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.

Week 3 SEC Preview: Vols-Gators, MSU-LSU

With the destruction of Hurricane Irma still lingering over the State of Florida, there will be a lot of positive sentiment flowing towards the Florida Gators in Week 3. Can they back it up with a good offensive performance against Tennessee?

The SEC Football Blog previews that game and all the others involving SEC teams in our Week 3 preview….

  1. No.23 Tennessee vs No.24 Florida (-5.5): From 2005 to 2016, Tennessee-Florida was hardly a rivalry. Florida won 11 in a row. Sure, 2014 and 2015 had been squeakers, but it just didn’t look as though UT would beat the Gators. Then 2016 happened, and Tennessee romped to a 10-point victory. Suddenly, after Florida fell apart against Michigan on Week 1 (sadly, it’s the last we saw of them because of Hurricane Irma), and Tennessee started the season 2-0, the questions are less about Butch Jones’ coaching ability and more about Jim McElwain’s. Yes, we know that Florida has an incredible defense, and – as Michigan found out – anything disastrous from Tennessee QB Quinten Dormady could result in a Pick-6. Tennessee showed that they can score AND come back from big deficits against Georgia Tech, and the Indiana State game was a predicted slaughter. WR Antonio Callaway and RB Jordan Scarlett will miss the game through suspension (as well as seven other depth players), which has been seen as a bonus. What we think gives Florida an edge is the fact that Florida has The Swamp behind it. With Florida mourning from Irma after the awful hit, the Gators will see it as a moment to fight for the State. And the Vols had better watch out. PREDICTION: Florida by 7.
  2. No. 12 LSU (-7) vs Mississippi State: There haven’t been a lot of teams who have made more impressive starts than LSU, who showed both youth and skill in a lot of places. But as they showed for the last 3 years (including a win with Dak Prescott in Tiger Stadium), this team under Dan Mullen isn’t going to lie down and let LSU give them a geaux-ing over. Last week Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State was very impressive in smashing La. Tech on a road 57-21 in a game many thought could cause the Bulldogs a lot more headaches than actually happened. Fitzgerald could cause this Tiger secondary – who calls itself ‘DBU’ – a lot of problems, and so could Aeris Williams, who’s averaging 7.6 yards per carry this season. So could running backs Jefferey Simmons and Montez Sweat on the other side of the ball. For LSU, Arden Key, LSU’s best pass rusher and future NFL first round pick, is back after injury but Coach O has said that he’s not confident he’ll play the whole game. One of the most interesting factors will be how LSU Derrius Guice deals with a firmer defense than he’s played for the last two games. Guice hasn’t exactly exploded out of the gates so far this year, averaging just 5.3 yards per play on 45 carries. This game could be one of the best SEC games of the year. And one thing’s for certain, we’ll hear a few bells ringing. PREDICTION: LSU by 10 in a game a hell of a lot closer than that until the final few minutes. 
  3. Kentucky at South Carolina (-6.5): Of all the SEC teams, we’ll throw it out there and say South Carolina’s had the most testing of schedules. The NC State game wasn’t easy, going into Missouri wasn’t (meant to be) easy, and now Kentucky, who some people talking about as a vastly improving team, come into Columbia for the Gamecocks’ first game of the season. That ain’t easy. But South Carolina’s 2-0, they dismantled a very good offense in Missouri spectacularly easily, and Jake Bentley’s looking like one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. As for Kentucky, they are 2-0 but haven’t convinced anybody. I like Carolina, and I like Carolina a lot. PREDICTION: South Carolina by 14, smashing the spread.
  4. Ole Miss (-3.5 to 4) vs Cal: If any of these two teams’ defenses have been anything to go by in the last two weeks, then this game should be awesome. Cal gives up 505.5 pts per game, while Ole Miss gives up around 354. Both sides have given up 6 touchdowns this year to pretty terrible opponents. And it’s a 10.30 ET game, and it could be the most spectacularly high-scoring of the night, with the good money on the over/under of 72.5 getting blown out like the marijuana smoke from them Hippies’ lungs up there.  Even Ole Miss’ fan website haven’t a clue about what will happen. That’s what will make it so damned fun. PREDICTION: Ole Miss in a high-scoring crazy one, winning by 10 in a late-night classic (for the record, I think Ole Miss by 10 might be conservative).  
  5. No.18 Kansas State (-4) vs Vanderbilt: Bill Snyder’s team of veterans come into Nashville as a 4-point favorite, and we’re pretty excited about this one, as it could be under-the-radar. Derek Mason’s given this team a lot of hope this year, despite not playing anybody and going 2-0. Kansas State hasn’t played either, so it’ll be interesting. PREDICTION: Vanderbilt wins in the upset. 
  6. Purdue vs Missouri (-7): Things have gotten so bad at Missouri that the Tigers fired their defensive coordinator after just two games into 2017 (If we’re honest, he should have gone after the 2016 debacle, but that’s another story). After their horrific all-around performance against South Carolina (and Purdue’s ‘lucky getaway’ loss against Missouri (it could have been a lot more), there are thoughts that Missouri could be better. Vegas doesn’t seem to think so, making the Tigers only 7 point favorites. If Barry Odom loses this one, prepare for the seat to be set to boiling. PREDICTION: Missouri wins by 14, but no-one’s satisfied.
  7. ULL vs Texas A&M (-24): The world is expecting Texas A&M to rout ULL after they were dropped 66-42 by Tulsa last Saturday, and we’re expecting it too. But to do this, A&M desperately needs an offense. Kevin Sumlin’s still struggling about who will be the QB – Jake Hubenak or Kellen Mond, and the defense is simply struggling. Traeyvon Williams and Keith Ford should keep running the ball down the Ragin Cajuns’ throat all night long, as the Aggies seek a big blow-out victory. PREDICTION: Aggies by 30.
  8. Colorado State vs Alabama (-28.5): Nick Saban seems to believe in the Rams, called Mike Bobo’s team a “really good football team”. Vegas doesn’t seem to, believing the Crimson Tide will win by over four touchdowns. To be fair on Colorado State, a lot of Rams fans believe that they should have had the upset over Colorado in the ‘Weed Bowl’ after blowing out Oregon State in Week 1. The name Crimson Tide fans have got to look for is WR Michael Gallup, who’s a big NFL prospect. We look forward to the Gallup vs Fitzpatrick battle in the secondary…..if QB Nick Stevens is given any time to throw! PREDICTION: Alabama rolls by 31, but it’s a lot easier than that.
  9. Mercer vs No.15 Auburn: After not getting into the end-zone against a beastly Clemson defense, the fanbase will be looking for the Tigers to run up the score against Mercer’s defense who is yet to play a quality opponent. This is their time. PREDICTION: Auburn by 45, leaving Auburn fans a little happier. 
  10. Samford vs Georgia: There’s a lot of excitement about Georgia QB Jake Fromm after the Bulldogs came out of Notre Dame with a 20-19 victory, and Bulldogs fans will look for the $1m game (well, Samford’s getting paid $1m to get the butts in Athens in front of next-to-nobody) to show that the offense can really, really click. Look for less about Fromm and more about Nick Chubb and Sony Michel running riot. PREDICTION: Georgia by 50. At least.

Oh, and we’re not usually the kind to give some out-of-conference betting tips, but we would urge you to stay the heck away from Clemson (-3)-Louisville, but WOULD encourage you to take USC as a 16.5 point favorite against Texas. We saw Texas in Austin on Saturday, and we can safely say that Texas is horrible. 

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. 

Can Auburn beat Clemson? SEC Previews for Week 2

fAmid a lot of crap,  there are three great non-conference games for the SEC, featuring Auburn going to Clemson, Georgia rolling down to Notre Dame, and TCU rolling into Arkansas. In the SEC, we have our first in-conference game of the year with South Carolina rolling into Missouri for the battle of the Columbias. The rest of the games, well, aren’t very interesting.

Oh, and thoughts are out there to all Floridian players and fans as Hurricane Irma rolls in. Hope everyone stays safe. And if you didn’t know already, Florida cancelled their game with Northern Colorado at The Swamp.

So here are your games in order of what’s interesting…

  1. No. 13 Auburn at No.3 Clemson (-6.5): I’ll get this one out of the way early: It’s not like Auburn’s not used to playing in Death Valley! They have to play there every other year. This game won’t be full of drunken, loud Cajuns….it’ll be full of drunk, loud South Carolinians wearing orange and purple. We expect more of a celebration tailgate between the two sets of fans, bearing in mind Clemson’s accomplishments last season against Auburn’s most hated rival. As for the game, Clemson’s favored by 6.5 and if we’re honest, we kinda like it. Although it’s hard to say against substandard opponents, Clemson impressed me more than Auburn did. Clemson seem to have something special in Kelly Bryant, but we’ll see how he fares against stronger opposition. Auburn’s got Jarrett Stidham, who’s a known quantity and will test Clemson’s ‘D’ to it’s full with his spread attack and three awesome running backs with Kam Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Kyle Davis. Pettway and WR Kyle Davis both come back from suspension. Clemson’s still got plenty of weapons to test Auburn’s secondary. This will be fun. PREDICTION: Clemson by 7 in a barnburner of a game.
  2. No.15 Georgia at No.24 Notre Dame (-4): This was such a joke to gamblers early on that the line moved from -6.5 to -4. Vegas still thinks Notre Dame beats the Dawgs in South Bend – although we think a lot of that is dependent on the fact that Jacob Eason went down with an injury against Appalachian State, and they think that Irish QB Brandon Wimbush is going to be better than UGA starter Jake Fromm, and that Notre Dame’s going to be able to stop UGA RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. For us, the biggest factor will be what Notre Dame’s pass rushers can do to Georgia’s young-and-susceptible offensive line. If they can get through them, Fromm will be running for his life. Georgia’s ‘D’ is pretty solid, by the way, so give them some credit out there, but if the O-Line is making a game a perpetual 3-and-out (see Michigan vs Florida last week for example), Georgia’s in trouble. PREDICTION: Georgia to win by 3.
  3. No.23 TCU (-3) at Arkansas: Last year’s game – which went into double overtime – was electric and we’re hoping for the same when the Horned Frogs roll into Fayetteville. In Week 1 both sides teed off against crappy opponents and got the expected blow-out, givers-of-confidence results that you would expect and normally get, so this game provides quite the opponent markup. TCU is going to bring out a fast-paced offense that’s going to give Arkansas a lot of problems, while we expect Arkansas to pound the Horned Frogs with a solid running game that features Chase Hayden. If Arkansas’ offensive line doesn’t hold out and Austin Allen isn’t given the time, the Razorbacks are in trouble. PREDICTION: TCU wins by 7 in a high-scoring classic.
  4. South Carolina at Missouri (-2): I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU VEGAS! South Carolina beat NC State, one of the better ACC opponents in a thrilling victory, while Missouri showed all of us that if there’s a defense, then they have heard of it (although if there’s an offense, they certainly have). We expect a high-scoring fun one with both defenses driving their head coaches crazy, both quarterbacks (USC’s Jake Bentley and Mizzou’s Drew Lock) to post great numbers, and one side to stop another maybe sometime. USC showed thta it could do that in a close game against NC State, but will they continue it against Missouri? We think they will. PREDICTION: South Carolina wins a barnburner by 3, but if we’re honest, we’re more confidence about the ‘over’ at 71.5. We also like the ‘over’ for 71.5.
  5. Mississippi State (-8.5) at Louisiana Tech: Vegas thinks that this one will be pretty close, but we don’t think it will be, despite MSU being on the road. We can’t wait to see if Nick Fitzgerald picks his act up from Week 1 to Week 2 (last week 16-29, 239 yards, 2 TDs), where we expect him to get a fuller game than he did last time. This could be one of those spread blow-out games. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 18.
  6. Fresno State at No.1 Alabama (-44): You’ll know that Alabama beat Fresno State, but what you might not know is that Fresno State beat college football monster Incarnate Word 63-0 on Saturday. That’s about as deep as we’re going to get this one, because we expect Alabama to roll. If you’re a gambler I’d keep away from this one because Nick Saban would really p*** you off late on with a late Fresno TD against the second team. PREDICTION: Alabama by 41. As we said, watch the late TD stuff. 
  7. UT-Chatanooga vs No.12 LSU: LSU’s defense was incredible against BYU last week, keeping them to -5 rushing yards and choking any offense that the Cougars may have brought with them to New Orleans. And let’s be honest, we expect the same to be done in Death Valley. Vegas thinks the game is going to be so close that it’s not allowing bets on it. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 40, and it’s not even that close.
  8. Nicholls State vs Texas A&M: There are so many internal issues at Texas A&M (Coach Kevin Sumlin not only on the hotseat after the UCLA loss but also getting no support from an A&M regent after said loss as well as racial abuse sent to his home) that even a medium side would feel that they could capitalise on the calamity at Kyle. But Nicholls State isn’t one of those teams. PREDICTION: A&M. Easily.
  9. Eastern Kentucky vs Kentucky: After coming through the struggle at Southern Miss, Kentucky will have it pretty easy about Eastern Kentucky. Commonwealth Stadium will be expecting Stephen Johnson to rack up the passing yards, CJ Conrad to catch a TD or three, and this game to be over by half-time. PREDICTION: UK by over 40.
  10. UT Martin at Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze blah blah…..Hugh Freeze….Ole Miss coming back blah blah……PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 40. 
  11. Indiana State at No.25 Tennessee: Sadly, Larry Bird won’t be playing WR for Indiana State. If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young. Anyway, Tennessee scrapped through against Georgia Tech and guessed right to stop a 2-point conversion in double overtime, and this game should be over by halftime. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 50. 
  12. Alabama A&M vs Vanderbilt: Derek Mason’s psyched about this game, but he’s the only one. PREDICTION: Vandy by 41 after changing team at halftime.

Calm down about Kevin Sumlin, Aggies fans

The Texas A&M fanbase really, really needs to calm down about Kevin Sumlin.

Yes, the loss to UCLA was stunning, nearly equalling the biggest-ever comeback by a school (33 points instead of Michigan State’s 34-pt one against Northwestern).

But let’s get this into context: UCLA was damned lucky, too.

Here’s why:

  1. Josh Rosen had a TD that should have been Deshawn Capers-Smith’s INT, but it wasn’t. I’d say 9 times out of 10 Capers-Smith has the INT and a big return from it, but for some reason, it went through his hands and UCLA added to the TD.
  2. Second, Rosen throws the ball into a crowd of people and the UCLA WR comes up with the ball. That’s luck, folks.
  3. And finally, the refs at the game didn’t see Jordan Lasley bobble the ball for the game-tying TD. It should have been overturned and reviewed, but it wasn’t.
  4. Nick Starkel was doing a pretty fine job as A&M’s QB, going 6-13 for 62 yards. He was clever in his game management and made sure that Traevyon Williams and Keith Ford had the ball without making mistakes. Williams and Ford then absolutely routed UCLA’s defense. Now, there are arguments that Sumlin should have given the ball to his two horses for the second half too, but it seemed as though when Starkel got injured, Kellen Mond took his place and the offense changed to a more spread-like look, with Mond doing a lot more running. That’s good, because Mond was atrocious at throwing (3 for 17), but good at running (54 yards). Had Starkel continued playing, you have a feeling A&M would have run the game down UCLA’s throats, and won.

Of course, there were some hideous moments that had a lot of A&M fans cry: “What the heck?”

  1. Why weren’t the running backs used more during the second half? Williams, after scourging UCLA for 188 yards in the first half, only had 7 touches in the second. We think it was due to the ‘Mond’ thing, but we’re not quite certain.
  2. A&M changes kicker for the fourth and final FG, with Braden Mann taking over from Daniel LaCamera. Mann misses. Why? We’ll never know.
  3. A&M’s pass defense was dreadful. It really was. Especially in the second half.

But why go and scream for Sumlin’s head? Because A&M lost at UCLA, which is a Pac-12 school armed with NFL talent at quarterback and receiver? Because UCLA got lucky? Please. If A&M fails to go a bowl and finishes at the bottom of the SEC West, then let’s talk about Sumlin walking. Not after one game.

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…

 

Auburn names Stidham as starting QB

Auburn has named transfer Jarrett Stidham as the Tigers starting quarterback for the 2017 season.

Stidham, who transferred from Baylor after amassing 1,265 yards, 12 TDs and 2 INTs in just three games of his freshman season before he decided to leave in May 2016 following Art Briles’ firing following his ignoring of mass sexual abuse by his players on random females.

Gus Malzahn will hope that Stidham will prove to be more successful than his trio of quarterbacks were in 2016. Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and Jonathan Franklin III all failed to catch fire. Franklin III announced on Tuesday that he is transferring to Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic team after failing to get even considered for the starting position, while Jeremy Johnson was not drafted following a poor college career. Franklin was also trying to compete for a wide receiving job.

Stidham has given Auburn a new excitement going into the 2017 season, particularly bearing in mind how good he is at learning one of the top spread offenses in college football (we can blame Briles for many things, but he is still an offensive genius). Stidham also has a young, talented receiving attack  led by Ryan Davis and Eli Stove.

Also Stidham’s corps of running backs is also strong, with Kam Pettway and Kerryon Johnson very good SEC talent.

Florida suspends 7, but will it make a huge difference?

The Florida Gators suspended seven players for the season-opening clash with Michigan at JerryWorld – including troubled wide receiver Anotnio Callaway.

They were charged for buying stuff at the school bookstore on their school IDs using money they didn’t have, then reselling them for cash.

And while they weren’t arrested and charged for fraud, coach Jim McElwain wasn’t happy. “We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing” he said in a statement. “Action has been taken — they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity and we will have some players step up as we move forward.”

Callaway was suspended alongside OL Kadeem Telfort, LBs James Houston and Ventrell Miller and DLs Jordan Smith, Richerd Desir-Jones and Keivonnis Davis.

And although the news that the team had lost seven players might be big for the headlines, the actual fact is that it probably won’t hurt the Gators as much as its anticipated. The reason why? Depth. Florida is already anticipated to have one of the deepest wide receiving corps in the country, so losing Callaway – and then only for one game – probably isn’t going to kill them. Secondly, no-one apart from Callaway was expected to start, according to Gators Breakdown, the Florida podcast. Thirdly, Michigan has problems of their own, having lost a ton of talent on both sides of the ball to the NFL.

 

Why the NCAA should forgive Ole Miss

The NCAA should forgive Ole Miss and get on with life.

By way of Houston Nutt, they’ve already got their prized cow in Hugh Freeze, and now they are going to do just about everything to burn Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork and friends at the stake. That’s because the NCAA is greedy, and the NCAA wants to look like the father that never gives up.

Listen, I’m not saying that Ole Miss didn’t do anything wrong. Anyone who knows anything about football in the SEC knows that players are paid to come to schools, to play at schools, and are rewarded for playing well at schools. The people that do it are either do-gooders or cult members. We’re still trying to work out which one they are.

And we’ve read about the stories of the Bagmen, and we know that thousands upon thousands more of them exist. For some reason, they love the idea of giving money to an establishment so the players can have a better life. It’s probably their own ego, or a story to tell around their other church – you know, the one where they worship Jesus Christ. But before anyone starts having massive sympathy for FBS Football player, it’s not like they have the world’s hardest time when they are school away from the football field.

Football players are known (generally) to have the tendency of taking the easiest classes, possibly/maybe getting people to do tests for them because they are so ****ing lazy (or stupid) to do it themselves/, getting three big meals per day, and getting adored by just about everybody. Oh, and there’s also the maximum female attention, too. And if you’re at a school like Clemson, you get a fun-slide, and if you’re at Alabama, you get your own taxi service to ensure that you don’t get into trouble on a Saturday night (or at least they didn’t during Julio Jones’ time there).

But with all this, we still can’t understand why the NCAA can’t work towards the idea of players getting a much bigger increase in playing stipend – or even getting paid to play. With the money the Group of 5 schools are making from their players in everything from endorsements: “The Tennessee Volunteers: The Official SEC team of Happiness” to TV deals (The SEC Network), yet the players seem to pocket nothing. I’m sure that the geniuses at the NCAA and the member schools think this is an incredible idea, but let’s be honest: The idea that players can go for 4 years, not even start for a first team, get the crap beaten out of them at every practice, and then not get paid….it’s an absolute joke.

As this carries on, you’ll get more Ole Miss stories. And more accusations by other schools about what schools do. Stories of watches going to major football players at [Name your school here], or weed to players at [Name a lot of schools here], or money going to [Name a lot of schools here]. The worst thing for the NCAA is that everything that seems to go through their mighty infractions office seems to be done at a sloth-like pace anyway, so why not get rid of it all and put in some sort of salary cap?

So why not drop the whole case and put in something that makes everyone’s lives easier? The players are pretty good at getting benefits anyway….

Can Florida win three SEC East titles in a row?

MAs much as everyone keeps on talking about Georgia, the brutal fact is this: Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005. Since Georgia’s last SEC title, Florida has won two of them. Georgia hasn’t been to Atlanta since 2012, while Florida have been to the last two.

Florida’s also won the last three Cocktail Parties against Georgia.

So who’s going to win the SEC East?

  1. Florida — Georgia might have the tailbacks, but Florida brings back a hell of a lot of experience on the receiving front, with Antonio Callaway leading the way. If Callaway can keep his nose (and lungs) clean, then the Gators have an excellent WR who had 721 yards and 3 TDs last year. If Dre Massey can also be 100%, then Florida’s really dangerous. And despite all the talk about Malik Zaire starting as quarterback, it seems as though Feleipe Franks has started in Jim McElwain’s good graces, kicking off the season’s practices with the first-team offense. And if the offensive line can play beyond expectations and keep Franks/Zaire alive, the Gators could be exciting. Oh, and while we’re mentioning exciting, things are going to be interesting with the Gators defense. New DC Randy Shannon is a fantastic hire by McElwain, and he should have some solid returnees in DE Cece Jefferson, safeties Nick Washington and  Marcell Harris. But will they be OK after losing 8 starters? Florida’s schedule sees the Gators play Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State at home, and Michigan and Georgia in neutral site venues. These Gators could shine. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to FSU and LSU)
  2. Georgia — It must be because Athens is pretty close to the SEC Network’s base in Atlanta, but everyone’s – again – drooling about the Bulldogs. OK, I GET that Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the best running back combinations in the SEC. Although please name in a season where both players have managed to get through the whole season unimpeded by injury. Eljah Holyfield has been named as an exciting prospect if when one gets injured. Quarterbacks-wise, everyone with a red shirt will talk your ear off about Jacob Eason, and we know he has the skills. But get this: He’s still got a young offensive line, and his biggest piece of receiving talent has gone in Isaiah McKenzie, who at times lived up to his nickname as the ‘Human Joystick’. Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley will have a lot of slack to pick up. Defensively, Trenton Thompson (58 tackles, 5 sacks) and LB Davin Ballamy can be stars alongside a defensive line which is will be one the best in the nation. The biggest problem for UGA is a nasty schedule which sees them go to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Auburn and play a tricky Mississippi State team who has the kind of quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald to exploit their secondary. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to Auburn and Florida, meaning Florida goes to SEC Championship Game.
  3. Missouri — This could be a very good team, but then again, this also could be a very bad one. The returners are potential stars, with QB Drew Lock, RBs Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter and there’s a star in there in J’Mon Moore, who led all SEC receivers by averaging 84.4 per game. However, Moore dropped EIGHTEEN catches (that’s 22.5% of all balls thrown his way). He’s claimed a new focus, but we’ll have to see. Defensively, Missouri’s going to have to stop the rot. With Charles Harris now gone, the pressure’s going to be on former five-star prospect Terry Beckner Jr, who has struggled with injuries ever since he’s arrived in Columbia. He could be a frightening prospect for opposing offensive lines – especially if Marcell Frazier can get back to his best. Mizzou brings back an experienced linebacking corps who SHOULD improve from 2016. Schedule-wise, things aren’t easy with trips to Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas, and the home games to Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are hardly gimmes either. PREDICTION: 8-4
  4. Tennessee —- If he doesn’t succeed, 2017 might be Butch Jones’ last at Rocky Top. Unfortunately for Jones, he’ll have to replace some studs to save his job. QB Joshua Dobbs, top RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, top CB Cam Sutton, top DEs Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen have all left Knoxville. That’s a lot of talent. And to make matters worse, QB Quinten Dormady – who’s seen as the potential starter – isn’t highly thought-of in the least, although WRs Jauan Jennings and Josh Smith and TE Ethan Wolf could cause problems. They’ll also be helped by an O-Line which is one of the most solid in the conference. However, the defensive losses are massive. Barnett and Vereen’s losses take 75% of last year’s sack production. The schedule is evil, with trips to Florida and Alabama as well as home games against Georgia and  LSU. They could well go 0-4 in those games. The trips to Kentucky and Missouri won’t be easy either.  PREDICTION: 6-6 (And Butch Jones gets fired after the season ends)
  5. South Carolina — People are actually pretty excited about Gamecocks football this season. After finishing 6-7, Carolina returns with a quarterback who came in under-the-radar for the second half of the year, starting seven games, going 4-3, and throwing for 1,420 yards and 9 TDs and 4 INTs. That’s Jake Bentley. Deebo Samuel (WR) and Hayden Hurst (TE) are both receivers who cause trouble for anyone’s secondary. Speaking of secondaries, the Gamecocks return five out of their top six DBs, led by the CB trio of Jamarcus King, Chris Lammons and Rashad Fenton. The big issue for them is a nasty schedule, in which they go to Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Missouri. They’ve also got a local rival who may have won the National Championship at home. They’ll be happy to go 3-2 in that space. Which we don’t think they will. PREDICTION: 5-7.
  6. Kentucky — Everyone seems to be tipping Kentucky for magnificent things this season, but I’m not convinced. The defense – which was horrible against the rush last season (110th in the FBS, giving up 228.2 yards/game at 5.15 per rush) doesn’t really improve, and they are in a conference where rushing is a big component. Their schedule – they face Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Louisville, Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas (amongst others) will feature teams who will try and test them. If they can improve, good things will help. Stephen Johnson is an excellent QB and WRs Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker could cause defenses problems. But I’m sorry, I’m not sold. PREDICTION: 5-7 (Win over Ole Miss makes life better pulls people back on Mark Stoops bandwagon)
  7. Vanderbilt — I want to point this out: I really like Derek Mason, Vanderbilt’s head coach. He seems like the sort of head coach who would actually suspend a starter if they were arrested black-out drunk at the driver’s seat of his car, whatever the game they had to start the new season. You know, unlike another guys we could mention. But that doesn’t mean I think they are going to be great. Here’s why: They’ve lost a ton of talent on the offensive line and they aren’t bringing it back. The poor offensive line – against formidable defensive competition – is going to hurt Davis Webb, Vandy’s QB. If that doesn’t work, then it’s going to be a long old season. Defensively, saying goodbye to the excellent Zach Cunningham is going to be a big blow. The schedule is nasty with games against Alabama and Ole Miss, and they’ll have to go to The Swamp and to Tennessee. Otherwise, the Dores play UGA, Missouri and Kentucky at home. PREDICTION: 4-8 (Although they’ll score a stunning win over Kansas State).
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