Auburn boots former starting QB White

Auburn has booted former starter Sean White after he was arrested for public intoxication on Saturday night.

It wasn’t the first time White had been in trouble this season – he’d been suspended for the first two games of this season for undisclosed reasons.

He must have taken the fact that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn brought in Jarrett Stidham as a transfer from Baylor pretty badly. Last year White showed great improvement from 2015, throwing for 1,679 yards, 9 TDs and 3 INTS, but he improved his accuracy greatly, going from 58.0 in his freshman year to 63.9 in his sophomore year.

“Sean White is no longer a part of our football program at Auburn,” Malzahn said in a statement. “He has made poor decisions that are not in the best interest of our program, and more importantly, himself. We appreciate his time at Auburn and wish him nothing but the best.”

 

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.

Roll Tide Rolling: Week 5 SEC Rankings

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

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

So here are your SEC rankings:

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

 

Ole Miss, Oh Damn…..Week 3 ratings

Did Hugh Freeze’s prayers to The Man Upstairs make any difference against Alabama? Well, at the start he must have thought that the Big H was going to deliver him and the Ole Miss faithful their third straight victory against Satan’s Tide when the Rebs took a 24-3 lead…..and then they choked. Choked. Choked all the way to a 48-43 lead.

Elsewhere, Leonard Fournette didn’t look like a Heisman contender, Missouri broke its fans’ hearts by losing 28-27 at home to Georgia, the knives are coming out for Gus Malzahn, and Kentucky were taken to task by New Mexico State until the end. Oh, and Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas did what they had to do against poor opposition, although Tennessee’s victory was certainly the least impressive. And to the Commodores: That was quite a beating by Georgia Tech, wasn’t it?

So here are your rankings from 1-14 of SEC Teams after Week 3:

  1. Alabama (3-0): Everyone scored touchdowns. Fat guys, thin guys, special teams guys……The Crimson Tide weren’t great, but they are the pick of the SEC.
  2. Arkansas (3-0): Bret Bielema’s got the Razorbacks playing. They did what they should have done against a poor team.
  3. Texas A&M (3-0): I’m getting increasingly excited by this Aggies team. The defense is good, and the wide receivers are baddass…as proved in the win over Auburn.
  4. Florida (3-0): Not saying a lot after playing three pretty poor teams, but the Gators are the pick for SEC East (in that we think they are better than Tennessee and far, far better than Georgia).
  5. Tennessee (3-0): At some point either the Vols will get better or they’ll play a team who’s on their talent level…and get crucified. I’m sorry, the whole “This Tennessee team’s really goin’ slow” B.S. getting trotted out at the moment isn’t for me. Tennessee have so far underwhelmed. And I include the win at Bristol.
  6. Ole Miss (1-2): If they played crappy opposition, Ole Miss would be 3-0. FSU and Alabama was always going to be tough, but the Rebs seem to be great at delivering their fans heartbreak week after week. And Chad Kelly’s the Second Coming of Bo Wallace, in the way that he happy dovetails dumb throw and good throw in equal measure. This is a pretty good team though – as Georgia will find out next week.
  7. LSU (2-1): How could such a talented team underperform so badly? When it’s LSU, of course! Leonard Fournette coughed up two fumbles (one recovered), and really didn’t look great in the second half. Danny Etling has good moments but wasn’t great, and LSU let Mississippi State come back to a point they nearly won. Unbelievable. I’m beginning to understand why the fans want Les Miles out….
  8. Georgia (3-0): This is the worst 3-0 in the SEC, and maybe the country. Should have lost to Nicholls last week and mildly avoided the loss against Missouri, who controlled the game. Nick Chubb will not win the Heisman, and that’s less about Louisville Superman Lamar Jackson and more about the Dawgs offensive line.
  9. Auburn (1-2): Great defensive line, no offense. And when the offense stalls, the defense gets tired, and the rest is the ‘L’, which Texas A&M gave them in Jordan-Hare. The LSU/Auburn game will not be for the neutrals (unless they have to go as part of a rehab stint).
  10. Missouri (1-2): Actually, should be 2-1 after today’s game. Crushing loss but some points coming out of it.
  11. Mississippi State (1-2): This isn’t a good side, and should have been shelled by LSU. But they hung on there, and had the chance to tie, if not win.
  12. South Carolina (2-1): Beat those people predicting the upset for East Carolina, something that must have Will Muschamp smiling, but the Gamecocks still aren’t a great team.
  13. Kentucky (1-2): Scored 62 on………………….New Mexico State. Conceded 42 against………….New Mexico State. Well, at least non-SEC UK games are entertaining. Or at least will be until the Louisville game, where they’ll get killed.
  14. Vanderbilt (1-2): Sorry, Vandy’s not going to win a SEC game this year.

Undeniable SEC statements from Week 2

Here’s a statement about each SEC team after their Week 2 performances, and we think you’ll find it undeniable.

If you think we’re talking B.S., tweet us on @SECblog.

  1. Alabama: It wasn’t exactly a surprise that Nick Saban lit Lane Kiffin’s ass on fire at the end of the Western Kentucky game. The team looked sleepy. They beat the spread, but only just! Also, Nick Saban’s strategy of saying unkind things about the team to fire them up for big games wasn’t lost on the Alabama media. It becomes a bit of a charade. Especially when the guy doing it could star in ‘Willow’.
  2. Tennessee: Caused five fumbles, and recovered them. And took advantage of Virginia Tech’s fumblefingers. This team may not be as bad as we thought they were against Appalachian State.
  3. Arkansas: When you make throat-slash gestures and your team loses to Bret Bielema, that’s karma, Kenny Hill.
  4. Georgia: The Bulldogs have no offensive line, according to a friend who was at the debacle against Nicholls State. “This will be a ****ing long season,” he added.
  5. LSU: Danny Etlng is maybe the new king of LSU. Mainly because Brandon Harris is a crapshow. We don’t know why Leonard Fournette didn’t play, but we presume he wasn’t injured.
  6. Ole Miss: If this game was preparation for Alabama, then this was, er, fine.
  7.  Kentucky: The Wildcats aren’t very good.
  8. Florida: Can’t wait for the Tennessee game. That’ll decide the East.
  9. Mississippi State: Great rebound against South Alabama. The lightning break was cool too. They are still the weakest team in the West. By a mile.
  10. Texas A&M: We thought they’d pitch a shut-out against mighty Prairie View A&M. We were right.
  11. Missouri: Hell froze over. Missouri scored 61 and won by 40. And Drew Locke looked good doing it, too.
  12. Auburn: They papered the new oaks after the win over Arkansas State. Sean White actually looked serviceable (he threw 3 TDs), folks.
  13. South Carolina: Kept on battling.
  14. Vanderbilt: Middle Tennessee State’s ‘D’ makes Vanderbilt’s offense look good.

Who will win the SEC West QB battles?

Here are the QB battles from each of the SEC teams – even when they’re unwarranted (we see you, Ole Miss) before spring practices begins on March 1st.

Alabama

Blake Barnett vs Cooper Bateman vs David Cornwell 

The biggest conversation in college football will be about the Crimson Tide’s quarterback battle, and Barnett’s the big favorite to win it. He’s got the arm, and according to former QB Greg McElroy, played well on the scout team. Bateman’s speed gives the Tide options, too. Whatever happens, Lane Kiffin’s going to turn this QB into something special. Call him the QB whisperer.

Projected Winner: Barnett

Auburn

Jeremy Johnson vs Sean White vs Woody Barrett vs John Franklin III

After an awful quarterbacking season for Gus Malzahn’s quarterbacks, it’s not surprising when the head coach has said the competition is “wide open.” Frankly, we think that Johnson will get another chance to start, although Franklin’s track speed (he runs a 4.38 40) could be something to watch out for. Certainly he thinks so: “I feel like my speed alone seperates me from a lot of quarterbacks. The fact I have a cannon and can throw the ball a mile because I’ve been playing baseball all my life really helps, so I feel I’m the true definition of a dual-threat quarterback.” So he’s humble, too.

Projected Winner: Johnson

Arkansas 

Austin Allen vs Rafe Peavy vs Ty Storey vs Ricky Town

This is one of the most intriguing battles – especially with the talent on offer. Allen – brother of Razorbacks starting QB Brandon – has some monster assets, including a great arm. According to Saturday Down South, he’s already drawing comparisons to former UA great Ryan Mallett (hopefully this won’t continue to his professional career!). We love the battle that’s going to go on between Allen and Town, who couldn’t get the starting job at USC so promptly came south. Town was a former Alabama commit who decided to play for the Trojans. He was a four-star recruit – the 6th-ranked pro-style QB in the country by 24-7 Sports. If the two player as a dual pair, we hope to be hearing one of our favorite Billy Joel tunes….

Projected Winner: Town

LSU

Brandon Harris vs Danny Etling

It was thought that Harris would battle himself for the LSU starting job. But now Danny Etling’s transferred from Purdue via the graduate transfer, at least the battle’s medium (it’s certainly not hot). If Harris is awful in Spring Training, Etling’s job is his to lose. And if both are awful, they could lose Les Miles his job.

Projected winner: Harris

Ole Miss

Chad Kelly vs Shea Patterson

Kelly, last season’s incumbent, was one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season, so it’ll be difficult to see if this will be so much a battle as Patterson watching to see what Kelly does and learning from him. Oh, and rookie Patterson’s a five-star recruit and will fill in nicely next year. Talk about depth, Hugh Freeze. Last year’s competitors Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade have both left the school, with Buchanan deciding to concentrate on academics and Kincade off to Grambling State.

Projected Winner: Kelly

Mississippi State

Damian Williams vs Nick Fitzgerald vs Elijah Staley vs Nick Tiano

Replacing Dak Prescott is going to be really difficult for the Cowbellers. We all know that. Williams is seen as an early favorite thanks to his 6-1, 228lb build- which according to blog “For Whom The Cowbell Tolls” – compares him more to Dak’s predecessor Chris Relf or any imposing running back out there – while Fitzgerald’s a tiny 6-5, 227lb. Staley also plays for MSU’s basketball team. The blog hints that Fitzgerald should win the job, but God knows.

Projected Winner: Williams 

Texas A&M

Nick Starkel vs Jake Hubenak

Wow. This was very different a few months ago, when we could wait for the Spring battle between Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen. Unfortunately, Jake Spavital managed to enrage both camps, and they both transferred. Sumlin’s move of getting rid of Spavital was too late. Spavital’s now at Cal, so good luck Bears. Anyway, Starkel was a three-star QB while Hubenak has the in-game experience, having played 5 games for the Aggies, including starting the bowl loss to Louisville, where he had an OK game (302 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, QB rating of 58.3). Hubenak might be the favorite in most camps because he’s got the experience, but Kevin Sumlin’s pretty good at throwing in freshmen…

Projected Winner: Hubenak

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Jacob Eason’s decision effects QB recruiting

After much tweeting, worry, overtweeting, photos, rumors, tears and gnashing of teeth, the news is out there: Jacob Eason, the high school quarterback with the very good arm, is staying with original commitment to Georgia and going to Athens in a couple of weeks’ time.

If you believe what Georgia fans have to say, Eason is the sort of program-changing quarterback that the Bulldogs need not to lose stupid games to Florida, Auburn and South Carolina and dominate college football from hereon in.

So, no pressure, Jacob…

Anyway, there was some worries that Eason might decide to go Florida (he visited Gainesville recently, as well as the University of Washington), which would have given the Gators not only a returning Will Grier (mid-season), but also Class of 2016 commit Feleipe Franks, who’s immense. According to 24-7Sports.com, Franks is the 3rd-best player at this position, the 7th-best player in Florida, and 37th player in the country. He committed to LSU before deciding to go to Florida on November 29th.

Franks was said to be very uneasy about the possibility of Eason coming to The Swamp, but now he’s going to UGA, the 6ft 6 Franks can now make his commitment. You know, if he doesn’t decide to change to another school. Florida State and LSU are said to still be in the hunt.

OK, so what happens to LSU? LSU has an awful quarterback in Brandon Harris, who’s been wildly inconsistent in 2014. LSU doesn’t know if Cam Cameron’s going to return in 2015 (although that looks increasingly likely bearing in mind that the school hasn’t fired him yet), and the school’s SEC West rivals are collecting good QBs like it’s going out of fashion.

According to The Advocate, Harris is expected to battle with Purdue transfer Danny Etling, who played his last game for Purdue on September 27th, 2014. Up to then in the 2014 season, he was wildly inconsistent.

So where does LSU go from here? First of all, LSU’s commit list is STACKED. But unfortunately, no quarterbacks. And if LSU fans are to remain happy with Les Miles, Cam Cameron or the team again in 2016, they had better find themselves a better QB.

 

 

 

Why Mark Richt’s firing at Georgia was coming

I don’t know what the world is coming to in our profession. I think when you win nine games, that’s a pretty good season, and especially with the body of work that he’s been able to put together there for however years he’s been there. …I hate to see people that have the character and quality and ability to affect young people in a positive way like Mark Richt not be a part of our profession.” – Nick Saban.

Last Sunday, Georgia released a statement that they had decided to end the career of Mark Richt “by mutual consent”. Richt was gone, and the atmosphere around Athens has been like a funeral. There were some fans who went straight outside the Georgia offices to show their support at the firing of Mark Richt. After all, it’s a shame to get rid of one of the SEC’s most decent coaches, isn’t it? Mark Richt wasn’t a crap-talker (like Steve Spurrier), an idiot talking about his marital exploits (Bret Bielema), or a loveable idiot (Les Miles) or a Napoleon-like control freak (Nick Saban). Richt was about making his players winners on an off the field. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.

Sometimes Richt had to boot players who decided that The Good Life wasn’t for them, and preferred to steal, to beat their girlfriends, and to smoke pot even after they had been arrested. Les Miles didn’t fire one of his players, Jeremy Hill, after he threw a punch at someone. He left it to a player vote as to whether the team would like to keep him. Richt gave players two or four-game suspensions, while other coaches in the same position in the SEC gave them one or two, coining Spurrier’s fantastic quote: “I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.” This year was a banner year for Georgia’s athletic behaviour, because no-one was suspended during the regular or off-season.

Would Georgia fans have swapped a few arrests for a trip to the SEC Championship Game this week? Absolutely.

           LUCK AND LOYALTY

And despite winning two SEC Championships and six SEC Eastern Division titles in his 14 years and amassing a 145-51 record, Mark Richt didn’t have a lot of luck.

In recent years, season-ending injuries to Keith Marshall, Todd Gurley, Malcolm Mitchell and Nick Chubb as well as members of his defense all but eradicated Georgia hopes of reaching the promised land. It seemed like no team in the SEC could injure themselves like Georgia did, and the team wasn’t as deep as some would have liked. And why not so deep? Recruitment loyalty. If every player who committed to Georgia early-on had actually stayed a Bulldog, Georgia would have had a Top.5 recruiting class for year in, year out. A couple of years ago it was Derrick Henry. He’s doing OK at Alabama. Now it’s top running back B.J. Emmons. Now, top UGA recruit Jacob Eason, who is meant to be the saviour of the UGA passing game, is now visiting Florida. If he decides to go to Gainseville, you can be assured that the Dawg fans might be burning down McGarity Island, to misquote Larry Munson. My take on recruitment loyalty is that Mark Richt didn’t text the kids 400 times a day like certain SEC head coaches did, and in a world where high school kids want to “feel the love” all the time, a coach who actually had other priorities in life didn’t make them feel ‘loved’, so they went elsewhere to get their ego stroked.

THE END HAD TO COME

But although it’s sad to see one of the SEC’s great coaches get booted, it’s hardly surprising.

His record against Florida was 5-9, and 2-4  against South Carolina since 2010. He’s also 2-3 against Alabama since Nick Saban was in charge (3-3 overall). And losing a 21-point lead to Tennessee, breaking a long winning streak didn’t make the locals happy, either. And during the final years of his tenure, Georgia’s ability to fall to pieces while the game was won was quite incredible. That probably didn’t help him, either.

A blog noted that since 2007 , Georgia’s record was 1-10 against teams who ended the year in the Top 10, and 2-10 against teams who were Top 10 at the time. Georgia has not been a top 25 team half the time since 2007 (2009, 2010, 2013, 2015). To say that the firing had been coming would be an understatement.

And the blog noted that the future’s bleak in 2016, after the graduation of 20 seniors and the departure of others to the NFL. To

Add to that this season, where offensively Georgia went from great to clueless (we’d blame a lot of that not necessarily on Richt so much as Brian Schottenheimer, who many will be hoping gets his marching orders in the next week), and struggled with a crappy Auburn, a mighty Georgia Southern and an even-mightier Georgia Tech. For $3.31m, that’s not what Georgia boosters and administrators expect – especially for a team that some felt would challenge for a National Title in 2015.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Was it sad to see Mark Richt go at Georgia? Sure. Was it surprising? No. People had been asking for his head every time Georgia had one of those comical/heartbreaking losses people talked about. Will he land on his feet somewhere else? Yes. And that’s what happens to good guys.

 

 

 

 

Rollin’ Tide – Final SEC Power Rankings

It was quite a week in the SEC. And while it was about the football, it kinda was and it kinda wasn’t. We had Cam Newton threatening to slap the s_(& out of a heckler before the Iron Bowl, Les Miles getting chaired off against Texas A&M after he kept his job despite everyone saying that he was out of one, and Mark Richt getting booted from Georgia despite a 9-3 season. Down South, the Florida Gators were wonderfully inept in a 27-2 home loss to Florida State, and Ole Miss won the BATTLE OF THE EGG in CowbellLand. Elsewhere, Kentucky lost to Louisville after being 21-0 up (and their QB Patrick Towles has said he’s transferring) and Missouri didn’t show up against Arkansas.

So here’s our final regular season standings:

  1. Alabama (1): Because no-one’s rolling like the Tide right now in college football. The defense is scary. Listen, Auburn kept it close until the final quarter, but then Derrick Henry and the rest of the team put on the after burners, and there was nothing that Gus Malzahn’s team could do catch up.
  2. Ole Miss (3): Yes, we know they got the crap slapped out of them by Florida, but right now if the two sides had a re-match in The Swamp, I’d take Ole Miss. Florida’s offense is horrific right now. Ole Miss is not. And Ole Miss beat Alabama. Which Florida is not going to.
  3. Florida (2): Because they are going to the SEC Championship Game, and we have to be nice.
  4. Arkansas (6): Yes, we know they lost 51-50 last week and are on a one game winning streak after slamming Missouri, but the Razorbacks are a team not many want to face in a bowl game right now. Hogs fans would love to play Texas Tech. If they, it’ll be first to 900. And we’ll love it!
  5. LSU (8): The way LSU played on Saturday night was inspired, and gave a lot of people hope in the program that didn’t have it a week ago. Funny what will happen when your boosters try and fire one of the most successful coaches LSU has ever had. Joe Alleva’s ashen face at the press conference was a joy to watch. Seriously, he looked like the husband who came home and found someone ****ing his wife. Les Miles now needs to fire Cam Cameron. Quickly.
  6. Texas A&M (4): Aggies fans absolutely loathe offensive co-ordinator Jake Spavital. Funny, not many choice words for John Chavis’ lack of run defense coaching, though.
  7. Tennessee (7): Smashing Vanderbilt gets you up a notch, but this offense could be quite something next year if everyone’s not hurt. The Vols are certainly playing like they are on a high.
  8. Mississippi State (5): Massive disappointment on their goodbye to Dak Prescott- and Prescott himself was the biggest one.
  9. Auburn (10): Played with a lot of moxie, but were ultimately overmatched against Alabama.
  10. Georgia (9): Goodbye, Mark Richt. You will be missed. Georgia fans are praying you take Brian Schottenheimer with you.
  11. Kentucky (11): Blowing a 21-0 lead and then getting the news your starting quarterback’s leaving? That’s Kentuckeeeee.
  12. South Carolina (14): Played their collective asses off against Clemson and came up just short. There is hope.
  13. Vanderbilt (12): Getting blown out by your rival is not a good look, especially for a defense that was meant to be hugely improved.
  14. Missouri (14): Ugh.

 

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