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The SEC Bowl Performance Rankings: Who makes No.1?

Right, for the first time in this blog’s history, we’re doing a SEC bowl performance power rankings from top to bottom.

It’s inspired by the performances by UCF or UCLA (“Who did you think did really well in the bowls?”) as well as Michigan or Miami (“Who did you think really didn’t do that well in the bowls”).

WARNING: Some of the teams may come in two parts.

1)  Auburn: OK, so we know that Cinderella didn’t get her glass slipper. But by God did she have a go at getting it! The Tigers ran out to a huge lead, lost it, grabbed a lead with a minute left….and lost it to the Drive Of The Season. Tre Mason showed why he was in New York for a Heisman Trophy, while Auburn’s secondary – who we thought would be slaughtered all day and all night, played out of their skin. Well done (and bad luck), Gus Malzahn….well done and bad luck.

2) South Carolina: One point underdogs against a power running game and down 17-13 early in the third quarter, Connor Shaw turns on the jets and the Gamecocks run out 10-point winners. Steve Spurrier announces that the Gamecocks are Bowl National Champions. We think he’s still furious that he once again didn’t see the ‘Cocks go to Atlanta, despite once again beating the SEC East representative (This seems to happen every year).

3) Missouri: A 41-31 Cotton Bowl victory looked more comfortable than it actually was in an IMMENSE game in Dallas, with Shane Ray picking up Michael Sam’s sack with OSU driving to the Mizzou 26-yard line, and taking the ball back 74 yards to celebration. But this was a great game with both offense and defense sticking together in a performance to be proud of.

4) Mississippi State: You probably think we’re still drunk from Monday having Clanga Clanga this high, but listen to us. Vegas only had MSU as seven-point favourites. Rice looked OK in giving Texas A&M everything it could handle. But the Owls were overpowered by Mississippi State, who put up 44 points, 533 yards, and Dak Prescott put in an incredible performance. The Bulldogs’ defense was immense too…. only 145 yards and 7 points all night. And yes, we KNOW that people will say: “It was only Rice”, but here’s our answer: “We could see Mississippi State screw a game like this up. And if you couldn’t, then you’re lying.”

5) Ole Miss: Ole Miss never trailed in its game with Georgia Tech (winning 25-17 eventually), and came up with a key game-ending safety with four minutes to go with the Tech in with the chance of tying the game up after a missed field goal. Great work. This team will be good next year, too. 

6) Vanderbilt: Took a comfortable lead, then choked it, then hit the accelerator and won out comfortably 41-24 for everyone to say: “What was the fuss all about?” But it wasn’t comfortable all the way through. But hasn’t that been Vandy all over for the last few years?

7) Texas A&M: With A&M down 38-17 and pretty much out, Johnny Football rallied the troops and got them within three with five minutes left. Then game the game-winning interception, but if anyone starts praising A&M’s defense, they should probably ask: “How did the game end 52-48 if the D played so well?” And we’d say: We agree. Don’t get us wrong, it was a great game, but 52-48 in the general scheme of things over Duke isn’t too much to be proud of (FIRE MARK SNYDER, PLEASE KEVIN SUMLIN!).  Still, A&M went 2-0 in bowl games with Johnny as quarterback. That’s football, Johnny.

8) LSU: The big question: Did LSU care going into this game? They certainly knew how to win AND sleepwalk all the way through this one. They won. Yay. Tigers running back Jeremy Hill was the only one out of the offense who really came out with any credit, putting up a gigantic 216 yards and 2 TDs on a pretty proud Iowa defence.

9) Georgia: We know Georgia had the injuries – especially to quarterback Aaron Murray – but Georgia was dreadful all game. It encapsulated their season. There were drops, there was bad defensive play (FIRE TODD GRANTHAM, PLEASE MARK RICHT!), and bad special teams (HIRE A SPECIAL TEAMS COACH, MARK RICHT!) and bad quarterbacking. And they couldn’t finish a drive. And although Todd Gurley did his best (87 yards rushing, 97 receiving, 1 TD), this was disappointing.

10) Alabama: Alabama’s weaknesses wasn’t only the fact that their cornerbacks were exposed all night long, or that Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight looked like the second coming of Sam Bradford, or their offensive line who was exposed almost all day long, or the poor quarterbacking efforts of AJ McCarron, it was actually that you got a sense that Alabama didn’t seem to care. It was in the team’s body language. They just didn’t seem motivated. Sorry. Nick Saban did everything to motivate his team, but it didn’t seem to work. And Saban, in not giving the ball to his Man-Giant running back Derrick Henry every play when The Kid With The Incredible Receding Hairline was doing a great job, failed too. A poor performance, and the Crimson Tide deserved to lose 45-31.

Badgers, Bulldogs, and .341: SEC Bowl Preview

The blessing of bowl season in the SEC is that you don’t have to overdo it with SEC previews until pretty much the last minute. Well, thank God for the NFL Sabbath, which gave yours truly a little more chance to digest some (more) turkey and adult beverages and put together his SEC preview. And don’t worry: We haven’t forgotten you, Auburn. We are just doing yours seperately.

MONDAY DECEMBER 30TH

 MUSIC CITY BOWL: OLE MISS VS GEORGIA TECH 

Georgia Tech and Ole Miss ended the season in heartbreaking fashion. Georgia Tech by giving up a 20-point lead over hated rivals Georgia, and then losing in double overtime, while Ole Miss quarterunning backack Bo Wallace fumbled on his way to the end zone in overtime in the Egg Bowl, and Ole Miss lost against hated rivals Mississippi State. In other words, both had two stinging losses to end the year.

During the year, Ole Miss had last minute wins against Vanderunning backilt and LSU, and last minute losses to MSU and Texas A&M, as well as kicking Texas in the ‘Horns, although if you’re really honest, you’d say that the team was pretty mediocre this  year (see 3-5 SEC record for details). As for Georgia Tech,  their top win of the season was a 28-20 win over North Carolina….and they lost who they should have lost to, and beat who they were meant to beat. Although we’d argue that if wins over Elon and Alabama A&M ensure that a team gets a spot in a bowl game, we need to talk about the bowl system.

Ole Miss is a 3-point favorite (thanks to its tougher schedule and the fact that it’s got better players – on paper – than Tech). But to win, they are going to have to stop Georgia Tech’s triple option rushing offence. And hope their QB Bo Wallace doesn’t make any more mistakes going into the end zone.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re taking Ole Miss to win, and win by a touchdown.

LIBERTY BOWL: MISSISSIPPI STATE VS RICE

Mississippi State fans are on a high after beating Ole Miss in their end-of-season game. And despite the fortuitous nature of their victory, they actually outplayed their hated rivals, and it would have been unfair on them if Ole Miss had gone home with the victory.

This season, MSU has struggled to have anyone on their feet, and it’s not been helped by a poor defense and injuries to QB Tyler Russell and a loss of talent to the NFL last year.

On the other side of the ball, they face a Rice team who won Conference USA, going 10-3 and has a four-game winning streak going. Rice is used to battling unfriendly atmospheres and doing well in the process, after giving Texas A&M everything it could handle in Week 1. They’ll face one in Memphis against a Mississippi State fanbase that brings cowbells to the game (yes, you read that one right).

This is going to be closer than many expect.

Mississippi State’s a 7-point favorite.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re going to take MSU to win, but it’s going to be UNDER the seven point spread. This Rice team’s pretty good, folks.

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL: TEXAS A&M vs DUKE

This year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl will be a chance for the Texas A&M faithful to  “Thanks for the memories” to quarterunning backack Johnny Manziel, who launched A&M into the stratosphere last year with his arrival on the scene. He’s expected to bolt for the NFL in the off-season. They’ll also get a chance to say: “No thanks for the memories” to their goddawful defense, which has been vomitous to watch all year long, and was a major reason for the Aggies’ lack of BCS or New Year’s Day Bowl this year. Of course, the offence struggled at the end of the year

Anyway, A&M has a ton of weapons, and is widely expected to smash a Duke side which just announced that its offensive co-ordinator Kurt Roper is off to Florida to take the OC job. Roper, along with Peyton Manning’s favorite coach head coach David Cutcliffe), helped to take the Blue Devils to their first division title in their history, before they were schellacked by Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Both Duke (24th) and A&M (21ST) will be ranked going into their

If it’s NFL-ready talent you want to watch, make sure you pay attention to Aggies WR Mike Evans, who is something special. Oh, and if you want some fun, watch Johnny Manziel, too.

BOTTOM LINE: Texas A&M’s a 11-1/2 point favorite. We like Texas A&M – despite its  horrible ‘D’- by 17. 

 WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1ST, 2014

 GATOR BOWL: NEBRASKA VS GEORGIA 

There are a lot of coaches on the hot seat, and Nebraska’s Bo Pellini’s on it. In fact, he’s been on it all season. His most memorable performances included mocking the team’s loyal fanbase, or a photo of spittle flying out of his mouth as he berated as a referee in the Cornhuskers’ end-of-season loss to Iowa.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, on the other side, has managed to keep the wolves away from his door, which is strange bearing in mind how much flak he gets from the Bulldogs tormented and tormenting fanbase. Unfortunately for Richt, injuries have hurt his team all season long, and it even affected his star QB Aaron Murray, who blew out his knee against Kentucky and will be replaced by Hutson Mason in the Gator Bowl.

The game’s going to be all about the running escapades of Todd Gurley, who’s one of the best running backs in the game, and Ameer Abdullah for Nebraska, who put up 1,500 yards for the Huskers. It should be pretty interesting – particularly with two defenses who are – to be polite – pretty adept at not being able to stop the run (Georgia gives up 141 yds per game vs Nebraska’s 161), or simply being bad (Georgia’s 80th in the country in points given up to Nebraska’s 55th….in each of their losses the Huskers gave up over 30 points).

Skybet makes Georgia a nine-point favorite. What, without the Murray factor?

BOTTOM LINE: Go with Georgia on the nose, we’re not confident about the Bulldogs and the spread. However, take the ‘over’ on the total points of 60.5. This is going to be FUN.

OUTBACK BOWL: LSU vs IOWA 

LSU’s missing starting QB Zach Mettenberger for this clash against Iowa after his left knee went against Arkansas on the final game of the season. He’ll be replaced by Anthony Jennings, who led them on a game-winning drive. But will he be able to do the same against an Iowa side that’s won it’s last three, including wins over Michigan and on the road at Nebraska?

One thing’s for certain: Jennings has weapons. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are two future NFL wide receivers (in other words: They are brilliant), and Jeremy Hill, his RB, is effective. We think that Les Miles might try and put Jennings through the air – Iowa’s got the 17th best rush ‘D’ in the country, and 11th best pass ‘D’…and the 11th over all.

On the offence, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is going to look to chew up clock, so expect running back Mark Wiseman to see a lot of the ball, although in short yardage, tight end CJ Fiedorowitz is going to cause a fairly leaky LSU defense some problems, but will Iowa’s defense be able to stop LSU’s talent- especially with Iowa giving up 20 TDs this year through the air, and the fact that opponents have scored 22 times in 26 Red Zone attempts (to have 26 Red Zone attempts at them all year says a lot for the ‘D’, right?).

LSU’s a seven-point favorite in The .341 Bowl, by the way.

BOTTOM LINE: We like LSU to win (they’ve got more athleticism), but we think it might be by a field goal. This one’s going to be a defensive war.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL: SOUTH CAROLINA VS WISCONSIN 

The last time Jadeveon Clowney was in a bowl game, he nearly beheaded a Michigan player in a play that became the soundtrack for the off-season. But after 12 weeks of 2013, you could say that Clowney’s season was pretty mediocre, where injuries and a seeming loss of self-belief (or effort, if you believe the cynics) hampered progress. In fact, the quickest he looked all season was when he collected two speeding tickets in about a month recently! Saying all that, South Carolina still had the 11th best defense in the country.

But this game’s going to be much more than Clowney’s Carolina Swansong. Wisconsin comes to Orlando ready to play with one of the best running back duos in the nation in Melvin Gordon and James White. Both had 1,300 plus seasons on the floor. South Carolina brings their own ground threats, with 1,100 yard rusher Mike Davis and QB Connor Shaw, who’s one of the most elusive players at his position in the country. Oh, and Shaw’s got a good arm, too (2,100 yards passing, 21 TDs, just 1 INT). I would trust Shaw with a fourth-quarter drive much more than Badgers’ QB Joel Stave, despite his 1,000-yard receiver  Jared Abbrederis.

Expect Chris Borland, Wisconsin’s star linebacker who will also be making a lot of money in the NFL. He’s had 45 tackles in his last four games, and led a Wisconsin defense that was fifth-best in the country at rushing defense (and 5th best over all).

Wisconsin’s a 1-1/2 point favorite in this one.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a battle of great defenses, and on the other side of the ball, great rushers. We’re going to go with South Carolina in the mild upset for one reason only: Connor Shaw. Expect Shaw to cause trouble. We’ll also take the ‘under’ on 51 points as a score total, because shoot-out, this won’t be.

SUGAR BOWL: ALABAMA VS OKLAHOMA

Alabama probably should be playing for a National Championship Game this year. But if it wasn’t for the Field Goal Return That Changed The World against Auburn, they probably would have done….and been favorites to take home their third straight National Championship.

In this game against Oklahoma, there is no doubt in my mind that Alabama coach Nick Saban will have his team prepared to play an Oklahoma team who got into the BCS more because of its excellent support than its excellent play during the year (see the fact that they were routed by Texas and Baylor for details).

Alabama is better than OU at every position, starting with quarterunning backack AJ McCarron, who’s threw for 2,600 yards, 26 TDs, and is going to the NFL next year. OU doesn’t know who its QB is going to be this year. And although both teams are pretty even on the ground (OU’s 235 vs ‘Bama’s 212), Alabama’s got more to offer through the air. And although OU’s defense is pretty stout (22nd in the nation in points conceded, and they’ve gained two more turnovers than Alabama have), Alabama’s is absolutely tremendous (2nd in the nation, giving up 11.3 points per game).

Oh, and be prepared to see of OU running back Brennan Clay, and Alabama running backs TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake.

And although we love OU coach Bob Stoops, it’s difficult to see his Sooners stopping an Alabama team who will be doing everything to prove that the fluke loss was a fluke.

The big factor in this game’s going to be Alabama’s readiness after the Auburn loss, which must have hurt them badly. Because we know this: Oklahoma’s going to be up for this one!

Alabama’s a 15-point favorite.

BOTTOM LINE:  Alabama by two touchdowns in a game that’s really not that close, but Saban slacks off at the end. 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 3RD

COTTON BOWL: MISSOURI VS OKLAHOMA STATE

It’s interesting, because if you consider all things, Oklahoma State should be kicking itself more about playing in the Cotton Bowl than Missouri are. And although Missouri battled Auburn in the SEC Championship Game right until one of the cheaper shots in college football put out running back Henry Josey (the move seemed to take wind out of the Tigers’ sails, and Auburn’s kept their sails on warp speed), Oklahoma State was busy self-destructing to local rival Oklahoma. If they had won, they would have won the Big XII instead of Baylor – who they actually beat earlier in the year.

Anyway, this game’s probably one of the most intriguing in the 2013-4 Bowl Calendar. Here’s why: Oklahoma State and Missouri are used to playing each other – they’ve played each other 51 times and Missouri leads the rivalry 28-23, according to ESPN. From 1996-2011, they played each other nine times, with OSU taking home the victory in the last occasions. It’s great to see both teams reunited after the ‘Texas tragedy’, which saw Missouri and Texas A&M bolt to the SEC after Texas’ backfired decision to take TV revenue for itself. Anyway, as they’d say in Oklahoma (and Missouri): Screw Texas.

If you love high scoring, then this game could be right for you. Both teams put up nearly 40 points per game, although defensively, Oklahoma State’s probably a little bit better. Although is that a function of conference?

Funny this: Oklahoma State started the season with a SEC team. And it won. Can it take its SEC scalps to two for the 2013-4 season?

BOTTOM LINE: We actually like Oklahoma State in this year. Despite the return of James Franklin and the two great wide receivers that Missouri has in L’Darius Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham, we fancy the Cowboys to pull off the slight upset (they are 1-point ‘dogs). This will be fun,though. So take the over/under on 61-1/2!

SATURDAY 4TH JANUARY

COMPASS BOWL: VANDERBILT VS HOUSTON

If James Franklin’s totally psyched about Vanderbilt getting to the Compass Bowl against Houston BECAUSE HE’S ALWAYS PSYCHED LIKE THAT, then he’s a better man than us. Because for us, Vanderbilt’s season’s was too mixed to call outstanding. Vanderbilt lost a heartbreaker to Ole Miss in one of the best games of the season on the first Thursday of the season, but – despite losing starting QB Austyn Carta-Samuels – rebounded to take out Georgia and Florida. And off-the-field, there’s a gang rape case going on which saw some of the school’s starters thrown off the field.

Patton Robinette, Carta-Samuels’ cover, got a C+ for this efforts, throwing for 488 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTS, and you can only imagine what life would have been like if SEC defenses had been able to stop Jordan Matthews, who had 1,300 yards and 5 TDs receiving. Can’t wait to see him on Sundays. Robinette had better watch out for Houston’s defence, which caused 40 turnovers this year and will be looking for more on Saturday.

Facing the Commodores will be a Houston side that puts up 33.9 points per game (34th in the country), and their secondary will have to watch out for sophomore Deontay Greenberry (over 1,100 yards receiving) and QB John O’Korn, who threw for over 2,800 yards passing.

BOTTOM LINE: Houston’s not exactly coming into this game with confidence, having lost three of their last four. Despite the excellence of their defence (15th in the country in points scored), Vanderbilt’s soooo much of a bigger test than anything they’ve faced this season. We’re going with Vandy for the win, probably by a field goal, therefore beating the spread of 2.5. Oh, and we like the ‘under’ on 52.5. Both QBs are good, but not that good.

 

 

Juco National Signing Day: Big Wins for Texas A&M and Auburn; Saban solid

Junior College National Signing Day which started Wednesday had some pretty major headlines.

 Auburn continued their incredible run of success in the recruiting field by persuading the No. 1 JUCO prospect in the country previous LSU commitment WR D’haquille Williams to sign for the Tigers, but also lineman DaVonte Lambert to not play for Tennessee but play on the Plains. Lambert and Williams will be joined by lineman Xaveer Dampeer, as well as Willams’ teammate Derrick Moncrief, who plays safety.

– Texas A&M: British offensive guard Jermaine Eluemunor – who had switched from UCLA to Arkansas to College Station  in one of the more eyebrow-raising and indecisive recruiting sagas – stayed with the Aggies to pen his decision. The Aggies beat the two before-mentioned schools as well as Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma to the signature.He’ll be joined by OT Avery Gennesy, who signed from a Juco in Mississippi.  The Aggies also signed WR Josh Reynolds , which will help with their wide receiving talent after Mike Evans leaves for the NFL.

– Alabama signed DT Jarran Reed and Defensive Lineman DJ Pettway. Pettway’s the interesting one – he was signed by Alabama as a high schooler before Nick Saban booted him out for second-degree robbery. Nice to see the doors are always open at Alabama.

– Kentucky signed DB AJ Stamps and DT Cory Johnson. Stamps had been offered by Ohio State. Also signing were QB Drew Parker, WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, RB Mike Horton, WR T.V. Williams and LB Dorian Hendricks.

– Tennessee  added WR Lavon Pearson, DT Owen Williams, and OL Dontavius Blair.

Florida signed JUCO OT Drew Savary.

Georgia’s potential JUCO CB Shattle Fentenge, although his LOI hasn’t been signed yet (and will only be signed in May, according to Bulldog Illustrated expert Trent Smallwood, talking to @SECBlog on Twitter. Also, Chris Sanders, who was dismissed in the Nick Marshall theft case in 2012. The Bulldogs don’t have any more signings in their class.

– Ole Miss signed OL Fahn Cooper, athlete Jeremy Liggins – who signed for LSU out of high school – LB Christian Russell, UCLA transfer Christian Morris, and Kendrick Doss, who graduated from high school early.

Mississippi State – OT Jocquell Johnson signed with the Bulldogs. Fellow offensive linesman Norman Price decided to go to Southern Miss. instead.

Missouri – Defensive back Kenya Dennis signed for the Tigers.

Arkansas added WR Cody Hollister.

– South Carolina signed DT Abu Lamin

– LSU didn’t have any juco signings, which the TwitterBoard said was more a sign of waiting for a freshman squad. You know, that and getting beating to the signature of Williams, who opted for Auburn instead.

 

 

 

Nick Saban to Texas, Or Not?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or taking selfies at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, you’d probably heard the news and rumors that Nick Saban is leaving Alabama to become the new head coach at Texas.

First of all Texas Longhorns website Orangebloods.com followed up a weekend of rumors that Saban was going to Texas by saying that UT coach Mack Brown was out. Brown himself said that he wasn’t leaving, saying that he was on a recruiting trip to Florida, telling Jimmy Burch at Horns247: “I’m in Florida recruiting. If I had decided to step down I sure wouldn’t be killing myself down here.

Now, a tweet from Stefan Stevenson of the Texas Star-Telegram said: “Source close to Texas executive council of regents says Nick Saban will be next Longhorns coach.” Some are predicting that he could be paid as much as $15m per year.

However, Sports Illustrated is reporting that Saban – through his agent, Jimmy Sexton – is negotiating a new contract extension with the University of Alabama for $7m per year, citing NFL.com report Gil Brandt.

Saban finished 11-1 last year after being ranked No.1 for almost all season after losing to Alabama rival Auburn. Saban – an expert recruiter – has led Alabama to three National Championships, after winning one at LSU before a horrible tenure in Miami with the Dolphins.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite what the naysayers are saying after his Brain Freeze Moment against Auburn (we think he should have taken the game into overtime – which we believe Alabama would have won), Nick Saban is the best coach in college football. He’s certainly the most decorated, with four National Championships to his name. Saban is God in Alabama, and the only team that would be able to realistically afford him would be Texas, which is one of the richest programs – if not THE richest program – in college football. Despite all the worries from Alabama fans, we believe that Sexton (doing an agent’s job) is negotiating hard with Alabama, and making Saban even more wealthy in the first place. In other words, the only winners from this whole situation are Saban and Sexton. The losers are the taxpayers of Alabama. You know, because Alabama’s a public school and everything.

All-SEC teams announced

QB –  Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

TE –  Arthur Lynch, Georgia

WR –  Mike Evans, Texas A&M

Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

OL –  Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State

Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

C –    Reese Dismukes, Auburn

RB –  Tre Mason, Auburn

T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

AP –  Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU

DEFENSE

DL –  Michael Sam, Missouri

Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Dee Ford, Auburn

Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina

LB –  C.J. Mosley, Alabama

Ramik Wilson, Georgia

A.J. Johnson, Tennessee

DB – Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama

E.J. Gaines, Missouri

Vernon Hargreaves, Florida

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK – Marshall Morgan, Georgia

P –  Drew Kaser, Texas A&M

RS –  Christion Jones, Alabama *

Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU *

Second Team All-SEC

OFFENSE

TE – Malcolm Johnson, Mississippi State

OL – La’el Collins, LSU

Antonio Richardson, Tennessee

Justin Britt, Missouri

Anthony Steen, Alabama

C –  Travis Swanson, Arkansas

WR – Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU

Jarvis Landry, LSU

QB –  AJ McCarron, Alabama

RB –  Mike Davis, South Carolina

Jeremy Hill, LSU

AP –  Marcus Murphy, Missouri

DEFENSE

DL –  Anthony Johnson, LSU

Chris Smith, Arkansas

Ed Stinson, Alabama

Trey Flowers, Arkansas

LB –  Lamin Barrow, LSU

Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

Avery Williamson, Kentucky

DB – Andre Hal, Vanderbilt

Chris Davis, Auburn

Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State

Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK –  Michael Palardy, Tennessee

P –  Cody Mandell, Alabam

RS –  Solomon Patton, Florida

 

SEC has THREE Heisman Trophy Nominees

The SEC has three Heisman Trophy Nominees heading into New York this year.

Auburn’s Tre Mason, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and current Heisman Trophy holder Johnny Manziel are on the list, along with Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch, Florida State QB Jameis Winston, and Boston College’s RB Andre Williams, who ran riot in college football this year.

The favorite’s going to be Winston, who had an outstanding freshman year for unbeaten Florida State, who faces Auburn in the National Championship in early January.

So where’s your SEC team going bowling?

Right, so we know that Auburn and Florida State will play in the National Championship Game/Rose Bowl, but here are the others – if the rumor mill is right:

SUGAR BOWL/TWO HISTORIC PROGRAM BOWL: Alabama vs Oklahoma

COTTON BOWL/ TWO TEAMS THAT MIGHT HAVE SEEN EACH OTHER BEFORE BOWL: Missouri vs Oklahoma State

GATOR BOWL/TWO TEAMS WHO COULDN’T STOP ANYONE THIS YEAR BOWL (INDEFINITE): Georgia vs Nebraska

CAPITAL ONE BOWL/ WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE BOWL: South Carolina vs Wisconsin

OUTBACK BOWL/ .341 VS 50,000 .341S BOWL: LSU vs Iowa

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL/ FOOTBALL’S FAIRYTALE VS JOHNNY FOOTBALL BOWL: Texas A&M vs Duke

MUSIC CITY BOWL/ YOUNG TALENT VS TRIPLE OPTION BOWL: Ole Miss vs Georgia Tech

LIBERTY BOWL/ WE PLAYED WELL AGAINST TEXAS A&M AND KEPT IT CLOSE BOWL – Mississippi State vs Rice

BBVA COMPASS BOWL/ DISAPPOINTMENT BOWL – Vanderbilt vs Houston

BOTTOM LINE: Vanderbilt fans should be furious because they’ve beaten Georgia this year, while Mississippi State can’t feel bad about a Rice match-up despite the Egg Bowl win. Ole Miss vs Georgia Tech was the battle of two ultimately disappointing 2013 teams, and we like the biggest fairytales in football meeting up when Texas A&M and Duke go head-to-head. Oh, and if you like drinking, hit up LSU and Iowa or South Carolina or Wisconsin. If you like teams that have played each other before, Missouri vs Oklahoma State’s your answer. If you like points, go to Georgia vs Michigan or Auburn vs Florida State. And if you like one-sided games, go to Alabama vs Oklahoma.

VERY EARLY PREDICTION: It would be no surprise for everyone in the SEC to win except Auburn. If Auburn wins, it’ll be the shock of the century.

According to FB Schedules, Kansas State is playing Michigan, which means that Georgia’s been slated to play Nebraska. Maybe. Phil Steele’s now reporting Georgia vs Nebraska. The ‘faux headline’ on the bowl doesn’t change. 

Football Jesus answers Auburn Prayers: Tigers Are The 2013 SEC Champion

There is nothing else to say, really.

Auburn is the 2013 SEC Champion. Yes, you heard me: Auburn – a team unfancied by anybody to do anything this season – is the SEC Champion.

Some might say Auburn coach Gus Malzahn did a deal with the Devil. Some might say dumb luck, but in the end, it was a breathless running machine that blew away Missouri for 677 yards – 545 on the ground – which included Tre Mason’s 304 yard, 4-touchdown performance that torched Mizzou’s D 59-42 in one of the crazier games you’ll ever see.

Auburn is 12-1 this season, and they are a team that has caught their breaks:

MAJOR BREAK 1) Kris Frost’s blatant horsecollar on Johnny Manziel as he was driving Texas A&M towards a comeback victory against the Tigers. There were no flags. Auburn hangs on to win.

MAJOR BREAK 2) Auburn blows 37-17, fourth quarter lead to trail 38-37. Nick Marshall’s prayer on 4th and 18 is answered as two Georgia secondary players want to go for the jazzy interception instead of knocking the ball down. Ricardo Louis catches the rebound, and runs it in. And then Aaron Murray couldn’t help them come back, but by God they came close.

MAJOR BREAK 3) The Iron Bowl victory. Not only the field goal that was missed that was returned by Chris Davis to the house with no seconds left on the clock, but Cade Foster’s THREE missed field goals beforehand.

MAJOR BREAK 4) The dependence on others: Ohio State – ranked No.2 – loses to Michigan State. Baylor loses to Oklahoma State a week-or-so before. Auburn in National Championship Game.

So, Auburn will play Florida State in the National Championship Game. And you know what, we can’t wait to see what breaks Gus Malzahn gets this time.

Should an SEC team get into the National Championship?

When this blog was set up, we didn’t set it up because we didn’t love the SEC and wanted to talk down to our 14 groups of fans.

We do. We love the culture, we love that it’s football 24-7, and we love that more often than not, we win. We love our stadia, our co-eds, and the Saturday Night Lights. We had one of the greatest weekends to be a SEC fan with the madness that stretched from Mississippi to Alabama to Georgia. And like the late great Lou Reed says, I’m glad I spent it with you.

Anyways, when Auburn beat Alabama it caused a lot more harm than good, if you’re Mike Slive, the SEC Commissioner.

For the last few years, it’s been easy to put a SEC team in the Top 2 teams in the country. That’s because in the War of Survival that is college football, our schools have always been able to get themselves into the National Championship Game. And there’s been no argument.

This year, Chris Davis took a ball over 100 yards on a botched field goal with no time left in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night, and….God….

You see, the loss dropped Alabama out of the top two National Championship spot, and promoted Ohio State, who survived ‘The Game’ in The Big House 42-41 thanks to a 2-point conversion failure with 30 seconds to go – to second. Florida State did what we expected them to – beat the living chomps out of Florida at The Swamp 34-7. If you’re a gambling man and you had the ‘over’ on 27-1/2 points, you probably weren’t too happy.

At the end of it all Florida State is unbeaten, and Ohio State is unbeaten. And the brutal fact of it is this: Auburn is NOT. Nor is Missouri.

Auburn is not because they went to Tiger Stadium, LA, and didn’t show up. I saw the game. Sure, it was a nice comeback by Auburn in the second half, but there was no way during that game you thought: “LSU is going to lose this game”. Which is weird, because when I then went to Sanford Stadium and saw Georgia play the Tigers, LSU’s defense could not have been any worse. And after watching the Tigers – like most SEC games – all this season – LSU’s win over Auburn may have been a bit of a fluke. They peaked against Auburn, and stumbled like a Mardi Gras all the way through the rest of the season, culminating in a shock loss at a very-injured Ole Miss and a last-gasp victory over mighty Arkansas, when it took some of the worst coverage you’ll ever see on the Razorbacks side to win the game for Tiger Nation. In short, LSU were great to watch offensively (Zach Mettenberger (sometimes), Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill were studs)), but defensively, they were a struggle.

For Auburn, Gus Malzahn is a damned good person, a damned fine family man, and a damned, damned fine coach. There’s no denying it. We’d also like to know what he had to give up with Lucifer to ensure those wins against Georgia and against Auburn! Joking apart, his quarterback Nick Marshall lit it up, and the defense remained sturdy – particularly against the run.

And Missouri? Sorry, we almost forgot them. Like Auburn, they beat Johnny Football and Aaron Murray. Like Auburn, they’ve got talent on the field, except with them it’s a smothering defense (ask Johnny Manziel), terrific wide receivers (I see you L’Damian Washington!) an enigma quarterback (James Franklin) and an experience offensive line. But they lost to South Carolina brutally in the final quarter of a game. At home. And then rebounded to beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M – something that a lot of people had them perhaps going 0-2. And South Carolina? While everyone will talk about South Carolina’s great win over Clemson, is there any way to describe how badly they’ve played on the road – and especially when they got what they deserved against only-going-to-the-toilet-bowl Tennessee (Steve Spurrier’s words, not mine)?

At the end of it all Florida State is unbeaten, and Ohio State is unbeaten. And the brutal fact of it is is that Auburn is NOT.

Look, we could all look at the horrific nature of the ACC (DUKE COULD ONLY WIN A DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP WITH A SEC COACH, RIGHT?) and the B1G (TOO SLOW/ NEEDS A SEC COACH TO WIN TITLES OVER THERE/ IT’S TOO COLD) and ignore the fact that although the SEC has been the most athletic this year (as it is EVERY YEAR), it certainly hasn’t been the most disciplined, especially on the defensive side.

The reasons why are simple: In 2012 there was a cull of SEC players by the NFL that ensured that most of the SEC defensive players you saw before you this year were really, really young. And if they weren’t young and played at the University of Florida, they were very injured. That didn’t mean that we didn’t see some great defense from Alabama and Missouri – but defensively, it was a bit of a joke. If there was a missed tackles table, I would hazard a guess that Georgia, Texas A&M, South Carolina, LSU, and yes, Auburn, would be pretty high on the list, as well as the usual suspects.

As I wrote before, we just weren’t that good this year, and the SEC wasn’t that deep. Sorry.

Also, the SEC against other conferences – and we’re not just talking the tin-pot neutral site games  which I absolutely HATE (this also helps us forget about Mississippi State’s suddenly-not-looking-too-bad-loss to Oklahoma State) wasn’t exactly a banner year. In fact, in was mixed. For every Ole Miss monster upset on the road against Texas (Hotty Toddy!), there was Tennessee getting eviscerated at Oregon (jeez, what happened to them?). For every Georgia comeback on the road to Georgia Tech, there was Arkansas losing to Rutgers. Sorry guys, we have to claim them all in the SEC….the good ones and the bad ones.

And tied into this, I’m sorry to say that we weren’t the deepest conference in the country, either. That would be the hippies out West in the Pac-12. Like the SEC, they only have three teams that aren’t eligible for a bowl game (Cal, Utah, and Colorado). Utah pulled off one of the upsets of the season when they beat Stanford, and Arizona did the same when they beat Oregon. Arizona State surprised everybody by going to the Pac-12 Championship (they’ll play Stanford, who knocked off Oregon). But most of the match-ups – like the SEC – were really tough. I would love to see the SEC and Pac-12 do some bowl deals so the schools could play each other. Why? Because they’d be a lot of fun.

But look, I know past history should go before us. History tells us that for the last seven years, the SEC has won SEVEN National Titles. There has been no run like this in the modern era for a conference in college football. But you know what? It’s not our right.

My argument is this: Ohio State is unbeaten. You should be rewarded for going unbeaten in a BCS conference. You really should. No disrespect to Northern Illinois, but it’s hard to go unbeaten in a BCS conference. Especially two years in a row.

But you know what? It won’t matter if Michigan State beats Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Could Lane Kiffin get the Florida OC job?

The rumor mill was whirring way before Florida announced the firing of offensive co-ordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis that the Gators would be firing some of Will Muschamp’s staff.

Now that Pease and Davis has been fired, the rumor mill is whirring about another man: Lane Kiffin.

Lane Kiffin is no stranger to the SEC, having taken the Tennessee job in 2008 and left in 2010. After Tennessee he went to the ‘other’ USC, where he was fired bang in the middle of the college football season amid accusations that the Trojans team had stopped playing for him. He was fired – bizarrely – at Los Angeles International Airport coming back from ‘guiding’ his team to a 63-41 loss at Arizona State.

Kiffin’s arrival in Florida would be controversial.

But he’s certainly not the only person on the list.

There’s offensive guru Dave Christensen, who was recently fired as coach of Wyoming, Clay Helton, the OC at USC who’s probably going to get fired by incoming coach Steve Sarkisian, who just accepted the role as Trojans coach today. He’ll leave Washington.

And there are others on the list. The Gators can pretty much get who they want…..they are rich in money and talent and they are in the SEC.

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