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After Notre Dame: SEC Rivalries The Conference Needs

For the sporting man like us, there’s always someone you love and someone you hate. For the SEC fan, the someone we love is our SEC team and the one we hate is their biggest rival. See Auburn and Alabama for example.

Now, the madness that is the conference realignment has meant that one of college football’s best rivalry games – Notre Dame and Michigan – dies after 2014, going the way of West Virginia and Pittsburgh, and the One We Pray Will Get Resurrected, The Texas A&M- Texas game. Yes, we know that A&M are in the SEC now, but if Georgia can manage to play Georgia Tech, Florida can play Florida State and South Carolina can play Clemson, why can’t Texas play Texas A&M?

Anyway, here’s a list of Ten rivalries – unlikely as it may seem – that we hope will never get ‘ended’. We’re going to take Auburn-Alabama out of the equation, simply because both teams play in the same division. Same goes for Tennessee vs Florida, South Carolina vs Georgia, South Carolina vs Tennessee etc etc.

1) Auburn vs Georgia

Why it should stay: It’s the SEC’s oldest rivalry, and with the shake-up in outside conference opponents, it could be that we see the end of Auburn-Georgia in the not-so distant future. Why? Auburn and Georgia have been playing each other almost every year since 1892. The record is 54-53-8 in Auburn’s favor, and it’s one of the most loved rivalries in college football.

Why it might go: Thanks to complaining from certain SEC coaches about the draw that they’ve got, the SEC might want Georgia or Auburn to play every team from an opposing conference more constantly, therefore killing the Auburn-Georgia rivalry.

2) Florida – Florida State

Why It Should Stay: Both sides absolutely despise each other, and it’s turned into a real ‘spitting bullets’ of a rivalry between these two, with both sides not owning bigger than nine straight victories (see Florida in 1968-76). Also, it’s a great showcase of in-state talent, and also a great recruiting tool for both schools.

Why It Might Go: Florida OR Florida State worry about their out-of-conference schedule and decides not to have this big-time rivalry game anymore, preferring the likes of South Florida, Central Florida or someone smaller to help them through to a potential play-off place. Believe me, ADs have done worse (see Texas A&M and Texas). The rivalry hasn’t exactly been done any favours by Notre Dame’s entry into the ACC, either.

3) South Carolina – Clemson

Why It Should Stay: South Carolina might be a SEC school, but the Gamecocks have always hated Clemson more than any of their SEC opponents (even if Georgia and Florida are still mighty games), and Clemson fans feel likewise (even if Florida State is a becoming more and more of a rival). It’s so big in that part of the world that a South Carolina lawmaker has proposed a bill trying to ensure that the 103-year rivalry keeps on going. And the way Steve Spurrier’s recruiting, Clemson’s 65-40-4 record will be slimming by the year!

Why It Might Go: Schedulers again don’t like the idea of their school losing a potential play-off spot, and take each other off the board. South Alabama and UAB suddenly get double invites to massacre. The rivalry hasn’t exactly been done any favours by Notre Dame’s entry into the ACC, either.

4) Kentucky – Louisville

Why It Should Stay: Now a great bourbon-inbibing tradition, it’s the start of the season for both teams, and it’s a great way for the locals to get together. Sure, it would be easy to get rid of a football rivalry that’s only spanned 25 meetings (Kentucky leads 14-11), but they’ve played each other for the Governor’s Cup every year since 1994.

Why It Might Go: Schedulers decide they had more fun in the 70 years of peace that penning in each other’s sides for a game.

5) LSU – Florida

Why It Should Stay: First of all, we love it. The atmosphere in both stadiums – Death Valley for the visit of the Gators, The Swamp for the visit of the Tigers – is off the hook. The smell of bourbon is in the air, and they are usually pretty good games. Plus, they haven’t missed each other since 1971, in a series that Florida leads 30-25-3. Every game brings more intrigue.

Why It Might Go: Despite first shutting down LSU’s wish to get Florida OFF the schedule, SEC schedulers decide that LSU and Florida should play everyone in the opposing division an equal amount of times. Depending on how good each team is at the time, both sets of schedulers breathe easy. The fans do not.

6) Tennessee – Alabama

Why It Should Stay: The Third Saturday In October is something special to both Bama and Tennessee fans. The two teams have played each other almost every year since 1928 (although the rivalry started as early as 1901), and Bama leads 48-38-7 in the rivalry, including Alabama’s current five game winning streak. For Tennessee, this game’s almost as important to Vols fans as Florida and for Alabama fans, this is (at times!) on par with LSU (but way behind Auburn!).

Why It Might Go: See LSU-Florida.

7) Vanderbilt – Ole Miss

Why It Should Stay: It’s been going every year since 1945 (and almost every year since 1929), and it originated in 1894. Ole Miss leads 46-37-2, if you’re interested. Oh, and it’s a cracking party at The Grove or in Nashville every year, even if the games haven’t been rivetingly interesting in the last few years. Plus, Hugh Freeze and James Franklin both want to keep the rivalry around.

Why It Might Go: SEC schedulers – although we don’t think it’s in as much danger, because it’s not a high-profile SEC match-up. Sorry if that sounds nasty.

8) Georgia – Georgia Tech

Why It Should Stay: First of all, ‘Clean Old Fashioned Hate’ is one of the best names for a rivalry since…nothing. We love it. Georgia and Georgia Tech have been at each other since 1893. Although Georgia 62-39-5 record over the Yellow Jackets, it’s always great to see two teams in the same state dislike each other so much. Although Georgia sees Florida as the bigger rival, this is another Cocktail Party that any SEC fan should experience once in their life.

Why It Might Go: If both sides become a real force in college football, they could try and take each other off the schedule for reasons of easiness. The rivalry hasn’t exactly been done any favours by Notre Dame’s entry into the ACC, either. Savannah State, get chatting!

The Rivalries We Want Back… Badly

Missouri – Kansas: Despite their presence in the SEC now, Mizzou and Kansas still absolutely despise each other, and Mizzou’s realignment has brought peace to ‘The Border War’ after 120 games in a series actually older than Auburn-Georgia (originated in 1891 and played each other every year since then). They can’t even work out who’s won more games. And regardless of where both programs are, it’s always a really nasty atmosphere either in Lawrence or Columbia between both sets of fans. Just how we like it.

Texas A&M-  Texas: A) Because Aggies fans sing most of their songs about hating The Longhorns. It sounds weird that they don’t actually play them at football. B) Because Aggies fans don’t have any other natural rivals (unlike Texas and Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/The rest of the Big XII), regardless of how much they’ll try and pump up the Arkansas game. C) Because Thanksgiving sucks without A&M and UT facing off each other. D) This rivalry ended because either the Aggies were so furious about money. Does no-one out there have money to make sure this rivalry comes out again? (Hint: Jerry Jones?)

Tide Rolls while Tigers, Hogs Roast: SEC Football Blog’s SEC 1-14

We admit it: We at the SEC Football Blog should have done more with our SEC Power Rankings (ie start in the first week), but there’s been very little on offer until now, and now we know a bit, we think we can provide some analysis to go with our picks.

The soundtrack for today’s picks is Brad Paisley’s ‘Old Alabama’, because right now, Nick Saban’s the new Bear Bryant.

1. Alabama (4-0): The Crimson Tide have rolled everyone they have played against. No team has looked this complete this early. Sure, there are big tests to come (read: LSU on the road on Nov. 3rd), but Nick Saban is the best coach in college football. His team looks up for every game, not just the biggies.

2. South Carolina (4-0): With Connor Shaw, Dylan Thompson performed. Now with Shaw back, USC really performed, wiping the floor with Mizzou. And the defense looked good, too. Look out Georgia and Florida.

3. Georgia (4-0): The Bulldogs most complete performance of the season came as they wiped the floor with Vanderbilt. The running game of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley is downright frightening, and the Dawgs have got Ogletree and Rambo back soon – although Coach Richt hasn’t said that they’ll be back for Tennessee (although their bans are over).

4. Florida (4-0): Two big-time comebacks against Texas A&M and Tennessee – and the shut-out against Kentucky have convinced us that Florida’s running game is for real – and Jeff Driskel’s getting better week by week. Wil Muschamp has got this Gators team fired up! Anyone calling his teeth now, Gators fans?

5. LSU (4-0): Did LSU just fall asleep through their game with Auburn when they were 3 touchdown underdogs or did Auburn play out of its mind. Whatever happens, it’s not good. In fact, it’s ugly as hell. Things had better get cleared up for the Tigers before they visit UF on October 6th, or they have problems. And so does Les Miles, we can assure you.

6. Tennessee (3-1): Tennessee should have beaten Florida at Neyland. Their offense will pose plenty of problems to Georgia’s on Saturday. Tyler Bray’s a freaking good quarterback, and is looking like a first round QB every week behind a great offensive lines. His wide receivers still need to learn to receiver better. And we’ll see how much they miss Da’Rick Rogers down the stretch.

7. Mississippi State (4-0): Having seen a lot of Auburn this season, MSU’s win over Auburn said more about Auburn than it did about MSU. But Chad Bumphis is a great wide receiver, and he’s causin’ problems for every opponent. Alabama and LSU, be warned.

8. Texas A&M (3-1): The Aggies lost their first game in the SEC despite playing pretty well, and the student section at Kyle Field and all the fun and games that go into it instantly make them a great SEC destination, tailgate. Now all they need is a good team. This team will be good, we fill, just not this year.

9. Missouri (2-2): Mizzou has played two of its SEC East rivals…..and gone 0-2. And been blown out. Gary Pinkel’s got a problem at quarterback he needs to deal with (James Franklin with shoulder pain or Berkstresser?), and his new wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been unimpressive (though it IS his rookie year).

10. Ole Miss (3-1): Ole Miss? 3-1! Miracles are happening at The Grove, people! Only 3 games to go for Ole Reb to go to a bowl game! Joking apart, Hugh Freeze is installing some belief in this side and it’s great to see. They might well be favorites against Arkansas and Auburn this year.

11. Vanderbilt (2-2): Granted, they’ve played two of their toughest opponents, but Vandy is 0-2 in the SEC, 0-2 in the East, and 0-2 in any love being given to James Franklin, despite his team’s fight against South Carolina when the blocking systems used against Mssrs Clowney and Taylor gave a ton of time for Jordan Rodgers to throw. Speaking of Rodgers, he’s had a pretty poor season thus far. This could get a lot worse before season’s end.

12. Auburn (1-3): This team is really, really poor. Sure, the ‘D’ played out of its collective mind against LSU, but that makes up for some poor performances up to then? And also, what on earth’s happening with the ‘O’? We can tell you: Kiehl Frazier’s really missing some guy called Michael Dyer….

13. Kentucky (1-3): Kentucky is a horror show. We get it. But they’ve had some bad luck (Maxwell Smith’s injury before the Florida game). But it’s still a horror show (the loss to Western Kentucky, anyone?). Still, they could be better than some teams in the SEC. We’re just not sure which ones. Oh, and will Joker Phillips be around for? We reckon he’s getting his pink slip at season’s end. Can John Calipari coach football too?

14. Arkansas (1-3): First of all the Razorbacks lose to Louisana Monroe. Then they get wiped out at home to Alabama 52-0. And to complete the embarrassment (of the SEC and most of all themselves!), they lose to Rutgers at home, despite Cobi Hamilton’s fine performance. The defense – ranking a hefty 110th in the nation – absolutely sucked. Some people saw it. We didn’t. We thought they’d be better than that. Goodbye, John L…….

 

A Few Things about Saturday’s SEC games: Week 4

‘Twas another interesting week for the SEC. Georgia and South Carolina made statements. Florida rolled Kentucky. LSU struggled with three touchdown ‘dogs Auburn amid the atmosphere of Jordan-Hare, but got away with a victory. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M both hammered their non-conference opponents to go 3-1, and Tennessee went 3-1 by doing the same to Akron. Oh, and some team called Alabama remained perfect by bulldozing Florida Atlantic.

But there was one other team to talk about…..

1) Arkansas (unfortunately for the SEC), is the team to talk about. Playing against Rutgers with Tyler Wilson back, the Razorbacks put up 492 total yards, with 419 of those coming from the wonder-arm of their once Heisman Trophy candidate.  Unfortunately, Rutgers put up 525 yards (of which 397 were passing), and Wilson had 2 interceptions and Rutgers’ QB Gary Nova had none. And while Arkansas’ running game continued to be a mess, Rutgers’ flourished with Jawan Jamieson putting up 118 of them. In the end, Rutgers outscored the Hogs 35-26, giving John L. Smith his third loss in Fayetteville – all of which have been embarrassing to one level or another. Oh, and what in the heck’s happened to Knile Davis – just 17 yards on 10 carries….

Special note goes to Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton, who broke a SEC all-time one game receiving record with 303 yards in the game. That’s incredible.

And anyway….

2) We haven’t said this all season: Georgia was excellent throughout its 48-3 drubbing of SEC rival Vanderbilt on Saturday.  Aaron Murray threw for 250 yards and 2 TDs, and the running back  duo Todd Gurley (130 yards) and Keith Marshall (82) put up over 200 yards and four TDs as the Bulldogs went through the Commodores like butter on Saturday night. Who’s Isaiah Crowell again? As for Vanderbilt? Everything’s gone a little downhill for James Franklin, hasn’t it?

3) Speaking of James Franklin, he was destroyed by South Carolina‘s demon defensive line, who suffocated him to just 92 yards passing and sacking him three times. Missouri just couldn’t cope in any facet of the game with the Gamecocks, losing 31-10. Oh, and there was good news for Gamecocks fans on the Connor Shaw front, too, who (for about the first time this season), didn’t end up getting a MRI. Shaw was excellent, throwing for 249 yards and 2 TDs in a superb effort. Who’s that Dylan Thompson again?

4) After spending all week thinking that Auburn would get slaughtered by LSU at Jordan-Hare, it was somewhat of a shock to us when the Tigers misfired so much that they were nearly the subject of the Shock Of The Season. They were terrible – so much so that we would HATE to be the LSU players in practice on Monday. To quote Les Miles: “This is a tremendous lesson for us, which is something that we’ll certainly be able to teach from in a very aggressive manner.” Oh dear. On Auburn’s side, their defense played out of their minds, holding LSU to 351 yards and forcing two turnovers. OK, so it was helped by an early injury to LSU center P.J. Lonergan, but there we go…. Oh, and as for LSU, they are now down to third in the rankings after the victory

5) Florida, Florida, Florida. We’re not going to get too excited about the Gators nuking Kentucky 38-0, but again we have to say this: The offense isn’t half as bad as it was against Bowling Green – probably a worse opponent than the Wildcats. This time, Jeff Driskel threw for 203 yards and a TD, while the running game again continued its standout year, putting up 200 yards of dough against a soft Wildcats ‘D’. On Kentucky’s side, they were suffocated by Florida’s D, limiting backup Morgan Newton to just 60 yards in the air.

6) Excitement in Mississippi? Maybe not nationally, but suddenly the prospect of not one but two bowl games for Ole Miss and MSU is getting bigger by the minute – particularly with the weakness of Arkansas and Auburn at the moment. Anyway, Mississippi State rolled to a 30-10 victory over South Alabama, although they certainly weren’t impressive, despite the scoreline (though the ‘D’ did cause 3 turnovers). Ole Miss had a wonderful party (we’ll bet) against Tulane, and they shut out the Green Wave 39-0. Ole Miss put up 304 rushing yards that game- with 10 rushers. Hugh Freeze must have had fun putting that offensive look together.

7) How about Alabama‘s defense losing its scoreless streak after 192 yards? Should we all be shocked? Not really. Bama was already 4o points ahead at this stage and although Alabama’s players were anxious to keep the shut-out streak going (which led to the penalty which led to the TD which led to Nick Saban fuming at the officials after the score), it didn’t matter. Alabama was pretty much perfect today, putting up 503 yards – 247 in the air and 253 on the ground. If they lose this season, it’s not going to be a small upset. It’s going to be a monstrous one.

8) Despite Tyler Bray’s pick six early on in the game, and being tied up 10-10 midway through the game, Tennessee found a second and third gear in unzipping Akron, eventually blowing them out 47-26. Tyler Bray’s 401 yards and 4 TDs  showed that the Vols’ receivers don’t always drop the ball (although Vols fans will be wondering why Justin Hunter couldn’t have held one against Florida last week), while Rajon Neal’s 151 yards shows that Tennessee, when playing poor rush defenses, can actually perform. So, we don’t actually hold out any hope for Mr Neal against Alabama’s defensive front then….

 

SEC Predictions: Week 4

Last Saturday saw College Gameday once again decide to visit SEC Country, where the gang hit up Knoxville, TN for the Tennessee-Florida Game. Tons more exicitement than there had been in years for fans of Big Orange….same old result against those Gators.

Anyway, this week, Gameday’s off to travel to the University of Florida’s little brother in Tallahassee, where the mighty ‘Noles will stick their flaming spear in the University of South Carolina’s little brother and make them enjoy it. Anyway, this one should be exciting.

While in the SEC, we’ve got the ‘Tiger War’ between LSU and Auburn at Jordan-Hare which should have an atmosphere which is off the hook, an East game between Georgia and Vanderbilt that ended up like this last season (and secretly, we’re hoping for the 2012 edition to end similarly), and the battle of the Columbias when Missouri and South Carolina get together (Columbian Marching Powder not invited).

Anyway, let’s get on with it.

THE TIGER WAR (LSU at Auburn)

Auburn managed to avoid going 0-3 by beating the mighty ULM in overtime on a field goal, while LSU only got out of second gear when they realised that Idaho was giving them a game (they ended up vandalizing the Vandals). When the powers-that-be learn that LSU isn’t good playing in purple?? Anyway, this battle at night at Jordan-Hare should ben an incredible atmosphere…. but will the scoreline match? Well, if the Tigers can get Kiehl Frazier into some kind of form and the offensive line can keep him from getting killed, and the ‘D’ disrupts Zach Mettenberger from getting into rhythm – especially as RB/FB Alfred Blue is done for a few games – then possibly.

BOTTOM LINE: The Tigers from Looisiana roll. By 18.

THE COLUMBIAN CUP (Missouri at South Carolina)

Missouri managed to hold of Arizona State to go 2-1 this year, but they’ll be trying to keep themselves from going 0-2 in the SEC East when they visit an oiled-up Williams-Brice Stadium to play the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks fanbase, enjoying themselves by drinking in a parking lot for the last few hours, can’t wait to see Marcus Lattimore against a soft Missouri running defense, while if Jarvis Jones is anything to go by, Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina’s defensive front is going to cause awesomely-named Tigers QB Corbin Berkstresser hellish problems.

BOTTOM LINE: South Carolina wins!!! South Carolina wins!!! By 21!! Back to the parking lot to celebrate!!!

THE TODD GRANTHAM CUP (Vanderbilt at Georgia)

We learned one thing in 2011: Don’t screw with Todd Grantham. He’ll just plain spew bullets at you. And when he’s finished with you, he’ll go after your boss, and possibly your first born. And if we’ve learned one thing about the Bulldogs in 2012, is that they really, really miss Jarvis Jones when he’s not playing. The Dawgs were just terrible against Florida Atlantic in an atmosphere that was more St John Passion than Sanford Passion in the first half of the game against the Owls, but Aaron Murray settled any Georgia worries and put the game away. This week, they’ll be dependent on Murray – and RB sensation Todd Gurley – to do the job against Vandy, for whom Jordan Rodgers is playing inconsistently.

BOTTOM LINE: If they can play for 60 minutes, Georgia wins by 21. If they don’t, Dawgs by 10. The game’s in a better atmosphere, though. Thankfully.

THE ‘IT COULD ONLY GET WORSE BY LOSING TO A BIG EAST TEAM’ CUP (Rutgers at Arkansas)

If you’d watched the truly awful game between Rutgers and South Florida and Alabama’s destruction of Arkansas, we don’t want to say it but we will: It’s going to be a damned close game in Fayetteville this weekend. Tyler Wilson STILL isn’t cleared to play (this is a good thing, folks), and there’s been nothing good to say about The Biggest Letdown Of The Season so far, apart from that John L. Smith is a good guy and we wish him all the best as an assistant somewhere outside of the SEC in 2012. For this one, we advise bringing the smelling salts. Having said that, if Wilson does play – as John L. Smith said in Thursday’s press conference – then Arkansas will win.

BOTTOM LINE: It gets worse. So much worse for Arkansas. Rutgers wins. By 3. /// If Wilson plays, Arkansas by 14. The boy’s a game changer. The defense still sucks though.

THE ‘BAD GAME, HUGE PRE-LUNCH PARTY’ CUP (Ole Miss at Tulane)

God’s honest truth – the party at Ole Miss for the Texas game was absolutely immense. Having said that, the game wasn’t, as the Longhorns bent Ole Reb over their knee and gave him a 30-point spanking. But if you want good parties for two games in a row, Ole Miss’ visit to Tulane should be a good one. Our cousin was a frat boy at Tulane, and the boys knew how to party. Get prepared for some well-dressed guys, some bourbon, and some genteel behavior. And all before 11am. Oh? And what’s Tulane like? They are 0-2, and bad.

BOTTOM LINE: Ole Miss becomes ROLL MISS, and goes 3-1, winning by 21.

THE ‘HOSSES VS TEETH’ CUP (Kentucky at Florida)

To mis-quote the great Drive By Truckers song “3 Alabama Icons”, if there’s two things that are loved in Kentucky, it’s horses and basketball. And maybe bourbon. Anyway, the Kentucky football hasn’t been one of them in years, and won’t be after their disastrous loss to Western Kentucky last week. As we said in an earlier article, we’ll be shocked if Joker Phillips isn’t booted out of town by season-end. Anyway, Will Muschamp is back to being God again in the view of the lovably loyal Florida faithful, and the Gators are playing with confidence. Big Blue, this is going to be BLU-TAL.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida chomps all over UK, winning by 28. And the offense clicks too, with Jeff Driskel throwing for 1,000 yards…. (well, that might be overestimating things a tad….)

THE ‘WE PLAYED WELL IN GEORGIA UNTL HALF-TIME, BUT WE’LL GET WIPED OUT IN TUSCALOOSA BY HALF-TIME’ CUP (Florida Atlantic at Alabama)

See the name of the Cup. Quite honestly not worth writing these words because this game’s going to be soooooooo done with by half-time.

BOTTOM LINE: Hey Owls! The Tide are going to beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer, Yellow Hammer, 50 points for Alabama. And none for Florida Atlantic.

 THE ‘WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED AGAINST FLORIDA BETTER NOT HAPPEN TWO WEEKS IN A ROW’ (Akron at Tennessee)

Tennessee was great for the first half of its game against Florida, completely outplaying the Gators en route to a 10-point lead. But in the second half, they completely wilted, hurt by stunning drops by excellent wide receivers, poor line play, and poor defense (TWO big plays? Isn’t that OLD Tennessee). Tennessee won’t need to bring its running game against the Mighty Zips, but it had better show it had one, or the Vols are going to suffer further losses this season and finish fourth (or worse) in the East. Which won’t make any fans in Knoxville happy – or people called Dooley.

BOTTOM LINE: Tennessee rebounds, winning by 35.

THE ‘IF THIS WAS ALABAMA VS MISSISSIPPI STATE, THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD GAME’ CUP (SOUTH Alabama at Mississippi State)

But this isn’t. Safe to say that Mississippi State successfully negotiated an away trip to Troy (winning by six), and South Alabama should provide some relief before what will be a nasty SEC West schedule.

BOTTOM LINE: Dan Mullen rules. Again. The kings of the Cowbell ring to 4-0.

THE ‘WE WISH THIS WAS SOUTH CAROLINA VS TEXAS A&M’ CUP (South Carolina STATE vs Texas A&M)

The atmosphere at Kyle Field is normally off-the-hook, and we were glad to see that that hasn’t changed now the Aggies are the SEC. Having said that, only the most psycho Aggies fan (or is that all of ’em?) will be jumping out of their skin or  for SCSU, who are 1-2 after getting shut up by South Carolina last week.

BOTTOM LINE: Aggies win! Aggies win! Aggies win! Texas A&M by 40.

Quick SEC reaction: Week 3

What a Week 3 it was. While Tennessee fans once again spat bullets about losing to Florida at home, they managed to drown their beers and sip some champagne as Lane Kiffin and No.2  USC lost at Pac-12 rival Stanford, we once again had evidence that there’s only one team out there in College Football at the moment: Alabama. The SEC has a lot to catch up.

Anyway, here’s the top 10 things about our SEC teams this week:

1) Tennessee lost the game against Florida because it had no running game and its wide receivers couldn’t make easy catches. And when we’re talking easy, we’re talking ones like Justin Hunter’s that absolutely killed the team’s drive. And also, the Vols incurred penalties that also helped to knife the team in the back. Also, the Vols’ nature for conceding the big play came back to kill them….twice. But Jeff Driskel proved to be a leader for the Gators, and Florida’s rushing game was fantastic. They really helped to shut up Big Orange. Sad day for Tennessee, but here come the Gators, folks!

2) Alabama may have destroyed Arkansas, but as John L.Smith says, the Razorbacks simply gave up. It was like a friend of mine’s middle school football game when they were down 20 and decided not to play anymore, and ended up losing by 50. Wow. Arkansas Razordbacks fans should ask for their money back after that – because this was the worst performance I’ve seen from a SEC team in a long time…. and there have been some pretty awful SEC performances in the past.

3) Oh, and as for Bama? This was a very impressive side, which was quick, great in a tackle, and almost perfect in every part of their performance. Even Nick Saban should have been happy with this performance.

4) Georgia and LSU surprised us early on by not wiping both Florida Atlantic and Idaho to the floor immediately, but both Bulldogs and Tigers both warmed up their act, and the rest was history. The atmosphere at both stadiums wasn’t great, though. No great surprise for bad, non-conference opponents, but still…(hint to both ADs: Schedule some big-time home and homes?).

5) Missouri managed to hold off Arizona State – just. We love Corbin Berkstresser, who replaced James Franklin, but the Tigers QB (the one who’s out), has got more to offer in the SEC schedule, in our opinion. Franklin gave Georgia’s defense fits at times with some of his play in Mizzou’s opening SEC game.

6) For those of you who thought Ole Miss was worth taking as a 10-point underdog against Texas, we did tell you not to bother (in more words). We told you that Ole Miss wouldn’t be a match for Texas’ running game (350 yards the Longhorns put up), although the fact that the Rebs put up 31 points is a definite plus – even if giving up 66 – isn’t.

7) Vanderbilt and South Carolina may have had a closely-fought encounter in Week 1, but when it came to playing Presbyterian and UAB respectively, both sides went through with little trouble. The biggest thing to trouble Steve Spurrier – although the play of Dylan Thompson may negate that – is the injury (once again) to Connor Shaw. We’re getting to point of yelling: “Steve! Why don’t you just close down Connor Shaw and let this Thompson kid play?”. As for Vandy, it was Presbyterian. A small round of applause for 50-odd points.

8) What was happening in Auburn? Auburn…..well, the field goal-in-overtime victory showed that the Tigers can win while they are down, but the muted reaction inside Jordan-Hare Stadium showed me that Tigers fans are preparing themselves for a long season. And Gene Chizik is preparing himself for a hot seat.

9) MSU survives Troy. Regardless of what people say, Mississippi State beating Troy by just 6 points is a bit of an upset, but here’s some love to Chad Bumphis, who grabbed three touchdowns. Still, the Bulldogs’ defense needs a bit of work…they conceded 572 yards of total offense.

10) What in the hell happened in Lexington? Well, it was a fun game in Lexington, where the mighty Kentucky lost to in-state ‘rival’ Western Kentucky in overtime to a fantastically-executed trick play. But should it have got this far? No. Joker Phillips will be lucky if he’s in the job by end-season, folks.

11) Nice for Texas A&M that the Aggies rebounded with a solid 48-3 victory on Saturday. On the road. Without any scares.

LSU starter Jones named ineligible for rest of football season

LSU linebacker Tahj Jones is one of four Tigers players who have been declared academically ineligible for the rest of the 2012 season, according to the Times Picayune, citing sources.

Jones, who started one game last season but had 27 tackles with the team was named alongside tight end Tyler Edwards, linebacker D.J. Welter, and offensive linesman Evan Washington.

BOTTOM LINE: This might not hit LSU in its starters, but won’t help Les Miles’ depth chart during the course of a brutal SEC schedule.

SEC: Ole Miss suspension news

SEC headlines from today:

1) Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t overly happy with the Florida Gators and the fact that its players cramped up in the second half. Florida fans: Are you skeptical about the team’s conditioning or do you think it was gamesmanship?

2) Arkansas QB and Heisman candidate Tyler Wilson didn’t practice on Tuesday after leaving the ULM game with a concussion. However, Alabama‘s Nico Johnson & Co is still preparing to play Wilson on Saturday.

3) Despite defense from his school, Ole Misssafety Trae Elston has been suspended by the SEC for Saturday’s showdown with Texas on Saturday night for a dangerous hit in the final minutes of the win over UTEP. That’s not going to make things any better against one of the best running offenses in the land.

4) Mississippi State DB Byron De’ Vinner was given $200 by a booster, apparently.

 

Quick SEC reaction: Week 2

Wow. What a Week 2 for the SEC. And it was somewhat humbling, let me tell you (although not as humbling as the Big 10, who saw Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, Iowa and Illinois all lose, stalwarts Michigan and Ohio State tested) – especially in Fayetteville.

Anyway, this blog went an honest-to-God 9-2 yesterday, with our only bad predictions with Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

Anyway, here’s some quick grades before a longer piece tomorrow, when we’re feeling more, ahem, ‘together’.

1) We completely underestimated Louisiana-Monroe. We thought they’d come to town, take their near-$1m, and walk off or walk over. Instead, they battled Arkansas when they were 28-7 down in the third quarter, and came back to win in stunning fashion in overtime. Would they have won if Tyler Wilson hadn’t left the game with a concussion? Probably not. But that’s what football’s about. And Arkansas defense looked downright lousy. Alabama must be really scared going into Fayetteville.

2) Speaking of Alabama, Western Kentucky was dealt with handily. ‘Nuff said.

3) Both Missouri and Texas A&M could have won their games against Georgia and Florida. Missouri was pretty good until their offensive line started getting blown up by Jarvis Jones, and James Franklin didn’t start using his ability to get out of the pocket (or was that more love to Todd Grantham and UGA’s defensive line, we wonder?), and the score more than slightly flattered Georgia. We don’t know if Aaron Murray IS the next Matt Stafford yet, but he’s got a hefty offense out there. And when Georgia get their idiots back from their drug-related suspensions, they will be even better. And as for A&M, the atmosphere at Kyle Field for the game against Florida was SEC-noisy. Florida certainly found it difficult to deal with the noise. But then they discovered that Texas A&M couldn’t deal with the running game – and Kevin Sumlin did their offense a favor by giving Caleb Sturgis another shot at a field goal virtually on half-time that he missed the first time, and they aren’t very good at keeping leads. All points to Mike Gillislee and some good scrambling from Jeff Driskel. He wasn’t too bad as a passer, either, going 13-16 for 162 yards. He could have had a TD too if Frankie Hammond had been able to catch.

4) Vanderbilt goes to a disappointing 0-2. We always had the South Carolina game as a loss, but we really thought – after months of bravado- that James Franklin’s Vanderbilt team would stop, ahem, being Vanderbilt. Well folks, they haven’t. They lost the Math Derby to Northwestern last night 23-13 and although they were in it until late in the game, things obviously aren’t going well down there. Jordan Rodgers 17-33 effort certainly isn’t too great, either – even if he threw for 217 yards.

5) Speaking of 0-2, Auburn was simply terrible in their game against Mississippi State. True, the first half of that one was like watching paint dry and deserving of Twitter jokes about it being the “Jefferson Pilot Rivalry”, but it was basically a puntfest with a few cowbells thrown in. Second half, things were pretty exciting, but then Mississippi State improved vastly – while Auburn had only a 100 yard TD kick-off return from Onterio McCalebb to thank for their inept offense. Yes, we know that the Gus Malzahn era’s going to take a while, but we don’t think that the Kiehl Frazier era should last too long either – especially after this poor (and that’s an understatement because this is a family blog) showing.

6) South Carolina cruised to a game that was over by half-time. Quick note to all doubters of Dylan Thompson, who took over from the injured Connor Shaw for the East Carolina game. The kid threw for 330 yards and 3 TDs in a pretty heroic effort, and some of his reactions to completions and TDs made you think you were watching a guy playing in the Super Bowl. It was awesome! Seriously though, we’re not going to give the Gamecocks too much of a round of applause after this one, but Spurrier managed to do two things: 1) Show that he’s the best quarterback coach in the SEC (see: Steve Spurrier at Florida) 2) Keep Marcus Lattimore from getting injured (He had only 13 touches for 40 yards).

7) Ole Miss (yes, them!) goes 2-0. Ole Miss comfortably beats the team that probably should have beaten a sleeping Oklahoma last Saturday night, with Bo Wallace (three TD passes, 1 TD run) proving to be the new hero of Oxford. We’ll still go out on a limb and say we expect them to lose their next game to Texas (who also went to 2-0 yesterday, by the way), but we’ll stand in the middle of Times Square, wearing only a Mr Freeze costume from Batman, and yell: “There’s a Freeze Coming!” if Ole Miss scores the upset.

8) Tennessee and Kentucky (yes, Kentucky!) complete a good day for the SEC East. Both sides were meant to handle Georgia State and Kent State handily and they did, one by scoring 51 points (UT) and one by scoring 47 (UK). Tyler Bray threw for 310 yards and 4 TDs for the rejuvenated Vols, who’s fans suddenly believe that Derek Dooley is the new Messiah (#fickle), while UK’s Maxwell Smith threw for 354 and 4 TDs. UK fans don’t believe Joker Phillips is the new Blue Messiah, but they wish to be competitive. Good luck with that.

9) And last but not least, a lot of people thought LSU would struggle with Keith Price and the University of Washington. At home. At night. This wasn’t the case, with LSU’s defense proving smothering in a punishing, don’t-y0u-dare-doubt-us 41-3 blowout of the Huskies. This is a darned good football team, folks. Oh, and who cares that Tyrann Mathieu – a LSU student – was at the game? We don’t, ESPN! Just let the kids play! As USC struggled in Syracuse (despite the scoreline), is LSU the second-best team in the nation now?

We’ll let you think about that.

 

 

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.

 

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