Former Vandy player found guilty of rape

Former Vanderbilt player Corey Batey was found guilty of the aggravated rape of a woman late on Friday night.

Batey had been convicted of the rape – which happened in 2013 – in an initial trial in 2015, but the decision was overturned and he was tried again this year. He was found guilty once again this year, and immediately taken into custody.

His teammate – Brandon Vandenburg – who also had his guilty conviction turned over in 2015 – will be re-tried in June. Two others – Brandon Banks and Tip McKenzie – have all been charged but it is not known when they will be tried, the Tennessean says. All four players were booted from the Vanderbilt team when the charges emerged by then-coach James Franklin.

Batey had been charged on seven counts of aggravated rape, and was found guilty of that as well as ‘lesser’ charges of aggravated sexual battery. We would go into details, but seriously – click on the link. It’s grotesque. Especially when you think that the woman that Batey did it to was unconscious at the time.

Batey’s lawyer, Courtney Teasley blamed the fact that he had been drinking and said that he had no memory of the incident, and then blamed Vandenburg for orchestrating the event, even calling him a “puppet master”. She pleaded leniency to the jury, who ignored her pleas.

Batey could be sentenced for 15-25 years. As could Vandenburg, Banks and McKenzie.

In the first trial, James Franklin – the then-coach at Vandy – testified at the first trial that he had originally told players that he had seen the video, but then – through his attorney – confessed that that was a lie. Franklin is now the head coach at Penn State.

 

Who will the SEC’s bowl games?

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year! We know that bowl season is in full swing, but we’ll be honest…..none of the bowls matter until SEC teams play in them. Here’s why: When the SEC does well everyone talks about SEC bias, SEC strength, and SEC godliness, and when SEC teams do badly, people are quick to jump down our butts and tell us how bad we are (and we’re honest — we were poor as hell as last year).

LSU’s going to kick off the SEC bowl season against Texas Tech, and Alabama – we hope  – will end it in the National Championship Game. Simple.

So here are our previews….

THE BIG ONE (College Football Play-Off Semi-Final @ Cotton Bowl, Dec 31): ALABAMA vs MICHIGAN STATE 

It’s interesting. The 2015 incarnation of the college football play-off has three teams who lost against teams they shouldn’t have done. Alabama lost to Ole Miss at home (special teams killed ’em), Michigan State lost to Nebraska (who won because the refs screwed ’em), and Oklahoma lost to Texas (they were awful). Ohio State will argue that they deserved a spot ahead of any of three teams, but Urban Meyer proved to be utterly indecisive both as a coach trying to work out who the best quarterback was (Nick Saban would have encouraged one of the three quarterbacks to transfer), and as a motivator (Ohio State thought they walked on water all season long, and suffered the consequence against Michigan State, only to rebound by actually playing like everyone thought they might by savaging Michigan at The Big House). So anyway, Michigan State and Alabama are in the game, and it looks like a defensive brawl. Both defenses have been rough to run on all season long. Both offenses have good-if-n0t-great quarterbacks in Jake Coker and Connor Cook, and we don’t know about Cook’s shoulder. It’s in rehab. It could ripped off by A*Shawn Robinson & Co if the MSU offensive line doesn’t do its job….and it didn’t exactly look like Mark Dantonio intended against Iowa. Offensively, Alabama’s got the upper hand because they’ve got a running back in Derrick Henry who could start in the NFL tomorrow (Cleveland could do with a good RB, by the way). He’s averaging a gadzillion yards a game and the only way you can put him down in the latter stages of a game is with an elephant gun. If Michigan State bottles up Henry (or downs him with an elephant gun early), then everything’s going to be on Coker to succeed. Which we would consider a better bet than an injured Cook against that Alabama defense. Alabama’s playing in its second home of the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, by the way.

PREDICTION: Alabama 28, Michigan State 14

And the other games (by game order):

TEXAS BOWL (Dec 29) – LSU vs TEXAS TECH

It’s pretty simple: Expect LSU to use Leonard Fournette a lot against Texas Tech’s almost historically-awful run defense, which was third-worst in the whole of college football. If he doesn’t get 400 yards, Les Miles should be fired on the spot and Cam Cameron won’t get back to Baton Rouge. If LSU’s defense plays well against Kliff Kingsbury’s high-powered offense, the seven-point line – LSU is favored – will be one of the best bets of bowl season.

PREDICTION: LSU 41, Texas Tech 30

BIRMINGHAM BOWL (Dec 30) – AUBURN vs MEMPHIS

One of our favorite songs of all time is Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”. Auburn fans would love to see their team walk over Paxton Lynch and the Memphis Tigers – and it’s easy to see why they might now that Memphis’ coach Justin Fuente has taken his blue suede shoes up to Blacksburg to be Virginia Tech’s coach. However much Fuente will talk about being focussed on this game, his mind will be on Hokieland. But can Auburn stop him? We think it’s still unlikely – although Auburn’s a three-point favorite – unless Gus Malzahn has suddenly found a defense in the close season.

PREDICTION: Memphis 28, Auburn 23

BELK BOWL (Dec 30) – MISSISSIPPI STATE vs NC STATE

NC State really isn’t that good, and we love Dak Prescott. We anticipate Prescott giving a hell of a swansong to the Mississippi State faithful – after the not-so-good swansong against Ole Miss.

PREDICTION: MSU 31, NC State 14

MUSIC CITY BOWL (Dec 30) – TEXAS A&M vs LOUISVILLE

Bobby Petrino’s team had one vaguely good win this season, and that was the comeback-from-the-dead win against Kentucky. Otherwise, it was like watching a drunk frat boy try and convince everybody at the party he was sober, and then falling on his face. Repeatedly. Texas A&M could be accused of being the drunk frat boy too – especially as both their starting quarterbacks have decided to leave the frat house for “other options”, which Aggies fans must be pretty pissed about. The Aggies are going to have changes on their offensive line and at starting quarterback. They’ve also got Christian Kirk, who’s a livewire. On the other end, Louisville’s going to struggle to stop Myles Garrett. Louisville’s favored by 4.5 because of A&M’s QB problem, but we think that’s tough on the Aggies, who we still believe has a very good defense.

PREDICTION: Texas A&M 38, Louisville 20

OUTBACK BOWL (Jan 1) – TENNESSEE vs NORTHWESTERN

Northwestern may have had a great 10-2 year, but the highlight was really made at the start when they stopped Christian McCaffery and Stanford on Game 1. They were considered lucky to have beaten Penn State’s crapshow of an offense, and were beaten soundly by Michigan in what most considered their biggest match-up. Now, they come against a Tennessee side who’s got a ton of momentum after shooting itself in the foot against Florida, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Tennessee’s an eight-point favorite against a stout defense, but can Northwestern really score to keep up with the Vols? We think not.

PREDICTION: Tennessee 28, Northwestern 17

CITRUS BOWL (Jan 1)  – FLORIDA vs MICHIGAN

A lot of Florida fans still have the vomit in their mouths after watching Treon Harris play in the SEC Championship Game. A lot of Michigan fans are still wondering what in the hell happened to them after their team was eviscerated at home to Ohio State. The guy with the weird expression must still be standing in Ann Arbor, crying over the fumbled punt against Michigan State. Or he’s at home, getting prepped for his trip to Florida for the Citrus Bowl, where his team’s a four-point favorite. The reason why it’s four points rather than 10 points is that Vegas loves Florida’s defense, which was exceptional for most of the Alabama game until tiredness took over. Can they get up for Michigan game? We just don’t know. My firm prediction: This will be ugly.

PREDICTION: Michigan 17, Florida 10

SUGAR BOWL (Jan 1) – OLE MISS vs OKLAHOMA STATE

Ole Miss was just a 4th-and-25 from going to the SEC Championship Game, while Oklahoma State was just two good performances from going to the College Football Play-Off (they got spanked in both games). Oh, and Ole Miss has been pretty distracted this week with the news that heralded defensive tackle decided to go professional in weed smoking and skydiving before he decided to professional as a football player. In other words, this sugar ain’t tasting nice for either side. Ole Miss is a seven-point favorite in what should be a very entertaining game.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss 48, Oklahoma State 45

TAXSLAYER BOWL (Jan 2) – GEORGIA vs PENN STATE

If you speak to Georgia and Penn State fans, both fans would have opted for their teams NOT to play in a bowl game at all, put the season to sleep, and start again with new offensive co-ordinators. And for Georgia, a new head coach. There are rumblings amongst the Penn State faithful that James Franklin has been clueless at the helm this season. Both sides came out of 2015 with no banner wins despite having banner match-ups, with Georgia losing decidedly to Florida and Alabama while Penn State played Michigan close but was then thumped by Ohio State and Michigan State. We expect the stadium in Jacksonville to be 3/4 full for this one, that feels more New Year’s hangover than anything else. Georgia’s a 6.5-point favorite.

PREDICTION: Georgia 17, Penn State 10

LIBERTY BOWL (Jan 2) – ARKANSAS vs KANSAS STATE 

I looked at Vegas’ prediction that Arkansas will win by just 13 points, and laughed. Either they haven’t seen Kansas State at all this season, or they think that Bret Bielema will have too much respect for Bill Snyder to put the kind of beating on him that he did to Charlie Strong the year before. The big question: Who does Bret Bielema HAVE any respect for? That’s a slightly more ethereal question than I want to answer at this time of writing, because my biggest question right now is: “Why in the hell has my game prediction for this one gone on for so long?”

PREDICTION: Arkansas 48, Kansas State 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Mason: 2014 Was On Me

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason isn’t shying away from responsibility for Vanderbilt’s awful 2014 season.

“We weren’t a very competitive football team in 2014, and that’s on me. I take full responsibility for that,” he said at the SEC Media Days in Florida today.

“We struggled to find identity,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do in the last eight months is try to right the wrong.”

When asked about pressure, he said: “It’s college football. I’ve been coaching 22 years. So my understanding is that every year I coach on a one-year mentality. That’s a mindset. That’s what you do. You understand exactly what this game is and what you have to do, and it’s about production. We’re going to be a better football team. What that is, I can’t predict wins. But I do know, in terms of being competitive, doing the right things, and creating men that will thrive here in the SEC, I can do that. So I’m not going to be about predictions.”

Vanderbilt went 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC last, but Mason pointed to the fact that the team played 33 freshmen last year. Mason said: “I believe that this football team has had a chance to mature. In that maturity, what you find is experience and the ability to step forward and get ready for a new season or move towards a new season.” He added: “Well, 2014’s got nothing to do with 2015, first of all. I think this football team is a different football team than we had a year ago.”

 

 

 

SEC Preview 2014: New coach, New Vanderbilt?

There’s a new era at Vanderbilt. Derek Mason’s replaced James Franklin as the new head coach, and he arrived at the SEC Media Days looking AWESOME in a bow tie (he won the best-dressed contest by some mile).

But can Mason’s awesomeness translate into a good Vanderbilt team in 2014? 

LAST SEASON

Vanderbilt finished with a 9-4 (4-4 SEC) record, which includes wins over Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. They also managed to lose one of the games of the season on Opening Day against Ole Miss (by damn that was a good game!).

OFF-SEASON

After all the showmanship of head coach James Franklin, you wouldn’t have thought that he was just auctioning for a bigger job. Well, Bill O’Brien left Penn State for Houston….and James Franklin left Vanderbilt for Penn State. And Derek Mason left Stanford (where he was defensive co-ordinator) to be Vanderbilt’s head coach.

The rape case of 2013 (which involved four former Vandy football players) rumbled on, but in 2014, there wasn’t a lot more…you know, if you discount D-Line coach Vavae Tata getting arrested for drunk driving then leaving the scene of an accident. He’s pleaded guilty, and will serve jail time. Players-wise? None. But the Commodores had enough crap in 2013 to last them a lifetime.

RECRUITING

Vanderbilt finished dead-last in the SEC, which doesn’t surprise us bearing in mind the inopportune time of Franklin’s leaving, plus the academic requirements that make the school the most difficult to qualify for in the SEC, but still finished 46th in the country. The signing of four-star DE Nifae Lealao, four-star S Emmanuel Smith, RB Dallas Rivers, S Trent Sherfield, and OT Cole Hardin were the highlights on a class that hardly shone out.

THOUGHTS ON THE VANDERBILT COMMODORES 2014 ROSTER

QB: WHO’S GOING TO START?

Patton Robinette is apparently favored to get the starting job in Nashville, although LSU transfer Stephen Rivers and redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary. What Robinette offers is a dual threat. In his freshman year at Vandy, Robinette rushed for 214 yards (and 7 TDs)..and threw for 642 yards and 4 TDs. Robinette’s biggest issue is going to be accuracy. Let’s not forget he threw for 5 INTs, too, and only had a completion percentage of 52.3%, which isn’t exactly setting the world alight. No wonder Mason’s a bit guarded before naming his starter. We wouldn’t be surprised if Mason has a tandem QB set-up of Robinette and Rivers before he names his true starter later on in the year.

RB/O-LINE: GROUND AND POUND?

Jerron Seymour – who had more than 700 yards and 14 TDs last year – is going to be one of the star attractions of Vandy’s offense, with Brian Kimbrow backing him up now Jonathan Krause has left. It might not be exciting, but it should be functional for Coach Mason, who’s got 83 total career stats coming back for him at offensive line.  Replacing LT Wes Johnson will be sophomore Andrew Jelks (who started 9 times) or senior Andrew Bridges. Center Joe Townsend, Jake Bernstein (LG), and Spencer Pulley (RG) will anchor an experienced interior. Despite its experience, it’s still going to have to improve against the rush – it was the second worst in the SEC is sacks allowed (33).

DEFENSE: CHANGE IN STRATEGY

Things are changing strategy-wise for Vanderbilt’s defense, with Derek Mason – a defensive GURU at Stanford (we say that in CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE HE WAS SO FREAKING GOOD AT HIS JOB THERE), changing from 4-3 to a 3-4. One the defensive line, we’re going to see a lot of DEs Adam Butler and Barron Dixon, and NT Vince Taylor, but it’s all about the linebackers. And they are set at that position, folks. Caleb Azubike and Kyle Woestmann are both converted DEs and cause some trouble for O-Lines, as are talented juniors Darreon Herring and Jake Sealand will guard the interior. Ja’karri Thomas will provide excellent back-up. In other words, Vanderbilt’s loaded at linebacker.

Secondary-wise,  Oren Burks is going to be playing safety instead of linebacker (we think he probably realised how deep the team was at LB) and Andrew Williamson will form your safety pairing – and new arrival Emmanuel Smith could also start if he impresses Mason. Sophomore CBs Paris Head, Torren McGaster and Darius Sims will all battle it over the CB positions.

SCHEDULE: UP AND DOWN

Aug: 30 – TEMPLE OWLS
Sept. 6 – OLE MISS
Sept. 13 – UMASS
Sept. 20 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Sept. 27 – at Kentucky
Oct. 4 – at Georgia
Oct. 11 – CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Oct. 25 – at Missouri
Nov. 1 – OLD DOMINION
Nov. 8 – FLORIDA
Nov. 22 – at Mississippi State
Nov. 29 – TENNESSEE

We’re convinced about Derek Mason and his coaching smarts, and we’re convinced that the better Vandy’s defense looks, the more players will want to come play for him in Nashville (you know, those that are smart enough, anyway). We still think that they’ll split the first four games of their season, beating Temple and UMASS but losing to Carolina and Ole Miss. We then predict they’ll win on the road at Kentucky, lose at Georgia, beat Charleston Southern, lose to Missouri (sorry, but not a great secondary facing Maty Mauk spells trouble), beat Old Dominion, lose to Florida, Mississippi State and finally lose at home to Tennesee. Why? This team’s going to be great against the rush, but it’s going to struggle against the pass. And the offense really isn’t going to set the world alight. Sorry ‘Dores, but it’s going to be a 5-7 season (1-7 SEC).

Vanderbilt replaces Tata with Utah State assistant

Vanderbilt has snagged Utah State’s defensive line coach Frank Maile, the Salt Lake Tribune has reported.

The Tribune noted: “In the last two years alone, five of his linemen earned all conference honors: Al Lapuaho, Connor Williams, Jordan Nielsen, A.J. Patiali’i and B.J. Larsen.

The paper noted that Maile was well-known for his in-state recruiting, and especially his recruiting of Polynesian recruits. That could be some asset for new coach Derek Mason’s team if Maile continues that vein of form.

Maile replaces Vavae Tata, who arrested for DUI earlier this month.

 

 

Vanderbilt suspends assistant coach

Vanderbilt has suspended defensive line coach Vavae Tata indefinitely after he was arrested for DUI, the Tennessean is reporting.

According to the report, Tata was charged for being off his tatas on Saturday night, blowing a .18 on his breathalyzer test, more than twice legal blood-alcohol limit of .08%, according to an affidavit released by Davidson County. Which was quite good going, if you think about it.

It’s not Tata’s first brush with the law: He was arrested for DUI in 1997 and convicted in 2000.

Vandy, which underwent a new coaching regime with former Stanford defensive co-ordinator Derek Mason after James Franklin went to Penn State, had a relatively successful signing day.

And Vanderbilt’s also no stranger to brushes with the law – some of its former students are still in the middle of a rape case.

After the Franklin carnage, Vanderbilt rebounds on Signing Day

Former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin left at the wrong time. His departure in January to Penn State led to a number of de-commitments, and worries that Vanderbilt would not be able to fill their numbers.

Defensive co-ordinator Derek Mason, from Stanford (which is better than Vandy in terms of academics, but would still be twinned with them in terms of academics-before-athletics institutions), came to town.

And although he had a slow start, the speed that Vandy recruited in the last few days before National Signing Day would have made Nick Saban or Les Miles happy….and they picked up a monster DE recruit from under Stanford’s nose in Nifae Lealao.

He also added 4-star DB Emmanuel Smith, who had offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee, but stayed loyal to the Commodores despite the madness going on.

On the offensive side, he added RB Dallas Rivers – who had been offered by Tennessee and Louisville (amongst others) and QB Wade Freebeck.

Mason ended up with 22 LOIs – and none of them early enrolees. Saturday Down South remarked: “This is a great salvage job for a class that was down to 7 just days after James Franklin left for Penn State.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

 

Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin to go to Penn State – reports

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin is going to leave the SEC and be the next coach of Penn State, according to reports.

Franklin, who had been head coach in Nashville since 2011, took the Commodores to an unprecedented two straight bowl games, going 2-0. They beat Houston 41-24 in their last one only last week.

But Vanderbilt has denied the rumors. “Until I hear otherwise, he (James Franklin) is Vanderbilt’s football coach,” said Vandy AD David Williams to Jeff Lockridge at the Tennessean, who tweeted this out.

Penn State site Fight On State said Franklin had signed a contract, but the deal had yet to be approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees.

BOTTOM LINE: Franklin’s enthusiasm for the Vanderbilt program had the team energized – including a famous get-together with Georgia Defensive co-ordinator Todd Grantham after the team’s narrow home loss to the Bulldogs in 2011.Vanderbilt was 6-7 in 2011, and then had back-to-back 9-4 years. His running back Zac Stacy, who played for him in 2011 and 2012, put up 973 yards and 7 TDs in his rookie season for the St Louis Rams.In this appearance on an ESPN National Championship preview show in Pasadena, Franklin didn’t answer whether he was planning to leave Vanderbilt, although after turnaround at Vanderbilt, he was a hot property.

Not only was he interviewed by Penn State, but he was also interviewed by the Washington Redskins, who today opted by Jay Gruden.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s Going To Win The Iron Bowl? SEC ‘Rivalry Week’ Predictions

If you hadn’t noticed, this week in the SEC has its fair share of antagonism.

And we love it. On all three days of the Thanksgiving Holiday. And you know what? We’re thankful for it!

We love Alabama fans screwing with Auburn fans, and vice-versa. With both proving equally touchy.

We love Ole Miss and Mississippi State fans screwing with each other. With both proving equally touchy.

We love South Carolina and Clemson fans screwing with each other. Or more’s the case, Steve Spurrier screwing with Dabo Swinney, and Swinney desperately trying to rise above it. Which he’s failing to do.

We love Florida and Florida State screwing with each other, with Florida students, despite their school’s record, thanking God that they don’t have to go to the ‘SECOND SCHOOL IN THE STATE’

And Georgia fans just call Georgia Tech fans nerds. You know, as the Georgia Tech fans are whizzing past ’em in their Ferraris.

The SEC itself is trying to create a ‘new rivalry’ between LSU and Arkansas (‘The Battle For The Golden Boot’ has been played (deep voice) every year since 1996 but one of the more interesting games may be in Lexington, KY where Kentucky entertain Tennessee. Kentucky still needs a SEC win. 

Oh, and if it’s interesting (and cold) you want, go to Columbia…..Missouri, where it’ll be a balmy 44.6 F for the Texas A&M players (colder at night) where Missouri has to win its game against Texas A&M to go to the SEC Championship Game.

And while you were sleeping, there’s the battle of the rich schools when Vanderbilt go to play Wake Forest. They won’t be extending this to 2014, because it’s not a rivalry game anymore (The SEC wants a ‘Tennessee rivalry game between Vandy and Tennessee’ next year).

After that short introduction….

THURSDAY

OLE MISS AT MISSISSIPPI STATE

After the beating that was put on them last time the two teams played each other as well as the resurgence of Ole Miss, Mississippi State must be feeling a little like little sister at the moment. And despite beating Arkansas last week to gain its second SEC victory of the year, Mississippi State simply HAS to beat its hated inter-state rival to claim bowl eligibility. Ole Miss is already there at 7-4, but they were completely outclassed at home to Missouri last week. Both sides will be looking forward to this one in an atmosphere that’s going to be very, very loud. If you don’t like cowbells, do not watch this game. You’ll get a headache.

BOTTOM LINE: Ole Miss by a touchdown in an unexpectedly great SEC game.

FRIDAY

ARKANSAS AT LSU

Congratulations to LSU fans who finally saw their team play 60 minutes of football this season after a fantastically complete victory over Texas A&M. Sure, the Tigers benefited from the fact that that powers-that-be-in the Aggies co-ordination team didn’t want to run the ball at them, but they harassed Johnny Manziel into his worst night of his season, and maybe wrestled the Heisman Trophy away from him. On the other side of the ball, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham STILL look like the best wide receiving duo in the nation, and Zach Mettenberger looks like a NFL QB. We expect them to prosper against Arkansas – even though early on, Razorbacks running back Alex Collins is going to cause them some problems.

BOTTOM LINE: Vegas’ 24.5 prediction a little high for our liking. We’ll take LSU to win, but only by 21. So in other words, less than the spread.

SATURDAY

ALABAMA AT AUBURN

Here’s one thing for certain: It sure is going to be LOUD in Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend. LOUD because it’s Alabama/Auburn, and LOUD because if Auburn wins, it goes to the SEC Championship Game. Mind, if Alabama wins, the Crimson Tide go to the SEC Championship Game. No pressure, then. Can Nick Marshall and Auburn’s fast-paced offense catch ‘Bama cold? Can Bama’s relentless rushing attack and the Best Quarterback Ever (AJ McCarron) secure victory? These questions – and more- will be answered on Saturday afternoon.

BOTTOM LINE: Alabama’s a 10.5-point favorite with Vegas. We’re going for Alabama by 14. But it’s going to be close until the final couple of Alabama drives.

TEXAS A&M AT MISSOURI

We talked a lot about Johnny Football coming to Baton Rouge last weekend, but he was outschemed by LSU’s defensive co-ordinator, John Chavis. Let’s not think for one moment (he says, putting on his Khan voice in ‘Star Wars’) that Dave Steckel hasn’t look at the tapes (repeatedly) and is thinking up something similar for Johnny. That means that Kevin Sumlin’s going to have to use the rush game better, and trust in everyone else offensively – not just No.2. On the other side of the ball, the Texas A&M ‘D’, which struggled to stop Jeremy Hill last week, is going to have similar problems with Henry Josey, and Mizzou’s big receiver L’Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham are going to cause A&M’s secondary a handful, too.

BOTTOM LINE: Missouri’s a 4.5-point favorite. We love Missouri to beat the spread and win by at least a touchdown. A&M’s got the firepower, but it ain’t got the stop-power.

CLEMSON AT SOUTH CAROLINA

One of the games of the week that’s making us incredibly indecisive, for a number of reasons. Connor Shaw (USC) can’t stop winning games for the ‘Cocks. Mike Davis is a hell of a running back – and we all saw what good running backs did to Clemson’s defense. But on the other side of the ball, it’s been difficult to deal with Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and a host of other Tigers firepower, Clemson has a ‘SEC’ offense. Plus, Clemson’s already 1-0 against SEC teams, although the friendly confines of Death Valley are probably a little different to the screaming hordes of Williams-Brice, where families are known to fight over their allegiances at the Thanksgiving table.

BOTTOM LINE: If we’re honest, it’s too close to call. If we’re pushed, we’re taking Clemson, because we feel South Carolina’s five-point favorite standing is a little too high.

A GAME THAT’S GOING TO BE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK….

GEORGIA AT GEORGIA TECH

The SEC Football Blog has a buddy called Mack. Mack really, really, really, really, really, really, really hates Georgia Tech. He really does. In fact, I don’t know a lot of self-loathing Georgia Tech fans who hate their team more than Mack does. Every week on Facebook we’re hit by the wrongs that have been put on him by the Yellowjackets, and he starts everything with the word: “Nerds”. You know, like Nerds  don’t eventually take over the earth or anything. Anyway, there’s an expectation from Mack that Georgia fans will take over Bobby-Dodd Stadium (true) and that his team will win by 60 (false). Now, this blog just wanted to give Mack a big hug, and tell him how truly sorry we are for him and his goddawful injury stack of a season, which last week saw off quarterback Aaron Murray for the rest of the year. Murray’s groom Hutson Mason will take over, and he’s going to be OK, if a little rusty. The Bulldogs are going to rely a lot on running back Todd Gurley and the lengthy stable of Georgia running backs, but there will also be a play or two for the likes of Bennett and Wooten to make their mark. They’ll be going up against a defense that is more solid that it’s given credit for….even if it did get socked at Clemson two weeks ago. Georgia’s defense isn’t great, either.

BOTTOM LINE: Georgia Tech has a great running attack and Georgia is hopeless against the run. Georgia’s a 3.5-point favorite…and we think Georgia wins by five in a finger-biting game for Mack and nerds concerned.

GAMES THAT AREN’T GOING TO BE THAT CLOSE

VANDERBILT AT WAKE FOREST

Last time out Vanderbilt squeaked by awful Tennessee and Wake Forest only just lost to ACC Championship contender Duke (yes, Duke!), and we’re anticipating better from the Commodores this time round.

BOTTOM LINE: Vandy’s a 14-point favorite in this one, but we’re going the whole hog and saying: “Vandy by 21”. Don’t have us wrong on your next-to-final game, James Franklin.

GAMES THAT REALLY, REALLY AREN’T GOING TO BE CLOSE

FLORIDA STATE AT FLORIDA

Florida just lost to Georgia Southern. Florida State can’t seem to lose to anybody. Florida’s offense is horrific and makes mistakes. Florida State’s defense eats mistakes. Florida State’s offense clicks like a Maserati. Florida’s defense is rusty, hurt and praying to the Lord Football Jesus that this season ends quickly (it will, by the way Gators, in 60 minutes).

This is going to be horrible.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida State by 40. No-one in Vegas seems to be willing to take bets on it.

 

 

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