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

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

So here you are.

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

Can Tennessee survive Alabama? Week 8 SEC Predictions

We’re going to make a massive prediction this week and tell you that someone might make a comment about Philip Fulmer when Tennessee comes to Tuscalossa. Apart from that, this – on paper – isn’t a wildly interesting slate with Auburn going to Arkansas, LSU going to Ole Miss, Kentucky going to Mississippi State, and Idaho visiting Missouri.

So here are the games in the level of interesting:

  1. Auburn (-15.5) vs Arkansas: If things were going to be smooth for Bret Bielema and Arkansas this season, things suddenly became a lot less smooth when it was reported that Bielema’s buyout was in fact $5.9 million NOT the $15 million as earlier thought. That’s a hell of a jump. Apparently, a reporter read the contract. And we can tell you that there’s another SEC fanbase who’s not happy: Auburn. The Plains are smoking about not getting their first win in Baton Rouge since 1999, particularly with a comfortable 20-0 lead. But after the cruise control, the offensive playcalling went into its shell, LSU’s ‘D’ played out of its mind, and LSU won. Suddenly, the critics are saying: “If Malzahn doesn’t beat Georgia or Alabama, he’s out”. The good news for Auburn? They are facing an Arkansas side that just had the crap beaten out of it by Alabama, and gives up nearly 5 yards/rushing attempt. That should let Kerryon Johnson feast. PREDICTION: Auburn by 14.
  2. Alabama (-34.5) at Tennessee: Nick Saban’s going to spin his usual crap about Tennessee being one hell of a football team and being unlucky last week against South Carolina, but the first half is far from the truth. Tennessee is a bad football team. They managed to lose against South Carolina despite having a bye week to work out how they might actually score a touchdown. Listen, we don’t think Butch Jones is going to get his ass kicked out of Knoxville after the slaughter in Tuscaloosa, but this won’t be close. If you have anything to do between 3.30 and 7pm (ie watch other college football games), do so. PREDICTION: Alabama by 40. 
  3. LSU (-6.5) at Ole Miss: LSU’s second-half defense against Auburn was pretty amazing, helped by defensive backs Done Jackson and Eric Monroe, who had 6 pass break-ups between them. Ole Miss looked as though it was going to be in a tussle with Vanderbilt, but rolled. With AJ Brown back and Shea Patterson looking to throw the ball every play (they average 357.2 yards/game, the 6th-highest in the NCAA), LSU’s defensive backs are going to have a real challenge. Oh, and LSU has to grow up. The Tigers are 89th in the FBS for penalties, compiling 433 penalty yards this season – that’s nearly 62 yards per game. You can see that one of LSU’s players gets booted for targeting (as happened at Mississippi State, twice). On the offensive side of the ball, we expect Darrius Guice to be given the ball a lot against a D that has given up 238.5 yards/game – one of the worst in the country. And Danny Etling – if he’s not terrible, could be counted on for a pass TD or two against a D that’s given up 10 pass TDs this season and nearly 13 yards per completion. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 7 in a close, entertaining one. 
  4. Kentucky at Mississippi State (-10.5): We stupidly tweeted that we couldn’t believe Kentucky was a 10 pt away favorite at Mississippi State, but then realised that we’d got the order of things wrongly, and it was the Bulldogs who were 10 point favorites. We still think it’s low. Kentucky’s gone 1-1 in classics this season (the fortunes could have been reversed against Florida and Missouri), while Mississippi State’s blown out a team that they weren’t meant to (LSU), and were blown out by a team that they were meant to play really, really close (Georgia). After getting swatted by Auburn following the UGA game, Mississippi State finally looked better against BYU, and we think it’ll continue against Kentucky. Although Kentucky’s been nasty against the rush (97.2 yards/game), they are mediocre overall (385.5 yards/game), which should give Nick Fitzgerald lots of chances to exploit them. We expect Kentucky to try and control the clock as it has against all its opponents, but we don’t think they’ll be particularly effective. PREDICTION: MSU by 13.
  5. Idaho at Missouri (-14.5): Get this: Missouri is so bad that they are only a 14.5 home favorite against Idaho, who has played no-one on their schedule. Yes, we get that Missouri struggled mightily with Southeast Missouri State at the start of the year but Idaho? Really? In the last two weeks Missouri’s offense has clicked a little better, with Drew Lock throwing bullets and scaring the life out of secondaries.  And We think Idaho will give up more than the 162.3 yards/game they give up through the air on this offense. Idaho’s offense is also pretty mediocre (ranked 97th overall), so if Missouri can actually make a stop, they should win comfortably.If you’re watching this game, watch out for Emmanuel Hall, who had 270 yards and 3 TDs in the last two games – including 141 against Georgia. PREDICTION (And I don’t believe I’m saying this): Missouri by 28. 

QUICK PREDICTION FOR AN OUT- CONFERENCE: Michigan goes to Penn State as a 9.5 road favorite. Michigan’s got the best defense in the land, and Penn State has struggled against some bad teams of late getting the Saquon Barkley run game going. And Michigan’s won 3 straight over the Nittany Lions. We’ll take Michigan. Even if it’s only the points. That gives an advantage to Georgia. 

After the mayhem of Week 7, Auburn and Tennessee fans are unhappy

After the unbridled craziness of Week 7 (see Clemson, Washington and Washington State all getting upset) Alabama and Georgia still rule the SEC. While Alabama rolled, it wasn’t the most convincing of performances from Georgia, who only woke up in the second half of their game against Missouri. Elsewhere, Auburn blew a 20-pt lead on a horribly hot day at LSU and really, really pissed off their fanbase in the process (To LSU fans, ‘Coach O’ is now God), the Tennessee soap opera continued with a 15-9 home loss to South Carolina in one of the ugliest games you’ll ever see, while Texas A&M now like Kevin Sumlin again after the Aggies won by 2 points in an electrifying atmosphere in The Swamp against Florida. Ole Miss rolled against Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State beat BYU easily.

So here are your SEC rankings after Week 7:

  1. Alabama: At this stage the Crimson Tide looks absolutely unbeatable. There’s nothing else to say.
  2. Georgia: Georgia’s secondary was terrible in the first half against Missouri, but in the second half everyone worked out their issues and the Dawgs ran out  53-28 winners. That would have pissed off Vegas bettors, because UGA was a 28-pt favorite. What might concern Georgia fans is that there were four times in the win that they couldn’t convert in the red zone against a very poor Missouri defense. Kirby Smart will make all ‘teachable’ before the Cocktail Party against Florida in a couple of weeks time, we’re sure.
  3. Texas A&M: This Texas A&M team’s got serious momentum at the moment, and we honestly think they could beat LSU and Auburn this season. Kellen Mond is a lot of fun to watch, and so’s Christian Kirk – when he manages to catch the ball. Oh, and we don’t like to tell you, dear 12th Man, that we told you so when told you to calm down about Kevin Sumlin after the UCLA loss. But we told you so.
  4. LSU: After the Troy loss we honestly thought the SEC race and even a bowl game might be a struggle for LSU, but back-to-back wins against Florida and Auburn – where the defense has really shown its short and curlies – have LSU fans happier. Oh, and let’s talk about those DBs. Holy crap they’re good!
  5. Auburn: We can’t work out why Gus Malzahn refused to let Jarrett Stidham throw a 5-8 yard pass instead of always opt for the ‘Big Reception’, or why Kerryon Johnson seemed to be mostly absent during the second half. But that may just have been us. But remember: Just because you blew a big lead in Baton Rouge, it doesn’t mean you’re the worst team in the world, Auburn fans.
  6. Florida: Despite the Gators’ offense being the most disgusting thing since Divine ate dog poop at the end of John Waters epic Pink Flamingos, the Gators have had an exciting season. They are 2-2 in games they should have played badly and won or played badly and lost (Kentucky and Tennessee were the ones they won/LSU + LSU were the ones they played badly at lost). Doug Nussmeir should be fired as the offensive co-ordinator when season’s done, by the way.
  7. Mississippi State: Beat the Mormons of BYU – as expected – pretty easily. This team is an average SEC team, but below-average SEC West team. I’m beginning to think the LSU win was more of a fluke than suggested, though.
  8. Kentucky: The Wildcats are 5-1. And no-one gets it since they’ve been not been great against just about every team they’ve played.
  9. South Carolina: The narrow win over Tennessee was ugly, ugly, ugly. We got a lot of crap on our Twitter (@SECBlog) from Gamecocks fans for suggesting that Florida would win the game at Williams-Brice ‘no problem’ (OK, maybe we should have put in the words ‘no problem), but after the Tennessee performance? The UF-USC game is going to be as ugly as sin. And despite Gamecocks fans suggesting that the Deebo Samuel problem was solved…..it’s not. Otherwise you’d have scored more against Tennessee.
  10. Ole Miss: An unexpected shoot-out in the first half against Vanderbilt suddenly became a massacre in Oxford. The Rebels aren’t great, but now AJ Brown’s back to full fitness (he’s had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, and last week added 2 TDs), they finally have some offense.
  11. Arkansas: Going in the wrong, wrong, wrong direction. To say Arkansas fans are concerned is an understatement.
  12. Tennessee: THEY HAD A WEEK TO PREPARE FOR CAROLINA FOR GOD’S dSAKE. AND STILL COULDN’T SCORE A TOUCHDOWN (Butch Jones HAS to go. A lot of the media still can’t believe he wasn’t fired after the Carolina game).
  13. Missouri: Missouri managed to scrap its ass off the basement by putting 28 on Georgia – the most the Bulldogs have conceded all season long. The defense remains a joke, but you have to applaud them a little for keeping UGA out of the red-zone a little less than we expected. Should the fans jump on the field if/when the Tigers beat Idaho? I think so!
  14. Vanderbilt: There are two teams on bad trajectories in the State of Tennessee this season, and Derek Mason’s squad is the other one. Alabama broke this program, and everyone seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. Things have to be changed and quickly.

Oh, and another thing: You remember my article about unbeaten teams? I’ll shut up now.

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

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

So here are your power rankings after Week 6:

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

Can LSU lift Ed Orgeron Out Of The Mire? Week 6 SEC Preview

It’s going to be an emotional day at The Swamp. Just a few days after the death of Tom Petty, who was from Gainesville, (but didn’t actually attend the university, preferring rock ‘n’ roll to anything more studious), there will be a tribute to the man himself after the third quarter, where the fans will sing “I won’t back down” after singing along to the band’s “We are the boys from Old Florida”.

But there’s someone it could be even more emotional for: LSU coach Ed Orgeron. After getting outplayed by Troy at home and deservedly losing at night in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, the questions are out: “Will Coach O survive this year?” There are also other questions about LSU AD Joe Alleva and whether he made a big mistake getting rid of Les Miles.

Anyway, on Saturday this is the pick of the SEC schedule, although Alabama’s visit to Texas A&M, Ole Miss’ visit to Auburn, Vanderbilt’s hosting of Georgia, Arkansas battling it out against South Carolina and, dear God, Missouri’s trip to Kentucky are also going to be played.

Oh, and besides those towards Petty and his family, a lot of thoughts will be going towards Gene Stallings – who was head coach at A&M and Alabama during his career – who is currently recovering from the heart attack he had this week.

So here are your predictions for Week 6:

  1. LSU at No.21 Florida (-2.5): This game started out with the bookies giving Florida 5 points, but now it’s 2.5 points as the bettors start feeling confident about the Tigers. We’ll be honest, we’d love to know what they’ve got to be confident about. As far we can understand, LSU is bad against both rush and pass (23rd overall while playing no-one except Mississippi State (which is looking a worse and worse loss every week), it’s missing Arden Key (OK, Key hasn’t shown up) and it’s rudderless. As bad as Florida may be looking offensively, it won’t matter against a team like LSU who has absolutely no confidence whatsoever. PREDICTION: Florida by 10. 
  2. Arkansas (-2) at South Carolina: Arkansas will probably go into this game thinking that they should have only one loss on the register (to TCU, where they were blown out), while South Carolina will be thinking: “What would life have been like if Deebo Samuel wasn’t injured?”. Anyway, this game could be a lot of fun. Arkansas QB Austin Allen and South Carolina QB Jake Bentley are both a lot of fun, but we don’t think that there will be a lot of fast-paced football out there. PREDICTION: Arkansas by 7 in a game that goes down to the wire.
  3. No.1 Alabama (-26.5) at Texas A&M: Last year Texas A&M was a 16-1/2 point underdog to Alabama, and this year it’s even bigger, with the bookies giving the Aggies 26-1/2 points. And here’s the funny thing: If you think about Texas A&M’s defense this year and Alabama’s perfection over their last two SEC games, you can’t conceivably think that there’s a way Alabama won’t put up 42 and completely strangle A&M, who haven’t exactly been impressive all season, but are still 4-1. Kyle Field’s going to be loud, fun, and…..Alabama’s going to stroll.  PREDICTION: Alabama 48, Texas A&M 14. Must be the story of Nick Saban’s ex-girlfriend that spurred the Crimson Tide players on (snore). 
  4. No.5 Georgia (-17-1/2) at Vanderbilt: If people didn’t think Georgia’s defense was for real before the Tennessee game, they do now after the 41-0 shellacking they gave the Vols. And Kirby Smart & Co will be thinking about a little bit of revenge after 2016, when they lost to the Commodores 17-16 and were embarassingly awful. In fact, the last four games have been split between the two teams 2-2. Although many believe that Georgia will use Vandy as roadkill after their performance at Neyland as well as Vandy’s home destruction by Alabama, this could be tighter than some expect. Vanderbilt’s got a pretty good defense, and Georgia hasn’t been that great at moving the ball. And if the defense doesn’t get the turnovers, this could go well into the fourth quarter. PREDICTION: Georgia wins by 10. 
  5. Ole Miss at No.5 Auburn (-22): Auburn’s defense is awesome, Auburn’s offense is clicking, and suddenly the Tigers look like the team that people said could run with Alabama this season in the SEC West. This week should be a cakewalk for the Tigers, bearing in mind their exceptional form, and the fact that they are playing a team that has no defense, and hasn’t found any offensive confidence all season long. If Shea Patterson and AJ Brown can connect more than the one time they did against Alabama, then maybe Ole Miss can score some points. Maybe. PREDICTION: Auburn by 30.
  6. Missouri at Kentucky (-9 1/2): Sometimes I don’t get the betting community. The game started out favoring Kentucky by 14-1/2, but such was the confidence in the way that Missouri has been playing this year that the Cats are now only a 9-1/2 point favorite. Have they not seen Missouri lately? Yes, we get that Kentucky was terrible against Eastern Michigan (they only squeaked by by 3), but this Missouri ‘D’ is an antidote to terrible offenses. PREDICTION: Kentucky 35, Missouri 10.

P.S. An emotional game in Vegas: San Diego State (-10) at UNLV: The whole country will be rooting for the Runnin’ Rebels to score a massive upset over San Diego State after what happened in Vegas this Saturday. We know we will. PREDICTION: UNLV makes everybody cry, winning by 7.

LSU starts to tumble: Week 5 SEC rankings

  1. Bama: 66-3 over a ‘high-power offense’. Enough said.
  2. Georgia: If your offense makes mistakes against Georgia, then the Bulldogs have enough ballhawks to make you pay. This is a really good team straight-up. We will see how they go against Florida is a few weeks….
  3. Auburn: The Missouri tune-up led to a fantastic performance against MSU, with Jarrett Stidham having a banner day. If Auburn continues in this vein, the UGA game will be unmissable.
  4. Florida: 2-0 in the SEC and although Luke Del Rio’s done for the year, this guy Feleipe Franks can play. And so can the defense, people. Sure, it’s ugly, but Florida hasn’t lost since Michigan.
  5. Texas A&M: The Aggies are starting to find someone rhythm after the pitchforks came out for Kevin Sumlin post-UCLA. They may well against after Auburn, LSU and Bama. But still….
  6. Mississippi State: Second week in a row MSU’s had its butt handed to it but 1 out of 3 against LSU and at UGA and Auburn ain’t bad. They’ll be OK.
  7. Arkansas: This might feel like a stretch, but Austin Allen’s a hell of a QB.
  8. Tennessee: Butch Jones. Hot seat.
  9. LSU:  The Ed Orgeron nightmare gets worse and worse. Bring back Les Miles!
  10. Kentucky: Just beating Eastern Michigan at home isn’t a good look.
  11. Vanderbilt: After the evisceration against Alabama, I quite expected Florida to rout Vandy. It didn’t happen. Derek Mason’s instilled some pride in the black and gold.
  12. South Carolina: Down here because they are missing Deebo Samuel.
  13. Ole Miss: Has no defense. The good news for the Rebs? Top WR AJ Brown is going to face easier defenses to face than Alabama’s.
  14. Mizzou: I’m surprised Barry Odom didn’t give a sermon about winning against Off-Week.

Can Tennessee upset Georgia? Week 5 SEC Preview

It’s Week 5 in the SEC, and suddenly the mouths are wagging about the potential of Georgia and Alabama playing each other in the SEC Championship Game in December. Guys, it’s only December, and it’s Georgia. They could shoot themselves in the foot. A place where foot-shooting could start could be Neyland Stadium, Tennessee. Also on the slate is Alabama hosting Ole Miss (which may believe won’t rival the last three classics), and the only all-ranked clash of the day between Mississippi State and Auburn. South Carolina and Texas A&M also play, as does Vanderbilt and Florida. Apart from that, Arkansas hosts New Mexico State, LSU does the same for Troy, and Kentucky hosts Eastern Michigan.

So what games fascinate us? What games bore us? Here we are with our thoughts….

  1. No.7 Georgia (-7) at Tennessee: This is a rivalry that no-one seems to mention when they talk about ‘hot SEC rivalries’, yet since 2011, no game has been seperated by more than 8 points. Tennessee’s won two games in a row (we all remember last year’s game-ending Josh Dobbs bomb to Juwan Jennings and the year before when Nick Chubb wrecked his knee at Neyland), and Georgia’s potentially in a major let-down spot after pulverising Mississippi State, and Tennessee’s abject home win against UMass. Everyone at the moment loves Georgia’s linebacking corps, but how will they cope against John Kelly, one of college football’s best running backs? Everyone thinks Georgia will walk this, but we’re not so sure. PREDICTION: Georgia wins by 3 in (another) classic.
  2. No.24 Mississippi State at No.13 Auburn (-9 1/2): Fun fact about this match-up: Mississippi State has beaten Auburn two of the last 3 years. Auburn comes into this fixture having played a ‘feel better’ game against Mizzou, where all offensive worries were cured by Missouri’s defense, which is so bad at the moment it would probably give up 40 to a middle school team. Mississippi State comes to The Plains licking their wounds after a shellacking by Georgia.  Nick Fitzgerald, who went 14-29 for 83 yards, 0 Tds and 2 INTs, and ran for 47 yards, while Aenis Williams had just 36 all-purpose yards. Now they face a defense that’s as good as Georgia’s. Ouch. PREDICTION: Auburn by 14. 
  3. Ole Miss at No.1 Alabama (-28): According to Vegas, Ole Miss is going to get absolutely shelled by an Alabama team who has just come off crushing Vanderbilt 59-0 without very much effort in the least. Having seen Ole Miss at Cal, the Rebs are going to (desperately) need Shea Patterson not to make the sort of the stupid mistakes he made in HippieWorld if they are to have any chance against Saban’s polished machine. The hope for Ole Miss fans is that top receiver AJ Brown will be back after a knee injury, and his renewed partnership with DeMarkus Lodge will stretch Alabam’s secondary, which was tested more than it probably liked against Colorado State, who threw for 247 yards and 2 TDs on it. On Alabama’s side, we expect the Tide to rush Ole Miss to death with Damien Harris, Bo Scarborough and Jalen Hurts. PREDICTION: Alabama by 24. 
  4. South Carolina at Texas A&M (-9): The fact that Deebo Samuel’s out is really hurting South Carolina. The loss at Kentucky two weeks ago, coupled by the win-that-felt-like-a-loss against Louisiana Tech (this particularly hurt me because I told anyone who would listen to take South Carolina at -8), shows how badly Jake Bentley is missing his favorite target. And despite all the anguish and hatred, Texas A&M’s 4-1 and very entertaining indeed. We love Christian Kirk, who’s an all-world player. QB Kellen Mond, who threw for over 200 yards and 2 TDs and ran for another 100, as well as a settled running attack, will be too much for Carolina. PREDICTION: Texas A&M by 17.
  5. Vanderbilt at Florida (-10): After being annihilated by Alabama at home (something we all saw coming), Vandy has got to go to The Swamp to play a Florida side who has been the epitome of scrappy over the last couple of weeks. Having said that, the Gators have won both of the scrappy games, and are looking a little better. The Gators may well start QB Luke Del Rio over Feleipe Franks after Del Rio dug that Gators out of a 13-point hole last week. The last two games of this rivalry have ended up with Florida winning 13-6 and 9-7. We should all pray for something a little more high-scoring. PREDICTION: Florida wins by 14.
  6. Troy at No.25 LSU (-20 1/2): After giving them so much love in the first two weeks of the season, LSU has been a massive letdown for us. After squeaking by Syracuse, the Tigers face Troy, where LSU will be praying a victory won’t be a result of another huge comeback a la 2008. And he 3-1 Trojans could give LSU some problems. QB Brandon Silvers has already thrown for over 1,000 yards this season (102-154, 1098 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), and he’ll face a Tigers secondary that gave up 308 of them through the air last week. We’re not saying Troy’s going to win this one, but it’s probably going to be closer than Vegas would suggest. PREDICTION: LSU by 18, after a close first half.
  7. Eastern Michigan at Kentucky (-14 1/2): If it wasn’t for the defensive blunder of 2017, Kentucky would be unbeaten going into the match-up against Eastern Michigan. We think they are going to be a bit flat for the first couple of quarters against an Eastern Michigan side that’s been fairly miserly all season long, before finding some steam. PREDICTION: Kentucky by 17, although it’s uncomfortable in the first half
  8. New Mexico State at Arkansas (-17): Arkansas lost a very fun game against Texas A&M, and will try and regroup against a New Mexico State side who has a bit of confidence this year after smashing UTEP 41-14 last week (they had gone 1-2 in the weeks before and lost those games by a combined 9 points). Arkansas will be expected to put on the afterburners and roll NMSU. PREDICTION: Arkansas scores a bunch of points in the third quarter, and wins by 21. 

Week 4: How ’bout them Dawgs? Georgia rises in SEC Poll

So it seems that there is no stopping Alabama. Crushing Vanderbilt was hardly unexpected (although the margin of scoring was far bigger than Vegas offered before the game), but the way they looked doing it? Freakish. Out in the East, Georgia moves to No.2 on our list after an immense performance against Mississippi State, while Auburn’s stride up to No.3 was less about the win over hapless Missouri than the fact that we think they could probably beat Florida, Mississippi State and LSU if they played them tomorrow.

  1. Alabama: They are unstoppable at the moment. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Georgia: Against Mississippi State, Georgia played the perfect game. They were excellent in all facets of the ball. The biggest worry that the Dawgs have is at quarterback: Do they bring back Jacob Eason when he comes back or keep going with Jake Fromm? That’s a pretty good worry to have.
  3. Auburn: After the win-that-felt-like-a-loss against Mercer, the Tigers got an even easier game against SEC opponent…..Missouri. The resulting destruction was a confidence booster for Gus Malzahn, Jarett Stidham and the rest of the Auburn family at Faurot. We’ll see how it plays out. Right now they look the second best team in the West.
  4. Florida: Back-to-back tight victories ensure the Gators move to 2-1. The side still has offensive problems, but they keep on rebounding and keep finding a way to win. Now, will Luke Del Rio take the starter’s job? And who’s this Malik Zaire guy, anyway?
  5. Mississippi State: Pounded by Georgia at Sanford Stadium. Nick Fitzgerald looked very ordinary, Mississippi State couldn’t stop either the run or the pass, and MSU looked totally outclassed. We will see how they will rebound after the loss.
  6. LSU: An unconvincing with over Syracuse has a lot of Tigers fans worried about how they’ll cope during the season. And if they can’t stop the run game, then God help Ed Orgeron’s team against Alabama (or Auburn for that matter).
  7. Texas A&M: The win over Arkansas gets the Aggies to 3-1 and cooled the seat under which Kevin Sumlin was burning. You know who’s red hot? Christian Kirk, who’s 100-yard TD was a thing of beauty.
  8. Kentucky: A last-second loss to Florida was a combination of a defensive screw-up and the college football gods hating you. And an ability to hold a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Mark Stoops has got this program playing well….just not that well.
  9. Ole Miss: Idle this week, and outshone many from the SEC with their performance by doing so.
  10. Tennessee: Solid victory over UMass UT…. #sarcasm
  11. Arkansas: Every screw-up from the Hogs (like this one that saw their overtime demise to A&M (at a lot of blamed of Bret Bielema), and Arkansas boosters will be warming up to helping the school buy their head coach’s contract out for $15m.
  12. South Carolina: Yeah….so beating Louisiana Tech by 1 point at home isn’t a good look.
  13. Vanderbilt: Getting crushed 59-0 will remind Vandy fans that ‘wanting Bama’ is something they might not want to say…unless they are talking ironically about the time that they went to this slaughter.
  14. Missouri: When the best player on the field every week is your punter, and your coach is imploring the world publicly to save his job, you know your program is in deep, deep crap.

Who wins the Battle Of The Bulldogs?: Week 4 SEC Preview

It’s been a weird start to the season. The biggest in-conference game of the year will feature No.17 Mississippi State as they travel into Athens to face No.11 Georgia, but it won’t be the CBS 3.30 game. For Gary Danielson haters like me, that means I’ll be able to enjoy a good game with a great atmosphere and not have to hear him. Where’s Gary going to be? He’ll be in Nashville (a place we love, by the way), to watch No.1 Alabama travel to unbeaten Vanderbilt. There’s a lot of potential fun between Texas A&M at Arkansas at JerryWorld starting off the day, and a potential upset with No.20 Florida rolling into Kentucky. And if No.15 Auburn can’t win at Missouri, then Gus Malzahn’s seat will go from warm to boiling.

So, here are your Week 4 Previews, in order of what’s going to be the most interesting game to watch…..

  1. No. 17 Mississippi State at No.11 Georgia (-4.5): This SHOULD be really exciting. Georgia’s got a fantastic defense which will try and close down Nick Fitzgerald and RB Aenis Williams, who both ripped apart LSU last week on the floor, while MSU’s defense will probably stack the line to try and stop Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, forcing Jake Fromm (or Jacob Eason, who was back in training this week) to throw against their secondary. Last week it worked pretty well, because LSU’s Danny Etling was terrible, and there’s an argument that Fromm’s not much better than Etling (mainly because of his game experience). Going back to Fitzgerald and Williams, they are averaging 300 yards per game. Can Georgia stop them? They’ll be confident after only giving up 71 yards per game in their last three games, but Williams and Fitzgerald will be a whole other step-up in competition. PREDICTION: Georgia wins. By 7 in a classic.
  2. No.20 Florida (-2.5) at Kentucky: Although they beat Tennessee on a Hail Mary/long throw from Feleipe Franks last week, Florida probably should have lost in The Swamp on Saturday. Had it not been for Tennessee’s committal of footballing suicide, the Gators would ahve done. While over in Bourbon country, Kentucky is 3-0 after beating South Carolina. Having seen them twice this season, we’re not convinced in the least by Florida’s offense, but we’re not convinced that Kentucky’s offense will be able to get off the ground against UF’s defense, either. Kentucky fans didn’t give themselves good PR this week, and it may well piss off Florida enough to win and cover. PREDICTION: Florida by 10. 
  3. Texas A&M (-2.5) vs Arkansas at JerryWorld: What makes this one really interesting is what this could mean for the programs. Whoever loses, either Kevin Sumlin and Bret Bielema will be a bit more worried about their jobs. Vegas seems to think this is going to be one of this weekend’s more exciting games by giving it an over/under of 55.5, which is putting an awful lot of faith in Texas A&M’s offense (they have absolutely no consistency), as well as telling us flat-out that Arkansas will rebound from really not showing up at home to TCU, with Austin Allen rebounding from a poor performance against TCU (9-23, 138 yards, 1 TD (that’s a 39.1% passing percentage). We expect Arkansas to block up the lanes to try and stop running back duo Travyon Williams and Keith Ford – and watch the Aggies try and do the same against Devwah Whaley and Chase Hayden. This will be close, though. PREDICTION: A&M by 3. 
  4. No.1 Alabama (-18.5) at Vanderbilt: After Vandy upset Kansas State in Nashville last week, there were plenty of chants of ‘We Want Bama’. Well, Derek Mason, now you’ve got ’em. Nick Saban’s telling everyone that the Crimson Tide shouldn’t be taking the Commodores lightly, and nor should they. Both teams have very good defenses. Having said that, we can’t see past the fact that Derek Mason & Co aren’t going to find it easy trying to stop Alabama’s ground attack – which includes a very capable QB in Jaylen Hurts, as well as a reborn-again Calvin Ridley, who’s averaging 14.3 yards per reception. PREDICTION: Alabama by 21.
  5. No.15 Auburn (-18) at Missouri: Auburn and Missouri fans would be up there as the most annoyed fanbases in the SEC for the 2017 season, and for good reason. On the Auburn side, the much-promised offensive whirlwind of Jarrett Stidham hasn’t figured things out yet, and the offense has killed itself with turnovers and penalties. They only managed to score 24 against mighty Mercer, and everyone’s asking questions. On the Missouri side, things are so bad that the DC has already been booted, the team got ran out of the building by Purdue, and there was a player’s only meeting where the team no doubt yelled a lot about pride. The effects of the meeting will be interesting to see at Faurot on Saturday night. PREDICTION: Auburn by 18. 
  6. Syracuse at No.25 LSU (-21.5): The biggest news of the week happened on Wednesday when LSU RB and Heisman hopeful Derrius Guice was ruled out of the Tiger Stadium match-up after getting gang-tackled and injured in the Tigers 37-7 surprise loss to Mississippi State. To add to the news of Guice’s injury the horror performance in Starkville on Saturday has suddenly started the ‘Coach O can’t coach’ train a-running, and suddenly LSU NEEDS to win against Syracuse…and needs to win well. Their opponent from upper New York State is 2-1 and hasn’t faced an ACC opponent, with the loss against Middle Tennessee and convincing wins over FCS teams. So far this season, it’s been stingy against the rush (allowing just 84.3 yards/game), and you can expect them to stack the box against Darrel Williams, Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, forcing Danny Etling to throw. This will be a slow burner for LSU fans. Be prepared to grumble in the first half, Tigers fans. PREDICTION: LSU by 24
  7. Louisiana Tech at South Carolina (-8): Now that Deebo Samuel’s done for the year, the South Carolina offense is suddenly looking for answers about who’s going to be their go-to guy. While some players are using the words “Next man up” to try and instil some team confidence, the fact is this: The loss of Samuel has made Carolina a lot worse, and takes them from SEC East contender into also-ran. Again (Read: The loss of Marcus Lattimore a few seasons ago). Luckily for Carolina, they play Louisiana Tech’s defense, which averages a total of 405 yards/game given up, so they can have players like Shi Smith and Bryan Edwards get some important catching experience before the Cocks face Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Louisiana Tech’s hardly great offensely (99th in passing, 120th in rushing and 105th in total yards per game), and at the moment it’s still more famous for 3rd and 93 than it is for anything else they’ve done this season. PREDICTION: We can’t believe Vegas thinks this one will be close. South Carolina by 21.
  8. U Mass vs Tennessee (-27.5): If there’s a cure for sadness and outright hatred for Butch Jones in Knoxville, it should be the visit of the UMass Minutemen, who have started the season 0-4 and suddenly found no offense in the last couple of weeks after coming close at Hawaii and Coastal Carolina. Tennessee’s offense might not have done anything against Florida (although you know that the tailgate around Neyland will be full of the words: “We should have won that damned game”), but it’s sure to do a lot against UMass. This one will be over before half-time. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 35.

 

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.
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