgia, LSU or Alabama, and yet he can still pick up some immense recruits and sends some great ones to the pros.

This year, South Carolina goes into the season higher thought-of than ever. So can they win the SEC East title, which they missed out on last year?

Last year

Let’s get this straight: If they hadn’t have had such a sucky SEC conference, they would have won the SEC East. They went 4-0 against their division, but because Georgia managed to avoid playing anyone decent in the SEC West – and South Carolina had games at Auburn and Arkansas – Georgia (who they beat in an absolute classic last year) came out with a better SEC record and hence went to the SEC Championship Game.

Starting QB Stephen Garcia was dismissed in October for yet another bout of ‘overdoing it’,  and star running back Marcus Lattimore managed not to badly injure his knee at Mississippi State, and although the Gamecocks defense was still as good and reliable and usual, the offense never really recovered until the final game of the season when they put 34 on a suddenly-stumbling Clemson.

NFL-wise, Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, Alshon Jeffrey, Rokevious Watkins, Antonio Allen, and Travian Robertson were all drafted.

TWO BIG QUESTIONS ON OFFENSE

As far as we’re concerned, Connor Shaw’s going to do just fine this season for the Gamecocks. Although there are worries about Shaw’s back, Spurrier’s said he’s going to be fine for Thursday’s SEC opener at Vanderbilt.

The biggest question on everyone’s lips is about catching – who’s going to replace Alshon Jeffrey (762 yards, 8 TDs) as Shaw’s target man? Will it be Ace Sanders, or  Bruce Ellington or Rory Anderson or Nick Jones who will make the headlines? No-one knows? All we do know is that Jeffrey was a hell of a presence for the Gamecocks last year – something that will be needed.

And the other question – if we’re honest – is about Lattimore and his knee. The injury itself at Mississippi State was one to make any right-minded person feel nauseous, and it ruined his season there and then. Some reporters are confident that Lattimore’s back to the old self that made him a Heisman Trophy candidate, but Brandon Wilds and Kenny Miles will also be used to provide bigger support. This could answer a couple of worries.

AND THE DEFENSE?

Actually, the NFL Draft did a pretty good job itself, ridding the Gamecocks of CB Stephon Gilmore and DE Melvin Ingram and LB/SS ‘Spur’ Antonio Allen.

Having said that, there are still imposing figures to destroy offensive lines in giant sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney (36 tackles, 8 sacks), and DE co-player Devin Taylor (42 tackles, 6 sacks) who are also very quick. This should be fun.

But as we mentioned, the loss of Allen and Gilmore is going to be a major loss for Spurrier’s defensive back unit – and they’ll need CB Akeem Auguste to be healthy and SS DJ Swearinger (USC’s second-highest tackler with 80 tackles, 3 INTs, 1.5 Tackles For Loss) to continue his good form of 2011.

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

August 30 at Vanderbilt

September 8 EAST CAROLINA

September 15 UAB

September 22 MISSOURI

September 29 at Kentucky

October 6 GEORGIA

October 13 at LSU

October 20 at Florida

October 27 TENNESSEE

November 10 ARKANSAS

November 17 WOFFORD

November 24 at Clemson

USC’s first game of the season at Vandy on Thursday isn’t exactly an easy one to start with, and if they get through that game, then we expect them to run the table until they have the ‘triple whammy’ of Georgia and road games at LSU and Florida. Then it’s Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford and a trip to ancient rivals Clemson.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Spurrier’s lost too much talent not to suffer this year, but the return of Marcus Lattimore, the fact that Connor Shaw’s a better QB than Stephen Garcia and the Clowney/Taylor combo is going to be fantastic on the defensive line is going to make life a little bit easier. Having said that, we think USC will go 10-2 – and miss out once again on a SEC Championship Game spot (despite beating Georgia)

SEC Preseason Preview: Can LSU overcome the loss of Tyrann Mathieu?

Tyrann Mathieu really screwed up this time. In fact, he screwed up so much that he’s now in rehab, and he’s off the LSU team. Last year he was suspended for drug use, while in the off-season he entertained everybody by wanting to change his ‘Honey Badger’ nickname for ‘King’. Wow, there’s nothing like a bit of humility, is there? We can only hope that a reformed, drug-free Tyrann Mathieu is back in FBS Football and his bravado is pitch only.

But will Mathieu’s expulsion from the team cost the LSU Tigers a shot at the National Championship?

LAST SEASON

As you all know, LSU was not only shut out of the National Championship by Alabama, but they were embarrassed, too. Their offense was lousy, and their defense wasn’t a lot better in the 21-0 defeat.

It’s funny, because LSU got to the National Championship the right way last year. They played Oregon and West Virginia outside the confines of Death Valley. And won both games. They won the toughest road game of them all in Tuscaloosa 9-6, and made frat boys cry in the process. And they beat Georgia comfortably in the SEC Championship Game. They destroyed teams with an excellent defense, and some even better special teams play. And guess made most of the standout plays?

LSU – loaded with NFL-worthy talent – sent Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers, Rueben Randle, Brandon Taylor and Ron Brooks to the NFL.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITHOUT TYRANN MATHIEU?

As angry Les Miles must be with Tyrann Mathieu, he must be also thanking the Good Lord that Eric Reid – who tied Mathieu for tackles and interceptions has stayed out of trouble. The secondary – with the loss of two of its star players – now returns just one of its starters (Reid), but Tharold Simon, Craig Loston Jr and Dwayne Collins, Dwayne Thomas and Jalen Mills could also be exciting options.

Having said that, defensive co-ordinator supreme John Chavis knows what he’s doing, and the Tigers should be fine – if a little less exciting than last year!

OH, AND LSU STILL HAS THE BEST DEFENSIVE LINE IN THE COUNTRY

Defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo (what a great name, by the way) are two of the best defensive ends in the country. Between them, they had 17 sacks last year. And although Brockers is gone, DTs Bennie Logan(57 tackles, 3 sacks) and Antony Johnson will also scare offensive lines across the country.

And that’s going to help the linebacking corps, which lacks experience apart from Kevin Minter, who had 61 tackles last year. Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones are projected to start to0 – this could be pretty exciting.

And did we mention that John Chavis knew what he was doing?

AND THE OFFENSE?

We’ve been quite defense-focused in our LSU preview (mainly because of Mathieu), but the good news for LSU fans is that Les Miles finally has a strong-armed, good quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, who was named starting QB almost immediately to avoid a situation like Florida or Texas. LSU fans had better pray that Mettenberger stays healthy – and out of trouble – because PSU transfer Rob Bolden really wasn’t anything special in State College. But for some consolation, here’s freshman highlight reel, by the way. Things didn’t improve from there.

Mettenberger’s weapons are going to be Odell Beckham, Russell Shepard and TE Chase Clement. There’s not a lot of experience in the team on that line – both Shepard and Beckham only caught 55 passes and 6 TDs last year – but this was mainly due to Les Miles using his powerful offensive line to grind out the yards rather than throw it up in the air (and the fact that with Jarrett Lee / Jordan Jefferson at QB, they were hardly reliable, were they?). And with Mettenberger’s arm, opposition secondaries had better be careful.

Also, Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard all come back into a rushing game that, giving LSU a very legitimate run threat too.

And we think the offense is going to need to be more sparky than they were in 2011, because the defense is definitely a little weaker. Especially in the secondary (if we hadn’t mentioned it before).

In the SEC West, where field position in all-important, One of Les Miles’ biggest weapons is going to be a rather good-looking Australian kid called Brad Wing, who’s an absolute freak at doing that.

THE SCHEDULE

September 1 NORTH TEXAS

September 8 WASHINGTON

September 15 IDAHO

September 22 at Auburn

September 29 TOWSON

October 6 at Florida

October 13 SOUTH CAROLINA

October 20 at Texas A&M

November 3 ALABAMA

November 10 MISSISSIPPI STATE

November 17 OLE MISS

November 23 at Arkansas

LSU’s schedule isn’t an easy one…particularly on the road. Going to Florida, Arkansas and Auburn will be tough, and the atmosphere at Kyle Field (Texas A&M) is one of the most deafening in the country. Home-wise, Alabama and South Carolina at home are the key games.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Regardless of how magical John Chavis is or how good LSU’s defense is, the logic is this: LSU is a worse team without Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu is a threat on defense AND special teams – something that LSU will struggle with without their Heisman Candidate in the team. But we still think LSU is good enough to run the table – squeezing past Alabama to maintain a 12-0 record and a SEC Championship Game spot. It won’t be easy, though.

SEC Season Preview: Can The Joker take Kentucky from the SEC basement?

Joker Phillips’ job at Kentucky can’t be easy. After all, they seem to always live in the shadow of their band of basketball brothers, and never seem to come out. Even when they posted relatively successful numbers in 2006 – 2009, no-one particularly appreciated them, and even now it’s as though Randall Cobb went straight from high school to Green Bay without playing for Big Blue in between.

Well, Joker wants to make right on all of that, and have a team that can not only own hated rival Louisville, but do some damage in the SEC East. Can this be his year?

LAST SEASON

Last season the Kentucky Wildcats were pretty awful, finishing the year 5-7. That might not seem bad at all, but when your wins are against Western Kentucky (where they looked awful), Central Michigan, Jacksonville State and even-worse Ole Miss and ‘What In God’s Name Is Happening At That School?’ Tennessee, it’s hardly a season to look back on and say: ‘Gosh, I loved being a Wildcats fan back then’.

Still, the NFL’s teams drafted defensive back Winston Guy and linebacker Danny Trevathan – the only two players to go this year from the school.

WHO’S GOING TO REPLACE TREVATHAN AND GUY?

Right, so Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy leave the University of Kentucky with heads held him, taking with them 263 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and 6 INTs, plus being on-the-field leaders. That’s a lot that goes – if you consider that Ronnie Sneed (71) and Ridge Wilson (47) are also gone from the linebacking corps. The holes are going to be immense.

The Wildcats are going to depend a lot on defensive end Martavius Neloms and safety Mike Benton (seven pass break-ups) to cause some problems, as well as Avery Williamson (LB) and Alvin Dupree. Having said that, it’s going to be quite the task to replace St. Danny and St. Winston.

BUT AT LEAST JOKER HAS A QUARTERBACK…

This week Joker Phillips announced that Maxwell Smith would become the school’s starting quarterback. And while he can’t do a great interview (check out the opening remarks), he’s got a good arm, but frankly, the choice between him (819 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs) and injured Morgan Newton (793, 8 TDs, 7 INTs), isn’t exactly a beautiful one. We can’t wait until Patrick Towles – the No.1 QB in the State of Kentucky – takes over the reins (which we think he will – maybe as soon as the middle of the season).

Smith will be helped by the receiving talents of La’ Rod King (598 yards, 7 TDs), who’d better not get injured – because he’s the standout in the unit….by a mile. Could he be the next Randall Cobb?

AND SOME RUNNING BACKS

One of the problem places on this Kentucky team is NOT going to be running the ball, with Josh Clemsons, CoShik Williams, and Jonathan George. Although, as Lindy’s remarked: “They’ll have to make plays behind a relatively inexperienced line, which lost three starters and has very little depth”. That’s encouraging reading, bearing in mind Kentucky’s schedule!

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

September 2 at Louisville

September 8 KENT STATE

September 15 WESTERN KENTUCKY

September 22 at Florida

September 29 SOUTH CAROLINA

October 6 MISSISSIPPI STATE

October 13 at Arkansas

October 20 GEORGIA

October 27 at Missouri

November 3 VANDERBILT

November 17 SAMFORD

November 24 at Tennessee

The Bottom Line: Joker Phillips is going to win some games this year – although we don’t think it’ll be ANY in the SEC (sorry, UK fans!). The team’s inexperienced all over the field on both directions, and against better teams (which they all are this year, it seems), the Wildcats will struggle. We think the Wildcats will end up with a 4-8 record, including a winless SEC record.

Rogered: Tennessee WR Da’Rick Rogers suspended indefinitely

Huge news in Tennessee: Standout wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers has been suspended indefinitely by coach Derek Dooley for an unspecified violation of team rules, according to ESPN.

It is not known what he did to gain such a suspension, although Bruce Feldman, college football reporter at CBS was told that it was a string of troubling incidents that prompted the staff to make the move.

In one tweet he said: “After what I’d been told by sources inside Vols program last yr, was surprised Dooley allowed Da’Rick Rogers to stay w team.” He added: “In 2011 Da’Rick Rogers had a series of incidents, incldg a complete meltdown at UK gm that sources say COMPLETELY crossed line w UT staff.” And in a final note he said: “Da’Rick Rogers incidents in past yr were so troubling to staffers they felt Dooley was risking tm dynamic by allowing him to remain w UT.”

Last year Rogers was exceptional for the 5-7 Volunteers, grabbing 1,040 yards receiving and 9 TDs for an offense that really didn’t do that much otherwise.

UT linebacker Herman Lathers told Tennessee 24-7 blogger Wes Rusker: “No one is bigger than our team. We’ll be fine. This doesn’t bother us at all.

Rucker also reported that Dooley told reporters that he doesn’t expect Rogers back this year.Our expectation is he’s not (going to play this season), he told reporters. “Certainly there’s a process that we always respect, but our expectation is he’s not.He also seemed to indicate that it was unlikely that Rogers would be able to get back on the team.I think that the assumption is he’s not with us, and it’s very unlikely he will be.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a huge, huge miss for UT, who’s going to lose one of the SEC – and maybe the country’s – premier receivers. This puts HUGE pressure on not only newly-back-from-injury Justin Hunter but also the team’s running game – as well as QB Tyler Bray. But you’ve got to applaud Coach Dooley for standing by his guns – even though it may even cost him his job.

 

SEC Preseason Preview: Can Auburn roar in the SEC West?

There is no school out there that could have had a more horrible off-season than the Auburn Tigers. And only one incident capped it: Two former Auburn Tigers – Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian – and sophomore offensive linesman Eric Mack were shot at a pool party in mid-June. Phillips and Christian lost their lives.

The news rocked the University to the core – and it’ll be interesting to see what effect – if any – it has on the Tigers are the start of the year.

In less important news, brilliant running back Michael Dyer was dismissed from the team and is now playing FCS football, and Auburn can still roll the Toomer’s Oaks for the 2012 season (although Harvey Updyke still isn’t in jail – despite admitting his guilt to a student newspaper).

LAST SEASON

Last season there weren’t a lot of nice things to say about Auburn’s offense, expect that we loved the on-side kick against Utah State that rescued the 2010-1 National Champion’s blushes. Here it is!

Otherwise, the Tigers were inconsistent last season, beating the likes of South Carolina, Florida (the latter in one of the ugliest games the SEC saw last year) and the two Mississippis while losing convincingly to Alabama, Arkansas and LSU as well as ancient rival Georgia. They finished the season an untidy 7-5, and proceeded to then trounce Virginia in a 43-24 victory in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

SO WHO’S GOING TO BE THE QUARTERBACK?

Gene Chizik’s an excellent card player, and he’s holding them to his chest as we all try and work out who he’s going to pick: Kiehl Frazier or Clint Moseley (or even freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace) as the starting quarterback in the Chick-Fil-A Kick-Off Game in Atlanta against the mighty Clemson Tigers (who, by the way, are having problems of their own with Sammy Watkins). Nobody knows, and everyone’s getting a little impatient.

Last year Moseley threw for 800 yards and 5 TDs (and 3 INTs) behind the now-departed Barrett Trotter, while Frazier threw for 34 yards, and 2 INTs. In other words, none of those two exactly fill us with confidence going into 2012 – and Moseley’s shoulder isn’t great – when the Tigers have to face SEC ballhawks at Georgia, LSU and Alabama, so could Wallace actually get the job? It’s all quite exciting!

BUT AT RUNNING BACK…

The Tigers are absolutely loaded – even without Michael Dyer. Onterio McCalebb, Corey Grant, Tre Mason and Illinois transfer Jay Prosch are going to take turns battering defensive lines- although put your money on McCalebb to do most of the work. He ran for 640 yards last year and he’s got an excellent change of speed. Frazier can also give Chizik an option if the Tigers go Wildcat – something that he seems to enjoy doing!

HOW GOOD ARE THE RECEIVERS?

Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn’s giant tight end, put together an excellent 2011 (especially where he consistently dug the Tigers out of trouble), and don’t be surprised if he ends up continuing to be Auburn’s go-to-guy this year (he had 7 TDs). Emory Blake’s also going to cause defenses problems – and McCalebb will also provide some receptions too (he had 344 receiving yards last year on top of his running numbers!). Auburn fans – if they find a quarterback capable of hitting the receivers properly (a problem in 2011) – could find they have a dangerous offensive punch.

AND IN THE DEFENSIVE LINE…

This year the Tigers bring back nine returning starters to the defense, including 3 of the top 5 tacklers – led by linebacker Daren Bates, who had 104 tackles. Watch out for redshirt freshman Kris Frost, who’s had some standout practices and everyone’s hoping will become The Future in Brian VanGorder’s defense.

Corey Lemonier will lead the defensive line, who are all coming back this year.

WHILE THE SECONDARY…

Defensive MVP for last season Jermaine Whitehead, as well as Chris Davis, T’Sharvan Bell and Demetruce McNeal are back for an Auburn secondary that’s looking a little more seasoned this year.

THE 2012 SEASON (thanks, Yahoo)

September 1 CLEMSON (In Atlanta)

September 8 at Mississippi State

September 15 LOUISIANA-MONROE

September 22 LSU

October 6 ARKANSAS

October 13 at Ole Miss, TBA

October 20 at Vanderbilt, TBA

October 27 TEXAS A&M

November 3 NEW MEXICO STATE

November 10 GEORGIA

November 17 ALABAMA A&M

November 24 at Alabama

BOTTOM LINE: There seems to be no question that the Auburn will go to a bowl game this year – but will it be with a 7-5 record or a 6-6 record? That’s all because of their difficult two games at the start of the year against Clemson and on the road to Mississippi State – both banana skins if ever we’ve seen them. Anyway, we think the Tigers split the series, beat ULM, lose back-to-back games against LSU and Arkansas and win for in a row at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, and at home against Texas A&M and the might New Mexico State. They then go 1-2 in the Georgia, Alabama A&M and Alabama series. Guess who they beat…. That gives them a 7-5 record and probably another Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

SEC Preaseason Preview: Georgia Bulldogs: A second straight SEC title game?

Georgia goes into this season – again-  as SEC East favorites – simply because of the talent that the school is bringing back all over the field, but especially defensively, where some people have said that the Bulldogs could have one of the best Ds in the conference.

Having said that, Mark Richt has had disciplinary problem after disciplinary problem this year, and that might undermine is progress. Nevertheless, see what we think below…

LAST SEASON 

The Georgia Bulldogs may have won the SEC East and gone 10-4 this year, but it’s not exactly blasphemy in the House of Dog to say that they underperformed, is it? After all, of the four ‘quality’ teams that they played last year (Boise State, South Carolina, LSU and Michigan State), they went 0-4.

The Dawgs started the season losing to Boise and USC, and Athens was shaking with annoyance. After all, losing to Spurrier (again) isn’t something that the locals like. “If we lose against Mississippi State, this place will burn”, one a-little-too-theatrical Dawgs fan told this writer. It didn’t happen, and the Bulldogs rode a 10-game winning streak all the way to the SEC Championship Game….where they should been 21 points to the good against LSU in the first quarter if Malcolm Mitchell had held an easy touchdown pass. They also blew a number of chances in their bowl game against Michigan State, where they eventually – and in heartbreaking fashion- lost 33-30 to the Spartans in three overtimes.

NFL-wise, the Dawgs saw Orson Charles, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn, Justin Anderson, DeAngelo Tyson, Brandon Boykin and Blair Walsh all drafted to the big leagues.

SO…..THE BEST DEFENSIVE UNIT IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL…

Everyone’s drooling over Todd Grantham’s defensive unit this year, and so they should be. This is a team that returns all but Brandon Boykin of last year’s top 12 tacklers.

Giant nose tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers (both over 350lbs) are man mountains in a defensive line that returns seven of eight starters. Abry Jones and Garrison Smith are excellent defensive ends, and at linebacker, they are simply incredible, with Jarvis Jones – who led the SEC in sacks and was a first team All-American, and Alec Ogletree.

BUT AT SECONDARY….

Everyone loves Baccari Rambo, who was a first team All-American, and well as Sanders Commings and Branden Smith at cornerback. Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has converted to cornerback – and he’s getting rave reviews. 

The biggest problem that Mark Richt is going to have is the BEHAVIOUR of his secondary, with Rambo and Commings both out of at least the first game of the season (as well as linebacker Alec Ogletree, according to reports, as well as linebacker Chase Vasser’s also in Richt’s doghouse, having been arrested for a DUI in Atlanta. He’s going to miss the first two games of the season). Key members of the team could potentially also miss a road sizzler at upset-minded Missouri – for drug violations, and Rambo could potentially miss a quarter of the season, unless Richt believes Rambo’s “It was only hash brownies, sir”, excuse. One senior college football reporter described Richt’s tough drug policy as ‘noble’, but puts the Dawgs at a disadvantage. Recently, Branden Smith avoided suspension for being arrested, although he has denied doing drugs.  Because Richt hasn’t gone public over how much time Rambo is going to miss, we can’t help but think that the head coach might believe Rambo’s excuse. Otherwise, the Dawgs are going to have a big hole to fill in the back.

SPEAKING OF PROBLEMS….

Talented troublemaker and running back Isaiah Crowell was booted out of Athens in the off-season after being arrested on felony gun charges, giving Richt a massive problem: Who’s going to be the running back for the Georgia Bulldogs?

Although there are some who are quite happy with Ken Malcolme, Keith Marshall, and Todd Gurley- the latter two who were big hits on the North Carolina high school scene – we’re slightly worried about the change of pace that’s going to lack now that Crowell’s left.

OFFENSIVE-LINE WISE…

The problem for Georgia is that they won’t be able to get a running game going against defenses if their offensive line unit – which is going to be a work in progress now Cordy Glenn, Justin Anderson, and Ben Jones are playing in the big-time. David Jones will anchor the centre with Chris Brunette as a right guard – both of whom started double-digit games last year – and the rest is somewhat of a mystery. Still, Richt certainly has the talent to make a ‘work in progress’ work just fine.

BUT THE QUARTERBACK’S NOT BAD…

No, no he’s not. In fact, Aaron Murray’s one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC, and  the land. He’s got a cannon arm, understands the playbook as well as the defenses, and can put throws on the money. As we mentioned, if his receivers could have caught the ball, maybe Murray would be the proud owner of a SEC ring.

Murray threw for 3,149 yards and 35 touchdowns last year (and 14 INTs), and he’s going to frighten a lot of players.

Like it or not, the loss of Orson Charles to the NFL is going to be a big loss for the Bulldogs, but helping Murray will be WRs Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, Mitchell and Michael Bennett. As we mentioned earlier, we expect Mitchell to be playing both ways – especially if Richt needs another option through the air.

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

Sept 1 – BUFFALO

Sept 8 – At Missouri

Sept 15 – FLORIDA ATLANTIC

Sept 22 – VANDERBILT

Sept 29 – TENNESSEE

Oct 6 – At South Carolina

Oct 20 – At Kentucky

Oct 27 – FLORIDA (at Jacksonville)

Nov 3 – OLE MISS

Nov 10 – At Auburn

Nov 17 – GEORGIA SOUTHERN

Nov 24 – GEORGIA TECH

THE BOTTOM LINE: Georgia Bulldogs fans will be laughing (again) that they miss out on playing LSU, Alabama and Arkansas this season, while South Carolina gets LSU and Arkansas and Florida gets just LSU. They will also benefit from playing absolutely no-one in the non-conference (please Dawgs fans, don’t tell us that Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern are good teams).

We think that if the Bulldogs can avoid a bullet in a fright-of-your life game at Missouri, then they should be 5-0 before they roll into South Carolina. The Cocktail Party two weeks after (Kentucky in the middle) won’t be a lot easier, meaning that Georgia could easily be 6-2 – or 7-1. We’re predicting the Dawgs go 11-1. But will it be enough to go to the SEC Championship Game for the second straight year?


SEC Prediction: Will Arkansas ‘Hog’ The SEC West?

Between Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt, the Arkansas Razorbacks have put together winning seasons for seven years out of the last 10, including a pretty wonderful 11-2 run in 2011.

This year, many people are expecting nothing to change except the fact that Bobby Petrino’s out (penalized for his philandering ways), and beloved John L. Smith’s in with a 10-month contract. If Arkansas is half as a good as Smith is as a soundbite, they might make a run for the title!

In fact, the AP and USA Today like the Hogs so much that they have a Top 10 ranking to start the 2012 season. But can they be better than that, or will the John L. Smith roadshow fall by the wayside?

LAST SEASON

The Razorbacks were great last year. Tyler Wilson took over where Ryan Mallett left off, spraying the ball in all directions on an offense that continually torched the opposition for an average of nearly 37 points per game. Of course, the LSU and Alabama losses – as well as an injury to Knile Davis – hurt a run for a SEC West title – but it didn’t hurt a run to the Cotton Bowl, where they stomped Kansas State 29-16 in a battle of the unequals.

Then, in the off-season, Bobby Petrino had a motorbike crash and afterwards it emerged that he’d been cheating on his wife with Jessica Dorrell, an Arkansas member of staff, and he was kicked out of a job. He has since bowed his head and begged for forgiveness publically – we’ll see if anything comes of that in 2013. The SEC Football Blog has already made a point that Petrino should return in 2012, but right now, it’s the John L. Smith show, although Smith did hire Bobby Petrino’s brother, Paul, as offensive co-ordinator. The Hogs have realised that they might not like their ex-coach, but they sure as hell love his offensive mind.

NFL-wise, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Jake Bequette were all drafted, and don’t be surprised if each of them has an impact this or next season in the big leagues.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN OFFENSIVELY?

We’ll go as far as saying that Paul Petrino’s offense – and he knows his brother’s system inside-out – will be rich on both pass (QB Wilson, who threw for over 3,600 yards and 24 TDs in an incredible year comes back, as do WRs Cobi Hamilton and Marquel Wade and TE Chris Gragg) and run – Knile Davis is back after injury. Be afraid, defenses. We feel that by December, we’ll be using another two words to talk about Wilson: Heisman Candidate. Yep, he’s that good.

BUT IS KNILE DAVIS GOING TO BE OK?

Knile Davis suffered a broken ankle in August that wiped out his 2011 year, but he’s back and bigger, faster and angrier than ever. This guy could well be the next Darren McFadden or Felix Jones in Fayetteville, and we anticipate he’ll rack up the receiving yards, too, which gives Wilson another pair of hands. And if Davis is slow to start the season, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo put together over 1,000 yards rushing between them. In short, the Hogs are going to be OK in the backfield.

SPEAKING OF BACK, HOW’S THE DEFENSE LOOKING? 

The loss of defensive end Jake Bequette to the NFL – he had 10 sacks last year – is going to hurt Arkansas. No two ways about it. Also, top tackler Jerry Franklin, who had 101 tackles last year, has gone, too, meaning that there are going to be a few holes in Paul Haynes’ ‘D’. A Spring injury to Alonzo Highsmith – who contributed 12 ½ tackles for loss last year – won’t have helped Haynes’ humour much, although Highsmith will probably be back by the opener against the mighty Jacksonville State.

AND AT DEFENSIVE BACK?

Free safety Tremain Thomas, who had 91 tackles of his own last year, is gone, as is Elton Ford. Haynes will be hoping that Darius Winston and Tevin Mitchel can pick up the slack that’s going to be left – and look out for Ross Rasner, a linebacker who can play at free safety too. This could be interesting…. Or distastrous.

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

September 1 JACKSONVILLE STATE

September 8 LOUISIANA-MONROE

September 15 ALABAMA

September 22 RUTGERS

September 29 at Texas A&M

October 6 at Auburn

October 13 KENTUCKY

October 27 OLE MISS

November 3 TULSA

November 10 at South Carolina

November 17 at Mississippi State

November 24 LSU

BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas has a decent start to the season, with its first four games at home – including a monster one against Alabama, which gives the Razorbacks to a) Get some revenge for 2011 and b) Show the pollsters that they are a viable National Championship Option. Realistically, we think that they will go all the way to November 10th with just one loss (to Alabama), before a monster clash at South Carolina starts off a nasty final three games of the schedule, with a road trip to Mississippi State and a home game against LSU providing all the fun of the fair. Realistically, we think Arkansas ends the season with a 9-3 record, with Alabama, LSU and South Carolina providing the losses on an otherwise strong deal.

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