Mississippi State hires Joe Moorhead to be new head coach

Mississippi State has hired Penn State’s offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to be the school’s new head coach, after Dan Mullen left for Florida a few days ago.

Moorhead was an exceptional OC for Penn State, helping the school win the Big Ten Championship as well as a 10-2 season with an explosive, high-paced offense that starred QB Tracy McSorley and more’s the case, RB Saquon Barkley. He’s well-known for a run-pass-option offense, and it produces points. A ton of them. Penn State averaged 453 yards per game and 6.6 yards per play. He was 5th in the country for TDs, and 5th in the country for points per game with 41.6 – up from 37.6 last year.

While Penn State fans are going to mourn Moorhead’s loss, it was hardly surprising. After all, Moorhead came to Happy Valley from a head coaching job at mighty Fordham, and with Penn State’s explosive offense the way it was, it was only going to be a matter of time before he left.

Mississippi State should be just the place for Moorhead. He’s not a big name coach like others in the SEC. Mississippi State is constantly expected not to be particularly competitive in the SEC West – apart from the must-win which is the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. He has a QB in Nick Fitzgerald (if he stays), and very good running back in Aeris Williams (if the stays). And Dan Mullen set the program to keep rolling – although with his move to Florida he probably will take a number of his staff – including DC Todd Grantham, receivers coach Billy Gozales and offensive line coach John Hevesy. Apparently, Moorhead’s appealing to DC Todd Grantham to stay, but that seems unlikely, bearing in mind the size of the Florida job and the fact that Gainseville is in a SEC recruiting heartland.

Moorhead’s SEC line-up isn’t easy, with road trips to Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss and home games against Arkansas, Auburn and Texas A&M. There’s also a non-division home game against Florida, and a non-conference road trip to Kansas State.

Dan Mullen is going to Florida

After failing to land Chip Kelly, Florida went for their second option: Mississippi State head coach (and former Florida offensive coordinator) Dan Mullen.

Mullen will take over from Jim McElwain, who was fired after the Gators were stomped by Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party earlier this season. The Gators will not make a bowl this year, finishing 4-7 overall (their Northern Colorado game had to be cancelled due to Hurricane Irma).

Florida fans will be praying that Mullen – who is considered somewhat of a quarterbacks guru after his excellence with Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald in Starkville – will be able to recruit some quarterbacking excellence. At the moment, Felipe Franks is not making the grade, and the Malik Zaire transfer from Notre Dame has been an absolute disaster for the Gators.

Mullen, who was with the Gators when they won two National Championships under Urban Meyer, had been at Mississippi State for nine years and took them out of the world of SEC obscurity that they had occupied when Sylvester Croom was the head coach.

Under Mullen’s guidance, Mississippi State only had only two losing seasons, went 5-2 in bowl games, and went 69-46 overall. However, it must be noted that Mullen’s SEC record with the Bulldogs wasn’t great. In fact, he only managed one winning record in the SEC (2014, when the Bulldogs went 6-2), and his overall conference record was 33-39.

It is ironic that Mullen should leave just a few months after he was given a four-year contract extension. He was one of the highest-paid coaches in the SEC, earning $4.5 million per season. He should probably expect a lot more with the Gators.

What will irritate some Mississippi State fans (as well as this writer), is that it wasn’t exactly surprising that Mullen was going to leave. In fact, you could go as far as saying that Mullen used his relationships with the Mississippi State top brass to get his extensions and expand his pocket. According to reports, Mullen already tried his luck to return to the State of Florida in 2015, interviewing for the Miami job. Mark Richt beat him to the spot there.

 

Bret Bielema is out at Arkansas

Bret Bielema is out at Arkansas after five years at the helm.

‘Bert’, as he’s ‘affectionately’ known by social media, was fired after the Razorbacks were beaten 48-45 in a thriller at home to Missouri, leaving the school with a 4-8 record. This is the second coach that has been fired this season after a loss to the Tigers – the first was Tennessee’s Butch Jones.

Bielema was fired almost immediately after the game. There were rumors that he had been fired as he walked off the field, but Arkansas pointed out that they hadn’t been that cruel – it was ‘actually in the coach’s office by the visitor’s locker room’, ESPN stated.

Bielema was quick to protect himself, telling the press that six out of his Top 10 players were available to play a ‘significant’ time for the Razorbacks, and he also admitted that that team didn’t have the depth of SEC West competitors. He also noted that in the five years that he’s been at the helm, he had the toughest schedule in the SEC.  Arkansas finished 1-7 in the SEC this year, with their lone win coming over Ole Miss this season in what was ironically one of the most exciting games of the conference’s fairly-moribund season.

Bielema’s SEC record was outright terrible, with a 10-24 SEC record, and a 27-29 overall record that included some embarrassing losses, particularly to Toledo. His only positive win percentage with the Hogs was bowl games (2-1).

There were some good wins during Bielema’s time, including shut-outs of ranked opponents LSU and Ole Miss in 2014, and a bowl trouncing of former hated rival Texas in the Texas Bowl in 2014.

But they weren’t enough to paper over the cracks of what was a disappointing reign for a state employee that was being paid $4.1 million by the school as well as having a contract buyout of $5.1 million.

OUR TAKE

If we’re honest, the fact that Arkansas finished bottom of the SEC West behind an Ole Miss team (who it ironically beat!) that had the shadow of NCAA sanctions floating over them and an interim coach, their second straight losing SEC record, and the fact that in Bielema’s time, they couldn’t beat their SEC West rivals very much (they had a 0-5 record against massive rival Texas A&M, which included THREE overtime games in four years, was 0-5 against Alabama, 1-4 against Auburn, 1-4 against Mississippi State and 2-3 against LSU. The only SEC West team Bielema ended having a winning record against was Ole Miss, with a 4-1 record). We all knew (pretty much) that the writing was on the wall for Bielema when Arkansas fired its head coach Jeff Long earlier this year.

Previewing The Iron Bowl and every other #RivalryWeek game in the SEC

Because it gives me a chance to ignore the extended family and watch football for three days, I love Rivalry Weekend. It starts with the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night, and then moves through like a hurricane until the regular season (sniff! Sniff!) winds up at the end of Saturday.

This rivalry week for the SEC looks pretty damned special. There’s an Iron Bowl at Auburn, with Alabama visiting. We’ll hear the words ‘Kick Six’ mentioned a lot, and Harvey Updyke’s name may crop up ever so often. The story that’ll probably get missed this week is about Rodney Alexander, an Alabama fan who shot an Auburn fan this week over an Iron Bowl disagreement. That almost puts Updyke and Smoking Lady to shame.

There’s also ‘Good Ole Fashioned Hate’ as Georgia goes to Georgia Tech, The Egg Bowl which sees Ole Miss and Mississippi State (regardless of what people think, they really hate each other down there), and Florida versus Florida State, which is actually going to be one of the worst games of the year (Chip Kelly or no Chip Kelly). There’s Louisville vs Kentucky in the Bluegrass Bowl, where we see LeSean Jackson play. LSU hosts Texas A&M as the ‘replacement game’ for the Aggies’ traditional Texas game (that got called off when they went to the SEC, which in my mind is still the biggest load of B.S. since the Longhorn Network) for what could be Kevin Sumlin’s goodbye, and surging Missouri goes to Arkansas is what could be Bret Bielema’s last, too. Arkansas fans are praying so.

Oh, and there’s the terrible, terrible games of Tennessee playing Vanderbilt, which pits two 0-7 SEC teams, and Florida State going to Florida. All four teams suck so much that trying to work out the best one is a law unto itself.

So here are the games in order of interest for this writer:

  1. Alabama (-4) at Auburn: There is going to be some atmosphere in Jordan-Hare – especially with the SEC West division and a potential play-off trip on the line. We should see both sides beat the living crap out of each other on the lines, but I still think Calvin Ridley can cause Auburn’s secondary more damage than Auburn’s receivers can do to Mykah Fitzpatrick and friends. PREDICTION: Alabama by 7.
  2. Georgia (-11) at Georgia Tech: A lot of people keep telling us how Georgia Tech’s slow play will stop them getting beaten into a pulp by UGA, but my argument is is that UGA’s fast play – thanks to its electric running backs and fast, fast defense – may rack up the points before Tech can even stop them. PREDICTION: Georgia by 14.
  3. Missouri (-9.5) at Arkansas: The ‘Bert Bowl’ is really interesting, because it could be Bielema and Jen’s last game. Then Wisconsin fans will scream ‘karma’. Missouri is an offensive juggernaut at the moment, but will it last against an Arkansas team who have been fighting quite a lot recently for its coach? PREDICTION: Arkansas by 3 in an upset. But carrying Bielema off the pitch would be the biggest feat by this Arkansas team.
  4. Texas A&M at LSU (-10): Another game in which we could say goodbye to another coach, the Aggies travel to LSU. Again, a sneaky pick for one of the funner games of the week, Kevin Sumlin – who is rumoured to be leaving College Station very soon indeed – has to jack up his Aggies in a game that they have never won. Ed Orgeron’s team also has a knack of playing down to its opponents. PREDICTION: No major celebrations here. LSU by 10.
  5. Clemson (-13.5) at South Carolina: If Jake Bentley can keep away from throwing INTS (the last time he played vaguely competent defenses he threw five of them), then this could be a classic. Clemson, with all their firepower, still aren’t the same team that won the National Championship last year. A Clemson loss would make an OK season for South Carolina all the sweeter, because it would knock the Tigers out of Play-Off contention for good. PREDICTION: Clemson by 10 in a battle.
  6. Louisville (-10) at Kentucky: This is more about saying goodbye to one of college football’s greatest players (Lemar Jackson). If Kentucky defends him badly, he’ll have a field day. But then again, Louisville’s ‘D’ is nothing to write home about, and Kentucky could well exploit it –especially in front of a partisan Commonwealth Stadium crowed. Oh, and there’s Bobby Petrino’s return to the SEC. Apparently, his time at Arkansas was a bit of a [motorcycle] wreck. PREDICTION: Louisville by 7 in a high-scoring thriller.
  7. Ole Miss at Mississippi State (-14.5): The rumors are circling about Dan Mullen leaving. By the end of Sunday, he could have a choice (Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas). But right now he’ll have to concentrate on the Ole Miss game with Mr UT-CHATTANOOGA Nick Fitzgerald. Ole Miss can score points, too. This Egg Bowl will be very fun indeed. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 10 – although it’s close going into the 4th
  8. Florida State (-5) vs Florida: I remember when this used to be a HUGE, HUGE GAME. Now, it’s a match-up between two of the worst teams in the State of Florida. Maybe Chip Kelly will spice up the rivalry next year – especially if Jimbo Fisher moves to Texas A&M, where he’s rumoured to be going after this year’s massive failure. PREDICTION: Florida State by 3 in a close, entertaining game.
  9. Tennessee (-1) at Vanderbilt: It’ll be like watching ‘America’s best sports crashes’. Seriously. Here at the SEC Football Blog we’ll wait around for the final score for this one…and we pity any fans actually going. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 10. That’s how bad Vanderbilt is.

The SEC Rankings after Crap Saturday don’t change very much

The best thing about Crap Saturday is that that weekend ends all the weekends of crap games, and it’s one week before our favorite long weekend of the year: Rivalry Week.

But we’ll get onto Rivalry Week tomorrow, once we’ve basked in the glory of last Saturday’s incredible SEC schedule, which saw zero upsets, one close, fun game and….er…. (in other non-SEC news) Baker Mayfield grabbed his crotch at some Kansans, and then wrote his usual apology.

So here’s your SEC rankings from 1-14.

  1. Alabama: Heroically beat Mercer to preserve unbeaten season. Games like the Mercer vs Alabama is why we love SEC Football.
  2. Auburn: Struggled early against Louisiana-Monroe, but eventually hit the gear they were looking for. They could have done with an easier tune-up before the Iron Bowl.
  3. Georgia: The Dawgs absolutely dominated Kentucky. We already can’t wait to the SEC Championship Game.
  4. Mississippi State: One week they play like they play like Champions, the next week they struggle against Arkansas. That’s why they dropped a beat. We still don’t understand Dan Mullen’s great mystery of a team. But it’s fun.
  5. LSU: Beat Tennessee in horrific conditions in which we saw goalposts nearly fall down, an Ed Orgeron interview for the ages, and Noah building an ark.
  6. Texas A&M: Won a thriller in Oxford where first-half defense was so bad we thought it was going to be a Pac-12 game. Sadly, both sides managed to play some defense in the second half, and the Aggies won 31-24. Still, it was a fun game.
  7. Missouri: The Tigers continued their surge by crushing Vanderbilt on the road. They are now bowl-eligible. After the Purdue game, that seemed unthinkable. Will Drew Lock go after this junior year? Probably….but it’s inadvisable.
  8. Ole Miss: We’re looking forward to the Egg Bowl a hell of a lot more than we did when the Rebels lost at Cal a month or two ago.
  9. South Carolina: Beat Wofford. But we’ll say this – if the Gamecocks played Kentucky right now, they’d probably beat them.
  10. Kentucky: Housed by Georgia. But the Cats are bowl-eligible, and that’s fine for Stoops & Co.
  11. Arkansas: Actually played pretty well against Mississippi State. You have to wonder what might have happened if their QBs hadn’t either been injured or suspended.
  12. Florida: The Gators actually ruined my weekend, because they beat UAB and we love Bill Clark so much that we wanted a fairytale ending to what’s been a glorious season. It’s not that we hate Florida, it’s just that we love UAB. Because UAB’s amazing.
  13. Tennessee: Battled the elements against LSU, but they were closed down by an excellent defense.
  14. Vanderbilt: Eeew. The Commodores are so damned bad at the moment that I’m taking Tennessee in the game this week.

Crap Saturday: Previewing the worst weekend in the SEC season

Some rude SEC hater (@SECexposed) called this weekend of the college football season #chickenshitSaturday, and when I looked at the SEC schedule, I had to agree. If there are any Alabama fans getting excited over the chance of watching the Crimson Tide eviscerate Mercer, then you probably need to get out more. But please don’t poison trees or smoke in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both will get you in trouble and be the butt of jokes here, there and everywhere.

Anyway, back to this Saturday. We’re christening it ‘Crap Saturday’, because the schedule’s a load of crap.

The biggest game is….is…. LSU’s visit to coach-less Tennesseee? Missouri’s bid for getting into an unlikely bowl against Vanderbilt, who still don’t have a SEC win? Texas A&M’s trip to Ole Miss….where both teams have given up on their season? Kentucky vs Georgia, which is expected to be less spectacle and more slaughter? Frankly, we’re repping UAB’s trip to The Swamp this weekend.

So here are your weekend’s most interesting games. We’re not going to bother with Alabama hosting Mercer, Auburn hosting UL-Monroe and South Carolina-Wofford because there’s going to be nothing close about any of those games. We’d be surprised if Vegas is going to let anyone bet on these either.

OK, so here we go…

  1. UAB at Florida (-10.5): Bill Clark has done more of a miracle with that UAB team that any well-pocketed SEC head coach has done with their team. Remember this about UAB: Certain parts of University of Alabama governing board wanted to wipe the school off the face of the earth. Well, they are back, and UAB is a magical 7-3. We know about Florida and the fact that it’s been a nightmare. What else do you want us to say? Florida’s a 10.5 point favourite in this one. PREDICTION: Florida by 14. UAB keeps it interesting until the fourth quarter. 
  2. LSU (-15.5) at Tennessee: There were great parties in Knoxville when news came through that Butch Jones had been fired at Tennessee. And then Jones added to his delightful resume by walking off with $8 million and immediately started calling recruits to tell them to go find somewhere else to play. Anyway, LSU comes into town to play a team led by Brady Hoke – himself a bit of a disaster when it came to head-coaching (Michigan, cough! cough!) – who’s now the interim head coach after spending time being the defensive line coach (yeah, that defensive line that gave up 400 yards to Missouri on Saturday). LSU isn’t on fire (they didn’t play well against Arkansas until mid-way through the second quarter of the game), but they’ll have too much for the Vols. PREDICTION: LSU by 21
  3. Mississippi State (-12) at Arkansas: The pre-end-of-season bloodbath in the SEC may continue in Fayetteville this weekend as Bret Bielema hosts a Mississippi State who must feel more than a little aggrieved to have lost their game against Alabama. Not only did they lose to some terrible coaching calls, but they also lost to some terrible refereeing ones, too. Now, against Arkansas, which keeps losing games because they are flat-out terrible, they should have no problem. The problem for MSU will be how motivated they will be after a soul-destroying loss. PREDICTION: MSU by 10. 
  4. Kentucky at Georgia (-21.5): If Georgia catches the throws they are meant to catch and come out more disciplined than they were against Kentucky, then Kentucky’s going to get run over. Georgia should play angry – because they are still in a shout for a College Football Play-Off place. And with Alabama and Auburn playing joke opponents on Saturday, this is their chance to get noticed…for good reasons. PREDICTION: Georgia by 35. Most of the fourth quarter we will have to listen to Nessler and Danielson prattle on about why the Dawgs didn’t play like this against Auburn.
  5. Texas A&M at Ole Miss (-3): This may well the most fun game of the day, which both teams prepared to put up the points. Maybe that’s why Vegas is giving an O/U of 69.5. Of course, both quarterbacks will now let themselves down and the only highlight will be Christian Kirk running for his usual touchdown, and Texas A&M getting out with 10-3 victory where half of Oxford has left to go back to the tailgate. But if Nick Starkel and Jordan Ta’amu shine – as well as WR gods A.J. Brown (Ole Miss) and Kirk – then we could be in for a fine, fun game. We are expecting a lot of points. PREDICTION: Texas A&M wins by 7, but the O/U is well over the 69.5. We can’t wait! 
  6. Missouri (-8.5) at Vanderbilt: Missouri’s flying high after one of booking in back-to-back impressive games against Florida and Tennessee (albeit one without coach, and one barely with one). Drew Lock can throw bombs, and the running backs are looking very, very good. This all bodes well for Vanderbilt, who hasn’t been able to stop anybody since they were run over by Alabama, and were destroyed by Kentucky, who normally plays down to its opponents. This does not bode well for the Commodores. PREDICTION: Missouri by 17 in a high-scorer.

Oh, and congratulations to Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina on your hard-fought victories.

Is LSU really the third best team in the SEC? Week 8 Rankings

LSU suddenly look as though it has something to make its fans excited about. After the Troy disaster, the Tigers have won three straight (Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss), and even Danny Etling does not look as bad as Gary Danielson makes him out to be (some people think Gary Danielson’s better than WE think he is).

But are the Tigers the third best team in the SEC? It’s between them at Texas A&M. A&M was on a bye week, but with LSU’s road victory – albeit an Ole Miss team that is inept at stopping the run, they move up to third. Auburn’s also pretty good, too.

So here you are.

  1. Alabama: Nick Saban will probably be yelling at backup QB Tua Tagovailoa for the next week for throwing a pick-six in the crushing of Tennessee. Hey, let’s be honest, the biggest surprise in college football this year would be if Alabama gets upset. Or if Saban actually calms down.
  2. Georgia: Putting their feet up before the Cocktail Party next week, Georgia doesn’t have a lot of holes in its game either. The win at Notre Dame is suddenly looking better and better, although the Florida and Auburn games would really indicate how good UGA really is.
  3. LSU: Derrius Guice ran for TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX YARDS on Saturday night. That’s right: TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX. Danny Etling’s performance of 9-13, 200 yards and 2 TDs (he ran in for one more) wasn’t terrible either.
  4. Texas A&M: The LSU game on November 25th (basically to see who’s going to be the second-best team in the SEC West) suddenly looks really, really interesting. The November 4th game at home to Auburn may tell us a little bit, too.
  5. Auburn: The destruction of a woeful Arkansas team showed what happens when a team plays for 60 minutes, not takes its foot off the gas after 20. As Auburn fans watching the LSU game would know. After the win Twitter wasn’t filled with cries of “Fire that ****er Malzahn”, as Auburn fans seemed more satisfied. We’re sure that’ll change if they lose to A&M and then Alabama in November!
  6. Florida: The 6th-place is evident for the Gators’ mediocrity. They’d probably be lower if this poll was just based on offenses. The offense – for which Gus Nussmeir should be fired for at season-end – is a steaming pile of crap.
  7. Mississippi State: Crushing Kentucky was hilarious, bearing in mind that everybody thought the Cats were sneaky-good. Nick Fitzgerald may not have been great passing (18-26, 155 yards, 1 TD), but his running game was great (12 carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs). Excuse me while I stand up and applaud.
  8. South Carolina: We GET that Kentucky beat South Carolina. But still, we think that South Carolina would have coped better against Mississippi State than Kentucky did. Plus, Kentucky came back from a week off and still played badly.
  9. Kentucky: To come from a bye week and play this badly deserves a demotion in our rankings. We still think the Cats will be bowl eligible by the end of the season, but this the kind of display that makes you excited. Luckily for them, 3 out of their last 5 games are winnable (the only one that isn’t is a trip to UGA on Nov 18. They play Tennessee next week).
  10. Missouri: Missouri’s destruction of Idaho has given the Tigers a bit of momentum – something that the other 4 teams below them simply don’t have. Another awful performance by their secondary should see them safely ensconced at the bottom again!
  11. Ole Miss: The loss of Shea Patterson against LSU gives Ole Miss offensive problems. The Rebels already have huge defensive problems. It’s a pity Ole Miss and Missouri don’t play each other this season – it could be the most entertaining game of the year, with the over about 750!!
  12. Arkansas: The gray shirts matched the Razorbacks’ performance against Auburn: Miserable. They were given a hiding by the Tigers, and showed no interest in fighting back. With news that his buyout’s $10m less than people first though, Jeff Long will now be under pressure to fire Bret Bielema.
  13. Tennessee: It’s OK, Butch Jones – Every team gets the living crap beaten out of it by Alabama. Butch Jones should be fired at season-end, though.
  14. Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt has to get its running defense better if it’s going to come off the bottom. Before the bye week the team had no momentum at all, and we’re sorry to say were a worse team than Tennessee.

Can Tennessee survive Alabama? Week 8 SEC Predictions

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 mayhem of Week 7, Auburn and Tennessee fans are unhappy

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.

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

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

So here are your power rankings after Week 6:

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