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

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

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

So here we go…

LSU at UGA

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

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

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

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

Ole Miss at Alabama

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: 

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

Texas A&M at Arkansas

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

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

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

FLORIDA AT KENTUCKY

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

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

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

SOUTH CAROLINA AT UCF

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

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

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

ARKANSAS STATE AT MISSOURI

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

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

UAB AT VANDERBILT

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

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

SOUTH ALABAMA AT TENNESSE

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

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

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

 

Tennessee Chomped, Tigers beat Tigers: Week 4 SEC Rankings

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

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

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

Anyway, here are our power rankings after Week 4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Anyway, here’s our SEC predictions, folks.

AUBURN AT LSU

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

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

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

TENNESSEE AT FLORIDA

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

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

 MISSOURI AT INDIANA

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

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

ARKANSAS AT RUTGERS

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

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

SMU AT TEXAS A&M

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

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

TROY AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

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

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

VANDERBILT AT UMASS

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

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

This is going to brief…

NORTH TEXAS AT GEORGIA

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

COLORADO STATE AT ALABAMA

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

 

 

SEC Week 2: Power Rankings – Georgia rises, Florida falls

It was a weird and wild weekend in the SEC. Georgia and South Carolina played a classic that Georgia finally one (it’s been the opposite direction at Sanford between these two recently), Texas A&M struggled with mighty Sam Houston State in the first half of their game (mainly thanks to some terrible defense), LSU’s Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham were bringing the circus to ‘circus-like catches’ in Death Valley against UAB, and, er, Florida lost at Miami.

Anyway, here are your SEC Power Rankings after Week 2. And yes, we know Alabama isn’t on top.

1) LSU (2-0): Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry were exceptional, and Zach Mettenberger’s looking comfortable in defense. In the proclaimed ‘run first’ offense, suddenly Cam Cameron’s horses are able to rest a little while the ball flies through the air. And connects. This team’s the strongest in the SEC because it’s played two teams that weren’t complete jokes, and beaten them.

2)  Georgia (1-1): OK, so Mark Richt and Aaron Murray might be able to win a big game, after all. Seriously though, Todd Gurley looked fantastic against South Carolina, running for 134 yards and a TD in Georgia’s victory. Murray passed for 309 and 4 TDs himself. Not a bad effort. They might want to work on their tackling though…..they gave up 454 yards.

3) Alabama (1-0): We wait and see for Texas A&M if this is the best team in the SEC. If they beat A&M, they are (and beat LSU in Tuscaloosa later in the year, we think)

4)  South Carolina (1-1): We’re not dropping them too badly because they lost at Georgia in a rivalry game. The defense once again struggled against the run, and it’s interesting for us to notice that Jadeveon Clowney wasn’t too pleased about not having offenses running straight at him. If Clowney’s frustrated now, imagine him at season-end when OC’s do everything not to go anywhere near him. And the defensive co-ordinators fought amongst each other. The argument was dismissed by SEC fans as ‘the passion of the SEC’. We’re SEC fans, but I would call it unprofessional. Still, Barrett Shaw’s looking better and better week by week.

5=) Florida (1-1): Their defense was GREAT but their offense (five turnovers) was dreadful in the loss to Miami on Saturday. Imagine what might happen if both sides of the ball click at the same time. Oh. Gosh.

5=) Texas A&M (2-0): The offense was GREAT but their defense (28 points) was dreadful in the win over mighty Sam Houston State. Imagine what might happen if both sides of the ball click at the same time. Oh. My. God. The offense against Alabama’s D should be riveting. The defense against Alabama’s offense – and especially their running game – doesn’t bear thinking about.

7) Ole Miss (2-0): No great prizes for beating SE Missouri State. Actually looking forward to seeing what this option offense will do to Texas’ ‘D’, who gave up over 500 yards against BYU on Saturday (laughter). The QB duo of Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti could have a field day. Ole Miss wants to watch the turnovers – they gave up 3 on Saturday.

8) Vanderbilt (1-1): Beat Austin Peay comfortably (38-3) after their heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss. Nice to see Jordan Matthews rebound, grabbing 6 catches for 111 yards. Bigger tests will comes for the Commodores than Austin Peay, and it’s still making me think: Is this team a 6-6 team or a 7-5 or a 5-7 team? Aargh! It’s driving me nuts. Too early to say.

9) Auburn (2-0): Auburn’s victory over Arkansas State puts them up in the rankings a bit because they dulled the blades of a very sharp offense. I’m impressed. The Gus Malzahn-Nick Marshall ESP thing going on is really cool (Marshall had 147 yards and 2 TDs, We’ll see what this all means in the big, bad SEC West (and we still think they’d struggle with Ole Miss), but this isn’t looking like a bad team. By the way, Tre Mason’s the real deal. By the way, a note to Arkansas State: DO NOT PLAY IN THOSE UNIFORMS AGAIN.

10) Mississippi State (1-1): After seeing their offense choked against Oklahoma State, Cowbell Country once again rang after the Bulldogs stomped Alcorn State 51-7 at home. Dak Prescott on his first start was economical, throwing for 174 yards and 2 TDs. Word to the wise, they were only 5-13 in 3rd down conversions and 2-6 on 4th down conversions. This needs to improve. On another note, Alcorn State’s Golden Girls’ dancing >>> Mississippi State’s cheerleaders dancing. That’s no shame to lose that battle.

11) Tennessee (2-0): After the Vols beat Austin Peay on Opening Day we didn’t give Tennesssee the time of day. After beating Western Kentucky – and showing some opportunistic ‘D’ in the process, causing SEVEN turnovers (go to over 1 minute on the reel if you want to watch some highlights) – we’re giving them a bit more time of day. The offensive line looks good – even if we’re not sold on Justin Worley just yet.

12) Missouri (2-0): We’re definitely more excited about Missouri’s 38-23 win over Toledo that we were against Murray State. The James Franklin-to-Dorial Green-Beckham/L’Damian Washington combos are looking increasingly fun to watch. We’ll see about the O-Line. Henry Posey can do a job in that backfield, too.

13) Arkansas (2-0): Slid down the list because for three quarters, the Razorbacks really, really, really struggled (the highlights won’t show the struggles) with Samford, trailing them 21-17 until the early part of the fourth quarter. Alex Collins’ 172 yards on the ground and a pretty good performance from Brandon Allen’s got a bit of us believing, but can the ‘D’ do its job against better competition than, er, Samford?

14) Kentucky (1-1): Great to see Kentucky get Mark Stoops his first win, even if it was a clueless defensive team in Miami (Ohio). Was Maxwell Smith’s 317 yards for 3 TDs a new dawn for the Neal Brown’s Top Gun ‘Air Raid’ Offense, or is this just a false dawn before the big boys start calling?

Mark Richt: For and Against Georgia’s Coach

There’s no denying that Georgia coach Mark Richt is one of life’s good guys.

He’s a coach who is also just a really good guy.

But Georgia fans don’t want decent guys. If they did, they’d hire a pastor. They want him to get over the hump, and not only win football games, but win BIG football games. And by BIG FOOTBALL GAMES, we mean National Championships – and wins over big time schools. They’re fed up by losing at Clemson, losing SEC Championship Games, and getting trundled at home by Alabama. Oh, and they HATE losing against Steve Spurrier, too.

But wait a minute – Mark Richt’s achievements at Georgia have been admirable.

Here’s the list:

  • He’s won two SEC Championships (2002 and 2005) – including Georgia’s first since 1982.
  • He’s won six SEC East titles (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012).
  • He’s 8-4 in bowl games.
  • He had a 118-41 record.
  • He hasn’t left for the NFL, or a bigger job – something that – despite his success- can’t be said for Nick Saban (he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins, where he was a disaster) or Steve Spurrier (he left Florida for the Washington Redskins, where he was a disaster). And despite all the crap he’s been given, he’s stayed in his job since 2001, making him the longest-serving SEC coach.
  • Oh, and he sent EIGHT players to the NFL Draft last year. That’s on top of the tens that he’s sent over the years. Notable players include Matt Stafford, AJ Green, and Ben Watson. He can’t take credit for octagenarian Champ Bailey, who played before he came along.

But the biggest criticism at Mark Richt – and the reason why he’s constantly decried in Georgia, is his failure to take Georgia to the promised land – the National Championship Game. There’s no question the team has talent, but it’s becoming its new verb in terms of screwing things up. See Clemson 2013 for details.

  • Recently with Aaron Murray as QB, Georgia is 3-11 against ranked opponents, and 1-6 against Top 10 teams, with the sole victory coming last year against Florida, which was more of a result of Jarvis Jones than Aaron Murray.
  • He’s lost out-of-state season openers against Boise State, Oklahoma State, and now Clemson – all of them ‘inferior’ conferences.
  • Georgia seems to lose games by their own mishaps more than anything else. Is that bad coaching or simply bad play?
  • Under Richt, they have a 4-8 record against Florida and lost three straight times against South Carolina and Steve Spurrier. Oh, and he’s 2-4 against Nick Saban (in his Alabama and LSU days), including an embarrassment in black shirts at home in 2010.
  • He’s lost against Georgia Tech. Once, but it’s still a loss.
  • 21 Georgia players have been arrested under Mark Richt in the last FIVE years. That’s not exactly keeping control of your players, is it?

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you want to go to the NFL, Georgia’s a pretty good place to start. Mark Richt’s a decent guy, and he’s a winner who’s won the team bowl games and SEC titles – including their first since 1982. He’s made Georgia a perennial contender after some lean years, and he’s a great QB coach. If you doubt me, ask Matt Stafford. Sure, there’s pressure on him, but he’s not worth firing. Who better could you get, apart from the guy coaching at Alabama? 

 

 

SEC Media Days: What To Expect From Day 1

It’s Day 1 of the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, and with  Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Missouri talking, it should be a bright start – especially with Steve Spurrier doing some mouthing.

So we expect these coaches to be talking about these things:

From Steve Spurrier (South Carolina): He’ll point out that South Carolina beat Georgia last year, but didn’t go to the SEC Championship Game. He’ll blame the tough 2012 schedule – but he’s not going to mention the 2013 one, where the Gamecocks don’t play Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M (we can only dream of Jadeveon Clowney vs Johnny Manziel). He’ll also point out that players need to get paid to play college football (his usual rant), and he’ll make stir some crap about Clemson. He’ll also point out that South Carolina’s QB quandry with Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson isn’t a bad thing to have, as options go. Oh, and he’ll be asked how he felt when Clowney knocked the head off that Michigan guy. He’ll probably answer: “Pretty good”. He won’t answer: “I laughed”.

From Will Muschamp (Florida): Some idiot’s going to ask him how the arrest of Aaron Hernandez and subsequent focus on Urban Meyer (who recruited Hernandez) has hit the Florida team (Certainly it hasn’t given Gainseville good PR – that’s for certain!). He’ll talk about the importance of improving UF’s passing game, as well as the players ‘missing’ from the 2012 team – and try and lower heady expectations. He’ll also talk about the Boston Red Sox and Jeff Driskel, and maybe make a nasty point about Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, just to annoy the Aggies fans. As usual.

From Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss): He’ll talk about the incredible recruiting that Ole Miss did in 2014, and say something like: “It won’t mean anything if the players don’t bed in this or next season”. Someone will ask him about how he felt watching the Super Bowl and the Big Guy From The Blind Side (Michael Oher), and the sense of pride. He’ll make some comment about The Lord, and he’ll address the sadness of losing Park Stevens, who died in a car wreck only a few weeks ago. He WON’T talk crap about Dan Mullen and Mississippi State, but he may well make a nice comment about Tyler Russell, who’s one of the better QBs in the SEC.

From Gary Pinkel (Missouri): He’ll be asked about the pressure of the SEC, the hot seat, the worry, the pain, the bad 2012 record, the underperformance of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the poor QBing, the poor defence, oh, and the pressure. He won’t tell you that he’d rather that his Mizzou team was in a much more palatable Big XII (although last year, it was fiercely competitive, and Missouri would have been middling there, too (but they would have comfortably won the Border War). He’ll be asked about how he sees things in 2013, and what a measure of success will be.

SEC APR scores see Alabama, Missouri top the standings

The Academic Progress Rate scores for the Southeastern Conference have just come through for football teams, and it seems that although they haven’t done a lot right on the football field, the Missouri Tiger are doing good things in the schoolroom.

The NCAA says the APR “holds Division I institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through the Academic Progress Rate, a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete, each term.”

It adds: “Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate score.”

It adds- and here’s the relatively interesting bit – Beginning with 2012-13 championships, teams must earn a minimum 900 four-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible to participate.

Look at the numbers – Tennesee’s isn’t that great. Nor is Ole Miss’ – although it was very improved in the first year under Hugh Freeze/last one under Houston Nutt.

  1. Missouri – 982 in 2011/2, 972 in 2010/1, 967 in 2009/10 and 958 in 2008/9
  2. Alabama – 978, 970, 963, 957
  3. Vanderbilt – 973, 978, 977, 975
  4. Georgia – 968, 970, 976, 973
  5. Florida – 968, 972, 976, 961
  6. Mississippi State – 967, 959, 952, 959
  7. South Carolina – 966, 966, 954, 938
  8. Texas A&M – 954, 946, 940, 934
  9. Auburn – 950, 943, 940, 935
  10.  LSU – 944, 964, 966, 965
  11. Ole Miss – 944, 933, 939, 921
  12. Kentucky – 943, 951, 948, 951
  13. Arkansas – 938, 936, 937, 930
  14. Tennessee – 924, 931, 937, 944

Instead of going for just the last 2011-12 scores, we thought we’d go back over the last four years. Here’s what we found:

Missouri and Alabama are the cream of the crop. Both schools have APRs that have risen over the last four years without fail. Good job, Gary and Nick.

–  More focus on football at Vanderbilt? Maybe not (and maybe the kids are taking harder classes in Nashville), but Vanderbilt actually went down five points between 2011-2 and 2010-1. We wonder if this trajectory will continue.

– Most worrying trend downwards? Tennessee went from 944 to 924 over the four year period. But LSU really takes the biscuit. LSU’s APR score fell TWENTY POINTS between 2011-2 and 2010-1. That’s considerable. We wonder how many APR points LSU lost for booting Tyrann Mathieu out of school.

– Schools that saw their APR go up between 2010-1 and 2011-2: Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss.

– Schools that saw their APR go down over the same period: Vanderbilt, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Kentucky, Tennessee

South Carolina stayed the same.

Here’s the full release. 

Texas A&M legend Pardee passes away

There was more sad news for the SEC after news emerged that Texas A&M legend Jack Pardee had passed away aged 76.

According to ESPN, Pardee was one of Bear Bryant’s Junction Boys when Bryant was a coach in Aggieland.

Pardee played linebacker for the Aggies for three years and was then drafted in 1957. In the three years Pardee played under Bryant, the Aggies went 7-2-1, 9-0-1, and 8-3.

Pardee then played in the NFL for 15 years – during which he had a bout of melanoma.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996, after a successful coaching stint at Houston in 1989 that saw Andre Ware get a Heisman Award – he was the first black quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.

Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin – who also coached at Houston – tweeted this statement: “Thoughts and prayers for the Pardee family. A great Coach and even better man. He will be missed, but his legacy of innovation will live on.”

Thoughts and prayers for the Pardee family. A great Coach and even better man. He will be missed, but his legacy of innovation will live on.

God Speed, Mr Pardee.

Jack Pardee Tribute

 

 

ESPN announces August-October SEC TV dates

ESPN has announced its August – October TV dates for SEC schools – starting with South Carolina’s hosting of North Carolina on Thursday, August 29th at 8pm.

Here is the line-up:

Thu, Aug 29 6 p.m. North Carolina at South Carolina * ESPN
  9:15 p.m. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt ESPN
Sat, Aug 31 5:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (Atlanta) ESPN
  8 p.m. Georgia at Clemson ABC
  9 p.m. Cowboys Classic: TCU vs. LSU ESPN
Thu, Oct 24 7:30 p.m. Kentucky at Mississippi State ESPN

We’re already extremely excited!

In order of games that the neutral should be excited about, here we go:

1) Georgia at Clemson – Two likely highly-ranked teams in one of the best atmospheres in college football. At night. College Gameday, anyone?

2) Virginia Tech vs Alabama – Welcome back, National Champions

3) Ole Miss vs Vanderbilt – The two pretenders to the big boys’ throne. Is Ole Miss for real? And will we really find this out about Hugh Freeze’s guys one game in?

4) TCU vs LSU– First chance for TCU to exploit what’s been a difficult off-season for LSU thus far with half the squad seemingly gone to the NFL.

5) North Carolina at South Carolina – The battle of the Carolinas. There won’t be too problem with Williams-Brice being loud, folks.

6) Kentucky at Mississippi State – Both programs still rebuilding. Could be interesting for purveyors of the Dan Mullen Hot Seat.

Guz Malzahn returning to Auburn: Reports

The man who made Cam Newton a star and masterminded Auburn’s 2011 National Championship is back in the SEC, reports have said.

Gus Malzahn, who coached the Tigers between 2009 and 2010 as the offensive co-ordinator, went to Arkansas State in 2011.

His offensive out-put has been absolutely frightening – and Auburn will be hoping for the same return to fireworks after the horrific season of 2012, in which Auburn won no SEC games and fired coach Gene Chizik.

 

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