SEC Week 3 Rankings: Bama rules, Mizzou doesn’t

The SEC Football Blog went to wonderful California for the witness two things: 1) Hippies and 2) Tons of Ole Miss fans going to a Pac-12 team. There were indeed tons of hippies, and there were a ton of Ole Miss fans who went to see the Ole Miss vs Cal game. Regardless of how some people felt it was a snoozefest, no-one can argue about how close it was…..until Shea Patterson’s Pick-6.

Oh, and we’ll take SEC sundresses and bowties over bro-tastic T-Shirts, vests and girls looking like, ahem, ladies of the San Francisco night.

Anyway, here are the rankings after a quarter of the season (yes, we’re there already!). It’s pretty easy to do No.1 and No.14, but it’s really difficult to work out 2-13. That’s because – and I hate to say it – there’s an awful lot of mediocrity at the moment. 

  1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide are the best team in the country, and despite starting slowly, it’s showing it. You can’t outthink Nick Saban and his team of thousands for 60 minutes.
  2. Mississippi State: Smashing LSU at home proved that the Bulldogs ARE for real. We like Nick Fitzgerald and Aenis Williams, and last week, we couldn’t believe what a wrecking the D put on LSU. Oh, and the Bulldogs are winning the SEC West at the moment, bearing in mind its got a 1-0 conference record to Alabama’s 0-0. Nick Saban will use that to fire up his team.
  3. Georgia: The way Jake Fromm is playing, Jacob Eason might not have a job. The match-up between MSU and the Dawgs in Athens on Saturday night could well change the No.2 and No.3 ranking, but Georgia’s got momentum, and it’s looking scary.
  4. Auburn: A lot of people criticized me when I said that Auburn would give Alabama a run in the SEC West this season because of the Tigers’ poor offensive line. I didn’t believe them. I was wrong. Jarrett Stidham will come alive this year, but the question is is: Can he be kept alive long enough to do so? We love Auburn’s ‘D’ though. It’s for real.
  5. LSU: A beat-down by Mississippi State was an embarrassment. Plain and simple. The Tigers shot themselves in the foot by committing needless penalties (including two which would have cost them TDs). Danny Etling is an ordinary QB when he plays ordinary teams, which leaves defenses time to dial in on Derrius Guice. If the offense doesn’t pick up, LSU could be one very ordinary team, and people will start asking the “Is Ed Orgeron a better replacement coach than an actual head coach?” question.
  6. Florida: Again, we’ll see when Florida plays LSU, but an incredible Hail Mary/long pass from Feleipe Franks doesn’t particularly cover up just how bad Florida’s offense has looked over the last two games. The D’s excellent, though.
  7. Tennessee: Beaten by a Hail Mary/long pass by Franks, but really they should have won in The Swamp. This team’s not going to be bad, but with injuries suddenly mounting up (LB Cortez McDowell, WR Juan Jennings (rest of season) and S Todd Kelly (indefinitely)), UT’s depth could be hurt long-term.
  8. Vanderbilt: The good news? Vanderbilt’s 3-0 and scoring points. The bad news? The celebration from beating No.18 Kansas State will be slightly dulled down after they play Alabama on Saturday as the 3.30 game on CBS.
  9. Kentucky: A huge win at South Carolina was helped by the Gamecocks’ inadequacies in the red zone, as well as an injury to their incredible WR Deebo Samuel. We will see if Kentucky’s any good when they play Florida, who they’ve lost to for 30 games straight. Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium is going to be sold out and LOUD for the visit of the Gators.
  10. Ole Miss: Ole Miss was disappointing against Cal, but we still love Shea Patterson. Even on that Saturday night, we could see a lot that makes him one of the most fun prospects in college football – let alone the SEC.
  11. Texas A&M: The Aggies have been bad all season long, on both sides of the ball. They will really struggle in interdivisional play – to a point that the Arkansas game becomes important for bowl implications.
  12. South Carolina: The loss of Deebo Samuel could kill the bright start that was the Gamecocks’ season.
  13. Arkansas: We don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Arkansas, bearing in mind they were crushed in the only big game they played. We will see what happens against A&M – who they’ve lost the last five straight to.
  14. Missouri: Can’t play offense, can’t play defense, can’t play special teams. This Missouri team might end up with one win all season, and fire Barry Odom come-season end. And be right to.

Georgia wins in South Bend, and Week 2 in the SEC

It was a hell of a week in the SEC, where Georgia actually didn’t give their fans heartbreak in a close game (finally), Auburn lost a defensive brawl to Clemson, and Texas A&M showed why they still have problems.

But here are our quick takes on every team in the SEC after Week 2.

  1. Georgia: UGA fans turned out in their tens of thousands to South Bend to witness the Bulldogs beat the Fighting Irish 17-16. It wasn’t so much a barnburner of a game as a really ugly one, with UGA’s ‘D’ playing lights out. Jake Fromm was pretty good as a QB, which means that Jacob Eason will be worrying about his place. One worry though: The Bulldogs offensive line will face better teams’ defense than Notre Dame. We’re not sure how they’ll cope. Vegas is also kicking its heels after making Notre Dame the favorite, and so are ESPN, with 4 out of 5 of the experts picking the Leprechaun boys.
  2. Auburn: The Tigers were stifled in Death Valley by Clemson. Jarrett Stidham seemed to spend most of the game running for his life. Gamblers who had Clemson winning by more 6.5 were also happy. Auburn will be fine, but they didn’t look great.
  3. Texas A&M: In a week sadly highlighted by a racist letter to his wife and people questioning his job security, Kevin Sumlin could have done with a massive win over Nicholls State. Winning by 10 didn’t quite cut it for us. We’re writing this from Texas after seeing Texas beat San Jose State, and we can truly say this: If Texas vs Texas A&M had played their year-end game this year, then God would have to help us all. Both teams are awful.
  4. Arkansas: Is Bret Bielema really that good a coach? Are Hogs fans beginning to get impatient. A 28-7 beating at home by TCU certainly won’t make them happy. And they’ll play better Ds than that one. Suddenly the Texas A&M game in Jerryworld becomes all-important for bowl reasons….
  5. South Carolina: The Gamecocks are a sneaky pick for the SEC East. Will Muschamp’s got the offense moving in the right way….
  6. Mississippi State: Many thought that MSU would struggle at Louisiana Tech, but they didn’t, putting up 57 points by the fourth quarter. Talk about some optimism coming into the match-up against LSU…
  7. Missouri: On the other hand, we’d like to apologize to anyone who actually bet on Missouri winning 8 games after my SEC East preview earlier this year. They are awful. They lost with bad defense, bad offense, and comedy special teams moments.
  8. Alabama: Coasted to a win over Fresno State, and they are still No.1. No great revelations there. Again, if you took Fresno State to lose by less than 44 in Tuscaloosa, you would have been ecstatic by what happened. Alabama called off the Dogs at halftime effectively, and ‘only’ won by 31.
  9. LSU: Won 45-10 against Chattanooga and sacked their QB five times. Danny Etling again looked serviceable and Derrius Guice looked like Derrius Guice. They’ve got playmakers on both sides of the ball, but we’ll see how it all pans out in SEC play, particularly with a potential barnburner next week against Mississippi State and QB Nick Fitzgerald.
  10. Kentucky: We said that the Wildcats would “have it pretty easy” against Eastern Kentucky. Down 13-10 at halftime, they recovered to a 27-16 victory. But still, it was hardly a revelation for Mark Stoops.
  11.  Vanderbilt: Not a lot to say about the Commodores after the 42-0 win over Alabama A&M. Apart from the fact that it was Alabama A&M and they face Alabama on September 23rd.
  12. Ole Miss: After seeing Ole Miss look like they have lots of offense but no defense against UT-Martin, and watching Cal have a lot of offense but no defense against Weber State, we can truly say this: The Ole Miss-Cal game scheduled for next week? Could be first to 70!

Thoughts and prayers to the people for Florida in the middle of Hurricane Irma. We hope you are safely. We think particularly to the University of Florida and Gainseville, and all the students who know people in the Tampa area. We hope everyone’s safe. 

Will Alabama beat Florida State? Week 1 Predictions

OK, so it’s the start of the College Football Season proper (despite Stanford and, er, Oregon State starting things off last week) on Thursday, and to say we’re excited would be an understatement. Mostly, it’s to do with the monster battle between Alabama and Florida State, although the Michigan vs Florida game is going to be pretty awesome too.

So here’s how we think SEC teams will get on this weekend. We’ve also including some spread action if you’re into that, even if we’re not.

  1. Alabama (-7) vs Florida State: This is the game of the week and maybe the game of the college football season. Alabama will have to show everybody what they are like with a retooled defense and a new offesnive co-ordinator, while Florida State will show us what life’s like without Dalvin Cook. The key man – in my view – is going to be Alabama RB Bo Scarborough. If FSU don’t get him under control, Alabama will control the game and win this one comfortably. And that’s what we think will happen. PREDICTION: Alabama by 10. 
  2. Michigan (-4.5) vs Florida: Again a massive game to start the season, and again this pisses me off about the fact that it’s in Jerryworld instead of being a home-and-home. It would be cool to see UF going into The Big House as well as the Wolverines walk into The Swamp the year later. Well, this year both teams – with the tragic events of Houston going on down the road – are going in fairly beaten up, with Florida finally working out their quarterback just days before the start (Feleipe Franks over Malik Zaire), while Michigan has so many parts to replace (including a massive one in Jabrill Peppers). What’s also hurt Florida is the news that it’s suspended its starting running back Jordan Scarlett alongside already-sidelined Antonio Callaway. Jim McElwain must be going crazy. This should be a fun, close game. PREDICTION: Florida by 3 in a tight, fun one.
  3. Texas A&M at UCLA (-4): The fact that Texas A&M is starting the season without Myles Garrett and they have an unproven QB in Jake Hubenak adds some eyebrows to the Aggies side. Don’t get us wrong, we still think Christian Kirk is an all-world athlete, but can the Ags defense stop Josh Rosen and his exciting bunch of receivers? We think not. PREDICTION: UCLA by 7 in an go-to-the-wire game
  4. Tennessee (-3) at Georgia Tech: It’s undeniable: Tennessee’s going to be missing a lot of talent. this year. Joshua Dobbs is gone, as is RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, and a lot of their defense. John Kelly will be a very exciting returning RB, but other than that, we’ve got no damned idea what to expect. With Georgia Tech, they’ve just recently booted their leading rusher Dedrick Mills for ‘breaking athletic department rules’. UT won’t find walking into Georgia Tech’s stadium particularly worrying: They’ll have plenty of their own fans comin’ to Atlanta to scream Rocky Top at the top of their voice in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But Georgia Tech may well cause them problems. This is going to be fantastic. PREDICTION: Tennessee wins by 6
  5. Georgia (-14) vs Appalachian State: Vegas seems to think something exciting’s going to happen in Athens, because the Dawgs opened as a 35-1/2 favorite and they’ve bet it down to just 14. They obviously think another Michigan 2007 game might happen. Oh, and they saw the Nicholls State debacle and they decided that UGA’s offensive line might have the same problems. OK, well here’s our argument: Georgia has an excellent young QB in Jacob Eason, two battering rams in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and if the offensive line does its work against what will be a smaller defense, Georgia will have fun. PREDICTION: Georgia eases through, winning by 28.
  6. LSU (-16 1/2) vs BYU: We all know that this game was meant to be placed in Houston, and our thoughts are with the UH and the fans there. Sensibly, both schools didn’t argue and moved the game to New Orleans, where it’ll be essentially a home game for the Tigers. We don’t expect BYU to be able to stop any of LSU’s running posse – least of all Derrius Guice, and LSU’s defense will be far too good to let BYU have any sort of unstoppable other hand. You know, unless LSU shoot themselves in the foot – like they did against Wisconsin last year. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 21, and the Play-Off chat begins.
  7. South Carolina vs NC State (-5): Vegas has set the over/under at 52.5, which means that they think this’ll be an entertaining one. A lot of people love South Carolina’s QB Jake Bentley, and there’s a lot of hope going on with the program. The problem for NC State will be in the trenches: NC State’s got some fantastic soon-to-be NFL talent in the defensive line, featuring Bradley Chubb, Kentavius Street, B.J. Hill and Justin Jones, who had excellent seasons last year. But Carolina’s secondary better keep their eye out, because TE Jaylen Samuels is plain nasty. NC State will also have home field advantage bearing in mind this game’s being played in Dullsville (sorry Bank of America Stadium), Charlotte. PREDICTION: NC State wins by 10.
  8. Vanderbilt (-3) at Middle Tennessee: Vanderbilt finished the season pretty well with a victory over Tennessee, but we’re expected a brawl of a game in Murfreesboro, just 35 miles away. Vandy don’t bring much travelling support, so we’re expecting a full house of MTSU ready to make things difficult. If Vandy’s defense can continue to improve (head coach Derek Mason is a defensive guru), then things will be difficult for MTSU. This one will go to the wire. PREDICTION: Vandy by 3 in a classic.
  9. Kentucky (-1o) vs Southern Miss: Southern Miss is a dangerous team, and so scheduling them suddenly doesn’t look like a cupcake from the Wildcats’ point-of-view…particularly in Hattiesburg. A lot of things point to Kentucky having its hands full. PREDICTION: Kentucky wins by 4, but Southern Miss upsets Vegas. We also like the over of 57, people, as both teams don’t seem to enjoy playing much defense. 
  10. South Alabama vs Ole Miss (-23 1/2): Hugh Freeze blah blah blah…..We expect Ole Miss to blow the doors off South Alabama. If nothing else to make the point that they don’t care about no NCAA, homes. PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 42.
  11. (And onto boring game No.1:) Auburn’s a 34-1/2 point favorite against Georgia Southern. They’ll win by over 40, because Gus Malzahn will want to prove a point to the haters (blah blah blah).
  12. (Boring Game No.2): Missouri State’s visit to Missouri should see Missouri win comfortably. So much so that Vegas isn’t offering odds on the game. We think Mizzou wins by 50, and pleases our friends at the Mizzodcast, the excellent Tigers podcast.
  13. (Boring Game No.3): Mississippi State‘s 2016 opener was an embarrassment when they lost at home to South Alabama, but we don’t think it’s going to repeat itself against Charleston Southern, who is a useful FCS school (it has won the Big South twice in the last two years), but won’t keep up with the Cowbellers. Mississippi State by 38.
  14. (Boring Game No.4): We’d like to ask one massive question. Why in the Lord of Hogs’ name is Arkansas’ game against Florida A&M being played in Little Rock instead of Arkansas’ true home in Fayetteville? Arkansas will roast the Ratters by 40, and no-one’s going to care after the first quarter…

 

Can Auburn take Alabama’s SEC crown?

f his produiThis year, a lot of hope arrived on The Plains in the former of Baylor graduate transfer QB Jarrett Stidham, who has a bullet arm and an ability to play the Gus Malzahn offense. But will it be enough to beat Alabama, who arrive – yet again – stacked despite losing some real heroes in their defense?

Here’s the SEC Football Blog’s SEC West Preview. Enjoy….

  1. Alabama (12-0): Alabama’s going to have to replace Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, Dalvin Tomlinson and Tim Williams. That’s a hell of a lot of talent. But they’ll re-load. There’s also the fact that offensely, Jaylen Hurts might have to do less than last year because he’s got an absolutely filthy RB trio in Bo Scarborough, Damien Harris and Joshua Jacobs. Oh, and after the Florida State game, we can’t see any worries in the schedule until they play LSU. At home. The biggest game for them will be the Iron Bowl with a much-improved Auburn team. Both teams might be undefeated going into that game, which will make it fun… WINS SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
  2. Auburn (11-1): As mentioned in our introduction, the arrival of Jarrett Stidham from Baylor has left a lot of Auburn fans drooling at the mouth (stop your farmer jokes here, people!). Not only that, but his bullet arm will be helped by a trio of top running backs in Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin, and the fact that Auburn’s also got an experienced line that adds two more transfers. Defensively, the loss of Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams will hurt the Tigers. There’s still experience in the secondary, and LB DeShaun Davis in a stud.
  3. LSU (10-2 (losses to Alabama and Auburn)): Derrius Guice is an awesome, fun-to-watch running back who can destroy a defense with his speed. He’ll definitely put up the yards – although against whom will be the biggest test. While it’s all well and good putting up big numbers on Chattanooga, if he and the offensive line don’t perform against Florida, Auburn and Alabama in an evil month of October-to-November, LSU will have problems. That won’t be helped by the fact that Danny Etling isn’t great (his 2,000 yards and 11 TDs passing were undone by the fact that he had a QB passing average of 59.6), and he’s returning as the starting QB, showing the lack of depth LSU has at QB. Defensively, LSU is a shining light, with so much talent all over the board, highlighted by LB Arden Key, who was unworldly last year. The problem for us is the schedule: Will they be able to stand the triple-battering in October to November? We think they lose the Auburn and Alabama games.
  4. Texas A&M (8-4 (losses to LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and UCLA): Texas A&M’s going to adapt and adapt fast to a couple of things: The loss of one of the best DEs College Station has ever seen in Myles Garrett, as well as having a very fresh QB in Jake Hubenak taking over the offense (oh, as well as most of the WRs targets leaving, too). We love Christian Kirk’s offensive threat from special teams, and if his production picks up as a WR, he’ll be one of the most dangerous players in college football. Trayveon Williams is also a star running back, and if the offensive line does the job, it’ll take the pressure on Hubenak. If.
  5. Mississippi State (7-5): We’d just love to mention that we love QB Nick Fitzgerald. He’s unpredictable, fun to watch, and last year was weirdly hard-to-stop when he ran with the ball instead of using his, ahem, mediocre arm. Fitzgerald may have to run a lot more if MSU’s offensive line – which isn’t that great – doesn’t do its work. On the other side of the ball, Dan Mullen’s decision to swap DCs with Louisville means that Todd Grantham makes a return to the SEC after leaving Georgia. His very aggressive defenses were a lot of fun to watch, but if you’re a Mississippi State fan, but you’ll be praying that his defenses don’t maintain the trajectory that they had when he left Athens, when they were getting worse and worse. There were just too many people missing tackles. Still, the biggest game of the season’s The Egg Bowl with Ole Miss, and it could be the one that sees them go to a bowl – or not.
  6. Ole Miss (6-6 (loses Mississippi State)): A lot has been said about this Ole Miss team coming into this season with a huge chip on their shoulder. Sure, they might start hot (we expect them to start 3-0 against football giants South Alabama, UT Martin and Cal), but how will the team’s mentality change if they get the floor wiped with them by Alabama on September 30th? Offensively, they shouldn’t miss a lot of tricks if Shea Patterson’s the QB that everyone thinks he is and his wide receivers don’t fall away, but defense could be an issue because of its lack of depth. The biggest game of Ole Miss’ year will be The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. If they win that, they ruin Dan Mullen’s chances of being bowl-eligible. That could be a lot of fun.
  7. Arkansas (5-7): There’s a lot to like about Austin Allen, but this year, we’re really not that excited about the Hogs. As much at Bret Bielema rates himself as a coach, his SEC record in horrible (10-22). We get that they have to play in an evil SEC West, but 10-22 is 10-22. And as much as that there is insistence that Arkansas’ highest-paid state employee ($4.1m per year, since you ask) is not on the hot seat, we’ve got a question: Why in the heck not? 2017 won’t be easy, with a lot of the defensive corps departed, and on the other side of ball, a lot of Allen’s receivers have got too – as well as one of the best TEs in the country in Jeremy Sprinkle, who we think will have a big NFL future. A lot will depend on Devwah Whaley, Allen’s top RB, as well as Bielema’s offensive line, which is projected to be better than their coach’s SEC record.

Mississippi State gives Mullen monster extension

Mississippi State deserves a round of applause: They showed loyalty to a man who has shown absolutely no loyalty to them over the last few years….their head coach, Dan Mullen.

In the new deal, Mullen will receive $4.5 million per season for the next four years, starting this season.

Listen, we GET there are good things about Mullen. He started in 2009 and hasn’t left. During his tenure, his record has been nothing short of phenomenal – especially for a poor team, where he’s been bowl eligible for the last seven straight years and gone 5-2 in bowls. He has a 5-3 record in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss, and took the Cowbellers to phenomenal heights in the 2014 season.

He’s proved to be a bit of a ‘quarterback whisperer’ at the highest level, with Dak Prescott and now Nick Fitzgerald doing great things. Prescott himself has gone on to drop jaws at NFL level, which can’t have done Mullen’s credibility any damage. And his response to press questions about Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the last Ole Miss win was hilarious.

But I’ve got a problem. Where there seems to be a big job on the loose,  Dan Mullen seems to have no loyalty to the Land of Cowbell in the least. He’s been continually rumored for other jobs since taking over in Starkville, and he actually interviewed for the Miami (FL) job in 2015 before it was given to Mark Richt. Florida (2013) and Oregon (2017) were also thoughts. And although Mullen’s said that he’s happy where he is, the hiring of Jimmy Sexton – who is also the agent of a certain Nick Saban, who hasn’t shown any loyalty of his own in the least to programs – in October – doesn’t seem to indicate that.

I just can’t help thinking that the cowbell will toll for Mississippi State in this relationship. Then again, I might be wrong.