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Right, Week 11 is done and dusted in College Football Lore, and all you’ll hear for the next two weeks is: “Miami is back” and “I can’t ****ing wait for the Iron Bowl”. While we know about the media excitement about Miami being back, the thought that Alabama visiting its two-loss rival before the Georgia game wouldn’t have given the insides a lot to stir about – especially from a College Play-Off perspective.

And then Georgia came to visit, and was slaughtered – so much so that Auburn’s QB Jarrett Stidham didn’t stay in the whole game. The Dawgs couldn’t stop Kerryon Johnson, who savaged Georgia’s front four in a way very similar to the way their own Bulldog pairing of Chubb and Michel had done the same.

Alabama, on the hand, went to Mississippi State and survived a Hail Mary to come away with a thrilling 31-24 victory, won in the last half-minute. We didn’t watch the game because we were too busy laughing about Miami and keeping our eyes in awe of Baker Mayfield, a Southern treasure who doesn’t reside in this conference.

Oh, and LSU played well for about three-ish quarters, the South Carolina-Florida game was an embarrassment to humanity, Missouri took the Champions of Life trophy away from Tennessee, Kentucky smoked Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss and Texas A&M wiped the floor with their joke opponents.

Anyway, here is our SEC rankings after Week 11:

  1. Alabama: They struggled at Mississippi State, but Jalen Hurts showed why they love him in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama proved why they keep on winning – even with their injuries. Can’t wait for the Iron Bowl, by the way.
  2. Auburn: I guess they can shut up about getting rid of Gus Malzahn now, huh? Can’t wait for the Iron Bowl, by the way.
  3. Georgia: Georgia had good opportunities to take the crowd out of the game but blew them through dropped passes and stupid penalties. We are normally super-critical of Gary Danielson, but he was right when he said Georgia was “too amped”. This young team is going to have a learn some maturity in the next couple of weeks if it is to beat Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.
  4. Mississippi State: Gave everything against Alabama, and lost. Todd Grantham’s poor defensive playcalling at the end of the game didn’t help matters. All the same, Dan Mullen’s put together a hell of a team in Starkville. For the sake of SEC smaller schools, I hope he stays.
  5. LSU: The Tigers still didn’t manage a complete four quarters against Arkansas, but it was comfortable enough. The Tigers have been on one hell of a rebound since the Troy loss, people.
  6. Texas A&M: The Aggies beat the living crap out of a team that they were meant to beat the living crap out of. I still don’t get why they were only a 17-point favourite going into this one. Is Nick Starkel the future for A&M after throwing for 416 yards and four TDs (in one half)? We will see.
  7. Missouri: As we’ve said before, Missouri is one of the in-form SEC teams at the moment. The offense dropped 50 on Tennessee, and everything seems to be ticking. Even the defense played its part in the second half of the game, after looking pretty shambolic at half-time.
  8. Ole Miss: Eviscerated their opposition. No surprise there.
  9. Kentucky: Vanderbilt’s an easy place to play when the majority of the crowd’s your fans, and Vanderbilt is awful. But Kentucky – who has played down to the level of the opposition nearly all season long – got its butt in gear and won Mark Stoops the lottery.
  10. South Carolina: The win against Florida was an awful, awful, awful game to watch. The Gamecocks were lucky that Florida was worse than they were.
  11. Arkansas: Battled LSU for one half, but looked out of sorts when LSU started to roll. Bret Bielema looks like a lost soul out there.
  12. Florida: The defense actually played very well against South Carolina. The offense, as usual, didn’t show up.
  13. Tennessee: Butch Jones is going to get fired.
  14. Vanderbilt: The Tennessee vs Vanderbilt game on Thanksgiving will be one for the ages. Both teams will go into that game 0-7 in SEC play. YOU MUST WATCH IT OR DVR IT SO YOU CAN TELL YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS ABOUT IT. Or not.

Bielema’s seat heats up while Sumlin’s cools: SEC Power Rankings

It’s not every day that after a team loses in the SEC that you say that you believe that a head coach has made his job safer, but the performance of Texas A&M in their loss to Alabama certainly earned a ton of plaudits for head coach Kevin Sumlin in a wild day for college football. The Aggies never stopped battling the No.1 Crimson Tide – which is more than you can say for Arkansas, who dropped nearly 50 points on the road at South Carolina (21 of those in defensive touchdowns), as the words “buyout” and “Bret Bielema” became more and more entwined. Elsewhere, LSU and Florida battled it out in an ugly slugfest, won 17-16 by the Tigers on a missed extra point by Florida’s meant-to-be infallible kicker Eddie Pineiro, Georgia whooped sliding Vanderbilt, Auburn trashed Ole Miss, and Kentucky beat Missouri in a tight one.

So here are your power rankings after Week 6:

  1. Alabama: Got everything they could handle at Texas A&M. What makes Alabama great is that they win in a frenetic atmosphere like that, where others may have crumbled. Jalen Hurts proved that he’s once again not the finished article, but the running game is frighteningly good. We can’t wait for Nick Saban’s weekly sermon.
  2. Georgia: Crushed Vanderbilt. Kirby Smart has insisted that there isn’t a quarterbacking controversy in Athens and has blamed the media for creating one, but if two people are already battling it out for the starting spot and then a recruit who just happens to be the No.1 QB in the nation pops up, 3-in-1 won’t work. You don’t have to be Einstein to work that out. Oh, and on yesterday’s game? The running game and defense are still excellent. We still don’t know a lot about the offensive line, though.
  3. Auburn: Everything’s setting up for Nov.11 when they host Georgia. When at the start of the season the Tigers couldn’t get their asses into gear, now suddenly the rear of the TigerEagle is moving at full speed. Jarrett Stidham and Gus Malzahn seem to have worked out their offense, and everyone should now get out of the way. This is the (second) most dangerous team in the SEC.
  4. Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin deserves a hell of a lot of credit for keeping his team in the game for all four quarters. Of course, there are some fans who will want Sumlin out at the end of the season, but his teams are incredibly fun to watch. The crowd – which some describe as being Texas’ biggest cult since The Branch Davidians – is entertaining EVERY year.
  5. LSU: The Tigers’ win at Florida was gutsy, ugly and brutal. The Tigers are still making stupid mistakes in terms of penalties, but on Saturday they buckled and refused to lose. Matt Canada’s patented jet sweep using Russell Gage which they played 11 million times at The Swamp is getting a little dull. If the defense can play like this every week, then the Tigers will be fine. If Danny Etling continues to play like this, LSU fans will be celebrating the day he leaves.
  6. Florida: The good thing for Gators fans is that the SEC East will probably come down to the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, but if they can beat Georgia and the Bulldogs lose to Auburn, they’ll once again go to Atlanta. Which would be a hell of an achievement for a team who has been more ugly than one of Cinderella’s sisters so far this season.
  7. South Carolina: Comfortable in the win over Arkansas this week. Scored THREE defensive touchdowns, which was immense for the Gamecocks. Jake Bentley also contributed with throwing for 3 of his own. The Gamecocks could be a dangerous factor as the SEC East title races come to a head.
  8. Mississippi State: Yes, we know that the Cowbellers handed the ass to LSU, but if you put these two together next week, would you really expect the same result? Probably not. I’m coming to two realisations: Mississippi State team ain’t that good, and the Egg Bowl will be THAT ugly.
  9. Tennessee: The ‘Butch Jones Out’ campaign made it to Nebraska this week.
  10. Kentucky: Were perhaps a little bit lucky with the officials in Lexington against Missouri, who denied the Tigers at least a play because of their slow ball placement towards the end of the game. The Wildcats continue to win ugly, and Mark Stoops couldn’t care less.
  11. Arkansas: The voices manning the ‘Bret Bielema Out’ campaign are getting louder by the minute. Why hasn’t anyone gone to JerryWorld to plead for $12m from Jerry Jones?
  12. Ole Miss: The defense is a disaster. Oh, and the new ‘Land Shark’ mascot might be even worse than the Bear.
  13. Missouri: The battle they showed at Kentucky made me believe that things may not be as bad for Missouri as earlier expected. But they are still bad.
  14. Vanderbilt: Losing to Alabama, Florida and Georgia is not a disgrace, but when you look clueless in two out of three of the games (and you’re  meant to be emphasising DEFENSE), then you’ve definitely got issues. The showdown between the Commodores and Missouri (a battle for 14th place on this list, we feel), is a car crash we’re all (not) willing to watch.

Can LSU lift Ed Orgeron Out Of The Mire? Week 6 SEC Preview

It’s going to be an emotional day at The Swamp. Just a few days after the death of Tom Petty, who was from Gainesville, (but didn’t actually attend the university, preferring rock ‘n’ roll to anything more studious), there will be a tribute to the man himself after the third quarter, where the fans will sing “I won’t back down” after singing along to the band’s “We are the boys from Old Florida”.

But there’s someone it could be even more emotional for: LSU coach Ed Orgeron. After getting outplayed by Troy at home and deservedly losing at night in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, the questions are out: “Will Coach O survive this year?” There are also other questions about LSU AD Joe Alleva and whether he made a big mistake getting rid of Les Miles.

Anyway, on Saturday this is the pick of the SEC schedule, although Alabama’s visit to Texas A&M, Ole Miss’ visit to Auburn, Vanderbilt’s hosting of Georgia, Arkansas battling it out against South Carolina and, dear God, Missouri’s trip to Kentucky are also going to be played.

Oh, and besides those towards Petty and his family, a lot of thoughts will be going towards Gene Stallings – who was head coach at A&M and Alabama during his career – who is currently recovering from the heart attack he had this week.

So here are your predictions for Week 6:

  1. LSU at No.21 Florida (-2.5): This game started out with the bookies giving Florida 5 points, but now it’s 2.5 points as the bettors start feeling confident about the Tigers. We’ll be honest, we’d love to know what they’ve got to be confident about. As far we can understand, LSU is bad against both rush and pass (23rd overall while playing no-one except Mississippi State (which is looking a worse and worse loss every week), it’s missing Arden Key (OK, Key hasn’t shown up) and it’s rudderless. As bad as Florida may be looking offensively, it won’t matter against a team like LSU who has absolutely no confidence whatsoever. PREDICTION: Florida by 10. 
  2. Arkansas (-2) at South Carolina: Arkansas will probably go into this game thinking that they should have only one loss on the register (to TCU, where they were blown out), while South Carolina will be thinking: “What would life have been like if Deebo Samuel wasn’t injured?”. Anyway, this game could be a lot of fun. Arkansas QB Austin Allen and South Carolina QB Jake Bentley are both a lot of fun, but we don’t think that there will be a lot of fast-paced football out there. PREDICTION: Arkansas by 7 in a game that goes down to the wire.
  3. No.1 Alabama (-26.5) at Texas A&M: Last year Texas A&M was a 16-1/2 point underdog to Alabama, and this year it’s even bigger, with the bookies giving the Aggies 26-1/2 points. And here’s the funny thing: If you think about Texas A&M’s defense this year and Alabama’s perfection over their last two SEC games, you can’t conceivably think that there’s a way Alabama won’t put up 42 and completely strangle A&M, who haven’t exactly been impressive all season, but are still 4-1. Kyle Field’s going to be loud, fun, and…..Alabama’s going to stroll.  PREDICTION: Alabama 48, Texas A&M 14. Must be the story of Nick Saban’s ex-girlfriend that spurred the Crimson Tide players on (snore). 
  4. No.5 Georgia (-17-1/2) at Vanderbilt: If people didn’t think Georgia’s defense was for real before the Tennessee game, they do now after the 41-0 shellacking they gave the Vols. And Kirby Smart & Co will be thinking about a little bit of revenge after 2016, when they lost to the Commodores 17-16 and were embarassingly awful. In fact, the last four games have been split between the two teams 2-2. Although many believe that Georgia will use Vandy as roadkill after their performance at Neyland as well as Vandy’s home destruction by Alabama, this could be tighter than some expect. Vanderbilt’s got a pretty good defense, and Georgia hasn’t been that great at moving the ball. And if the defense doesn’t get the turnovers, this could go well into the fourth quarter. PREDICTION: Georgia wins by 10. 
  5. Ole Miss at No.5 Auburn (-22): Auburn’s defense is awesome, Auburn’s offense is clicking, and suddenly the Tigers look like the team that people said could run with Alabama this season in the SEC West. This week should be a cakewalk for the Tigers, bearing in mind their exceptional form, and the fact that they are playing a team that has no defense, and hasn’t found any offensive confidence all season long. If Shea Patterson and AJ Brown can connect more than the one time they did against Alabama, then maybe Ole Miss can score some points. Maybe. PREDICTION: Auburn by 30.
  6. Missouri at Kentucky (-9 1/2): Sometimes I don’t get the betting community. The game started out favoring Kentucky by 14-1/2, but such was the confidence in the way that Missouri has been playing this year that the Cats are now only a 9-1/2 point favorite. Have they not seen Missouri lately? Yes, we get that Kentucky was terrible against Eastern Michigan (they only squeaked by by 3), but this Missouri ‘D’ is an antidote to terrible offenses. PREDICTION: Kentucky 35, Missouri 10.

P.S. An emotional game in Vegas: San Diego State (-10) at UNLV: The whole country will be rooting for the Runnin’ Rebels to score a massive upset over San Diego State after what happened in Vegas this Saturday. We know we will. PREDICTION: UNLV makes everybody cry, winning by 7.

LSU starts to tumble: Week 5 SEC rankings

  1. Bama: 66-3 over a ‘high-power offense’. Enough said.
  2. Georgia: If your offense makes mistakes against Georgia, then the Bulldogs have enough ballhawks to make you pay. This is a really good team straight-up. We will see how they go against Florida is a few weeks….
  3. Auburn: The Missouri tune-up led to a fantastic performance against MSU, with Jarrett Stidham having a banner day. If Auburn continues in this vein, the UGA game will be unmissable.
  4. Florida: 2-0 in the SEC and although Luke Del Rio’s done for the year, this guy Feleipe Franks can play. And so can the defense, people. Sure, it’s ugly, but Florida hasn’t lost since Michigan.
  5. Texas A&M: The Aggies are starting to find someone rhythm after the pitchforks came out for Kevin Sumlin post-UCLA. They may well against after Auburn, LSU and Bama. But still….
  6. Mississippi State: Second week in a row MSU’s had its butt handed to it but 1 out of 3 against LSU and at UGA and Auburn ain’t bad. They’ll be OK.
  7. Arkansas: This might feel like a stretch, but Austin Allen’s a hell of a QB.
  8. Tennessee: Butch Jones. Hot seat.
  9. LSU:  The Ed Orgeron nightmare gets worse and worse. Bring back Les Miles!
  10. Kentucky: Just beating Eastern Michigan at home isn’t a good look.
  11. Vanderbilt: After the evisceration against Alabama, I quite expected Florida to rout Vandy. It didn’t happen. Derek Mason’s instilled some pride in the black and gold.
  12. South Carolina: Down here because they are missing Deebo Samuel.
  13. Ole Miss: Has no defense. The good news for the Rebs? Top WR AJ Brown is going to face easier defenses to face than Alabama’s.
  14. Mizzou: I’m surprised Barry Odom didn’t give a sermon about winning against Off-Week.

Can Tennessee upset Georgia? Week 5 SEC Preview

It’s Week 5 in the SEC, and suddenly the mouths are wagging about the potential of Georgia and Alabama playing each other in the SEC Championship Game in December. Guys, it’s only December, and it’s Georgia. They could shoot themselves in the foot. A place where foot-shooting could start could be Neyland Stadium, Tennessee. Also on the slate is Alabama hosting Ole Miss (which may believe won’t rival the last three classics), and the only all-ranked clash of the day between Mississippi State and Auburn. South Carolina and Texas A&M also play, as does Vanderbilt and Florida. Apart from that, Arkansas hosts New Mexico State, LSU does the same for Troy, and Kentucky hosts Eastern Michigan.

So what games fascinate us? What games bore us? Here we are with our thoughts….

  1. No.7 Georgia (-7) at Tennessee: This is a rivalry that no-one seems to mention when they talk about ‘hot SEC rivalries’, yet since 2011, no game has been seperated by more than 8 points. Tennessee’s won two games in a row (we all remember last year’s game-ending Josh Dobbs bomb to Juwan Jennings and the year before when Nick Chubb wrecked his knee at Neyland), and Georgia’s potentially in a major let-down spot after pulverising Mississippi State, and Tennessee’s abject home win against UMass. Everyone at the moment loves Georgia’s linebacking corps, but how will they cope against John Kelly, one of college football’s best running backs? Everyone thinks Georgia will walk this, but we’re not so sure. PREDICTION: Georgia wins by 3 in (another) classic.
  2. No.24 Mississippi State at No.13 Auburn (-9 1/2): Fun fact about this match-up: Mississippi State has beaten Auburn two of the last 3 years. Auburn comes into this fixture having played a ‘feel better’ game against Mizzou, where all offensive worries were cured by Missouri’s defense, which is so bad at the moment it would probably give up 40 to a middle school team. Mississippi State comes to The Plains licking their wounds after a shellacking by Georgia.  Nick Fitzgerald, who went 14-29 for 83 yards, 0 Tds and 2 INTs, and ran for 47 yards, while Aenis Williams had just 36 all-purpose yards. Now they face a defense that’s as good as Georgia’s. Ouch. PREDICTION: Auburn by 14. 
  3. Ole Miss at No.1 Alabama (-28): According to Vegas, Ole Miss is going to get absolutely shelled by an Alabama team who has just come off crushing Vanderbilt 59-0 without very much effort in the least. Having seen Ole Miss at Cal, the Rebs are going to (desperately) need Shea Patterson not to make the sort of the stupid mistakes he made in HippieWorld if they are to have any chance against Saban’s polished machine. The hope for Ole Miss fans is that top receiver AJ Brown will be back after a knee injury, and his renewed partnership with DeMarkus Lodge will stretch Alabam’s secondary, which was tested more than it probably liked against Colorado State, who threw for 247 yards and 2 TDs on it. On Alabama’s side, we expect the Tide to rush Ole Miss to death with Damien Harris, Bo Scarborough and Jalen Hurts. PREDICTION: Alabama by 24. 
  4. South Carolina at Texas A&M (-9): The fact that Deebo Samuel’s out is really hurting South Carolina. The loss at Kentucky two weeks ago, coupled by the win-that-felt-like-a-loss against Louisiana Tech (this particularly hurt me because I told anyone who would listen to take South Carolina at -8), shows how badly Jake Bentley is missing his favorite target. And despite all the anguish and hatred, Texas A&M’s 4-1 and very entertaining indeed. We love Christian Kirk, who’s an all-world player. QB Kellen Mond, who threw for over 200 yards and 2 TDs and ran for another 100, as well as a settled running attack, will be too much for Carolina. PREDICTION: Texas A&M by 17.
  5. Vanderbilt at Florida (-10): After being annihilated by Alabama at home (something we all saw coming), Vandy has got to go to The Swamp to play a Florida side who has been the epitome of scrappy over the last couple of weeks. Having said that, the Gators have won both of the scrappy games, and are looking a little better. The Gators may well start QB Luke Del Rio over Feleipe Franks after Del Rio dug that Gators out of a 13-point hole last week. The last two games of this rivalry have ended up with Florida winning 13-6 and 9-7. We should all pray for something a little more high-scoring. PREDICTION: Florida wins by 14.
  6. Troy at No.25 LSU (-20 1/2): After giving them so much love in the first two weeks of the season, LSU has been a massive letdown for us. After squeaking by Syracuse, the Tigers face Troy, where LSU will be praying a victory won’t be a result of another huge comeback a la 2008. And he 3-1 Trojans could give LSU some problems. QB Brandon Silvers has already thrown for over 1,000 yards this season (102-154, 1098 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), and he’ll face a Tigers secondary that gave up 308 of them through the air last week. We’re not saying Troy’s going to win this one, but it’s probably going to be closer than Vegas would suggest. PREDICTION: LSU by 18, after a close first half.
  7. Eastern Michigan at Kentucky (-14 1/2): If it wasn’t for the defensive blunder of 2017, Kentucky would be unbeaten going into the match-up against Eastern Michigan. We think they are going to be a bit flat for the first couple of quarters against an Eastern Michigan side that’s been fairly miserly all season long, before finding some steam. PREDICTION: Kentucky by 17, although it’s uncomfortable in the first half
  8. New Mexico State at Arkansas (-17): Arkansas lost a very fun game against Texas A&M, and will try and regroup against a New Mexico State side who has a bit of confidence this year after smashing UTEP 41-14 last week (they had gone 1-2 in the weeks before and lost those games by a combined 9 points). Arkansas will be expected to put on the afterburners and roll NMSU. PREDICTION: Arkansas scores a bunch of points in the third quarter, and wins by 21. 

Despite Alabama’s success, where’s Calvin Ridley?

In March we said that star Alabama WR Calvin Ridley was ripe for a rebound from a disappointing 2016. Well, it doesn’t seem this is the case.

Well, this season things are even worse for him. Over the last four weeks Ridley has been thrown to a grand total of 20 times, averaging just five receptions per game at an average of 13.1 yards per reception (262 yards). While that isn’t bad – his 13.1 yards per reception is much better than his averages in his first and second years – if this goes on, he’ll only be thrown to a grand total of 60 times, which will be well below his freshman and sophomore averages.

Also, Ridley’s on course to NOT get to 1,000 yards receiving for the second straight  year (on course for 786 yards), as Nick Saban and OC George Daboll opt to run the ball down people’s guts (and use Jalen Hurts) rather than let Hurts throw and let Ridley into the game.

The problem for Ridley is that Alabama’s offensive line is so good that all the team needs to do is feed running backs to Damien Harris or  Bo Scarborough, run designed plays for Hurts, and the team eats up the yards. Ridley doesn’t get a look-in.

Now, it’s four games in and Ridley’s still Alabama’s top receiver by some margin, and he may well stand out when Georgia plays tougher opponents than they have done in weeks 2-4 (Fresno State, Colorado State, Vanderbilt), but right now, Ridley must be thinking to himself after seeing how other offenses are lighting it up all over the country: How can I look like a future NFL star if I’m not looking like anything in 2017?

Nick Saban’s unlikely to care about Ridley’s NFL future (despite using the NFL as a pitch to all recruits on coming in), because he’s focussed on winning a National Championship. And we entirely get it. But if the numbers don’t stack up, Ridley won’t be looking like a first or second round draft pick – despite being one of the best receivers in college football.

WILL THIS IMPACT HIS NFL FUTURE?

Here’s the good news: Alabama alum Julio Jones only had one year where he had 1,000 yards or more receiving at Alabama. If you don’t believe me, look it up. This was mostly due to Alabama’s sick-nasty rushing attack. Amari Cooper had two years (his freshman and junior) of over 1,000 yards.

The bad news: The difference between Jones, Cooper and Ridley is the fact that Jones and Cooper had competent if not incredible passing quarterbacks, while Ridley has Hurts, who is a far better runner than he is a passer.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?

It seems likely that Calvin Ridley will leave for the NFL after his junior year. He might leave with a lower amount of yards than Jones and Cooper, and therefore end up a third or fourth-round pick. And come away as one of the best NFL signings of 2018.

 

 

Week 4: How ’bout them Dawgs? Georgia rises in SEC Poll

So it seems that there is no stopping Alabama. Crushing Vanderbilt was hardly unexpected (although the margin of scoring was far bigger than Vegas offered before the game), but the way they looked doing it? Freakish. Out in the East, Georgia moves to No.2 on our list after an immense performance against Mississippi State, while Auburn’s stride up to No.3 was less about the win over hapless Missouri than the fact that we think they could probably beat Florida, Mississippi State and LSU if they played them tomorrow.

  1. Alabama: They are unstoppable at the moment. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Georgia: Against Mississippi State, Georgia played the perfect game. They were excellent in all facets of the ball. The biggest worry that the Dawgs have is at quarterback: Do they bring back Jacob Eason when he comes back or keep going with Jake Fromm? That’s a pretty good worry to have.
  3. Auburn: After the win-that-felt-like-a-loss against Mercer, the Tigers got an even easier game against SEC opponent…..Missouri. The resulting destruction was a confidence booster for Gus Malzahn, Jarett Stidham and the rest of the Auburn family at Faurot. We’ll see how it plays out. Right now they look the second best team in the West.
  4. Florida: Back-to-back tight victories ensure the Gators move to 2-1. The side still has offensive problems, but they keep on rebounding and keep finding a way to win. Now, will Luke Del Rio take the starter’s job? And who’s this Malik Zaire guy, anyway?
  5. Mississippi State: Pounded by Georgia at Sanford Stadium. Nick Fitzgerald looked very ordinary, Mississippi State couldn’t stop either the run or the pass, and MSU looked totally outclassed. We will see how they will rebound after the loss.
  6. LSU: An unconvincing with over Syracuse has a lot of Tigers fans worried about how they’ll cope during the season. And if they can’t stop the run game, then God help Ed Orgeron’s team against Alabama (or Auburn for that matter).
  7. Texas A&M: The win over Arkansas gets the Aggies to 3-1 and cooled the seat under which Kevin Sumlin was burning. You know who’s red hot? Christian Kirk, who’s 100-yard TD was a thing of beauty.
  8. Kentucky: A last-second loss to Florida was a combination of a defensive screw-up and the college football gods hating you. And an ability to hold a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Mark Stoops has got this program playing well….just not that well.
  9. Ole Miss: Idle this week, and outshone many from the SEC with their performance by doing so.
  10. Tennessee: Solid victory over UMass UT…. #sarcasm
  11. Arkansas: Every screw-up from the Hogs (like this one that saw their overtime demise to A&M (at a lot of blamed of Bret Bielema), and Arkansas boosters will be warming up to helping the school buy their head coach’s contract out for $15m.
  12. South Carolina: Yeah….so beating Louisiana Tech by 1 point at home isn’t a good look.
  13. Vanderbilt: Getting crushed 59-0 will remind Vandy fans that ‘wanting Bama’ is something they might not want to say…unless they are talking ironically about the time that they went to this slaughter.
  14. Missouri: When the best player on the field every week is your punter, and your coach is imploring the world publicly to save his job, you know your program is in deep, deep crap.

Week 3 SEC Preview: Vols-Gators, MSU-LSU

With the destruction of Hurricane Irma still lingering over the State of Florida, there will be a lot of positive sentiment flowing towards the Florida Gators in Week 3. Can they back it up with a good offensive performance against Tennessee?

The SEC Football Blog previews that game and all the others involving SEC teams in our Week 3 preview….

  1. No.23 Tennessee vs No.24 Florida (-5.5): From 2005 to 2016, Tennessee-Florida was hardly a rivalry. Florida won 11 in a row. Sure, 2014 and 2015 had been squeakers, but it just didn’t look as though UT would beat the Gators. Then 2016 happened, and Tennessee romped to a 10-point victory. Suddenly, after Florida fell apart against Michigan on Week 1 (sadly, it’s the last we saw of them because of Hurricane Irma), and Tennessee started the season 2-0, the questions are less about Butch Jones’ coaching ability and more about Jim McElwain’s. Yes, we know that Florida has an incredible defense, and – as Michigan found out – anything disastrous from Tennessee QB Quinten Dormady could result in a Pick-6. Tennessee showed that they can score AND come back from big deficits against Georgia Tech, and the Indiana State game was a predicted slaughter. WR Antonio Callaway and RB Jordan Scarlett will miss the game through suspension (as well as seven other depth players), which has been seen as a bonus. What we think gives Florida an edge is the fact that Florida has The Swamp behind it. With Florida mourning from Irma after the awful hit, the Gators will see it as a moment to fight for the State. And the Vols had better watch out. PREDICTION: Florida by 7.
  2. No. 12 LSU (-7) vs Mississippi State: There haven’t been a lot of teams who have made more impressive starts than LSU, who showed both youth and skill in a lot of places. But as they showed for the last 3 years (including a win with Dak Prescott in Tiger Stadium), this team under Dan Mullen isn’t going to lie down and let LSU give them a geaux-ing over. Last week Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State was very impressive in smashing La. Tech on a road 57-21 in a game many thought could cause the Bulldogs a lot more headaches than actually happened. Fitzgerald could cause this Tiger secondary – who calls itself ‘DBU’ – a lot of problems, and so could Aeris Williams, who’s averaging 7.6 yards per carry this season. So could running backs Jefferey Simmons and Montez Sweat on the other side of the ball. For LSU, Arden Key, LSU’s best pass rusher and future NFL first round pick, is back after injury but Coach O has said that he’s not confident he’ll play the whole game. One of the most interesting factors will be how LSU Derrius Guice deals with a firmer defense than he’s played for the last two games. Guice hasn’t exactly exploded out of the gates so far this year, averaging just 5.3 yards per play on 45 carries. This game could be one of the best SEC games of the year. And one thing’s for certain, we’ll hear a few bells ringing. PREDICTION: LSU by 10 in a game a hell of a lot closer than that until the final few minutes. 
  3. Kentucky at South Carolina (-6.5): Of all the SEC teams, we’ll throw it out there and say South Carolina’s had the most testing of schedules. The NC State game wasn’t easy, going into Missouri wasn’t (meant to be) easy, and now Kentucky, who some people talking about as a vastly improving team, come into Columbia for the Gamecocks’ first game of the season. That ain’t easy. But South Carolina’s 2-0, they dismantled a very good offense in Missouri spectacularly easily, and Jake Bentley’s looking like one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. As for Kentucky, they are 2-0 but haven’t convinced anybody. I like Carolina, and I like Carolina a lot. PREDICTION: South Carolina by 14, smashing the spread.
  4. Ole Miss (-3.5 to 4) vs Cal: If any of these two teams’ defenses have been anything to go by in the last two weeks, then this game should be awesome. Cal gives up 505.5 pts per game, while Ole Miss gives up around 354. Both sides have given up 6 touchdowns this year to pretty terrible opponents. And it’s a 10.30 ET game, and it could be the most spectacularly high-scoring of the night, with the good money on the over/under of 72.5 getting blown out like the marijuana smoke from them Hippies’ lungs up there.  Even Ole Miss’ fan website haven’t a clue about what will happen. That’s what will make it so damned fun. PREDICTION: Ole Miss in a high-scoring crazy one, winning by 10 in a late-night classic (for the record, I think Ole Miss by 10 might be conservative).  
  5. No.18 Kansas State (-4) vs Vanderbilt: Bill Snyder’s team of veterans come into Nashville as a 4-point favorite, and we’re pretty excited about this one, as it could be under-the-radar. Derek Mason’s given this team a lot of hope this year, despite not playing anybody and going 2-0. Kansas State hasn’t played either, so it’ll be interesting. PREDICTION: Vanderbilt wins in the upset. 
  6. Purdue vs Missouri (-7): Things have gotten so bad at Missouri that the Tigers fired their defensive coordinator after just two games into 2017 (If we’re honest, he should have gone after the 2016 debacle, but that’s another story). After their horrific all-around performance against South Carolina (and Purdue’s ‘lucky getaway’ loss against Missouri (it could have been a lot more), there are thoughts that Missouri could be better. Vegas doesn’t seem to think so, making the Tigers only 7 point favorites. If Barry Odom loses this one, prepare for the seat to be set to boiling. PREDICTION: Missouri wins by 14, but no-one’s satisfied.
  7. ULL vs Texas A&M (-24): The world is expecting Texas A&M to rout ULL after they were dropped 66-42 by Tulsa last Saturday, and we’re expecting it too. But to do this, A&M desperately needs an offense. Kevin Sumlin’s still struggling about who will be the QB – Jake Hubenak or Kellen Mond, and the defense is simply struggling. Traeyvon Williams and Keith Ford should keep running the ball down the Ragin Cajuns’ throat all night long, as the Aggies seek a big blow-out victory. PREDICTION: Aggies by 30.
  8. Colorado State vs Alabama (-28.5): Nick Saban seems to believe in the Rams, called Mike Bobo’s team a “really good football team”. Vegas doesn’t seem to, believing the Crimson Tide will win by over four touchdowns. To be fair on Colorado State, a lot of Rams fans believe that they should have had the upset over Colorado in the ‘Weed Bowl’ after blowing out Oregon State in Week 1. The name Crimson Tide fans have got to look for is WR Michael Gallup, who’s a big NFL prospect. We look forward to the Gallup vs Fitzpatrick battle in the secondary…..if QB Nick Stevens is given any time to throw! PREDICTION: Alabama rolls by 31, but it’s a lot easier than that.
  9. Mercer vs No.15 Auburn: After not getting into the end-zone against a beastly Clemson defense, the fanbase will be looking for the Tigers to run up the score against Mercer’s defense who is yet to play a quality opponent. This is their time. PREDICTION: Auburn by 45, leaving Auburn fans a little happier. 
  10. Samford vs Georgia: There’s a lot of excitement about Georgia QB Jake Fromm after the Bulldogs came out of Notre Dame with a 20-19 victory, and Bulldogs fans will look for the $1m game (well, Samford’s getting paid $1m to get the butts in Athens in front of next-to-nobody) to show that the offense can really, really click. Look for less about Fromm and more about Nick Chubb and Sony Michel running riot. PREDICTION: Georgia by 50. At least.

Oh, and we’re not usually the kind to give some out-of-conference betting tips, but we would urge you to stay the heck away from Clemson (-3)-Louisville, but WOULD encourage you to take USC as a 16.5 point favorite against Texas. We saw Texas in Austin on Saturday, and we can safely say that Texas is horrible. 

Calm down about Kevin Sumlin, Aggies fans

The Texas A&M fanbase really, really needs to calm down about Kevin Sumlin.

Yes, the loss to UCLA was stunning, nearly equalling the biggest-ever comeback by a school (33 points instead of Michigan State’s 34-pt one against Northwestern).

But let’s get this into context: UCLA was damned lucky, too.

Here’s why:

  1. Josh Rosen had a TD that should have been Deshawn Capers-Smith’s INT, but it wasn’t. I’d say 9 times out of 10 Capers-Smith has the INT and a big return from it, but for some reason, it went through his hands and UCLA added to the TD.
  2. Second, Rosen throws the ball into a crowd of people and the UCLA WR comes up with the ball. That’s luck, folks.
  3. And finally, the refs at the game didn’t see Jordan Lasley bobble the ball for the game-tying TD. It should have been overturned and reviewed, but it wasn’t.
  4. Nick Starkel was doing a pretty fine job as A&M’s QB, going 6-13 for 62 yards. He was clever in his game management and made sure that Traevyon Williams and Keith Ford had the ball without making mistakes. Williams and Ford then absolutely routed UCLA’s defense. Now, there are arguments that Sumlin should have given the ball to his two horses for the second half too, but it seemed as though when Starkel got injured, Kellen Mond took his place and the offense changed to a more spread-like look, with Mond doing a lot more running. That’s good, because Mond was atrocious at throwing (3 for 17), but good at running (54 yards). Had Starkel continued playing, you have a feeling A&M would have run the game down UCLA’s throats, and won.

Of course, there were some hideous moments that had a lot of A&M fans cry: “What the heck?”

  1. Why weren’t the running backs used more during the second half? Williams, after scourging UCLA for 188 yards in the first half, only had 7 touches in the second. We think it was due to the ‘Mond’ thing, but we’re not quite certain.
  2. A&M changes kicker for the fourth and final FG, with Braden Mann taking over from Daniel LaCamera. Mann misses. Why? We’ll never know.
  3. A&M’s pass defense was dreadful. It really was. Especially in the second half.

But why go and scream for Sumlin’s head? Because A&M lost at UCLA, which is a Pac-12 school armed with NFL talent at quarterback and receiver? Because UCLA got lucky? Please. If A&M fails to go a bowl and finishes at the bottom of the SEC West, then let’s talk about Sumlin walking. Not after one game.

Will Alabama beat Florida State? Week 1 Predictions

OK, so it’s the start of the College Football Season proper (despite Stanford and, er, Oregon State starting things off last week) on Thursday, and to say we’re excited would be an understatement. Mostly, it’s to do with the monster battle between Alabama and Florida State, although the Michigan vs Florida game is going to be pretty awesome too.

So here’s how we think SEC teams will get on this weekend. We’ve also including some spread action if you’re into that, even if we’re not.

  1. Alabama (-7) vs Florida State: This is the game of the week and maybe the game of the college football season. Alabama will have to show everybody what they are like with a retooled defense and a new offesnive co-ordinator, while Florida State will show us what life’s like without Dalvin Cook. The key man – in my view – is going to be Alabama RB Bo Scarborough. If FSU don’t get him under control, Alabama will control the game and win this one comfortably. And that’s what we think will happen. PREDICTION: Alabama by 10. 
  2. Michigan (-4.5) vs Florida: Again a massive game to start the season, and again this pisses me off about the fact that it’s in Jerryworld instead of being a home-and-home. It would be cool to see UF going into The Big House as well as the Wolverines walk into The Swamp the year later. Well, this year both teams – with the tragic events of Houston going on down the road – are going in fairly beaten up, with Florida finally working out their quarterback just days before the start (Feleipe Franks over Malik Zaire), while Michigan has so many parts to replace (including a massive one in Jabrill Peppers). What’s also hurt Florida is the news that it’s suspended its starting running back Jordan Scarlett alongside already-sidelined Antonio Callaway. Jim McElwain must be going crazy. This should be a fun, close game. PREDICTION: Florida by 3 in a tight, fun one.
  3. Texas A&M at UCLA (-4): The fact that Texas A&M is starting the season without Myles Garrett and they have an unproven QB in Jake Hubenak adds some eyebrows to the Aggies side. Don’t get us wrong, we still think Christian Kirk is an all-world athlete, but can the Ags defense stop Josh Rosen and his exciting bunch of receivers? We think not. PREDICTION: UCLA by 7 in an go-to-the-wire game
  4. Tennessee (-3) at Georgia Tech: It’s undeniable: Tennessee’s going to be missing a lot of talent. this year. Joshua Dobbs is gone, as is RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, and a lot of their defense. John Kelly will be a very exciting returning RB, but other than that, we’ve got no damned idea what to expect. With Georgia Tech, they’ve just recently booted their leading rusher Dedrick Mills for ‘breaking athletic department rules’. UT won’t find walking into Georgia Tech’s stadium particularly worrying: They’ll have plenty of their own fans comin’ to Atlanta to scream Rocky Top at the top of their voice in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But Georgia Tech may well cause them problems. This is going to be fantastic. PREDICTION: Tennessee wins by 6
  5. Georgia (-14) vs Appalachian State: Vegas seems to think something exciting’s going to happen in Athens, because the Dawgs opened as a 35-1/2 favorite and they’ve bet it down to just 14. They obviously think another Michigan 2007 game might happen. Oh, and they saw the Nicholls State debacle and they decided that UGA’s offensive line might have the same problems. OK, well here’s our argument: Georgia has an excellent young QB in Jacob Eason, two battering rams in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and if the offensive line does its work against what will be a smaller defense, Georgia will have fun. PREDICTION: Georgia eases through, winning by 28.
  6. LSU (-16 1/2) vs BYU: We all know that this game was meant to be placed in Houston, and our thoughts are with the UH and the fans there. Sensibly, both schools didn’t argue and moved the game to New Orleans, where it’ll be essentially a home game for the Tigers. We don’t expect BYU to be able to stop any of LSU’s running posse – least of all Derrius Guice, and LSU’s defense will be far too good to let BYU have any sort of unstoppable other hand. You know, unless LSU shoot themselves in the foot – like they did against Wisconsin last year. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 21, and the Play-Off chat begins.
  7. South Carolina vs NC State (-5): Vegas has set the over/under at 52.5, which means that they think this’ll be an entertaining one. A lot of people love South Carolina’s QB Jake Bentley, and there’s a lot of hope going on with the program. The problem for NC State will be in the trenches: NC State’s got some fantastic soon-to-be NFL talent in the defensive line, featuring Bradley Chubb, Kentavius Street, B.J. Hill and Justin Jones, who had excellent seasons last year. But Carolina’s secondary better keep their eye out, because TE Jaylen Samuels is plain nasty. NC State will also have home field advantage bearing in mind this game’s being played in Dullsville (sorry Bank of America Stadium), Charlotte. PREDICTION: NC State wins by 10.
  8. Vanderbilt (-3) at Middle Tennessee: Vanderbilt finished the season pretty well with a victory over Tennessee, but we’re expected a brawl of a game in Murfreesboro, just 35 miles away. Vandy don’t bring much travelling support, so we’re expecting a full house of MTSU ready to make things difficult. If Vandy’s defense can continue to improve (head coach Derek Mason is a defensive guru), then things will be difficult for MTSU. This one will go to the wire. PREDICTION: Vandy by 3 in a classic.
  9. Kentucky (-1o) vs Southern Miss: Southern Miss is a dangerous team, and so scheduling them suddenly doesn’t look like a cupcake from the Wildcats’ point-of-view…particularly in Hattiesburg. A lot of things point to Kentucky having its hands full. PREDICTION: Kentucky wins by 4, but Southern Miss upsets Vegas. We also like the over of 57, people, as both teams don’t seem to enjoy playing much defense. 
  10. South Alabama vs Ole Miss (-23 1/2): Hugh Freeze blah blah blah…..We expect Ole Miss to blow the doors off South Alabama. If nothing else to make the point that they don’t care about no NCAA, homes. PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 42.
  11. (And onto boring game No.1:) Auburn’s a 34-1/2 point favorite against Georgia Southern. They’ll win by over 40, because Gus Malzahn will want to prove a point to the haters (blah blah blah).
  12. (Boring Game No.2): Missouri State’s visit to Missouri should see Missouri win comfortably. So much so that Vegas isn’t offering odds on the game. We think Mizzou wins by 50, and pleases our friends at the Mizzodcast, the excellent Tigers podcast.
  13. (Boring Game No.3): Mississippi State‘s 2016 opener was an embarrassment when they lost at home to South Alabama, but we don’t think it’s going to repeat itself against Charleston Southern, who is a useful FCS school (it has won the Big South twice in the last two years), but won’t keep up with the Cowbellers. Mississippi State by 38.
  14. (Boring Game No.4): We’d like to ask one massive question. Why in the Lord of Hogs’ name is Arkansas’ game against Florida A&M being played in Little Rock instead of Arkansas’ true home in Fayetteville? Arkansas will roast the Ratters by 40, and no-one’s going to care after the first quarter…

 

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