We were thinking about doing an article in the shower about the best records in the SEC over the last five years, but they’ve already been nicely covered by everyone from Gridiron Now to Saturday Down South.

You’ll be astonished to hear that Alabama’s got the best home record in the last five years, and the crappiest home record is Kentucky’s.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to you to find out that after the 2016 season happened, every single SEC team in the last 5 years has winning records in the comfort of their own homes (Kentucky was the last to get to black but did so after going 5-2 last year). Last year’s two worst home records were Georgia’s and Mississippi State’s at 3-3, and Georgia’s could easily have been 2-4 if you count how badly they played against Nicholls State (mind you, UGA fans would deride Tennessee’s Hail Mary victory as a fluke, but there we go).

So with that in mind, it’s quite difficult to work out what the worst losses teams experienced at home, so we’re going for ANY in the last five years….

Alabama: We’re trying to work out what was more stunning: The Texas A&M game where Johnny Manziel ran Nick Saban’s team ragged in 2012, or Ole Miss‘s win in Tuscaloosa for the first time in 25 years. We’ll take (deep breath), the Texas A&M game….

Arkansas: When No.8 in 2012, the Razorbacks lost at home to Louisiana-Monroe. The fans are still blaming Bobby Petrino’s extra-vehicular activities for the mess that was 2012.

Auburn:  The 28-10 loss to unranked Mississippi State helped to signal the start of the end for one Gene Chizik. It was about then that Auburn fans realised that their team really wasn’t going to be very good. Chizik was fired in November, and brought in a guy called Gus Malzahn. That worked out OK…

Florida: Losing 26-20 at home to mighty Georgia Southern in 2013 saw Gators chomped.

Georgia: In 2013, Georgia went to Vanderbilt ranked as the No.15 in the country. They lost 31-27.

Kentucky: Kentucky has been amazing at struggling against non-big conference teams, with back-t0-back losses to Western Kentucky at the end of the Joker Phillips era and the start of the Mark Stoops won, but our favourite might well be 2016’s 44-35 home loss to Southern Miss….who ended 4-4 in the Conference USA.

LSU: The No.9 Tigers had won three straight against Arkansas and were probably looking forward to their 2015 encounter with the Razorbacks, particularly as they’d been thrashed 17-0 in the game previous in 2014. However, the Tigers bombed out, losing 34-17. This only heaped the pressure on Les Miles, who wouldn’t survive the 2016 season.

Missouri: The 31-27 home loss to Indiana as a No.18-ranked team in 2014 seems like a huge result at first, but then getting 51 dropped on you by Middle Tennessee State in 2016 was even worse.  Right? RIGHT?

Ole Miss: The Mid-South rivalry game between Memphis and Ole Miss wasn’t much of a rivalry between the two teams, with Memphis losing the six games in a row. It seemed obvious that No.13 Ole Miss would deal with the Tigers in 2015. They didn’t, losing 37-24.

Mississippi State: The score of South Alabama 21, Mississippi State 20 opened up the 2016 season. Not great for the SEC, and certainly not great for the Bulldogs, either.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ 23-22 home loss to The Citadel in 2015 won’t be a game that Gamecocks fans will want to be reminded of.

Tennessee: There were a lot of poor losses in the 2012 season, but standing out is the Vols’ 41-18 shellacking by Vanderbilt.

Texas A&M: Auburn had two SEC wins in 2015. One of them was a 26-10 win at Kyle Field against the Aggies. This made Kevin Sumlin’s seat a little hotter. It’s very hot going into the 2017 season, we can tell you.

Vanderbilt: The 37-7 crushing home loss at home to Temple in 2014 was the worst home opening defeat for the program in its entire history. It was hardly an ideal start for new coach Derek Mason, either.

If you feel that there are some games we’ve forgotten about, let us know via Twitter on @secblog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every time people think “Alabama offensive line”, there’s an automatic assumption that because their running backs succeed (and over the years, the success has been nothing short of stunning at college football level), it’s because they are holding the whole time and don’t get called for it.

Hell, we even remember being in LSU’s student section for the 2012 loss to the Crimson Tide, and every time Alabama made an offensive move, someone would scream: “Holding! Holding! Holding!”. Apparently, everyone but the Crimson Tide gets called for grabbing, and it’s all Nick Saban’s fault.

But after talking to our friends at Sport Source Analytics, we realised that this wasn’t exactly true.

Over the last two years, the teams that have gotten off the lightest for holding are in fact SEC East teams, with Florida leading the way, followed by their arch-rival Tennessee. South Carolina, Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas A&M are behind them. THEN, it’s the SEC’s mighty trio of LSU, Alabama and Auburn, with Georgia, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Mississippi State after them.

The most sinful team on the list is Kentucky, according to the stats.

Check out the table from least to most:

  1. Florida
  2. Tennessee
  3. South Carolina
  4. Missouri
  5. Ole Miss
  6. Texas A&M
  7. LSU
  8. Alabama
  9. Auburn
  10. Georgia
  11. Vanderbilt
  12. Arkansas
  13. Mississippi State
  14. Kentucky

 

 

 

 

QBs in the SEC: Who’s in the best shape for 2017?

LSU always seems to have a quarterback problem, it’s been argued that Florida hasn’t had a good one since Tebow, and Georgia hasn’t won the SEC despite having good quarterbacks, while Alabama has won a lot of SEC titles without having any quarterbacks that you’d say are NFL-worthy. So for 2017, which SEC team is in the best shape at quarterback? And who is struggling? Clue: It’s probably not a team from Baton Rouge.

  1. Mississippi State: Nick Fitzgerald did wonders at Mississippi State last year. He led the SEC in total yards in 2016, throwing for over 2,400 yards and 21 TDs (and no interceptions) and rushing for nearly 1,400 yards and 16 TDs. He also beat Ole Miss, which pretty much makes him God in Starkville. There are worries because he didn’t have a sharp Spring Game, but it’s a Spring Game. Mississippi State’s in fine fettle at that position. Whether he’ll have the contributors he needs now Fred Ross he needs to give him the good stats is another thing altogether.

2. Auburn: After playing one Spring Game for Auburn, there was already Heisman hype around Jarrett Stidham on the plains. Some have even compared him to Drew Brees. Managing to get Stidham – who was already familiar with a high-octane offense by playing for Baylor in 2015 – to come play for you was a masterstroke by Malzahn and company. Stidham is a fantastic dual-threatt QB who’s going to cause defenses a lot of problems.

3. Alabama: Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Nick Saban keeps on getting hold of freshmen who are so good that that sophomore who had an insane season is suddenly worrying about his job. We see with Jalen Hurts – who had an incredible freshman year – in a sudden quarterback battle with Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa – a five star from Hawaii – had a brilliant Spring Game which got the tongues about Hurts’ job stability. And next season? There will probably be someone else to scare the crap out of these two.

4. Georgia: With Jacob Eason, the Bulldogs have an entrenched starting quarterback. His problem might well be the same that haunted him last year – the offensive line. But for pure stability – and a cannon for an arm – the Dawgs are going to be juuuuust fine.

5. Arkansas: We quite like the shape the Razorbacks are in at this position. Allen’s got a cannon, and threw for 3,450 yards, 25 TDs and 15 INTs last year. His problem will be the offensive line, which got him sacked THIRTY FOUR times last year. But if that improves, the Razorbacks have one of the best weapons in scrimmage around.

6. Missouri: Drew Lock’s going to start at quarterback for the Tigers, and he’s got the arm to be a star. If his receivers (we see you, J’Mon Moore) could actually catch the ball, then he could put up some immense stats and lead the Tigers forward.

7. Kentucky: Drew Barker vs Stephen Johnson is an interesting QB battle. Barker was the 2016 starter before he hurt his back, and then Johnson took the team over and led the team to seven wins – including a win over hated rivals Louisville. There is hope in Big Blue Nation. Although Mark Stoops has been uncommittal about the QB battle, it’s Johnson’s team, and UK is in a good position.

8. Vanderbilt: Kyle Shurmur will start. He had 2,400 yards passing, although he threw more INTs (10) than TDs (9). He progressed nicely through the last few weeks of the season, throwing for 221, 252, 273 and 416 yards in his last four games of the year. The 416 came against Tennessee’s defense (just in case you were thinking it was against a ‘nobody’. Vandy should be in pretty good shape here.

9. Ole Miss: Shea Patterson was given a lot of love when he walked into The Grove, and during his first year he threw for nearly 900 yards with 6 TDs and 3 INTs. And the opposition (Texas A&M, Vandy and MSU) wasn’t terrible either. The problem won’t be about Patterson’s skills, but more if the team plays with confidence after the trouble that the school is going to be in with the NCAA. And we’d argue that’s going to be a lot.

10. South Carolina: A lot of people were excited about Jake Bentley, who came in mid-way through the season and threw for 1,420 yards and 9 TDs (and 3 INTs). His strong Spring Game got Gamecocks fans drooling (if they weren’t already bearing in mind they had a Final Four game to watch that day).

11. Florida: The QB battle between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask is certainly an interesting one, although both aren’t particularly well-known quantities. Luke Del Rio’s coming back from a shoulder injury, and could compete for the job. While some are excited about Florida if the QBs prove capable, we still don’t know a massive amount about them. They should be helped by a nasty defense, though.

12. Texas A&M: Jake Hubenak, Kellen Mond, and Nick Starkel didn’t exactly stand out at A&M’s Spring Game, but Starkel was given the most love because of how he stood in the pocket – and that his receivers dropped passes. The good news for Aggie Nation is that the running game looks very solid indeed.

13. Tennessee: Former Josh Dobbs back-up Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are fighting it out for the Vols QB position, but I’m not convinced about either of them. Sorry, Vols fans.

14. LSU: This is how bad the LSU QB competition is. Ed Orgeron – normally Mr Exuberant and Mr Confident in these situations – told the press: “No-one has earned the starting spot…. Most of the spring, [starter for most of 2016] Danny [Etling] has been there. Nobody has taken him over. But tonight, underneath the pressure, the guys didn’t perform the way we wanted to. They’ll have to show me who can perform under pressure and be the LSU quarterback.” Normally when the guy who ended last year as the starter is safe and hasn’t transferred or been arrested (ie doesn’t go to Oklahoma), he’s your man to be the starter for 2017. Not so for Louisiana State University. In the Spring Game, Justin McMillan passed only three times and Lindsay Scott didn’t pass once. And Etling was horrible. These could be bad, bad times for the Purple and Gold and trying to get a QB into Baton Rouge.

Nick Saban signs extension but raises questions

Nick Saban has signed a contract extension this year that will pay him $11.1 million in 2017 as part of an eight-year deal that will pay the coach a total of $65 million – and that’s before bonuses that could pay him another $700,000 per year until 2024.

Also seeing their salaries bumped are new AD Greg Byrne (who only took the job in June), as well as his assistants, led by co-defensive co-ordinator Tosh Lupoi, who will earn $950,000, while new offensive co-ordinator Brian Dobell has re-signed until January 2020 in a $1.2 million salary deal.

Record

Saban’s record at Alabama is stunning – 119-19 over the last 10 years, with four of those years leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.

During his tenure at Alabama Saban has not been immune from the loss of co-ordinators, who have gone on to varying successes. Former OC Jim McElwain is the head coach of Florida, former DC Kirby Smart is the head coach of Georgia and most recently, OC Lane Kiffin in the head coach of Florida Atlantic University, while offensive line coach and recruiter supreme Mario Cristobal is now the co-offensive co-ordinator at Oregon.

The deal is great for Saban, his family, for Alabama fans still worrying he might leave for Texas, and of course, his agent Jimmy Sexton, who should be pocketing a tidy amount for the negotiation.

Alabama and other schools

In the time that Saban has been in charge of Alabama, the school has made more than $100m from football – which is absolutely stunning. And football’s success and the subsequent financial income has meant good news for the other non-revenue-making sports ‘on the Alabama roster’, which are being kept afloat by the thousands of fans buying tickets, shirts, hats and probably pets called ‘Crimson’ just for bathing in the light of the pigskin.

Oh, and rival schools – whether they like to say it or not – probably love Saban’s success, because every time the Crimson Tide come to town there is more fanfare than a Royal Wedding in Britain, leading to higher TV exposure. The SEC certainly loves Alabama’s success – Saban’s made the conference look better. ESPN and CBS have enjoyed the Crimson Tide for viewing figure purposes, and those charming people on the secondary market who concentrate on Tuscaloosa games are probably driving Mercs.

But what about the students?

The biggest annoyance we have with a deal like this for Saban is that Alabama players over the years of Saban’s multi-million dollar success have been paid exactly $0. Of course, there are stipends (and we suspect under-the-table ‘players’ donations’ given by boosters (it being the SEC), but that’s nothing if you consider what Alabama has made in terms of sports revenue.

Of course, the likes of Paul Finebaum and many Alabama fans will argue that Saban’s contract is worth it, and we’d agree – if you are thinking about the price paid by the university itself. There are a ton of players who have profited from Saban’s teaching, too. Especially the 22 first round picks who played for Saban in Tuscaloosa (65 in total have gone pro).

But there are a ton of players who have played for Saban and have come out with exactly nothing, while their coach has reaped the financial rewards.

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t seem right.

 

Why can’t Lane Kiffin get a head coaching job?

This year the rumors were hotter than ever that Lane Kiffin would get a prized coaching job. And even hotter that they would be in Houston, following Tom Herman’s decision to go to Texas to be the new head coach.

It looked a slam-dunk. The good people at USA Today reported so. And then suddenly, there was a U-Turn in the Houston ranks, who instead decided on former UH offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to be the head coach.

The school’s logic? Houston’s board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta (great name, by the way sir) called into a radio station and said: ‘”Lane Kiffin did not show me anything that Major Applewhite did not show me. Sure, he’s been a head coach, and he’s been an OK head coach. But I can tell you this: It was not a safe hire.”

OK, so what did he mean by safe hire?

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about really being an ‘OK head coach’?  At Tennessee he moved the Vols from a 5-7 record to a 7-6 record, but his mouthing-off about Alabama and Florida didn’t help him when lost to them. And there seemed to be a bunch of hope. So when he left for SC, Kiffin was actually better than most people believe at USC – particularly after the postseason bans and loss of scholarship players in the 2010 season that dropped his would-be 85 scholarship players to just 71….and he came with an 8-5 record. The next season – with another bowl ban – USC had a 10-2 record. In 2012, he showed a lot of self-confidence — even voting the Trojans to No.1 in a preseason poll….and finished with an 8-5 record. In 2013, the most famous move for him was being fired at LAX after starting the season with a 4-7 record. And as an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too. But there is this fact: In two out of three of his head coaching jobs, Kiffin has been fired. And both of them have been unceremonious. Houston probably couldn’t face a controversy like that again.

….But he’s proved to be excellent offensive coordinator… As an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about loyalty? The University of Houston probably looked at Kiffin’s one-stop ‘drop’ of Tennessee (and the way he did it) and thought to themselves: ‘As soon as ‘bigger job’ comes up, he’ll walk. And we don’t want to be seen as a ‘feeder school’ to big-time programs.

But remember this… Kiffin was fired at the Oakland Raiders. And he was fired at the Trojans. He didn’t leave them.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his mouth and actions? OK, so here’s the problem that Houston probably thought about Lane Kiffin. While every time you’ve seen Kiffin on the sidelines next to Nick Saban, Saban’s been the one giving out the abuse (Kiffin’s taken it…much to my admiration, if I’m honest). But that hasn’t always been the case. He was called a ‘flat-out liar’ by Oakland’s ownership in 2008 because the rumors were floating about his considering college football roles…and then he denied it. That probably didn’t score any points with the Houston guys. Then, there was his arrival in Tennessee, when not only did he say in an overly-confident arrival that he would beat Florida and Alabama (he didn’t), but a few weeks after said that Urban Meyer – then the Florida coach – of cheating and NCAA violations. That probably didn’t go down well. Then he was rude about other SEC competitors.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his actions? And speaking of actions, there have been a bunch of accusations  – that we won’t print – about Lane Kiffin’s off-the-field behavior that certain boards of regents might be unhappy with. But then again, Major Applewhite didn’t exactly do himself any favors in that department, either.

So how will it play out? We don’t know. Kiffin’s obviously an offensive genius but he’s got the hirers really, really worried about his mouth, his history with ownership, leadership, and SEC and NCAA administrators when a head coach. Nick Saban has openly supported Lane Kiffin finding a head coaching job, and has said that he’s ‘ready again’ to take the job. That’s an excellent reference if you ask us. Florida Atlantic are said to be going for Kiffin, but the talks have stalled. How does this blog think things will go? Kiffin will stay for another year as OC of Alabama. And God Help Us All. 

Who’s going to win the SEC Championship Game (and others)?

Hey guys, if you believe the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Florida’s going to be close, then you’re either a really, really overly-confident Florida fan, or a Florida fan who’s taken a lot of LSD.

Alabama will win, and Alabama will probably win big.

They won’t win so big – in the way that they destroyed Florida last year – and Missouri the year before – because Florida has some sort of defense that maybe will keep Hurts from putting on the hurt (see what we did there?) for the first quarter-and-a-half.

If there are Alabama fans who insist to you (because it’s ‘important to be humble’) that it could be close because of all the injuries the team has, I want to throw this out there:

How is it that every time there’s been a difficult injury to Alabama, they’ve generally managed to rebound in time for a big game, and then play the game of their lives? I can think of star safety Eddie Jackson. Bo Scarborough suffered an injury against Chatanooga that had people pretty scared, until he ran over people against Auburn. Guys, when Nick Saban’s warning the media that the team’s got some injuries and how’s it’s a modern miracle that the team has come this far, please don’t know he’s taking the media for a spin. Or he’s talking B.S., if you want to put it like that. He’s trying to seem humble, when he really knows that Alabama should beat the living crap out of this Florida team.

And we think they will do.

PREDICTION: Alabama 45, Florida 6. 

Here are some other games that might interest you:

  • Clemson vs Virginia Tech: We hate the fact that the game was moved to Orlando from Charlotte. Not because of the principles of the political matter, but because it was moved to frickin’ Charlotte. Why couldn’t have the game have been moved to Tennessee or Jacksonville or someone else? Orlando’s a shitty place for both sides to get to. Anyway, about the game. Virginia Tech has done well against teams it has no business doing well again, and it’s punished teams that have made mistakes (we see you, Notre Dame). The problem with Virginia Tech is that they turn over the ball too much – and this will be against a Clemson team who WILL punish teams for doing so. The offense is finding its mojo again, but the opposition will be far more superior to what they’ve faced the last two weeks. PREDICTION: Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 21.
  • Wisconsin vs Penn State: We were talking to a buddy of ours who writes for Penn State’s 24-7 website, and he says that the best battle of the day will be Penn State’s lightning receivers against Wisconsin’s DBs. My argument would be whether Penn State’s offensive line can give Saquon Barkley (check out the highlights, people – he’s awesome! (He was offered by Ohio State, Notre Dame and Missouri (amongst others)), and whether Barkley is fit. Also, whether Wisconsin’s offensive line can be troubled by Penn State’s defenses. Both defenses can brawl. This will be low-scoring. PREDICTION: Wisconsin 20, Penn State 10. 
  • Washington vs Colorado: We wish the game was played on January 2nd, because the smell in the parking lot would have been AWESOME. Joking apart, we expect Washington to win pretty comfortably  I know, I know, everybody would love to see the Buffs win (including ESPN’s Chris Fowler), but I just can’t see it. PREDICTION: Washington 45, Colorado 10. 
  • Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma: A de facto Big XII Championship Game between two sides who are pretty fun to watch. It’s called ‘Bedlam’, because it’s an awesome name for a rivalry. It’s been close over the last five years (OU leads 3-2), but Oklahoma has absolutely owned Oklahoma State, leading Bedlam in not particularly Bedlam-esque fashion, 85-18-7. What was pointed out by SB Nation’s ‘Shutdown Fullcast’ is that the reason why it should be a lot of fun is that both sides will be looking to win and impress the Play-Off Committee, so you can expect a high-scoring game. Although they also noted the Big XII’s chances of making it TO the play-off has gone by the wayside – particularly with the conference’s dismal OOC record. PREDICTION: Oklahoma 55, Oklahoma State 45. 

Who’s going to win the Iron Bowl? And other Rivalry Week predictions

It’s THAT weekend again, which means that either you are going to have drunken yourself into a stupor by the time Rivalry Weekend comes around, or most of your Thursday-or-Friday-or-Saturday will be spent either talking crap at tailgates or talking crap while being stuck in traffic.

A couple of weekends ago it was set to be a tremendous Iron Bowl, and then Auburn went and lost to a crappy Georgia team, while the SEC East looked really interesting. Now, Florida can afford to get thumped by Florida State and have the excuse: “We were resting folks for the SEC Championship Game” (where they’ll get shellacked anyway). Still, almost every game involving a SEC team should be interesting this week -which is more than can be said for Week 12. You know, apart from the Vanderbilt game. HOLY CRAP DID ANY OF YOU SEE VANDY BEAT OLE MISS LIKE THAT?

So here we go…..(in order of day)

THURSDAY

LSU vs Texas A&M

This is a battle for the two of the biggest let-downs of the season. LSU let us down from the moment they lost to Wisconsin, while Texas A&M had a great start to the season, and then lost handily to mighty Mississippi State. This will probably be the last game we say goodbye to Leonard Fournette and Myles Garrett, so the match-up will be worth watching when you get bored of the ad break that is the NFL. LSU’s a road favorite in Kyle Field  – but after watching their awful offensive performance against an undermanned Florida we have one question: Why?

PREDICTION: LSU’s a 6-1/2 point favorite. We’re taking Texas A&M to win outright. 

FRIDAY

Arkansas vs Missouri

The great thing about this game is that (probably) not a lot of people will be watching it, so the CBS guys can pretty much talk about the Iron Bowl. The most interesting thing to come out of Missouri this week is that the NCAA is investigating the school for academic fraud – which should fit it in nicely with a lot of other SEC schools. Joking apart,  Missouri fans will be wanting this game – and their seasons – over with bearing in mind the defense’s failures and the news that livewire running back Damarea Crockett had been arrested for pot and banned for this game, which will give the crowd in Columbia even less reason to be excited. Arkansas, on the other hand, ain’t great either.

PREDICTION: The Crockett loss will be huge for Missouri. Arkansas is favored by 8. We predict they’ll beat that nicely.

SATURDAY 

  1. No.13 Auburn at No.1 Alabama (3.30pm) 

Nick Saban wasn’t too pleased about how Alabama played against Tennessee-Chatanooga, and for very good reason….the Crimson Tide was awful. But does this mean that the No.1 team in the nation – who has been imperious all season long – will underestimate their hated rival? No. Auburn’s definitely improved on both sides of the ball as the season has gone on, but they really need Shaun White to come back from injury to get the team going again. Jeremy Johnson was able against Alabama A&M, but then again Gus Malzahn himself could have thrown for a couple of TDs bearing in mind the opposition. As for Alabama, this is a pretty beaten up team, but they’ll be fine come Iron Bowl. They always are!

PREDICTION: Alabama’s a 17 point home favorite. We think they win by 3 touchdowns. 

2. South Carolina at No.2 Clemson (7.30 pm) 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked whether he planned to rest players for South Carolina game prior to the ACC Championship Game in Orlando. He looked the reporter in the eye and said: ‘You’re obviously not from South Carolina‘. Funnily enough, Dabo’s not either…..he’s from Birmingham, Alabama (but that’s another point entirely). ANYWAY, with all that said and done, he’s gonna have a damned fired up Clemson team to face South Carolina in the other Death Valley. If Clemson play as well as they are capable of (and don’t take their foot off the gas) they’ll win this easily.

PREDICTION: Clemson’s a 23-1/2 point favorite. We think Clemson wins by 24. But it’ll be one of the most interesting games of the day from a betting point-of-view, we can tell you.

3. Kentucky at No.11 Louisville

The Governor’s Cup game is high on the list because of Lamar Jackson – and no other real reason. If Jackson puts up a ton of points and touchdowns, then it’ll be difficult not to put him in the Top Three for New York, if not the No.1. Not because Kentucky’s incredible, but it’s because it will cap an incredible season. After Louisville’s O-Line was mauled all night long by future NFLer Ed Oliver and the Louisville defensive line, it’ll be interesting to see if Kentucky can get the same sort of pressure.

PREDICTION: The bookies don’t seem to think so, with Louisville at 25-point favorite. I’ll take Louisville to win, but by 14 in a game that’s close until the final quarter.

4. No.13 Florida at No.14 Florida State (8pm)

After their stunning victory at LSU despite the Tigers living in their red-zone, Florida will be really excited to go into Tallahassee to play their ultra-hated rival. The Gators have the annoying ‘Gator Chomp, while the Seminoles have the annoying ‘Tomahawk Chop’ (or whatever they call it). Florida hasn’t beaten FSU since 2012 and has only won once in the last six years, and this doesn’t look an opportune time to change.

PREDICTION: Florida State’s a 7 game favorite. We’ll take FSU by 10 or more.

5. Georgia Tech at Georgia (12pm) 

The Georgia – Georgia Tech game’s got one of the best names for a rivalry around: “Clean, Ole Fashioned Hate”. Georgia will be looking for revenge after the last time Tech went to Georgia and won at Sanford in overtime 30-24. The great things for the neutral is that the last three games have been very close (2015 was decided by 6, 2014 and 2013 went to overtime and double overtime respectively). This year, it’ll be intriguing to see how both sides rev themselves us for a rivalry where pride is TRULY on the line, bearing in mind both sides are 7-4 and out of contention in their conferences. Seriously, this one’s all about record. Won’t stop the fans liking each other any less, though.

PREDICTION: Georgia’s a 4-point favorite. We’ll take Georgia in the ‘over’. 

6. Mississippi State at Ole Miss (3.30 pm) 

The Egg Bowl has been christened by some cruel people ‘The Rotten Egg Bowl’ bearing in mind how bad the football has been in The Magnolia State this year. Of course, for every close (loss) Ole Miss has had (and there have been another) there has been getting beaten by three touchdowns by Vanderbilt. For every win over Texas A&M that Mississippi State has stunned the world with, there’s been a South Alabama, and a Kentucky. Listen, we still think Nick Fitzgerald’s a great quarterback and Shea Patterson’s a lot of fun to watch, but the rest of this game could be one for the bourbon. Just to get you through it.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is an 8-point favorite. We’ll take Ole Miss by a field goal in an under-the-radar awful-come-classic. 

 

Er, this is a terrible SEC line-up of games: Week 12 Predictions

I love the SEC as much as anybody, but I hate it when the schools decide that the weekend before Thanksgiving is going to be THE WEEKEND to play garbage.

I know, I know. The protector of such massive games such as Alabama A&M’s visit to Auburn will beg you to look at what nearly happened to Auburn against Jacksonville State last year, or what DID happen to Mississippi State against South Alabama. Or what happened to Arkansas against Toledo last year. ‘Hey, Alabama once got beaten by UAB’, another fan will tell us.

The fact is this: Alabama ain’t gonna get beaten by Chattanooga, Austin Peay ain’t gonna conquer Kentucky, Western Carolina probably won’t stop South Carolina, and we don’t see UTSA beating Texas A&M. The only that’s possibly interesting is Louisiana Lafayette’s game against Georgia – and that’s because UGA was so goddawful against Nicholls State. Sorry about the spreads this week, folks. They ain’t worth the effort. Rather like watching the games themselves (if Georgia loses to ULL in a ‘blackout’ game it will be funny, though)….

So here are the SEC games that are on offer. And it’s hardly run-to-the-TV to watch these, either (outside of LSU vs Florida). Once again, we order them in terms of interestingness….

  1. No.23 Florida vs No.16 LSU

By now, you understand the background to this game: It was meant to be played much earlier in the year in Gainseville (where it probably would have meant a hell of a lot more), but Hurricane Matthew stopped that happening. Anyway, LSU has been greatly improved since Les Miles’ departure, losing one game only, that was to Alabama. Florida’s defense has a lot of NFL-good players on it, but it’s beaten up at the moment, while Leonard Fournette and Darius Guise are looking to continue as one of the best 1-2 punches in college football.

PREDICTION: LSU’s a 14-1/2 point favorite. We’ll take LSU by 14 as the SEC East continues its slide against the SEC West. 

2. Missouri at No. 19 Tennessee 

A lot of people – even the excellent Missouri podcast ‘The Mizzodcast’ doesn’t see a lot of hope in the Tigers winning in the Neyland Stadium, but they sure think it would be funny. They are also a lot happier than they were a week ago after Mizzou finally got its first SEC win in quite a while by defeating Vanderbilt. They’ll be hoping they play the same inconsistent Tennessee team that’s been driving its fans crazy all season long. At times, we’ve seen flashes from the Volunteers that’s made us think ‘play-offs’, and at times we’ve seen flashes from the Vols that’s made us think ‘mediocre’. Well, they are pretty mediocre, but mediocre could still get them a spot in the SEC Championship Game, where they’ll probably lose by 900 to Alabama.

PREDICTION: Tennessee’s a 16-1/2 point favorite and we think the Vols walk this one, winning by 3 touchdowns. Although if there’s money on Missouri being within 3 at half-time….take it. 

3. Arkansas at Mississippi State

Arkansas has been one of the most fun-yet-infuriating teams to watch this season. They’ve looked golden against tough defenses like Florida, yet fell to pieces against LSU’s run. Mississippi State, on the other hand, have looked like crap most of the season….until they blew out Texas A&M in one of the season’s most ununderstandable results. I actually like MSU’s Nick Fitzgerald a lot as a quarterback, but I’m unsure about the rest of the team.

PREDICTION: Mississippi State’s a 1-1/2 point favorite. This could be one of the most secretly entertaining games of the week. We’re taking Arkansas by a field goal. 

4. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Everyone’s fallen in love with Shea Patterson. Including us. Maybe not Texas A&M fans.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is a 10-point favorite against a tough defense. We’re taking Ole Miss to win by 21 with Shea Patterson doing even more Johnny Manziel stuff.

Who’s the worst team in the SEC? (Hint: They play in the East)

The race for the bottom of the SEC was a really difficult race, made a lot harder to work out after the frankly illogical Mississippi State victory over Texas A&M, a win that should have been celebrated by the fanbase violently clanging bells on the field. We were shocked the field at Davis-Wade Stadium wasn’t invaded after the felling of the mighty Aggies, but there we go.

But it also made us think: Who in the heck is the worst team in the SEC? So here’s our countdown from 1-14. You can probably guess No. 14. Roll Tide.

  1. Missouri (0-5 SEC, 2-7 total) – Hasn’t won a game and while they looked competitive against South Carolina, this is a bad, bad team – especially on the defense. The fanbase seems to hate new DC DeMontie Cross and the decision to recalibrate the defense, and the offense is riddled with mistakes.
  2. Vanderbilt (1-4, 4-5) – The defense is definitely doing some good things, but the offense is still terrible.
  3. South Carolina (3-4, 5-4) – Back-to-back SEC victories is suddenly exciting a fanbase about the Will Muschamp hire. We’re still not excited about the Gamecocks for 2016, although Muschamp’s 2017 class – considering how good he is a recruiter – could be something to watch.
  4. Mississippi State (2-3, 4-5) – The win over Texas A&M boosted them up the table, but you still think that things would have been different had Trevor Knight and Myles Garrett not been injured during the game.
  5. Kentucky (4-3, 5-4) – Gave Georgia the fright of its life and it’s a lot of fun to watch the Wildcats on offense. Defensively, they are a shambles.
  6. Georgia (3-4, 5-4) – Georgia’s medicore. That’s all there is to really say (They beat UNC, South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and should have beaten Tennessee, but were slaughtered about Florida, and lost to Vanderbilt and things will probably be really ugly against Auburn)
  7. Ole Miss (1-4, 4-5) – Chad Kelly’s injury ain’t going to make things a lot easier. Defensively again this has been a trouble.
  8. Florida (4-2, 6-2) – Boatraced on the road at Arkansas. The offense hasn’t clicked for most of the season. We will see how the Gators do down the stretch against LSU and FSU. This could get nasty.
  9. Tennessee (2-3, 6-3) – The only saving grace for Tennessee this season has been the win over Florida and the taking Texas A&M to double overtime despite the injury horror show. How much they’ve rebounded from the other horror show – the debacle at South Carolina – remains to be seen. They also haven’t managed to play a 100% good game this year. Butch Jones for Coach Of The Year? Nope.
  10. Arkansas (2-3, 6-3) – The excellent performance against Florida seems to indicate things going in the right direction, although whether this is a minor blip for Bielema remains to be seen what with LSU.
  11. LSU (3-2, 5-3) – The loss at home to Alabama showed us the importance of Les Miles actually recruiting a good QB, which he failed to do every since Zach Mettenberger.
  12. Texas A&M (4-2, 7-2) – This MSU loss was a bad day at the office. With the loss of Trevor Knight for the year and Myles Garrett’s injury really not 100%, we’ll see how bad this day at the office gets.
  13. Auburn (5-1, 7-2) – Hot Seat what? Gus Malzahn for Governor!
  14. Alabama (6-0, 9-0) – Nick Saban 2020. Just saying.

(A Very Fast) Week 10 SEC Preview

After the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, this blogger feels like he’s been writing, drinking and tweeting all week long, so apologies if this SEC Week 10 preview is shorter than usual.

So in order for you to read this (quickly), here’s a line on what we think will happen in each of the SEC games this week, which is – as usual – in order of importance.

  1. No.1 Alabama at No. 13 LSU — Alabama will do the same as they did last year and block off Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guise, and force LSU to throw. LSU’s QB Danny Etling really isn’t very good. Sure, LSU’s ‘D’ athletic enough to keep this close, but we still think Alabama wins this by 10. It’ll definitely be fun in Baton Rouge though!
  2. No.4 Texas A&M at Mississippi State – This is only this high because Texas A&M’s in the College Football Play-Off, and suddenly everyone will be watching for this game to be a potential pigskin. Don’t worry Aggies fans….it won’t. Texas A&M by 28, and Dan Mullen’s seat gets hotter.
  3. No.11 Florida at Arkansas  – This is the first part of the CBS doubleheader, so if you hate Verne and Gary, the 3.30’s the one to watch. But if you don’t want to watch an ugly game, we’d advise staying away. Florida will probably win by 6 in a lackluster game, and edge ever closer to another visit to Atlanta.
  4. Georgia at Kentucky – Kentucky’s still in with a shout of the SEC East. Georgia is not. If Georgia loses to UK for the first time since 2009, the cries of Dawgs yelling: “Did we pick the right coach?” will get ever louder. We think Georgia will win this won by 7 in probably the second-most entertaining game of the week. Pity it’s on the same time as LSU vs Alabama. Not even the Kentucky and Georgia fans wanted that to be the case…
  5. Missouri vs South Carolina – Two weeks’ ago, this would have been a battle for the SEC’s worst teams, but Misssissippi State and Missouri are claiming the spots for their very own- particularly after USC upset Tennessee last week. This game is going to be incredibly poor in standard. South Carolina to win by 10. Maybe 13-3. 
  6. Vanderbilt at No.9 Auburn – We’ve got this lower than a number of other games because we think a born-again Auburn’s going to win this in a hurry. Tigers by 28. 
  7. Georgia Southern vs Ole Miss – Ole Miss destroys their second Georgia-based team of the season by 40.
  8. Tennessee Tech vs Tennessee – Tennessee hosts their 2-5 rivals. I didn’t know they were called the Golden Eagles, or were called Cookeville, TN home. I do know that Neyland Stadium’s probably going to be 2/3 full – if that – for this one, and the Vols should win by 48.
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