Previewing The Iron Bowl and every other #RivalryWeek game in the SEC

Because it gives me a chance to ignore the extended family and watch football for three days, I love Rivalry Weekend. It starts with the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night, and then moves through like a hurricane until the regular season (sniff! Sniff!) winds up at the end of Saturday.

This rivalry week for the SEC looks pretty damned special. There’s an Iron Bowl at Auburn, with Alabama visiting. We’ll hear the words ‘Kick Six’ mentioned a lot, and Harvey Updyke’s name may crop up ever so often. The story that’ll probably get missed this week is about Rodney Alexander, an Alabama fan who shot an Auburn fan this week over an Iron Bowl disagreement. That almost puts Updyke and Smoking Lady to shame.

There’s also ‘Good Ole Fashioned Hate’ as Georgia goes to Georgia Tech, The Egg Bowl which sees Ole Miss and Mississippi State (regardless of what people think, they really hate each other down there), and Florida versus Florida State, which is actually going to be one of the worst games of the year (Chip Kelly or no Chip Kelly). There’s Louisville vs Kentucky in the Bluegrass Bowl, where we see LeSean Jackson play. LSU hosts Texas A&M as the ‘replacement game’ for the Aggies’ traditional Texas game (that got called off when they went to the SEC, which in my mind is still the biggest load of B.S. since the Longhorn Network) for what could be Kevin Sumlin’s goodbye, and surging Missouri goes to Arkansas is what could be Bret Bielema’s last, too. Arkansas fans are praying so.

Oh, and there’s the terrible, terrible games of Tennessee playing Vanderbilt, which pits two 0-7 SEC teams, and Florida State going to Florida. All four teams suck so much that trying to work out the best one is a law unto itself.

So here are the games in order of interest for this writer:

  1. Alabama (-4) at Auburn: There is going to be some atmosphere in Jordan-Hare – especially with the SEC West division and a potential play-off trip on the line. We should see both sides beat the living crap out of each other on the lines, but I still think Calvin Ridley can cause Auburn’s secondary more damage than Auburn’s receivers can do to Mykah Fitzpatrick and friends. PREDICTION: Alabama by 7.
  2. Georgia (-11) at Georgia Tech: A lot of people keep telling us how Georgia Tech’s slow play will stop them getting beaten into a pulp by UGA, but my argument is is that UGA’s fast play – thanks to its electric running backs and fast, fast defense – may rack up the points before Tech can even stop them. PREDICTION: Georgia by 14.
  3. Missouri (-9.5) at Arkansas: The ‘Bert Bowl’ is really interesting, because it could be Bielema and Jen’s last game. Then Wisconsin fans will scream ‘karma’. Missouri is an offensive juggernaut at the moment, but will it last against an Arkansas team who have been fighting quite a lot recently for its coach? PREDICTION: Arkansas by 3 in an upset. But carrying Bielema off the pitch would be the biggest feat by this Arkansas team.
  4. Texas A&M at LSU (-10): Another game in which we could say goodbye to another coach, the Aggies travel to LSU. Again, a sneaky pick for one of the funner games of the week, Kevin Sumlin – who is rumoured to be leaving College Station very soon indeed – has to jack up his Aggies in a game that they have never won. Ed Orgeron’s team also has a knack of playing down to its opponents. PREDICTION: No major celebrations here. LSU by 10.
  5. Clemson (-13.5) at South Carolina: If Jake Bentley can keep away from throwing INTS (the last time he played vaguely competent defenses he threw five of them), then this could be a classic. Clemson, with all their firepower, still aren’t the same team that won the National Championship last year. A Clemson loss would make an OK season for South Carolina all the sweeter, because it would knock the Tigers out of Play-Off contention for good. PREDICTION: Clemson by 10 in a battle.
  6. Louisville (-10) at Kentucky: This is more about saying goodbye to one of college football’s greatest players (Lemar Jackson). If Kentucky defends him badly, he’ll have a field day. But then again, Louisville’s ‘D’ is nothing to write home about, and Kentucky could well exploit it –especially in front of a partisan Commonwealth Stadium crowed. Oh, and there’s Bobby Petrino’s return to the SEC. Apparently, his time at Arkansas was a bit of a [motorcycle] wreck. PREDICTION: Louisville by 7 in a high-scoring thriller.
  7. Ole Miss at Mississippi State (-14.5): The rumors are circling about Dan Mullen leaving. By the end of Sunday, he could have a choice (Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas). But right now he’ll have to concentrate on the Ole Miss game with Mr UT-CHATTANOOGA Nick Fitzgerald. Ole Miss can score points, too. This Egg Bowl will be very fun indeed. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 10 – although it’s close going into the 4th
  8. Florida State (-5) vs Florida: I remember when this used to be a HUGE, HUGE GAME. Now, it’s a match-up between two of the worst teams in the State of Florida. Maybe Chip Kelly will spice up the rivalry next year – especially if Jimbo Fisher moves to Texas A&M, where he’s rumoured to be going after this year’s massive failure. PREDICTION: Florida State by 3 in a close, entertaining game.
  9. Tennessee (-1) at Vanderbilt: It’ll be like watching ‘America’s best sports crashes’. Seriously. Here at the SEC Football Blog we’ll wait around for the final score for this one…and we pity any fans actually going. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 10. That’s how bad Vanderbilt is.

The SEC Rankings after Crap Saturday don’t change very much

The best thing about Crap Saturday is that that weekend ends all the weekends of crap games, and it’s one week before our favorite long weekend of the year: Rivalry Week.

But we’ll get onto Rivalry Week tomorrow, once we’ve basked in the glory of last Saturday’s incredible SEC schedule, which saw zero upsets, one close, fun game and….er…. (in other non-SEC news) Baker Mayfield grabbed his crotch at some Kansans, and then wrote his usual apology.

So here’s your SEC rankings from 1-14.

  1. Alabama: Heroically beat Mercer to preserve unbeaten season. Games like the Mercer vs Alabama is why we love SEC Football.
  2. Auburn: Struggled early against Louisiana-Monroe, but eventually hit the gear they were looking for. They could have done with an easier tune-up before the Iron Bowl.
  3. Georgia: The Dawgs absolutely dominated Kentucky. We already can’t wait to the SEC Championship Game.
  4. Mississippi State: One week they play like they play like Champions, the next week they struggle against Arkansas. That’s why they dropped a beat. We still don’t understand Dan Mullen’s great mystery of a team. But it’s fun.
  5. LSU: Beat Tennessee in horrific conditions in which we saw goalposts nearly fall down, an Ed Orgeron interview for the ages, and Noah building an ark.
  6. Texas A&M: Won a thriller in Oxford where first-half defense was so bad we thought it was going to be a Pac-12 game. Sadly, both sides managed to play some defense in the second half, and the Aggies won 31-24. Still, it was a fun game.
  7. Missouri: The Tigers continued their surge by crushing Vanderbilt on the road. They are now bowl-eligible. After the Purdue game, that seemed unthinkable. Will Drew Lock go after this junior year? Probably….but it’s inadvisable.
  8. Ole Miss: We’re looking forward to the Egg Bowl a hell of a lot more than we did when the Rebels lost at Cal a month or two ago.
  9. South Carolina: Beat Wofford. But we’ll say this – if the Gamecocks played Kentucky right now, they’d probably beat them.
  10. Kentucky: Housed by Georgia. But the Cats are bowl-eligible, and that’s fine for Stoops & Co.
  11. Arkansas: Actually played pretty well against Mississippi State. You have to wonder what might have happened if their QBs hadn’t either been injured or suspended.
  12. Florida: The Gators actually ruined my weekend, because they beat UAB and we love Bill Clark so much that we wanted a fairytale ending to what’s been a glorious season. It’s not that we hate Florida, it’s just that we love UAB. Because UAB’s amazing.
  13. Tennessee: Battled the elements against LSU, but they were closed down by an excellent defense.
  14. Vanderbilt: Eeew. The Commodores are so damned bad at the moment that I’m taking Tennessee in the game this week.

Crap Saturday: Previewing the worst weekend in the SEC season

Some rude SEC hater (@SECexposed) called this weekend of the college football season #chickenshitSaturday, and when I looked at the SEC schedule, I had to agree. If there are any Alabama fans getting excited over the chance of watching the Crimson Tide eviscerate Mercer, then you probably need to get out more. But please don’t poison trees or smoke in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both will get you in trouble and be the butt of jokes here, there and everywhere.

Anyway, back to this Saturday. We’re christening it ‘Crap Saturday’, because the schedule’s a load of crap.

The biggest game is….is…. LSU’s visit to coach-less Tennesseee? Missouri’s bid for getting into an unlikely bowl against Vanderbilt, who still don’t have a SEC win? Texas A&M’s trip to Ole Miss….where both teams have given up on their season? Kentucky vs Georgia, which is expected to be less spectacle and more slaughter? Frankly, we’re repping UAB’s trip to The Swamp this weekend.

So here are your weekend’s most interesting games. We’re not going to bother with Alabama hosting Mercer, Auburn hosting UL-Monroe and South Carolina-Wofford because there’s going to be nothing close about any of those games. We’d be surprised if Vegas is going to let anyone bet on these either.

OK, so here we go…

  1. UAB at Florida (-10.5): Bill Clark has done more of a miracle with that UAB team that any well-pocketed SEC head coach has done with their team. Remember this about UAB: Certain parts of University of Alabama governing board wanted to wipe the school off the face of the earth. Well, they are back, and UAB is a magical 7-3. We know about Florida and the fact that it’s been a nightmare. What else do you want us to say? Florida’s a 10.5 point favourite in this one. PREDICTION: Florida by 14. UAB keeps it interesting until the fourth quarter. 
  2. LSU (-15.5) at Tennessee: There were great parties in Knoxville when news came through that Butch Jones had been fired at Tennessee. And then Jones added to his delightful resume by walking off with $8 million and immediately started calling recruits to tell them to go find somewhere else to play. Anyway, LSU comes into town to play a team led by Brady Hoke – himself a bit of a disaster when it came to head-coaching (Michigan, cough! cough!) – who’s now the interim head coach after spending time being the defensive line coach (yeah, that defensive line that gave up 400 yards to Missouri on Saturday). LSU isn’t on fire (they didn’t play well against Arkansas until mid-way through the second quarter of the game), but they’ll have too much for the Vols. PREDICTION: LSU by 21
  3. Mississippi State (-12) at Arkansas: The pre-end-of-season bloodbath in the SEC may continue in Fayetteville this weekend as Bret Bielema hosts a Mississippi State who must feel more than a little aggrieved to have lost their game against Alabama. Not only did they lose to some terrible coaching calls, but they also lost to some terrible refereeing ones, too. Now, against Arkansas, which keeps losing games because they are flat-out terrible, they should have no problem. The problem for MSU will be how motivated they will be after a soul-destroying loss. PREDICTION: MSU by 10. 
  4. Kentucky at Georgia (-21.5): If Georgia catches the throws they are meant to catch and come out more disciplined than they were against Kentucky, then Kentucky’s going to get run over. Georgia should play angry – because they are still in a shout for a College Football Play-Off place. And with Alabama and Auburn playing joke opponents on Saturday, this is their chance to get noticed…for good reasons. PREDICTION: Georgia by 35. Most of the fourth quarter we will have to listen to Nessler and Danielson prattle on about why the Dawgs didn’t play like this against Auburn.
  5. Texas A&M at Ole Miss (-3): This may well the most fun game of the day, which both teams prepared to put up the points. Maybe that’s why Vegas is giving an O/U of 69.5. Of course, both quarterbacks will now let themselves down and the only highlight will be Christian Kirk running for his usual touchdown, and Texas A&M getting out with 10-3 victory where half of Oxford has left to go back to the tailgate. But if Nick Starkel and Jordan Ta’amu shine – as well as WR gods A.J. Brown (Ole Miss) and Kirk – then we could be in for a fine, fun game. We are expecting a lot of points. PREDICTION: Texas A&M wins by 7, but the O/U is well over the 69.5. We can’t wait! 
  6. Missouri (-8.5) at Vanderbilt: Missouri’s flying high after one of booking in back-to-back impressive games against Florida and Tennessee (albeit one without coach, and one barely with one). Drew Lock can throw bombs, and the running backs are looking very, very good. This all bodes well for Vanderbilt, who hasn’t been able to stop anybody since they were run over by Alabama, and were destroyed by Kentucky, who normally plays down to its opponents. This does not bode well for the Commodores. PREDICTION: Missouri by 17 in a high-scorer.

Oh, and congratulations to Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina on your hard-fought victories.

Is LSU really the third best team in the SEC? Week 8 Rankings

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.

Will South Carolina increase the pressure on Butch Jones? Week 7 SEC Preview

For sheer comedy value, the nation’s eyes will probably be on Neyland Stadium for the battle between South Carolina and Tennessee. It’s no secret that Butch Jones is in the place that Will Muschamp has been many times before…..Deep, deep trouble. Also, Auburn visits LSU, Texas A&M plays Florida in a match-up that could be one of the most exciting of the day, Arkansas rolls to Alabama for a brow-beating, Missouri visits Georgia, Vanderbilt goes to Ole Miss, and for a non-conference match-up you’ve always wanted to see, BYU goes to Mississippi State.

  1. South Carolina at Tennessee (-3): The intensifying chatter about the job status of Butch Jones makes this the most interesting game of the week. The Vols are already desperate, dropping starting QB Quentin Dormady for redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, because of the fact that he’s thrown 6 INTs (and 6 TDs) and thrown just over 50%. South Carolina’s defense isn’t particularly pleasant to look at, but it can cause problems – just ask Arkansas who gave three defensive touchdowns last week. With the mood that Tennessee is in, this will be circle the wagons time. PREDICTION: Tennessee by 7.
  2. Arkansas at No.1 Alabama (-30): Speaking of pressure under head coaches, Arkansas fans are going to despise Bret Bielema as much as Alabama fans deify Nick Saban the way the team is going. And although Saban said in his press conference that the Hogs were ‘one hell of a football team’, we’re surprised that no-one in the press conference laughed. We would have done. PREDICTION: Alabama by 41. 
  3. No.10 Auburn (-7) at LSU: It should be pretty easy for Auburn to win. Simply stop the jet sweep, and make Danny Etling throw. Since Etling’s not very good, Auburn’s defense (which is very good), should shut him down. LSU’s defense is ranked 52nd in rushing defense, which means that Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway should run riot. PREDICTION: Auburn by 14, putting pressure back on Coach O and taking home victory for the first time since 1999. 
  4. Texas A&M at Florida (-2.5) : This should be fun, bearing in mind that it’s the first time the two teams have played each other since 2012 and the first time they’ve played in The Swamp since 1962 (The historical series is 2-1 Florida, btw). This year, Florida’s slightly beaten-up team has to face a Texas A&M that lost against Alabama but got a hell of a lot of plaudits. Kellen Mond is an exciting prospect (although A&M fans would probably want Kenny Hill back the way he’s playing for TCU right now), and Christian Kirk can cause damage from kick-offs as well as receptions. If Florida’s running game can’t deal with things, then that – and the injuries that seem to be piling up for the Gators – could hurt the Florida faithful. PREDICTION: Texas A&M by 7 
  5. Missouri at No.4 Georgia (-30): Georgia’s on a roll, and Missouri’s on a roll backwards. The Dawgs survived Missouri last season, but it won’t be that close this time around. Missouri simply won’t be able to stop the running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have put together over 1,000 yards and 12 TDs ALREADY, while Missouri’s offense will struggle as badly as they did against Auburn. PREDICTION: Georgia by 35.
  6. Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (-3.5): The match-up between the worst team in the SEC West and a not-particularly-great Vanderbilt team is not something ANYONE should be particularly excited about watching. We expect the stadium to struggle ot sell out, and most of the fanbase on both sides hate being there. This will be ugly….which is just how Vanderbilt would want it. PREDICTION: Vandy with the upset! Commodores by 3.  
  7. BYU at Mississippi State (-23.5): We’re sorry, but we can’t find anything nice to say about BYU’s football team this year, apart from the fact that that the Mormons I’ve met are apparently really nice people. And the way that Mississippi State’s playing, I’m struggling to say anything nice about the Bulldogs, either. The win over LSU is looking increasingly like a fluke, although against BYU Nick Fitzgerald & Co could get the season back on track. PREDICTION: Mississippi State by 28.

 

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.
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