Friday, December 17, 2010

Bowl Breakdown 2010

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we haven't been posting this year. I'm not sure why others didn't, but I had to finish up a Ph.D. My next task is to determine a computer ranking system a la Wes Colley. But I digress.

I thought some more bowl picks were in order. I'm going to include a little analysis and selections, plus my confidence points for all games. I'm not going to swear by these picks as I haven't had a great year in the pick'em department, but I'll bank on my solid analysis last year (23-11 record in picks, with several key game scores ridiculously close...see last year's post for results).

Saturday, December 18:
New Mexico Bowl (2:00 PM ET): BYU vs. UTEP - Two 6-6 teams square off in the first bowl. UTEP is on a downward slide, losing 5 of their last 6 games (including losses to UAB and Marshall), while BYU won 5 of its last 7 games, including one one-point loss to Utah. Prediction: BYU 30, UTEP 21. Confidence Points: 27. (Actual: BYU 52, UTEP 24 - Record: 1-0, 27/27 points)

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (5:30 PM ET): Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State - I thought Northern Illinois was supposed to be good, and they were shown up in the MAC by Miami of Ohio. Fresno State, although winning lately by the slimmest of margins, plays a much tougher schedule late in the season. Prediction: Fresno State 31, Northern Illinois 28. Confidence Points: 4. (Actual: Northern Illinois 40, Fresno State 17 - Record: 1-1, 27/31 points)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (9:00 PM ET): Ohio vs. Troy - Neither of these teams has played great, but Troy's solid passing game should be enough to put them over the top. Prediction: Troy 41, Ohio 23. Confidence Points: 1. (Actual: Troy 48, Ohio 21 - Record: 2-1, 28/32 points)

Tuesday, December 21:
Beef O Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg (8:00 PM ET): Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville - I'll admit that Southern Mississippi looks like the team to beat in this game, but something about Louisville keeps bringing me back to them. I can't put my finger on it, but I like Louisville here. Prediction: Louisville 27, Southern Mississippi 24. Confidence Points: 5. (Actual: Louisville 31, Southern Mississippi 28 - Record: 3-1, 33/37 points)

Wednesday, December 22:
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas (8:00 PM ET): Utah vs. Boise State - I can't believe Boise State fell as far as they did. I still think they are a solid team, and if it weren't for the backwards BCS rules preventing teams from perceived "lesser" conferences from being in BCS games, I think Boise State would be there. This seems like a no-brainer. Prediction: Boise State 48, Utah 21. Confidence Points: 33. (Actual: Boise State 26, Utah 3 - Record: 4-1, 66/70 points)

Thursday, December 23:
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Navy vs. San Diego State - Yes, the game is in San Diego. That makes it virtually a home game for the Aztecs. However, Navy has had a solid year, losing their three games by a combined 14 points. The ground attack is the best it has ever been, and the passing game was showcased in the last two games, where Ricky Dobbs had over 160 yards in each game. I'm going to take Navy as the slight upset. Prediction: Navy 35, San Diego State 34. Confidence Points: 13. (Actual: San Diego State 35, Navy 14 - Record: 4-2, 66/83 points)

Friday, December 24:
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Hawaii vs. Tulsa - Hawaii has had a return to greatness this year. They won 10 games and shared the WAC champion title with Nevada and Boise State. Granted this is not the Hawaii team of 4-5 years ago, they are nonetheless a solid team. Tulsa has also had a good year, running off wins in their last six games, including wins over quality opponents Southern Mississippi and Notre Dame. Look for a shootout in this one, with a win by the home team. Prediction: Hawaii 49, Tulsa 45. Confidence Points: 28. (Actual: Tulsa 62, Hawaii 35 - Record: 4-3, 66/111 points)

Sunday, December 26:
Little Caesar's Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Florida International vs. Toledo - Granted neither of these teams seem to be that good this year, FIU needed a 4-1 record down the stretch just to make it to 6-6. I love the Golden Panthers (my Nintendo NCAA football team of choice), but Toledo seems to have more weapons. Toledo also won the matchup last year between these two teams. Prediction: Toledo 38, FIU 20. Confidence Points: 24. (Actual: FIU 34, Toledo 32 - Record: 4-4, 66/135 points)

Monday, December 27:
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl (5:00 PM ET): Air Force vs. Georgia Tech - If you like rushing, then this is your bowl game. Featuring the top two rushing offenses of the year (GT #1, AF #2), look for the ball to enter air space only on a toss sweep. I give this game 3 hours maximum. I think these two teams are pretty evenly matched, but I'm going with Georgia Tech, also in a slight upset. Prediction: Georgia Tech 28, Air Force 24. Confidence Points: 3. (Actual: Air Force 14, Georgia Tech 7 - Record: 4-5, 66/138 points)

Tuesday, December 28:
Champs Sports Bowl (6:30 PM ET): West Virginia vs. North Carolina State - Both of these teams have been up and down this year. West Virginia's three losses are by a combined 14 points to LSU, Syracuse, and Connecticut. NC State came out like gangbusters early, then lost several games they should have won, including losses at Clemson, Maryland, and East Carolina. West Virginia has been the more consistent team of the two, in my opinion. Prediction: West Virginia 36, NC State 34. Confidence Points: 12. (Actual: NC State 23, West Virginia 7 - Record: 4-6, 66/150 points)

Insight Bowl (10:00 PM ET): Missouri vs. Iowa - On paper, Missouri should run away with this one. This is a much better than 7-5 Iowa team. I don't know how you give Michigan State their only loss of the season by 31 points, then lose to Minnesota. Missouri seemed destined for a BCS game early, then lost a couple of in-conference away games. Gun to my head, I'd take Missouri, but not by much. Prediction: Missouri 27, Iowa 24. Confidence Points: 6. (Actual: Iowa 27, Missouri 24 - Record: 4-7, 66/156 points) (Note: right score, wrong teams)

Wednesday, December 29:
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman (2:30 PM ET): East Carolina vs. Maryland - East Carolina has played spoiler over the last few seasons, winning some high profile games while losing what should have been easy wins. Maryland is actually a better team than they have been the past few years, but they have been up and down this year. I like Maryland here to win and am confident in that selection, but I still think it will be close. Prediction: Maryland 24, E. Carolina 20. Confidence Points: 25. (Actual: Maryland 51, E. Carolina 20 - Record: 5-7, 91/181 points)

Texas Bowl (6:00 PM ET): Illinois vs. Baylor - Neither team has played well down the stretch, but Baylor looks to be the more solid team. Plus the game's in Texas, so this is an easy pick. Prediction: Baylor 34, Illinois 23. Confidence Points: 18. (Actual: Illinois 38, Baylor 14 - Record: 5-8, 91/199 points)

Valero Alamo Bowl (9:15 PM ET): Oklahoma State vs. Arizona - The wheels have officially fallen off the Arizona bus with their four consecutive losses to end the season. Oklahoma State lost two games in which they scored 41 points each, so against Arizona, points should be easy to come by. Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Arizona 27. Confidence Points: 30. (Actual: Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 10 - Record: 6-8, 121/229 points)

Thursday, December 30:
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (12:00 PM ET): Army vs. Southern Methodist - Yes, Army is a branch of the Armed Forces, but the game is in SMU's stadium. Easy choice: Prediction: SMU 23, Army 21. Confidence Points: 21. (Actual: Army 16, SMU 14 - Record: 6-9, 121/250 points)

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (3:20 PM ET): Kansas State vs. Syracuse - I've always liked Kansas State...I think it goes back to watching them dominate in the late 90s, and I like that they brought Bill Snyder back for a second run. Syracuse has been flat as of late, and they are averaging only 21 points per game. Also, why are we having a football game at Yankee Stadium? Prediction: Kansas State 34, Syracuse 17. Confidence Points: 8. (Actual: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34 - Record: 6-10, 121/258 points)

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (6:40 PM ET): North Carolina vs. Tennessee - North Carolina has been inconsistent this year, and Tennessee, since finding Tyler Bray, has looked like a different team than the one that played the early games this season. And the game is in Tennessee, not that North Carolina is too far away. Prediction: Tennessee 25, North Carolina 20. Confidence Points: 22. (Actual: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27 (OT) - Record: 6-11, 121/280 points)

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (10:00 PM ET): Nebraska vs. Washington - This is going to be a lopsided game. For those who say Jake Locker is a great quarterback, I point to the 6-6 record and the just over 200 passing yards per game. Also, Nebraska's three losses are by a combined 13 points. And they beat Washington in the regular season by 35. Prediction: Nebraska 31, Washington 21. Confidence Points: 32. (Actual: Washington 19, Nebraska 7 - Record: 6-12, 121/312 points)

Friday, December 31:
(Note: Starting today, because of my terrible record, I am switching some of my picks. New predictions begin here.)
Meineke Car Care Bowl (12:00 PM ET): South Florida vs. Clemson - Both of these teams have had down years. Most of South Florida's wins and losses were by very few points. The same can be said of Clemson. I really don't like either of these teams that much as favorites for the game. Prediction: South Florida 27, Clemson 21. Confidence Points: 14. (Actual: South Florida 31, Clemson 26 - Record: 7-12, 135/326 points)

Hyundai Sun Bowl (2:00 PM ET): Notre Dame vs. Miami - Highly-touted Miami finished 7-5. Not much was expected out of Notre Dame other than in its fanbase, and they finished 7-5 also. If Jacory Harris doesn't throw 4 interceptions, Miami should win the game easily. That's a big "if", though. Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Miami 24. Confidence Points: 20. (Actual: Notre Dame 33, Miami 17 - Record: 8-12, 155/346 points)

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (3:30 PM ET): Georgia vs. UCF - Georgia was lucky to make it to a bowl game, and now they are favored over UCF. I guess they have played better as of late. I think the problem with picking UCF is that they haven't been tested this year. But they are the C-USA champions. Prediction: UCF 28, Georgia 23. Confidence Points: 9. (Actual: UCF 10, Georgia 6 - Record: 9-12, 164/355 points)

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (7:30 PM ET): South Carolina vs. Florida State - This is a premier matchup for this bowl game. Both teams have a lot to prove, and this game should come down to which team gets an early jump on the other. If I had to choose, I'd rather have Christian Ponder at the helm than Stephen Garcia. Prediction: Florida State 31, South Carolina 24. Confidence Points: 10. (Actual: Florida State 26, South Carolina 17 - Record: 10-12, 174/365 points)

Saturday, January 1:
Ticketcity Bowl (12:00 PM ET): Northwestern vs. Texas Tech - Northwestern is back playing a January 1 bowl game early, just like last year. They feel like they're on the cusp of being a pretty good team, but Persa is done and a freshman QB wil be playing instead. Texas Tech's passing game is just as good with Potts in the backfield. Also, Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since 1949; look for that streak to continue. Prediction: Texas Tech 35, Northwestern 21. Confidence Points: 19. (Actual: Texas Tech 45, Northwestern 38 - Record: 11-12, 193/384 points)

Capital One Bowl (1:00 PM ET): Alabama vs. Michigan State - This is a good matchup between quality programs, both at one time coached by Nick Saban. Michigan State is 11-1, but they don't feel like an 11-1 team. Alabama is 9-3, but they don't feel like a 9-3 team. Alabama could have easily won over LSU and Auburn. I like Alabama's chances in this one. Prediction: Alabama 31, Michigan State 17. Confidence Points: 29. (Actual: Alabama 49, Michigan State 7 - Record: 12-12, 222/413 points)

Outback Bowl (1:00 PM ET): Florida vs. Penn State - Who schedule Alabama and Florida to play at the same time? I'd like to watch both, but would probably watch Alabama over Florida. Florida is a shell of its former self, but they will be up to win the game for outgoing Urban Meyer. Penn State, while they did salvage what looked to be an awful season, has lost all of the big games. Prediction: Florida 27, Penn State 21. Confidence Points: 16. (Actual: Florida 37, Penn State 24 - Record: 13-12, 238/429 points)

Progressive Gator Bowl (1:30 PM ET): Mississippi State vs. Michigan - Yet a third SEC team playing at the same time. Mississippi State has had an excellent season, their only losses coming to premier teams in the league (Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas). Michigan had great expectations, but Denard Robinson is too much of a wild card. Prediction: Mississippi State 24, Michigan 21. Confidence Points: 2. (Actual: Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14 - Record: 14-12, 240/431 points)

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio (5:00 PM ET): Wisconsin vs. TCU - Which wins out: Wisconsin's prolific offense or TCU's prolific defense? TCU's offense is not the same as last year, and Wisconsin's defense is also stellar, allowing only 20 points per game. Wisconsin has scored 70 points 3 times this year, including 83 on Indiana, a Big Ten team. Wisconsin gets it done. Prediction: Wisconsin 35, TCU 31. Confidence Points: 23. (Actual: TCU 21, Wisconsin 19 - Record: 14-13, 240/454 points)

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Connecticut vs. Oklahoma - I'm glad there is at least one incredibly easy game to pick. Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Connecticut 17. Confidence Points: 35. (Actual: Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 20 - Record: 15-13, 275/489 points)

Monday, January 3:
Discover Orange Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Stanford vs. Virginia Tech - Stanford is a bruising team led by Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck. Virginia Tech is not the same team that lost to James Madison earlier in the year...they have now run off 11 straight wins and convincingly. I really wouldn't want to have to pick this game, but I like Stanford by the slightest of margins. Prediction: Stanford 31, Virginia Tech 28. Confidence Points: 7. (Actual: Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12 - Record: 16-13, 282/496 points)

Tuesday, January 4:
Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Ohio State vs. Arkansas - Arkansas has two losses to Auburn and Alabama, games they could have easily won. Ryan Mallett should easily throw for 250 yards against Ohio State, who has historically had a problem with good SEC teams. Prediction: Arkansas 31, Ohio State 27. Confidence Points: 15. (Actual: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26 - Record: 16-14, 282/511 points)

Thursday, January 6: Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami of Ohio - Miami won the MAC championship game over a supposedly dominant Northern Illinois team. Middle Tennessee State won over Florida Atlantic. You do the math. Prediction: Miami (OH) 27, MTSU 17. Confidence Points: 26. (Actual: Miami (OH) 35, MTSU 21 - Record: 17-14, 308/537 points)

Friday, January 7:
AT&T Cotton Bowl (8:00 PM ET): LSU vs. Texas A&M - This should be a good matchup. LSU is admittedly better than I expected. So is Texas A&M. This game is in Texas, but I'm going to go with the SEC team here. Prediction: LSU 20, Texas A&M 17. Confidence Points: 11. (Actual: LSU 41, Texas A&M 24 - Record: 18-14, 319/548 points)

Saturday, January 8:
BBVA Compass Bowl (12:00 PM ET): Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky - Dion Lewis should run up and down the field all day. Kentucky lived up to its mediocre expectations and make it to a bowl game by beating SEC East champion South Carolina. Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Kentucky 17. Confidence Points: 17. (Actual: Pittsburgh 27, Kentucky 10 - Record: 19-14, 336/565 points)

Sunday, January 9:
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (9:00 PM ET): Nevada vs. Boston College - Nevada should run away with this one, especially since Boston College has had some issues on offense this year. Another easy one on paper. Prediction: Nevada 41, Boston College 16. Confidence Points: 34. (Actual: Nevada 20, Boston College 13 - Record: 20-14, 370/599 points)

Monday, January 10:
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game (8:30 PM ET): Oregon vs. Auburn - First to 50 wins! I like Auburn's chances in what may be the only year I ever see Auburn get to play for the national championship. If Auburn can contain the outside runs by LaMichael James, they should win. Prediction: Auburn 45, Oregon 38. Confidence Points: 31. (Actual: Auburn 22, Oregon 19 - Record: 21-14, 401/630 points)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tennessee vs Florida

Which UT team will show up for the Florida game? Will it be the team that gave Oregon all they could handle in the first half, or will it be the team that got manhandled during the second half? Honestly at this point I have no clue. The big thing this week will be the running game. The team in this series has won the majority of the previous matchups has had the most rushing yards. If Tauren Poole gets going anything can happen. Of course, Poole and Oku seem to be the biggest offensive threats so far this season so I am sure Florida will load the box and force Tennessee to throw.

Defensively Tennessee ran out of gas last week and the lack of depth really showed so if Tennessee’s offense isn’t productive this could be another nightmare. Florida isn’t without issues either. Brantley will be starting his first road game and the center to qb exchange could still be an issue in a hostile environment. It doesn’t help that one of the wideouts likes to make death threats and is no longer on the team.

Overall, Florida does not look as good as they did last year with Tebow but they still are talented. The deciding factor likely will be if Florida can find an identity on offense and if Tennessee decides to play all four quarters even if the score doesn’t go their way. Tennessee is a young team that will hopefully improve and cause some upsets later this year and although Florida is down this year, Tennessee has a very tough task at hand.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Police Blotter: Fear the Jorts

Florida receiver Chris Rainey was arrested and charged with a 3rd degree felony for "aggravated stalking" based on a text message he sent to a lady friend described by the AP as "the woman he dated on and off the last three years."  His crime, again per the AP:

Officer Jesse Bostick said the woman fell asleep and missed a call from Rainey. Rainey then went to her home, they talked and she told him to leave. According to Bostick, the woman got the text a short time later and called police.

The text message? "Time to die, Bitch!"  If I do not see Bama fans holding signs with those 4 words on them on October 2, um, well, I'll be disappointed at the missed opportunity.

Since Rainey is innocent until proven guilty, I'll assume that this text was not meant as a threat.  Maybe he meant "die" as a Shakespearean euphemism for orgasm.  He wasn't stalking, he was sexting!  Or maybe, like Sideshow Bob's "Die Bart die" tattoo, he was simply using the German definite article.  "Time to the, Bitch."  Gibberish, but non-threatening gibberish, lawya!

Apparently, Rainey's text was not the most threatening message the former-sometime-girlfriend received:

"I did not want to have him arrested," she said. "When the police came, I signed papers to not press any charges. I don't fear for my safety. ... People all over the country have been calling my cell phone. I'm not afraid of him. I'm more afraid of all the repercussions."

Dear Jorts-wearers:  It may not be the best idea to send threatening messages to a woman's cell phone right after one of your players was arrested for, well, the exact same thing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Coaches' Poll

Let's look at this week's Coaches' Poll, which is 1/3 of the BCS formula:

1 Alabama (55) 2-0 1470 1
2 Ohio State (4) 2-0 1410 2
3 Boise State 1-0 1278 3
4 Texas 2-0 1262 4
5 TCU 2-0 1168 5
6 Oregon 2-0 1122 8
7 Florida 2-0 1108 6
8 Nebraska 2-0 1095 7
9 Oklahoma 2-0 1062 10
10 Iowa 2-0 1050 9
11 Wisconsin 2-0 889 11
12 LSU 2-0 740 16
13 Arkansas 2-0 738 15
14 Utah 2-0 625 20
15 Auburn 2-0 618 20
16 South Carolina 2-0 527 25
17 Miami (FL) 1-1 417 12
18 Arizona 2-0 410 23
19 Stanford 2-0 338 NR
20 Penn State 1-1 296 14
21 West Virginia 2-0 264 22
22 Michigan 2-0 254 NR
23 Houston 2-0 220 NR
24 California 2-0 131 NR
25 Missouri 2-0 82 NR

Conference breakdowns:

Conf.      Ranked Teams      High                  Low                           Median
SEC:         6                         1 (Alabama)     16 (South Carolina)    12.5 (LSU/Arkansas)
Big 10:      5                         2 (Ohio State)   22 (Michigan)             11 (Wisconsin)
Big 12:      4                         4 (Texas)          25 (Missouri)              8.5 (Nebraska/Oklahoma)
PAC 10:   4                         6 (Oregon)        24 (California)            18.5 (Arizona/Stanford)
MWC:      2                         5 (TCU)            14 (Utah)                   9.5 (TCU/Utah)
ACC:        1                       17 (Miami)          17 (Miami)                17 (Miami)
Big East    1                       21(West Virginia) 21(West Virginia)     21(West Virginia)
C-USA    1                        23 (Houston)       23 (Houston)            23 (Houston)

Last week the SEC had 7(!) teams ranked in the top 25. While Georgia dropped out after losing to USCe, and Florida dropped one spot after another rocky start offensively, the remaining SEC teams in the poll all moved up (except Alabama, for obvious reasons). Some, like Auburn and Carolina, moved up considerably. Virginia Tech's loss to James Madison didn't seem to hurt Boise State; they remian at #3.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Carolina's Path to Atlanta

2010: Year of the Gamecock?
With South Carolina’s impressive wins over Southern Miss, 41-7, and East Division rival Georgia, 17-6, you’re starting to hear people say that this may be Spurrier’s best shot at taking the Gamecocks to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. No doubt, Carolina is legit this year. Garcia seems to have matured into a game-managing quarterback that doesn’t make mistakes. This probably has more to do with the emergence of a strong running game on the shoulders of freshman monsterback Marcus Lattimore than Spurrier’s off-season regimen of tough love. Plus, the Ellis Johnson coached defense has been stout for a few years now.

So, Carolina seems to have finally gotten over the hump the year that Florida is without both Dan Mullen and Tim Tebow, lacking an offensive identity, and having trouble with simple things like snaps, etc. Tennessee is in a very down year and Georgia has been defeated on the field. With all due respect to Chinese astrology, all this seems to suggest 2010 as the year of the Gamecock.

Pencil in every East game except Florida as a win - Vandy and UK on the road and home against UT. However, looking at Carolina’s schedule, I started to think the Gamecocks are at a distinct disadvantage in their West Division draws.

Carolina plays Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas – three teams picked pre-season to be tops in the West. Florida plays Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State. Georgia, effectively 2 games behind with their loss on Saturday, still has the most manageable West Division schedule – Auburn, Arkansas and Mississippi State. Can Carolina win the East without beating 2 out of their 3 games against West teams?

Arkansas comes to Columbia and if the Gamecocks can run the ball with Lattimore and keep the ball away from Mallet, I think they’ll win that one. The Gamecocks play Auburn at Jordan-Hare, but play Furman the week before, basically giving them 2 weeks to prepare. I say that game is a coin toss right now. Carolina does have a bye week before facing Alabama in Columbia, but at best I’d give the Fightin’ Spurriers an outside chance at an upset against the defending Champs. Getting 2 out of 3 won’t be easy.

Fortunately for the ‘Cocks, so long as Florida loses at least one league game (Alabama looks likely at this point) and SC sweeps the East, SC can lose to 2 out of 3 from the West and still claim the East with a win Nov. 13 in the swamp. Some scenarios:

(1) The only way the Florida game won’t be for all the marbles is if there is more than a 1 game difference between the two teams’ league records. Let’s say SC is somehow undefeated and UF has losses to both Alabama and LSU (as many question marks as there are for the Gators, I can’t realistically see any other SEC team on their schedule beating them – Georgia with AJ Greene back?). In that scenario, the Gamecocks could lose in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and still win the East.

(2) Losing 2 out of 3 to the West will only hurt SC if Florida goes undefeated through Nov. 13, meaning SC could beat Florida and still not play in Atlanta.

(3) More likely, Carolina has at least one loss (Alabama) and UF has at most 2 (Alabama and LSU) and the Showdown in the Swamp determines the East Champ.

So, right now, the East looks like a 2 horse race to be decided Nov. 13. Which, of course, given how crazy college football is, means it will not work out this way at all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The UT Martin game last week was not televised on basic cable so unless you were one of the few who watched the game on PPV, ESPN game plan, or on the internet the Vol's are still a mystery this season. I for one watched the game and can tell you that although depth is an issue and may lead to losses later this year, the Vol's played very sound football. Martin may have been less talented but the Vol's showed up to play (just ask Mississippi if this is important), and both UT’s offense and defense played with discipline.

Oregon will be much more of a challenge than last weeks opponent, and this game will likely be an indicator of how well the Vol's will do this year. Offensively, game management will be key with most emphasis being stressed on the running game and keeping Oregon’s offense off the field. Both backs for UT ran very well in the opener and it will be interesting to see how they perform against a better opponent. Although UT’s offensive line in inexperienced, they are quite bigger than Oregon’s defensive front and may open up some holes. UT’s receivers are very young as well, but here again a size advantage may benefit Tennessee. I would also look for both tight ends to be more of a factor this week especially Rivera who left Oregon a couple of years ago before coming to Tennessee.

Defensively coach Wilcox’s game plan will be key. He has said that the only reason he has stopped Oregon while at Boise Sate is assignment football, but look for some trickery to confuse Oregon’s offense. Crowd noise and humidity will likely also be a factor especially on Oregon's qb who will be making his first away start.

I am not predicting a win, but I think the score will be closer than the 12 point spread given Oregon’s inexperience at qb, jet lag, exposure to humidity, and confusion caused by the loud and rowdy fans at Neyland.