We’re going to make a massive prediction this week and tell you that someone might make a comment about Philip Fulmer when Tennessee comes to Tuscalossa. Apart from that, this – on paper – isn’t a wildly interesting slate with Auburn going to Arkansas, LSU going to Ole Miss, Kentucky going to Mississippi State, and Idaho visiting Missouri.

So here are the games in the level of interesting:

  1. Auburn (-15.5) vs Arkansas: If things were going to be smooth for Bret Bielema and Arkansas this season, things suddenly became a lot less smooth when it was reported that Bielema’s buyout was in fact $5.9 million NOT the $15 million as earlier thought. That’s a hell of a jump. Apparently, a reporter read the contract. And we can tell you that there’s another SEC fanbase who’s not happy: Auburn. The Plains are smoking about not getting their first win in Baton Rouge since 1999, particularly with a comfortable 20-0 lead. But after the cruise control, the offensive playcalling went into its shell, LSU’s ‘D’ played out of its mind, and LSU won. Suddenly, the critics are saying: “If Malzahn doesn’t beat Georgia or Alabama, he’s out”. The good news for Auburn? They are facing an Arkansas side that just had the crap beaten out of it by Alabama, and gives up nearly 5 yards/rushing attempt. That should let Kerryon Johnson feast. PREDICTION: Auburn by 14.
  2. Alabama (-34.5) at Tennessee: Nick Saban’s going to spin his usual crap about Tennessee being one hell of a football team and being unlucky last week against South Carolina, but the first half is far from the truth. Tennessee is a bad football team. They managed to lose against South Carolina despite having a bye week to work out how they might actually score a touchdown. Listen, we don’t think Butch Jones is going to get his ass kicked out of Knoxville after the slaughter in Tuscaloosa, but this won’t be close. If you have anything to do between 3.30 and 7pm (ie watch other college football games), do so. PREDICTION: Alabama by 40. 
  3. LSU (-6.5) at Ole Miss: LSU’s second-half defense against Auburn was pretty amazing, helped by defensive backs Done Jackson and Eric Monroe, who had 6 pass break-ups between them. Ole Miss looked as though it was going to be in a tussle with Vanderbilt, but rolled. With AJ Brown back and Shea Patterson looking to throw the ball every play (they average 357.2 yards/game, the 6th-highest in the NCAA), LSU’s defensive backs are going to have a real challenge. Oh, and LSU has to grow up. The Tigers are 89th in the FBS for penalties, compiling 433 penalty yards this season – that’s nearly 62 yards per game. You can see that one of LSU’s players gets booted for targeting (as happened at Mississippi State, twice). On the offensive side of the ball, we expect Darrius Guice to be given the ball a lot against a D that has given up 238.5 yards/game – one of the worst in the country. And Danny Etling – if he’s not terrible, could be counted on for a pass TD or two against a D that’s given up 10 pass TDs this season and nearly 13 yards per completion. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 7 in a close, entertaining one. 
  4. Kentucky at Mississippi State (-10.5): We stupidly tweeted that we couldn’t believe Kentucky was a 10 pt away favorite at Mississippi State, but then realised that we’d got the order of things wrongly, and it was the Bulldogs who were 10 point favorites. We still think it’s low. Kentucky’s gone 1-1 in classics this season (the fortunes could have been reversed against Florida and Missouri), while Mississippi State’s blown out a team that they weren’t meant to (LSU), and were blown out by a team that they were meant to play really, really close (Georgia). After getting swatted by Auburn following the UGA game, Mississippi State finally looked better against BYU, and we think it’ll continue against Kentucky. Although Kentucky’s been nasty against the rush (97.2 yards/game), they are mediocre overall (385.5 yards/game), which should give Nick Fitzgerald lots of chances to exploit them. We expect Kentucky to try and control the clock as it has against all its opponents, but we don’t think they’ll be particularly effective. PREDICTION: MSU by 13.
  5. Idaho at Missouri (-14.5): Get this: Missouri is so bad that they are only a 14.5 home favorite against Idaho, who has played no-one on their schedule. Yes, we get that Missouri struggled mightily with Southeast Missouri State at the start of the year but Idaho? Really? In the last two weeks Missouri’s offense has clicked a little better, with Drew Lock throwing bullets and scaring the life out of secondaries.  And We think Idaho will give up more than the 162.3 yards/game they give up through the air on this offense. Idaho’s offense is also pretty mediocre (ranked 97th overall), so if Missouri can actually make a stop, they should win comfortably.If you’re watching this game, watch out for Emmanuel Hall, who had 270 yards and 3 TDs in the last two games – including 141 against Georgia. PREDICTION (And I don’t believe I’m saying this): Missouri by 28. 

QUICK PREDICTION FOR AN OUT- CONFERENCE: Michigan goes to Penn State as a 9.5 road favorite. Michigan’s got the best defense in the land, and Penn State has struggled against some bad teams of late getting the Saquon Barkley run game going. And Michigan’s won 3 straight over the Nittany Lions. We’ll take Michigan. Even if it’s only the points. That gives an advantage to Georgia. 

After the unbridled craziness of Week 7 (see Clemson, Washington and Washington State all getting upset) Alabama and Georgia still rule the SEC. While Alabama rolled, it wasn’t the most convincing of performances from Georgia, who only woke up in the second half of their game against Missouri. Elsewhere, Auburn blew a 20-pt lead on a horribly hot day at LSU and really, really pissed off their fanbase in the process (To LSU fans, ‘Coach O’ is now God), the Tennessee soap opera continued with a 15-9 home loss to South Carolina in one of the ugliest games you’ll ever see, while Texas A&M now like Kevin Sumlin again after the Aggies won by 2 points in an electrifying atmosphere in The Swamp against Florida. Ole Miss rolled against Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State beat BYU easily.

So here are your SEC rankings after Week 7:

  1. Alabama: At this stage the Crimson Tide looks absolutely unbeatable. There’s nothing else to say.
  2. Georgia: Georgia’s secondary was terrible in the first half against Missouri, but in the second half everyone worked out their issues and the Dawgs ran out  53-28 winners. That would have pissed off Vegas bettors, because UGA was a 28-pt favorite. What might concern Georgia fans is that there were four times in the win that they couldn’t convert in the red zone against a very poor Missouri defense. Kirby Smart will make all ‘teachable’ before the Cocktail Party against Florida in a couple of weeks time, we’re sure.
  3. Texas A&M: This Texas A&M team’s got serious momentum at the moment, and we honestly think they could beat LSU and Auburn this season. Kellen Mond is a lot of fun to watch, and so’s Christian Kirk – when he manages to catch the ball. Oh, and we don’t like to tell you, dear 12th Man, that we told you so when told you to calm down about Kevin Sumlin after the UCLA loss. But we told you so.
  4. LSU: After the Troy loss we honestly thought the SEC race and even a bowl game might be a struggle for LSU, but back-to-back wins against Florida and Auburn – where the defense has really shown its short and curlies – have LSU fans happier. Oh, and let’s talk about those DBs. Holy crap they’re good!
  5. Auburn: We can’t work out why Gus Malzahn refused to let Jarrett Stidham throw a 5-8 yard pass instead of always opt for the ‘Big Reception’, or why Kerryon Johnson seemed to be mostly absent during the second half. But that may just have been us. But remember: Just because you blew a big lead in Baton Rouge, it doesn’t mean you’re the worst team in the world, Auburn fans.
  6. Florida: Despite the Gators’ offense being the most disgusting thing since Divine ate dog poop at the end of John Waters epic Pink Flamingos, the Gators have had an exciting season. They are 2-2 in games they should have played badly and won or played badly and lost (Kentucky and Tennessee were the ones they won/LSU + LSU were the ones they played badly at lost). Doug Nussmeir should be fired as the offensive co-ordinator when season’s done, by the way.
  7. Mississippi State: Beat the Mormons of BYU – as expected – pretty easily. This team is an average SEC team, but below-average SEC West team. I’m beginning to think the LSU win was more of a fluke than suggested, though.
  8. Kentucky: The Wildcats are 5-1. And no-one gets it since they’ve been not been great against just about every team they’ve played.
  9. South Carolina: The narrow win over Tennessee was ugly, ugly, ugly. We got a lot of crap on our Twitter (@SECBlog) from Gamecocks fans for suggesting that Florida would win the game at Williams-Brice ‘no problem’ (OK, maybe we should have put in the words ‘no problem), but after the Tennessee performance? The UF-USC game is going to be as ugly as sin. And despite Gamecocks fans suggesting that the Deebo Samuel problem was solved…..it’s not. Otherwise you’d have scored more against Tennessee.
  10. Ole Miss: An unexpected shoot-out in the first half against Vanderbilt suddenly became a massacre in Oxford. The Rebels aren’t great, but now AJ Brown’s back to full fitness (he’s had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, and last week added 2 TDs), they finally have some offense.
  11. Arkansas: Going in the wrong, wrong, wrong direction. To say Arkansas fans are concerned is an understatement.
  12. Tennessee: THEY HAD A WEEK TO PREPARE FOR CAROLINA FOR GOD’S dSAKE. AND STILL COULDN’T SCORE A TOUCHDOWN (Butch Jones HAS to go. A lot of the media still can’t believe he wasn’t fired after the Carolina game).
  13. Missouri: Missouri managed to scrap its ass off the basement by putting 28 on Georgia – the most the Bulldogs have conceded all season long. The defense remains a joke, but you have to applaud them a little for keeping UGA out of the red-zone a little less than we expected. Should the fans jump on the field if/when the Tigers beat Idaho? I think so!
  14. Vanderbilt: There are two teams on bad trajectories in the State of Tennessee this season, and Derek Mason’s squad is the other one. Alabama broke this program, and everyone seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. Things have to be changed and quickly.

Oh, and another thing: You remember my article about unbeaten teams? I’ll shut up now.

We love college football because of the passion. We love college football because of the tailgates. We love college football because it’s the chance to see old college buddies again, cheer the team on, and have a brew or seven two. We love college football because anyone beats anyone, anytime.

But the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 don’t need parity. They need their good teams going as far as possible to give them the biggest chance to get into the country’s worst-timed play-off…..The College Football Play-Off.

So here’s what each conference will need to maximise their needs….

SEC

The SEC would be really, really happy if Alabama and Georgia met in the SEC Championship Game unbeaten. That would mean that Georgia had beaten a pretty good Auburn team, and Alabama had beaten a pretty good Auburn team. In other words, the SEC needs Auburn to beat LSU in Death Valley this weekend. Oh, and if Florida beats Texas A&M and Georgia beats them in the Cocktail Party, that’ll do too.

WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (FOR THE CONFERENCE)? Alabama vs Georgia 

ACC

The ACC needs Clemson to win out. It’s not going to be easy for them – particularly if they can’t keep their quarterback healthy. It would also help the ACC if South Carolina remained unbeaten from here on in (that would mean Carolina beat Georgia, which would mean they were pretty good), so they could beat them at Thanksgiving. Oh, and they also really, really need Miami to win out too, so they can beat them in the ACC Championship Game.

WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (FOR THE CONFERENCE)? Clemson vs Miami

BIG XII

First of all, we’d like to note that the Big-12’s probably our second favorite conference, because no-one seems to know how to play defense, and that’s fun to watch. Anyway, back to our thoughts. It’s fairly obvious: The Big-12 would love TCU to win out. If TCU can play a one-loss Oklahoma or Oklahoma State (one of them will have two losses due to Bedlam in early November) in the Big XII Championship Game, that would be handy for TCU. Oh, and Oklahoma’s win at Ohio State will look better and better if Ohio State continues to win out, which would hopefully make the Play-Off people forget that awful performance against Iowa State last week.

WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (FOR THE CONFERENCE)? TCU VS Oklahoma

THE PAC 12

We were thinking about this yesterday: The Pac-12 is absolutely loaded with good quarterbacks. Hell, even Arizona’s back-up QB can run! Anyway, the Pac-12 would love one both Washington and Washington State to remain unbeaten until they play each other on November 25th in Seattle, and they would love USC to remain unbeaten for the rest of the season (that would mean USC beating a pretty-darned-good Notre Dame team) so that the Washington vs USC Pac-12 Championship Game would be essentially viewing.

WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (FOR THE CONFERENCE)? Washington vs USC

BIG TEN

The Big Ten/Eleven/Fourteen (we give up) has four strong teams: Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Annoyingly for them, Ohio State lost early and Michigan lost to Michigan State, leaving Penn State and Wisconsin unbeaten. The Big Ten would love Penn State to remain unbeaten, and it would surely cement itself in a play-off position if it took out Michigan, Ohio State and then Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Failing that, Ohio State staying unbeaten or Wisconsin’s special brand of unattractive football would be OK too. Wisconsin’s biggest game is a home clash against Michigan at Camp Randall. The Big Ten West otherwise is a joke.

WHAT WOULD BE A GREAT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (FOR THE CONFERENCE)? Penn State vs Wisconsin

 

 

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. 

Can Auburn beat Clemson? SEC Previews for Week 2

fAmid a lot of crap,  there are three great non-conference games for the SEC, featuring Auburn going to Clemson, Georgia rolling down to Notre Dame, and TCU rolling into Arkansas. In the SEC, we have our first in-conference game of the year with South Carolina rolling into Missouri for the battle of the Columbias. The rest of the games, well, aren’t very interesting.

Oh, and thoughts are out there to all Floridian players and fans as Hurricane Irma rolls in. Hope everyone stays safe. And if you didn’t know already, Florida cancelled their game with Northern Colorado at The Swamp.

So here are your games in order of what’s interesting…

  1. No. 13 Auburn at No.3 Clemson (-6.5): I’ll get this one out of the way early: It’s not like Auburn’s not used to playing in Death Valley! They have to play there every other year. This game won’t be full of drunken, loud Cajuns….it’ll be full of drunk, loud South Carolinians wearing orange and purple. We expect more of a celebration tailgate between the two sets of fans, bearing in mind Clemson’s accomplishments last season against Auburn’s most hated rival. As for the game, Clemson’s favored by 6.5 and if we’re honest, we kinda like it. Although it’s hard to say against substandard opponents, Clemson impressed me more than Auburn did. Clemson seem to have something special in Kelly Bryant, but we’ll see how he fares against stronger opposition. Auburn’s got Jarrett Stidham, who’s a known quantity and will test Clemson’s ‘D’ to it’s full with his spread attack and three awesome running backs with Kam Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Kyle Davis. Pettway and WR Kyle Davis both come back from suspension. Clemson’s still got plenty of weapons to test Auburn’s secondary. This will be fun. PREDICTION: Clemson by 7 in a barnburner of a game.
  2. No.15 Georgia at No.24 Notre Dame (-4): This was such a joke to gamblers early on that the line moved from -6.5 to -4. Vegas still thinks Notre Dame beats the Dawgs in South Bend – although we think a lot of that is dependent on the fact that Jacob Eason went down with an injury against Appalachian State, and they think that Irish QB Brandon Wimbush is going to be better than UGA starter Jake Fromm, and that Notre Dame’s going to be able to stop UGA RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. For us, the biggest factor will be what Notre Dame’s pass rushers can do to Georgia’s young-and-susceptible offensive line. If they can get through them, Fromm will be running for his life. Georgia’s ‘D’ is pretty solid, by the way, so give them some credit out there, but if the O-Line is making a game a perpetual 3-and-out (see Michigan vs Florida last week for example), Georgia’s in trouble. PREDICTION: Georgia to win by 3.
  3. No.23 TCU (-3) at Arkansas: Last year’s game – which went into double overtime – was electric and we’re hoping for the same when the Horned Frogs roll into Fayetteville. In Week 1 both sides teed off against crappy opponents and got the expected blow-out, givers-of-confidence results that you would expect and normally get, so this game provides quite the opponent markup. TCU is going to bring out a fast-paced offense that’s going to give Arkansas a lot of problems, while we expect Arkansas to pound the Horned Frogs with a solid running game that features Chase Hayden. If Arkansas’ offensive line doesn’t hold out and Austin Allen isn’t given the time, the Razorbacks are in trouble. PREDICTION: TCU wins by 7 in a high-scoring classic.
  4. South Carolina at Missouri (-2): I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU VEGAS! South Carolina beat NC State, one of the better ACC opponents in a thrilling victory, while Missouri showed all of us that if there’s a defense, then they have heard of it (although if there’s an offense, they certainly have). We expect a high-scoring fun one with both defenses driving their head coaches crazy, both quarterbacks (USC’s Jake Bentley and Mizzou’s Drew Lock) to post great numbers, and one side to stop another maybe sometime. USC showed thta it could do that in a close game against NC State, but will they continue it against Missouri? We think they will. PREDICTION: South Carolina wins a barnburner by 3, but if we’re honest, we’re more confidence about the ‘over’ at 71.5. We also like the ‘over’ for 71.5.
  5. Mississippi State (-8.5) at Louisiana Tech: Vegas thinks that this one will be pretty close, but we don’t think it will be, despite MSU being on the road. We can’t wait to see if Nick Fitzgerald picks his act up from Week 1 to Week 2 (last week 16-29, 239 yards, 2 TDs), where we expect him to get a fuller game than he did last time. This could be one of those spread blow-out games. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 18.
  6. Fresno State at No.1 Alabama (-44): You’ll know that Alabama beat Fresno State, but what you might not know is that Fresno State beat college football monster Incarnate Word 63-0 on Saturday. That’s about as deep as we’re going to get this one, because we expect Alabama to roll. If you’re a gambler I’d keep away from this one because Nick Saban would really p*** you off late on with a late Fresno TD against the second team. PREDICTION: Alabama by 41. As we said, watch the late TD stuff. 
  7. UT-Chatanooga vs No.12 LSU: LSU’s defense was incredible against BYU last week, keeping them to -5 rushing yards and choking any offense that the Cougars may have brought with them to New Orleans. And let’s be honest, we expect the same to be done in Death Valley. Vegas thinks the game is going to be so close that it’s not allowing bets on it. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 40, and it’s not even that close.
  8. Nicholls State vs Texas A&M: There are so many internal issues at Texas A&M (Coach Kevin Sumlin not only on the hotseat after the UCLA loss but also getting no support from an A&M regent after said loss as well as racial abuse sent to his home) that even a medium side would feel that they could capitalise on the calamity at Kyle. But Nicholls State isn’t one of those teams. PREDICTION: A&M. Easily.
  9. Eastern Kentucky vs Kentucky: After coming through the struggle at Southern Miss, Kentucky will have it pretty easy about Eastern Kentucky. Commonwealth Stadium will be expecting Stephen Johnson to rack up the passing yards, CJ Conrad to catch a TD or three, and this game to be over by half-time. PREDICTION: UK by over 40.
  10. UT Martin at Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze blah blah…..Hugh Freeze….Ole Miss coming back blah blah……PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 40. 
  11. Indiana State at No.25 Tennessee: Sadly, Larry Bird won’t be playing WR for Indiana State. If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young. Anyway, Tennessee scrapped through against Georgia Tech and guessed right to stop a 2-point conversion in double overtime, and this game should be over by halftime. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 50. 
  12. Alabama A&M vs Vanderbilt: Derek Mason’s psyched about this game, but he’s the only one. PREDICTION: Vandy by 41 after changing team at halftime.

Should Alabama fans be pleased with their new OC?

What a few months it’s been for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

After coasting (most of the way) during the regular season, the Crimson Tide destroy Florida to win the SEC Championship. Then offensive coordinator/genius Lane Kiffin leaves for the bright lights of a head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University. The Crimson Tide win their Play-Off semi-final against Washington convincingly to set up a monster clash with Clemson, who had hammered Ohio State 31-0 in its own semi-final. Lane Kiffin is told not to come to the National Championship Game. Steve Sarkasian is given the OC job for the National Championship Game. Clemson beats Alabama in the last second. Steve Sarkasian gets the OC job. Steve Sarkasian bolts for the Super Bowl-blowing Atlanta Falcons to be OC there, much to the annoyance to Bama Nation.

Nick Saban seemed to ignore all of that and still dominate the 2017 National Signing Day. We heard stories of kids that were offered scholarships by Alabama, but didn’t receive actual letters from the school, so went elsewhere. Such is the power of what’s happening down in Tuscaloosa.

Anyway, back to the offensive coordinator. There were rumors that he would join forces with offensive guru Chip Kelly, who did genius things at Oregon but not in the NFL. Instead, Saban went to his old friend Bill Belichick, and asked: “Who have you got on your coaching staff I can have?” So Belichick said to current tight ends coach Brian Daboll that he might want to go and have an interview down in the Southland. Daboll did, and now he’s the new offensive coordinator for the most demanding college football coach in the history of mankind (and that’s probably an understatement).

Daboll’s had 17 seasons in the NFL, which is fantastic longevity, and should be an excellent recruiting tool for Saban. Now he can bring someone to the party who can say to NFL players: “I know what NFL scouts are looking for! I spent 17 years in the NFL! If you come play for me, I can get you to the next level!”

For us, we can’t wait to see Daboll getting yelling at on the sideline.

 

Steve Sarkasian leaves Alabama for Falcons

Steve Sarkasian has left Alabama to be the new offensive coordinator at the Atlanta Falcons.

Sarkasian, who only took charge of Nick Saban’s offense just before the National Championship loss to Clemson, took over the Falcons role just after former OC Kyle Shanahan left to be the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

According to SB Nation, ‘the relationship between Saban and Sarkisian deteriorated amid disagreements in ‘system philosophy.’

It’s not unusual that Nick Saban should fall out with his offensive coordinators. His fall-outs with Lane Kiffin during his time at Bama are stuff of YouTube legend. What seems strange that Saban – who talks often about giving people ‘second chances’, didn’t seem too upset with Sarkasian’s decision to go to Atlanta.

‘We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here,’ Saban said. ‘He is an outstanding coach, and we wish him the best in his new role as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. As always, when we have an opening on our staff, we will use it as an opportunity to go out and hire the best coach available.’

What’s interesting is that last month Mike Locksley was named co-offensive coordinator. He was an offensive analyst for Alabama and before that worked at Maryland.

Alabama fansite BamaHammer is already saying that Locksley’s going to be the new OC. ‘Book it’, the site says.

It seems to us that whoever the new OC at Alabama is is that they are going to have to obedient to Saban. Saban doesn’t like anyone who disagrees with him.

This could be interesting.

If Locksley doesn’t get the job, names of recently fired Oregon coaches like Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich have had their names thrown around.

Suddenly, this is the most intriguing battle of the offseason – particularly with the weapons that Alabama is bringing in from National Signing Day to help the new OC (and Saban) out.

So Who’s Going to Win The National Championship Game?

So if you follow us on Twitter (@SECBlog), you’ll know that when we asked the simple question “Would non-Alabama fans root for Alabama in the National Championship Game?”, only one or two out of 40 replies said: “Yes”. Other answers ranged from rooting for terrorist factions before Alabama, or going through the punishment Mel Gibson went through in Braveheart before rooting for the Crimson Tide.

Well, here’s the fact, Alabama haters: The Alabama Crimson Tide are unbeaten, and back in their second National Title game in a row. They’ve won over 20 games on the bounce and this year’s batch looks absolutely frightening. This year the Tide are again playing Clemson, and Vegas has made them a 6-1/2 point favorite, going upwards from an open of six after they comfortably smothered Washington 24-7 in the Peach Bowl.

Here are our Top 5 points.

1. Clemson offensive line vs Alabama defense

The starting question’s normally about the stars, but actually, the biggest question is whether Clemson’s offensive line will be able to stop Alabama’s defense. If they don’t, then we might as well call this game over because DeShaun Watson’s going to be running like DeSean Jackson….to stop himself getting killed. The big deal will be whether Clemson can stop them long enough to help the team get into easier yardage situations to collect first downs – although it’s well-noted that 3rd and 4 against Alabama is like 3rd and 14 against normal defenses. Teams have converted 13% against Bama on 3rd and 4. That’s scary. Or scary good, if you’re Jeremy Pruitt. Alabama’s defense has the stars in Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster.

2. A tale of quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts is definitely an electric runner. We know that because he has 891 rushing yards and 12 TDs. He can also throw – 2620 and 21 TDs. But because he’s a freshman, you can always count on him making mistakes, and he’s done so with regularity, throwing 9 picks this season. And against Washington, he threw one awful ball that should have been picked off by Washington safety Budda Baker.

And although Deshaun Watson’s had a great season (4,173 yards, 38 TDs), he’s actually been a bit of downgrade since 2015, at times not looking the offensive dream that ripped the Tide to shreds in the 2016 Natty. And you know what’s really gotten worse? His interceptions. He’s thrown 19 INTs (as opposed to 13 in 2015), including 4 picks in the last three games (including two against Ohio State), and the four teams NOT to pick him off in 2016 were mighty South Carolina State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Boston College. And in the ‘monster games’ (Louisville, Florida State and Ohio State), he threw for at least two picks in each game. The good thing for him is that he had a defense to bail him out. If he screws up like this against Alabama, arguably you see one go back for a pick six, and Alabama’s offense probably ending costing the Tigers.

But as runner, Watson is still electric – he’s run for 581 yards and 8 TDs this year – but that’s nearly half of the season before. Was that ACC defenses adjusting or was that simply that he wanted to prep himself for the NFL as more of a pocket passer? We haven’t a clue.

3. Alabama’s running backs should show

Alabama’s running back coupling of Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough (as well as Hurts too) are downright scary. Scarborough’s averaging 6.6 per carry and has scored 9 TDs, while Harris has gone over the 1,000 yard mark himself. Scarborough’s been big in the last three games of the  year, rushing for a nasty 90 yards, 91 yards and 180 yards against Auburn, Florida and Washington – all three of them very reputable rushing defenses who couldn’t deal with a man mountain hammering into them. We think Scarborough gets more of the ball than Harris against Clemson. Clemson gave up 123.1 yards per game in the regular season, and the way they reduced Ohio State to just 88 rushing yards will certaintly give them confidence. But Hurts will be a worry for Clemson – they gave up 273 yards on the ground to Lemar Jackson of Louisville, and we think Hurts – with the offensive line he has – could have over 100 yards on Monday.

On Clemson’s side, it would be foolish to run at Alabama, but Wayne Gallman will try it. Gallman had 85 yards against Ohio State and 82 against Florida State, but Alabama’s a whole other beast. This could be his worst day of the year (OK, he might outdo his 36 against Pittsburgh but still).

4. Alabama’s corners and safeties had better be ready for Clemson’s receivers.

As much as has been made of Alabama’s knack of grabbing INTs, with Minkah Fitzpatrick leading the way with 6, arguably they are going to face a different beast than they’ve faced all season long – especially with a better quarterback than they’ve faced all season long – in Clemson. Mike Williams is 6-4 and has 10 TDs, Deoin Cain is 6-2 and is fast, Hunter Renfrow has great hands, and 6-5 TE Jordan Leggett’s got great hands,  as a tight end, too (although we think Leggett will spend most of his time trying to stop Watson getting killed). You can expect Watson to go long on Fitzpatrick & Co to see if he can get an advantage early on, and push him back, leaving room for Leggett and Renfro to (maybe) give Alabama problems. That said, Alabama’s linebackers have great hands, too.

5. So who’s going to win? 

Alabama will stay perfect and win by 10. But it’ll be close until midway through the fourth quarter, when Alabama will pull away.

 

Roll Tide Rolling: Week 5 SEC Rankings

What sickens us to the stomach is that we’re nearly at the HALF-WAY POINT of the College Football season, which is basically the worst thing that’s happened in 2016 since the last crappy thing that happened in 2016.

Anyway, this week, the greatest thing that happened was Georgia beating Tennessee by a Hail Mary then getting a Dobbs-Nailed Boot to the nuts via another Hail Mary, aided by dumb playcalling and stupid penalties. What a game. Elsewhere, LSU looked damned good in utterly destroying Missouri, Alabama looked good for 2.5 quarters against Kentucky, and neither Florida or Vanderbilt looked good in their game. Texas A&M is also unbeaten but it looked pretty lacklustre against South Carolina, and the Ole Miss-Memphis game was a lot of fun.

So here are your SEC rankings:

  1. Alabama (5-0): Because they seem unstoppable defensively, and when the offense clicks, it’s unstoppable as well. Mind you, they haven’t played a decent defense yet this year, have they? (Seriously, we don’t rate Ole Miss as a ‘decent defense’ anymore).
  2. Texas A&M (5-0): Great wide receivers, and an exceptional defense. Can’t wait to see The Battle Of The SEC’s Best Wide Receivers when the Aggies play Tennnesee on Saturday. College Gameday’s going to be at College Station too.
  3. Tennessee (5-0): That was a hell of a finish in Athens. This Vols team never gives up. But get this: Tennessee is still a team that seems to be only capable of playing when it’s double-digit scores down. Everyone will tell you it’s the ‘Miracle Vols’ – and maybe it is – but against Texas A&M and Alabama, their exercise of going down double digits before waking up might prove to be a problem.
  4. Ole Miss (3-2): Because the Rebels are a lot of fun to watch, and although they nearly blew a comfortable lead against Memphis, they didn’t, and The Elvis Cup was theirs. We need to have this game every year, by the way. Gosh it’s a lot of fun.
  5. Arkansas (4-1): After the loss against Texas A&M it’s hard for me to say that this team is really that good, and a win over Alcorn State is not going to change my mind about how great this Razorbacks team is. It’s really not that good. A win over Alabama would, though!
  6. LSU (3-2): 634 yards of offense. Derius Guise is a FREAK. Darrel Williams is a FREAK. More than made up for Danny Etling trying to get itself killed. LSU had energy – even if the roar from Death Valley was the one at Clemson rather than the one at Baton Rouge this Saturday night (the place wasn’t full). But still, LSU suddenly looks a scarier prospect for Florida than it did 2 weeks’ ago.
  7. Florida (4-1): I’M SORRY, LSU VS AUBURN….THE FLORIDA VS VANDERBILT IS NOW THE WORST GAME OF THE YEAR.
  8. Georgia (2-3): Georgia’s Hail Mary was a thing of beauty by Jacob Eason. The dumb penalties, the awful playcalling on the Dawgs’ own goalline and the missed tackles were a thing of first-year coaches by Kirby Smart. You hope. Mark Richt’s still unbeaten at Miami, by the way.
  9. Auburn (3-2): Smashed Louisiana-Monroe like they were meant to do. Defense again looked good, and the offense looked good against a crappy opponent. Still one of the weakest teams in the SEC West, though.
  10. Mississippi State (2-2): Had an off week. They were able to tell people how good Dak Prescott is and how they discovered him. This was a good week for the Bell Boys.
  11. Missouri (2-3): The last time I saw Mizzou get this owned was at the SEC Championship Game against Alabama a couple of seasons ago. Mizzou fans at the game didn’t seem to care…..they were too drunk. I hope that that was the case for the fans in Death Valley this weekend. I really do.
  12. Kentucky (2-3): Put up a good defensive performance for 1-1/2 quarters against Alabama before getting run all over. If Kentucky had an offensive line, they might have worried the Crimson Tide. But it didn’t, so it didn’t. UK still beat South Carolina though (that’s why it’s 12th).
  13. South Carolina (2-3): Brave, battling performance against A&M, but consistently snuffed by the Aggie defense (you’ll hear that a lot this year). Will Muschamp’s ‘D’ played pretty well, too. But they still lost to Kentucky.
  14. Vanderbilt (2-3): THE FLORIDA VS VANDERBILT WAS THE WORST GAME OF THE YEAR….AND THEY LOST IT.

 

Quick SEC Preview: The Games To Watch

There are going to be fantastic games this SEC season. Here are the top games to watch between SEC teams or involving SEC teams. Sorry, but Alabama vs USC or LSU vs Wisconsin aren’t going to be up there….

TOP NON-CONFERENCE GAMES

  1. Ole Miss vs Florida State — September 5th – Yep. That’s Monday Night Football. It’s going to be hot, humid, and the chance to see if Ole Miss can spring a surprise. There’s also a bingo to see how much ABC/ESPN say the words: “Sanctions”.
  2. Virginia Tech vs Tennessee — September 10th — Because college football in one of the best NASCAR tracks in front of 160,000 drunk people on the border of Tennessee and Virginia Tech (where Bristol, TN is situated) means just one word: FUN.
  3. Florida vs Florida State — November 26th – Because Florida could trainwreck Florida State’s chances of going to the College Football Play-Off. And maybe – just maybe – stamp their own credentials, too (if they beat Tennessee, Georgia and LSU in SEC play).
  4. Arkansas vs TCU — September 10th – Can Arkansas spring a surprise on a team that’ll be missing Treyvon Boykin?
  5. Clemson at Auburn – September 3rd – Two lightning-quick offenses with Clemson recovering from the loss of a lot of talent to the NFL in what will be an amped-up environment? Yes, we’ll take a bit of that.
  6. UCLA at Texas A&M – September 3rd – Josh Rosen (future NFL first rounder) vs Myles Garrett (Definite future NFL first rounder). We can’t wait. College Station will be noisy.
  7. LSU vs Wisconsin – September 3rd – Because both sides make liver damage seem cool.
  8. Alabama vs USC – September 3rd – It’s low on our list because we don’t think it’ll be an exciting game (Alabama will run riot, probably), but as a match-up of two college football bluebloods….YES! We hate the fact it’s in JerryWorld, though.
  9. UNC vs Georgia – September 3rd – A chance to see Jacob Eason and Kirby Smart’s first game. Don’t screw this one up, Kirby.
  10. Arkansas State vs Auburn – September 10th – Jacksonville State should have beaten Auburn last season. So why not Arkansas State this year?

TOP SEC GAMES

  1. Alabama at LSU — November 5th — This basically decides the SEC West and maybe a spot in the College Football Play-Off. Both seasons are probably going to go into this one unbeaten, which could make it a phenomenal game to watch. Gary Danielson will be at this game, so he’s sure to be annoying.
  2. Alabama at Tennessee – October 15th – Everyone feels that this is Tennessee’s best chance of turning over the Crimson Tide. Especially at Neyland Stadium, where the atmosphere will be cooking and most probably College Gameday will be on campus.
  3. Georgia at Ole Miss – September 24th – You don’t get to see these two play that often (the last time was in 2012), and the scene in Oxford will be awesome. Especially if both teams are unbeaten.
  4. LSU at Florida – October 8th – The biggest test for LSU’s play-off credentials will come in the evil known as The Swamp. It should be fun.
  5. Florida at Tennessee – September 24th – The Gators OWN the Vols, who haven’t beaten them since Philip Fulmer was in charge. This is the chance for UT to break the curse.
  6. Texas A&M vs Arkansas – September 24th – EVERY GAME BETWEEN THESE TWO ARE NUTS.
  7. Alabama vs Ole Miss – September 17th – It couldn’t happen again, could it?
  8. Tennessee vs Georgia – October 1st – UGA will be looking for revenge after last year, and this could be THE SEC East showdown.
  9. Florida vs Georgia – October 29th – This could be the case that the winner goes to Atlanta.
  10. LSU at Texas A&M  – November 24th – We can see the scenario: Les Miles is unbeaten, going into 5-6 Texas A&M and a tidy 14 point favourite. The win? LSU goes to Atlanta, and probably the Play-Off. He loses? The season ends. And….
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