Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auburn-Northwestern Preview

Auburn takes on Northwestern tomorrow in the Outback Bowl, 11 AM ET, on ESPN. I'm upbeat about the game, and I think Auburn will win, but there will be some questions:

1) Will Auburn's sometimes-missing offense show up?

2) Will Northwestern's defense play like they have played this year?

3) Will the players be awake for the early morning game? Auburn had trouble with this earlier in the year.

Rather than write up a lot of the statistics matching up the teams, I direct you to this article that does just that. Auburn looks like the team to beat, but of course, several teams who have already lost looked like the team to beat (Fresno State, Nevada, Houston). All I can say is I hope for a good showing for Auburn and a win, no matter by how many points. I earlier predicted that Auburn would win, 24-23. I will now append to predict one more touchdown for Auburn and a 31-23 win.

War Eagle!

Mike Leach: The OTHER Position

So I'm sure you've heard by now that Mike Leach was fired yesterday as the head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. What you may not have heard was anyone who was on his side. If you watched ESPN recently, all you heard were things like Mark May saying Leach deserved to be fired. Lou Holtz was a little less blunt and to-the-point, but he leaned the same way. And, of course, Craig James was saying he didn't ask that Leach was fired, which I do believe. James did say he wanted for son to be protected, but I'm not sure he was in any danger really.

I say, of course May and Holtz are going to agree with the firing; are they really going to say that was the wrong move? That would make those office Christmas parties a little awkward with James. I think that a few things don't add up:

According to ESPN, Texas Tech was going to owe Leach a lump sum of $800,000 as long as he was the coach as of today; with the firing, they do not owe him the money. Second, several emails were sent to Texas Tech, portraying Adam James as an entitlement kid (just look at his picture, he certainly looks the part) with a bad attitude and poor work ethic. Third, was the university actually looking to fire Leach before all of this came out? I know they had a rift about Leach looking at other jobs, but he was the winningest coach in the history of the university. Fourth, the university only took two days to fire Leach, not even investigating the claims. Fifth, doctors made the statement that what Leach did to James didn't harm him in any way.

The funny thing in all of this is that, in my opinion, Adam James looks like the bad guy here. He thought he deserved more playing time, but ironically only Mike Leach wanted to give him a scholarship (the scholarship to Texas Tech was the only one he received, and the position coach said he wasn't Division I material). His poor work ethic wasn't indicative of someone who wanted to put in the time and effort to make himself better, again presumably because of his entitlement air.

Another funny thing is that Texas Tech isn't going to get a better coach than they had in Leach. For not having played football in college, Leach is a genius on the offensive side of the ball. It did come out that Tommy Tuberville was interested in the job, and that may be a good fit for the university. Lincoln Riley also did an almost 180 (we'll say 175), saying that he would be there for James as the coach, but stopped short of saying he wanted him back next year.

I was pulling for Texas Tech in the game against Michigan State, but I think I'll back the Spartans now. I think Texas Tech was in the wrong, and I think they'll pay dearly for it in the form of a lawsuit Leach and his attorney were filing very soon.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ridiculous Bowl Game Names & Lofty Claims

Are you tired of all the corporate sponsors for bowl games? Me too. Whatever happened to just the Liberty Bowl or the Peach Bowl or the Poulan Weedeater Bowl (OK, that last one I guess falls under being a corporate sponsor, but c'mon, it's Poulan.)? Here is a good story on those ridiculous titles. It is funny that at least three games are being sponsored by groups who took federal bailout money (GMAC, two games sponsored by Citi). If we're going to go that route, I'd personally like to see the Bernie Madoff Bowl in the future.

Here's another one. I'm sure if you're here in Birmingham (or anywhere else in the state) that you've seen Academy Sports has signs saying they'll open right after Alabama's national championship victory. Well over in Texas, they're doing the same thing for the Longhorns - see Academy's website for information on store openings. Now, I'm an Auburn fan AND I think Alabama will win. But what if Alabama doesn't win? Will Academy not open its doors until they do win a national championship? That could take years. The same for Texas. So I guess, either way, a lot of Academy stores will be closed indefinitely. Judging from the list of stores, I think Academy wants Texas to win, they have many more stores in their list than Alabama does. (Please read with sarcasm.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bowl Update

I will be editing my previous post on bowl predictions throughout the bowl season with final scores and records, so keep checking it out to see how I do (which, by the way, will be terrible, I'm sure).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hunt For The Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy is to be awarded this Saturday night (8 PM ET, ESPN). Five finalists were invited to New York for the presentation at the Nokia Theater: Alabama's Mark Ingram, Florida's Tim Tebow, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, Stanford's Toby Gerhart, and Texas's Colt McCoy.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to college football's "most outstanding player", whatever that means. Given that the Maxwell Award is also awarded to the most outstanding player, I'm not sure what the difference is. Too many awards, too few deserving players.

I'm not sure I would have selected those five. If I were given the opportunity to select four players to come to New York, as is usually the case, here are the four I would have selected:

1) Case Keenum - Without Keenum, Houston has nothing. He had two games where the attempted 75 or more passes. Consequently, the ground game was pretty much nonexistent. Keenum had almost 1600 more passing yards than 2nd place Levi Brown of Troy. He also had 43 touchdown passes (4 more than Boise State's Kellen Moore) against only 9 interceptions. It's hard to deny how good this guy is, and it's a shame that Houston didn't do even better this year.

2) Toby Gerhart - Although Andrew Luck is also a credit to Stanford's impressive year, Gerhart is the bruising back that contributed most to their success. He led the nation with over 1700 yards rushing, and he also had 26 touchdowns on the ground. He had three games with over 200 yards rushing (200 on 27 carries against Washington, 223 against Oregon on 38 carries, and 205 on 29 carries against Notre Dame) and only two games where he was held to under 100 yards rushing (82 on 17 carries against Wake Forest and 96 on 20 carries against Oregon State). And he's a white running back at that.

3) Kellen Moore - Moore leads the nation in passer rating (167.3) and is second in passing touchdowns (39). He only had 3 interceptions, the least of everyday quarterbacks, and he had over 3300 yards passing. Moore was efficient also, completing 63% of his passes. Watching this guy play, you know Boise State is going to dominate for two more years as he is only a sophomore.

4) Golden Tate - I know this is a longshot, and since Notre Dame went 6-6, he wouldn't get the consideration, but his 93 catches for just shy of 1500 yards, along with 15 receiving touchdowns, is staggering. Granted I don't like Notre Dame, Tate made some impressive catches this year every time I saw them play. He was Clausen's go-to guy, much like Terry Beasley was for Pat Sullivan.

Here's why I wouldn't have invited the players who were invited:

1) Colt McCoy - 12 interceptions, 4 games under 200 yards passing

2) Tim Tebow - 2400 yards passing, lost big in SEC championship game, lackluster compared to earlier seasons

3) Mark Ingram - according to many Bama fans, not even the best running back on the team; in my opinion, not the best player on the team (Greg McElroy)

4) Ndamukong Suh - 12 sacks is pretty good, but only 82 tackles (I guess he wouldn't get as many tackles as linebackers)

I'd like to see Gerhart win it, but I doubt it would happen. Mark Ingram seems to be getting a lot of hype, but his 30 yards against Auburn on 16 carries takes it from him. McCoy may win it on his career, and many voters probably think it's his turn to win after Bradford and Tebow, which are both cop outs. I really can't believe Tebow is being invited this year, but this is also probably a traditional thing. Whoever wins, I hope that person does better than previous Heisman winners Reggie Bush, Jason White, Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke, Charlie Ward, Gino Torretta, etc.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bowl Breakdown

I am again taking on the daunting challenge of analyzing a whole bunch of football in one sitting (see here and here for previous daunting challenges). As everyone knows, the bowls were finalized yesterday, and there is so much college football out there, it's like a whole new season began today. With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the entire bowl season, with some analysis and selections:

Saturday, December 19:
New Mexico Bowl (4:30 PM ET): Fresno State vs. Wyoming - Look for Fresno, who isn't afraid of anyone, to show Wyoming that although you may be better than in years past, you're still Wyoming. Prediction: Fresno State 34, Wyoming 17. (Actual: Wyoming 35, Fresno State 28 (OT) - Record: 0-1)

St. Petersburg Bowl (8:00 PM ET): UCF vs. Rutgers - Both of these teams have been up and down this year, and this feels like a pretty even matchup. Most of UCF's losses have come to highly ranked teams, but they do have a pretty bad pass defense, and Rutgers likes to toss the ball. Rutgers lost to Syracuse, but I like them here. Prediction: Rutgers 27, UCF 24. (Actual: Rutgers 45, UCF 24 - Record: 1-1)

Sunday, December 20:
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee State - Sure, MTSU is 9-3, but if you look at their schedule, they lost to opponents in BCS conferences (except Maryland, who had a terrible season, and it was only a 1-point win). With the exception of a loss to UAB, Southern Miss's losses were by 7 points or less. Prediction: Southern Miss 31, MTSU 20. (Actual: MTSU 42, Southern Miss 32 - Record: 1-2)

Tuesday, December 22:
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas (8:00 PM ET): Oregon State vs. BYU - This feels like it should be a game later in the bowl season. Oregon State played Oregon down to the wire for the Pac-10 championship, and BYU's only losses were to Florida State early in the season and TCU, who should be playing for a national championship against Alabama. Prediction: BYU 31, Oregon State 30. (Actual: BYU 44, Oregon State 20 - Record: 2-2)

Wednesday, December 23:
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Utah vs. California - Um, which California team is going to show up - the one that lost to Washington, Oregon, and USC by 27-39 points or the one or the one that beat Stanford and Arizona by 7 or less? On the flipside, Utah's wins this year have been by just a little generally. Prediction: Utah 27, California 25. (Actual: Utah 37, California 27 - Record: 3-2)

Thursday, December 24:
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Nevada vs. SMU - All I'm going to say is SMU lost to Washington State, which was their only win. Oh yeah, Nevada's offense is really good (OK, that's two things). Prediction: Nevada 52, SMU 35. (Actual: SMU 45, Nevada 10 - Record: 3-3)

Saturday, December 26:
Little Caesar's Bowl (1:00 PM ET): Marshall vs. Ohio - I'm surprised Marshall even got a bowl game at 6-6. Solich's Ohio team has been very good this year, keeping games tight with Connecticut and Tennessee. Prediction: Ohio 31, Marshall 23. (Actual: Marshall 21, Ohio 17 - Record: 3-4)

Meineke Car Care Bowl (4:30 PM ET): Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina - It's a shame that Pitt isn't playing around Jan. 1, but at least they drew an ACC team, which means they will probably get the win. North Carolina beat Virginia Tech and Miami, but they lost to NC State, Virginia, and Florida State (which is because of the ACC default rule where the worse team wins). Prediction: Pittsburgh 41, North Carolina 27. (Actual: Pittsburgh 19, North Carolina 17 - Record: 4-4)

Emerald Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Boston College vs. USC - USC took a monumental tumble this year, and it shows by their game being on 12/26. I'm not sure Boston College was relevant this year, but then again, neither was USC. The differences between the two teams: USC is still ranked because of their media darling status and the bowl is in their home state. Prediction: USC 17, Boston College 13. (Actual: USC 24, Boston College 13 - Record: 5-4) (Note: The score was as I predicted until about 12 minutes left in the game when USC scored one more touchdown.)

Sunday, December 27:
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Kentucky vs. Clemson - Clemson hung right in there against Georgia Tech, and Spiller, if he has a good game, will prove too much for Kentucky. Prediction: Clemson 31, Kentucky 21. (Actual: Clemson 21, Kentucky 13 - Record: 6-4)

Monday, December 28:
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl (5:00 PM ET): Texas A&M vs. Georgia - Two Jekyll & Hyde teams meet up for this one. Texas A&M has played better recently than earlier in the year, and Georgia is on the upswing after lulling in the middle of the season. This one also feels close. Prediction: Georgia 34, Texas A&M 31. (Actual: Georgia 44, Texas A&M 20 - Record: 7-4)

Tuesday, December 29:
Eaglebank Bowl (4:30 PM ET): UCLA vs. Temple - Temple ran off 9 wins in a row in the middle of their season, with the highlight in that stretch a win over Navy, 27-24. Meanwhile, UCLA started off 3-0 before imploding. Their 3-1 stretch over the last four games got them to 6-6. However, in Pac-10 vs. MAC, I'll have to go with the BCS team. Prediction: UCLA 24, Temple 20. (Actual: UCLA 30, Temple 21 - Record: 8-4)

Champs Sports Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Miami vs. Wisconsin - Miami looked solid in their last game against South Florida, and Wisconsin hasn't been a pushover this year, losing three to solid (at the time) Big Ten teams. Prediction: Miami 31, Wisconsin 28. (Actual: Wisconsin 20, Miami 14 - Record: 8-5)

Wednesday, December 30:
Roady's Humanitarian Bowl (4:30 PM ET): Bowling Green vs. Idaho - Bowling Green has the momentum here, winning its last four and six of its last seven. Idaho, who started out 6-1, dropped 4 of its last 5. But the game's in Idaho. Prediction: Idaho 45, Bowling Green 41. (Actual: Idaho 43, Bowling Green 42 - Record: 9-5)

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Arizona vs. Nebraska - Thus far, this is the matchup to see. I thought Nebraska had pulled off the upset against Texas, and Arizona has played with the best of the Pac-10 this year. I wish I could call it a tie, but I think Arizona wins down the stretch. Prediction: Arizona 27, Nebraska 21. (Actual: Nebraska 33, Arizona 0 - Record: 9-6)

Thursday, December 31:
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (12:00 PM ET): Houston vs. Air Force - Houston comes in hobbling from their loss to ECU in the C-USA championship game. Air Force has won the games they should this season, but they have also lost the games they should. Houston's defense won't stop Air Force's run game, and Case Keenum will have a field day passing, say 550 yards. Prediction: Houston 48, Air Force 31. (Actual: Air Force 47, Houston 20 - Record: 9-7)

Brut Sun Bowl (2:00 PM ET): Oklahoma vs. Stanford - Toby Gerhart should win the Heisman, but he won't. Oklahoma shouldn't have blanked or beat Oklahoma State, but they did. Surprisingly close, I'll give this one to the Sooners. Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Stanford 30. (Actual: Oklahoma 31, Stanford 27 - Record: 10-7)

Texas Bowl (3:30 PM ET): Navy vs. Missouri - All of Navy's games, wins or losses, have been tight this year, and Missouri has won 4 of its last 5. I like the ground attack of Navy to take this one. Prediction: Navy 29, Missouri 27. (Actual: Navy 35, Missouri 13 - Record: 11-7)

Insight Bowl (6:00 PM ET): Minnesota vs. Iowa State - This feels like a snoozer. In the few games I saw Minnesota play this season, they looked stagnant. Iowa State's results look like a mixed bag. So who wins? The more important question is: Who cares? Prediction: Iowa State 9, Minnesota 7. (Actual: Iowa State 14, Minnesota 13 - Record: 12-7)

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (7:30 PM ET): Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee - Now we're talking. On paper Virginia Tech takes this one easily. In reality, this could be a tight one. Tennessee has played well of late, but I still say that Virginia Tech had an outside shot at a BCS game. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Tennessee 24. (Actual: Virginia Tech 37, Tennessee 14 - Record: 13-7)

Friday, January 1:
Outback Bowl (11:00 AM ET): Northwestern vs. Auburn - For some reason, people like my brother think Northwestern is a pushover. Au contraire, mon frere (literally). Northwestern beat Iowa and Wisconsin despite being heavy underdogs. Auburn has shown signs of life, and hopefully they will continue in this way, playing for more than the 1st quarter. Prediction: Auburn 24, Northwestern 23. (Actual: Auburn 38, Northwestern 35 (OT) - Record: 14-7)

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl (1:00 PM ET): West Virginia vs. Florida State - Do you think the Florida State team will be up to win Bobby Bowden's last game at the helm? You better believe it! Florida State pulls the upset. Prediction: Florida State 28, West Virginia 24. (Actual: Florida State 33, West Virginia 21 - Record: 15-7)

Capital One Bowl (1:00 PM ET): Penn State vs. LSU - This seems like a decent matchup for this game. Penn State got snubbed for Iowa (yes, I know Iowa beat them, but Stanzi is out, and Iowa is a different team with Vandenburg in at QB). LSU barely survived against Arkansas after losing with a bone-headed decision by Les Miles. This game will be dominated by defense. Prediction: Penn State 20, LSU 17. (Actual: Penn State 19, LSU 17 - Record: 16-7)

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi (4:30 PM ET): Ohio State vs. Oregon - As much as I'd like to say Ohio State loses again, I'm not sure this one is so cut and dry. Oregon has played sub-par lately despite winning. Ohio State hasn't looked great either, despite winning. Two somewhat mediocre teams playing in the Rose Bowl. Prediction: Oregon 31, Ohio State 24. (Actual: Ohio State 26, Oregon 17 - Record: 16-8)

Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Florida vs. Cincinnati - This one looks like a good matchup also. Cincinnati has been winning by the skin of their teeth lately, especially in the final regular season game against Pittsburgh. Florida doesn't look so dominant after being humbled by Alabama. I think the Gators will have their hands full with a Cincinnati team with a legitimate claim to playing in the national championship game, but I think they'll prevail, only slightly. Prediction: Florida 35, Cincinnati 34. (Actual: Florida 51, Cincinnati 24 - Record: 17-8)

Saturday, January 2:
International Bowl (12:00 PM ET): South Florida vs. Northern Illinois - Northern Illinois hasn't played anyone, and South Florida has skidded since losing Matt Grothe at QB. You can sleep through this one. Prediction: South Florida 24, Northern Illinois 10. (Actual: South Florida 27, Northern Illinois 3 - Record: 18-8) Bowl (2:00 PM ET): South Carolina vs. Connecticut - High expectations were had for both of these teams at the beginning of the season. South Carolina imploded for the second half, salvaging the season with a win over rival Clemson. Connecticut played through adversity with the shooting death of Jasper Howard right after their homecoming game. With the game in Birmingham, South Carolina has an advantage and wins. Prediction: South Carolina 24, Connecticut 22. (Actual: Connecticut 20, South Carolina 7 - Record: 18-9)

AT&T Cotton Bowl (2:00 PM ET): Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss - This one also seems like an easy call for Oklahoma State. Both teams lost to their rivals during rivalry week, and both look like they have played better. Oklahoma State has desperately needed Dez Bryant, and Ole Miss has desperately needed Jevan Snead, although he has actually been playing. I think I'll go with the SEC on this one. Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Oklahoma State 25. (Actual: Ole Miss 21, Oklahoma State 7 - Record: 19-9)

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (5:30 PM ET): Arkansas vs. East Carolina - I underestimated East Carolina. They beat Houston bad in a game that few saw happening. Arkansas ran up a string of wins until Alex Tejada's missed field goal in OT game LSU the win. C-USA doesn't have the depth of even a mid-range SEC team. Prediction: Arkansas 38, East Carolina 31. (Actual: Arkansas 20, East Carolina 17 (OT) - Record: 20-9)

Valero Alamo Bowl (9:00 PM ET): Michigan State vs. Texas Tech - Michigan State has played OK, with an almost win over Iowa when Iowa was good. Texas Tech was edged out by Oklahoma State and Houston and has played like a much better team than their record reflects. Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Michigan State 27. (Actual: Texas Tech 41, Michigan State 31 - Record: 21-9)

Monday, January 4:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Boise State vs. TCU - As much as I'm looking forward to watching this game, I think the BCS committee took the easy way out by making these two non-BCS conference teams play each other. I would much rather watch Boise State beat Oklahoma (2006-7) and Utah beat Alabama (2008-9) than watch those types of teams play each other. TCU, I think, has a legitimate claim to the title game, and I think if Boise State picked up some quality opponents, they'd have a better argument for themselves. The problem is, though, that no BCS teams want to play Boise State. I think this is another evenly matched game, and I don't really know who to go with. If I had to pick one, I think I'd take TCU. Prediction: TCU 45, Boise State 44. (Actual: Boise State 17, TCU 10 - Record: 21-10)

Tuesday, January 5:
FedEx Orange Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Iowa vs. Georgia Tech - Snore. Prediction: Georgia Tech 45, Iowa 17. (Actual: Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14 - Record: 21-11)

Wednesday, January 6:
GMAC Bowl (7:00 PM ET): Central Michigan vs. Troy - This is virtually a home game for Troy, and they'll need it. Dan LeFevour is now the all-time I-A leader in touchdowns throwing, rushing, and receiving combined with 148. Yes, he caught a touchdown on a reverse against Northern Illinois in 2007. Troy can hang with teams from lesser conferences, but I think Central Michigan has the talent to win this one in Troy's backyard. Prediction: Central Michigan 27, Troy 23. (Actual: Central Michigan 44, Troy 41 (OT) - Record: 22-11)

Thursday, January 7:
Citi BCS National Championship Game (8:00 PM ET): Texas vs. Alabama - As much as it pains me to say, I think Alabama has the most well-rounded team in the nation. I though Greg McElroy was a question mark coming into the season, but he has proven to be the leader that Alabama needed. Texas, on the other hand, comes into the game limping but not defeated after a nailbiter victory over Nebraska. Texas doesn't have the running game, and making them one-dimensional is the key to an Alabama victory. However, you can't deny the McCoy-Shipley connection. Since 2002, the team ranked #2 has won the game every year except for after the 2004 season in which USC defeated Oklahoma. On the flipside, the SEC is 5-0 in BCS national championship games. This will be one of the tightest national championship games since the Ohio State double overtime win over Miami after the 2001 season. Prediction: Alabama 24, Texas 21. (Actual: Alabama 37, Texas 21 - Record: 23-11) (Note: This was the score with about 2 minutes left. Alabama scored one more touchdown, then piled on another when it was unneccesary.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holy War

Dueling religious imagery for your pre-game enjoyment.  Of course, Tebow is football Jesus, not Adam.  He's a devout Evangelical Christian, home schooled, does mission work (performs circumcisions) in the off-season, writes Bible verses on his gameday eye black.  And his coach was named after a Pope.

All we need is an image of Steve Spurrier descending from the top of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with a "Fun 'N Gun" playbook inscribed on stone tablets.

As for Alabama, well, "There is No God but BEAR and SABAN is his Prophet."  A fanatical base that is well armed and prone to misogeny and domestic violence fervently seeking a return to imagined days of past glory.  You can understand why I won't be posting any images here.  Has Imam Finebaum issued a fatwa against the Gators yet?  Death to Florida!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bowl picture clears for Auburn

As reported earlier, Auburn accepted a bid to the Outback Bowl, 10 am on January 1, potentially playing against Wisconsin for the third time in a bowl game since 2003. Auburn should count itself lucky to get the best bowl game of predicted bowl games for the six SEC teams with 7-5 records (by the way, Auburn's record against these other five 7-5 teams is 1-3 with a win against Tennessee and losses against Kentucky, Georgia, and Arkansas...Auburn didn't play South Carolina).

This site has projected bowls and teams who have accepted bids to bowl games already. As of posting time, it appears six teams have accepted bids:

1) UCF, to the St. Petersburg Bowl (December 19)
2) SMU, to the Hawaii Bowl (December 24)
3) Navy, to the Texas Bowl (December 31)
4) Auburn, to the Outback Bowl (January 1)
5) Ole Miss, to the Cotton Bowl (January 2)
6) Oklahoma State, also to the Cotton Bowl (January 2)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let the BCS discussion begin.

I know it's early, but it's really never inappropriate to discuss how the BCS system is ruining college football, not to mention that it never seems to get the correct two teams into the final game. Let's do a rundown, starting with the most recent:

2008 - Oklahoma gets in, despite that whole situation with Texas and Texas Tech, and a questionable decision to put them into the Big 12 title game, essentially locking them into that slot.

2007 - LSU gets in, despite the regular season loss to Arkansas at the end of the season. Georgia should be in, but gets snubbed since officials didn't want a team who didn't even play for their conference championship to play for a national championship. Results: Ohio State gets drubbed 38-24, Georgia beats Hawaii 41-10.

What do you think the next Uga should be?

I'm sure you've read, but with the passing of Uga VII a couple of weeks ago, what is the University of Georgia going to do? You might think that the university isn't sure, which is probably why PETA gave its suggestion for a suitable replacement. Is it just me, or are those guys crazy?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rivalry Week - by the numbers

84 - Number of seconds #2 Alabama led Auburn on Friday.  It just happened to be the last 84 seconds.

1.5 - Mean number of college football legends in their last regular season game Saturday in Gainesville.  1 is Heisman winner Tim Tebow, who scored 5 TDs before leaving the game in the 4th quarter.  .5 is Bobby Bowden, who has about a 50/50 chance of returning as Florida State's head coach next season.

22 - The most yards on a single rush by both Dexter McCluster and Anthony Dixon on Saturday.  Both runs came on TD drives in the 2nd Quarter.  McCluster's 22 yard scamper was the first play of a 6-play 73-yard drive.  Dixon's run set up Mississippi State 1st and goal at the 4.  Here, the similarities end.  McCluster accounted for 82 of Ole Miss' 90 yards on the ground.  Miss State, on the other hand, rolled up 412 yards of offense (317 on the ground) in a 41-27 route of Ole Miss. 

9 - Number of points scored in 2 overtime games Saturday.  LSU kicked a field goal in OT to beat Arkansas 33-30.  Tennessee scored a TD (no kick required) to beat Kentucky 30-24.

2 - Number of chances it took Les Miles and LSU to figure out how to manage the clock at the end of a game.   If you're going to call timeout, do it right after the play ends.  Use the sidelines and get out of bounds.  Give yourself time to kick the field goal at the end.  Unlike last week, LSU did all these things against Arkansas, propelling themselves to overtime and a win.

7-5 - Regular season record of, count 'em, 6 SEC teams: Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennesee.    How do you determine who goes to what bowl out of that mish-mash?

0 - Number of ACC Division Champs able to beat middling SEC teams on Saturday.  South Carolina dominated Atlantic Division Champ Clemson 34-17.  Georgia outlasted a comeback attempt by Coastal Division Champ #7 Georgia Tech 30-24.  As if we needed more evidence of the SEC's superiority over the ACC.

Friday, November 27, 2009

South Carolina Recruiting Bowl

What you see here is what I like to call Fake Hype. Clemson is very good at fake hype. They brainwash their freshman into thinking God himself couldn't make a creation to top their campus (did I mention it is an exact replica of Auburn's campus?). Have you ever heard a Clemson alumn ever say anything about their school that didn't use absolute terms in describing the greatness that they [wrongfully] think it is?
That's where this picture comes in. This is the "lifesize" heisman poster put out by Clemson before the beginning of the season. The only problem is that not-unlike Clemson's view of itself, this poster is larger than life. The poster is 6 feet tall, which is taller than even brand new cleats and sole inserts could make C.J. Spiller. Just check his stats and look at the poster next to Clemson coach/insurance salesman, Dabo Sweeney. In case you didn't know Dabo is just a phoenetic spelling for what his relatives used to call him when he was a youngin'. Slightly smarter people would have enunciated Dabo into Dat Bo...or Dat Boy...or finally...That Boy.
If you can't tell yet, there is a special kind of hatred reserved for Dat Boy and his team (mainly his team and its fans). The only problem is that we play them after getting beat on by the SEC for a whole season (where we usually become bowl eligible early and then go cold during the home stretch), while Clemson gets to beat up on the likes of Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, NC State, and Virginia to build their false sense of confidence going into the finale.
Granted, Spiller did have a great game or two on offense this season (one game where he ran, threw, and received a touchdown in the same game). But, his main damage has come on special teams this year. Therefore, he can be negated and they can be beaten; just ask Maryland...who lost to William and Mary but beat Clemson.
So what happens tomorrow during this game? No one knows with these two teams. There have been too many blowouts, too many head-scratchers, and too victories for the the kings of Fake Hype. At some point if I am going to claim all of the hype is fake, the Gamecocks are going to have to expose the fraud. The Gamecocks are going to have to kick away from Spiller, shut him down on the run, shut him down in the slot, and thoroughly pound his defense to keep him off the field. The game is in Columbia at noon, so in order to enjoy the rest of the day, the Gamecocks are going to have to send the Tigers back to the cow pastures with the hype, hopes, and self image shattered. I want and expect nothing less.
Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Battle for the Golden Egg 2009

Last year's Battle for the Golden Egg was never in doubt. Ole Miss scored 45 points and State gained 37 yards. It was one of the most enjoyable, humiliating defeats I have ever witnessed.

Mississippi State has improved this year. But, could they really have gotten any worse?! I haven't been back to Starkville in close to 11 years. I swore that I never wanted to return and have kept that pledge. State will probably make this game closer than it was last year - and they always try to incite a fight during the pre-game activities. I expect nothing different from the Hunchback of the Golden Triangle, Dan Mullen.

Dexter McCluster only needs 97 yards rushing to become the 4th player in Ole Miss history with 1000+ yards in a season. Look for Dex to get that and then some and look for the Landsharks to shut Anthony Dixon down. This one will appear to be close until the 3rd quarter when the Rebels will wear the helpless, hapless, hopeless Leghumpers down.

The Golden Egg remains in its rightful place - Oxford.

Ole Miss 34
Mississippi State 13


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Iron Bowl 2009

OK, here's a different perspective:

Auburn finishes up the regular season on the plains against dreaded rival Alabama. Auburn comes in hobbling, starting the season strong with five consecutive wins, only to drop 4 of the last 6, including losses by 7 to both Georgia and Kentucky. Many of Auburn's players (Todd, Ziemba, Trott, etc.) look confused, making mistakes that you'd expect freshmen to make. On the other hand, Alabama is riding a high that, with this win, could mean two straight undefeated regular seasons. There is talk of Ingram winning the Heisman (a long shot, considering who is in this pool), and McElroy is back to his early season form.

I think Auburn may be in this game early, but expect Auburn to fall apart around the 3rd quarter when their depleted team becomes too tired to hang with Alabama. Alabama will look to exploit this weakness on the offensive side with constant running to set up the pass; they will look to exploit this weakness on the defensive side with pressure on Todd, who does not know what to do under pressure.

As much as I'd like to see Auburn win this game, I don't think they are on the same par as Alabama. I'd like to see a close game, but that too will not happen. Prediction: Alabama 34, Auburn 17.

Iron Bowl 2009

The final game of Alabama's regular season is upon us. But before the trip to Atlanta to take on the Gators and then (hopefully) a Championship bowl game in Pasadena, there's arch-rival Auburn. Bama will travel to the plains of Auburn in hopes of retaining the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Award trophy. This will be the first Bama-Auburn game on a Friday in 21 years. The deck is stacked against the Tigers in this game, but anything can happen.

Auburn's OL is experienced, but thin. They have been lucky to avoid injury here all season. Their rushing attack is lead by Sr. Ben Tate. Tate believed he was the best RB in the state, but forgot about Mark Ingram. If Auburn was actually in Georgia, as some people believe, Tate may be correct.

QB Chris Todd has been inconsistent this season for the Tigers, but is still a quality SEC player. His numbers have been similar to Greg McElroy's. Auburn will have their work cut out for them moving the ball on this Alabama defense. OC Gus Malzahn is a master of misdirection, but a team as disciplined as Alabama should be effective if they play assignment football. Alabama will still try to get to Todd early in the game. Look for blitzes by Sr. Javier Arenas, who is as effective in tackles for loss as he is in returning punts. Other than that, Alabama knows they have a talent advantage. They will play a basic defense and rely on talent and depth to avoid tiring from Malzahn's high-tempo offense.

Alabama will counter as they have all season, with a bruising running game and play action passing. Bama leads the SEC in rushing offense. Auburn is last in the SEC in rushing defense. It does not take a "rocket surgeon" to realize this could be a problem for the Tigers. The fact that Auburn's defense is dinged up from injuries and lack of depth will not help their performance. If LB Eltoro Freeman is not cleared to play, you can bet Ingram will have a performance worthy of a Heisman trophy.

Although I always get nervous at this game, I think the Tide will take care of business. Alabama wins 31-10.

Cochon de lait

My bad. You probably thought you were going to get a picture of the special edition Nike Combat uniform that LSU will sport for the game against Arkansas.

In recognition of LSU fans' affinity for consuming the flesh of its opponents' mascots, Nike has given Oregon a sabbatical from it's role as experimental palate and has developed a new uniform for the Saturday afternoon game against the Hogs - amusingly named "Cochon de lait". Translated, it literally means "suckling pig" or "pig in milk." Much as in North Carolina and Alabama, however, where "barbecue" can be a verb or noun, "cochon de lait" is often used to describe the entire suckling pig-cooking and -eating process.

Regardless of how you feel about the uniform, if you're a Tiger fan, you have to appreciate the diversion from a couple of concerning similarities to the end of the 2008 season. All conspiracy theories regarding Coach Miles' instructions to or not to "clock" the ball with 0:01 left in regulation aside, watching the offense's heroic comeback effort last week fail only because of the team's incredulity at having actually converted on 4th-and-26 is enough to shake any fan's confidence. And that's just the aside on another troubling trend: LSU is 0-2 the last two seasons while heavily favored against Arkansas. They only have Houston Nutt, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to blame for one of those losses. This time, the best passing quarterback in the SEC has a real chance to make it three-straight (only this time, the line isn't so large).

Earlier this season, I thought it was a matter of time before LSU's running game dominated a game. Surely, then, they would start looking like themselves (ball control, pressure from the defensive line, the occasional razzle dazzle). Now, after Charles Scott and Keiland Williams have played their last downs as Tigers, even I am convinced that Jordan Jefferson is going to have to win the next two games. In a shootout with Arkansas, I don't know if I like those odds.

See you in Atlanta???

Picks - Week 13

Our standings (last week, overall):

Chuck Visor: 4-4, 54-33

Drake McHugh, Esq.: 6-2, 50-37

Max Power: 5-3, 48-30

Brocktoon: 6-2, 45-42

Full Monte Kiffin: 3-5, 42-35

Carter Slade: 3-5, 28-24

Woody Widenhoefer: 0-0, 22-18

Dick C'est Bon: 0-0, 14-12

Arnold Porkzenegger: 0-0, 3-4

Herschel Talker: 0-0, 0-1


Alabama (-10) at Auburn (CBS 1:30 PM) - The Iron Bowl. Intense Rivalry. Throw out the records. Except don't really. The favorite usually wins this game. Auburn just doesn't have the talent to compete with Bama, especially on defense. Auburn won't be able to move the ball on Bama's stout defense. Bama rolls by more than 10. Bring on the Gators.

Clemson (-3) at South Carolina (ESPN 11:00 AM) - Clemson has been surging of late, winning 6 in a row since starting the season 2-3, winning their division, and setting up a rematch with GA Tech for the ACC championship. SC is on the opposite trajectory, having started the season 5-1 but now sitting at 6-5. The 'Cocks last win was 10/24 against Vandy. Clemson will win by more than three, and begin yet another round of "How long will Spurrier stay at South Carolina" speculation.

Ole Miss (-8) at Mississippi State (SEC Network 11:21 AM) - The Egg Bowl. Ole Miss is on a bit of a roll, coming off home wins against Tennessee and LSU. How will they play in Starkville with a new-look Mullen-led Bulldog team looking to avenge last year's embarrassing loss? Pretty well, I'd say. Still, I think the LSU game took a lot out of the Rebs. I think they'll win, but I think maybe MSU keeps it close. I'll take the cowbells and the points.

Florida State (+24.5) at Florida (CBS 2:30 PM) - How much pleasure can one take from beating up on a confused, old man? Trick question: Mayer's CPU is not programmed to experience what you humans call emotions. His phasers are set to "dominate" and that's what his team will do? But not by 24.5. Not with Bama next week with a chance for another NC on the line. Gators win in a blowout, just not a 25 point blowout.

Tennessee (-3) at Kentucky (ESPNU 6:00 PM) - this is the toughest pick of the week for me. UT seemed depleted in their game against Ole Miss. Plus, have you heard they'v had some off-field distractions? A tune-up against Vandy may be just what the Vols needed. The Wildcats just beat Georgia in Athens and earlier this year beat Auburn in Auburn. UK is 7-4 and a win over UT would make them the 2nd place team in the East. Wildcats at home and a 3 point 'dog makes me pick UK in what I expect to be a game that could go either way.

Arkansas (+3.5) at LSU (ESPN 6:00 PM) - This is another tough game to pick. I can see Mallet and the Hogs shredding a Tiger team still hungover from the "debacle in Oxford." If the game comes down to 4th quarter time-management, I'll take the shark-eyed Petrino's team 8 days a week. So, I guess I'll take the soowee pigs, minus the points.

Georgia (+7.5) at Georgia Tech (ABC 7:00 PM) - I expect Ga Tech to win in a shootout. The Jackets would have approximately the same defensive stats on the year if they just put 11 homeless Atlanta panhandlers on the field when the other team has the ball. On the other side of the field, the English-speaking world would be shocked if defensive coordinator Willie Martinez remains employed in Athens next year. Result: lots and lots of points. I think Ga Tech should win, but UGA may be able to score enough to keep it within 8. So, I'll take the 'dogs and the points and probably regret it on Sunday.

Bonus Picks:

Pittsburgh at West Virginia (straight up) - Mountaineers upset the Panthers dream season.

Notre Dame (+10) at Stanford - The Cardinal will send Charlie Weis packing in a manner befitting his tenure - a narrow loss to a suposedly inferior team. So, I guess I'm taking the Irish and the points.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Podcasts

I figure blogging to be a little light on a holiday week, but it is rivalry week and there are some big games this weekend, so we decided to do some more podcasts. Hope you enjoy.

Alabama-Auburn, and other stuff, with Brocktoon and Carter Slade:

Georgia-Georgia Tech with Herschel Talker:

Ole Miss-MSU with friend of the blog and MSU grad James:

Tennessee- Kentucky with Full Monte Kiffin:

Plus some bonus banter and a major broadcasting faux pas:

P.S. I intend to put up a picks post tomorrow for the weekend games.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Local News breaks actual news, film at 11

This video of a local Louisiana newscast is funny mostly because of the treatment of the outcome of a college football game as near-apocalypse.  It's the most hyperbolic over-reaction to a loss since, well, you know.  You'd think the local news in a place raveged by Hurrican Katrina a few short years ago would have a slightly better sense of perspective.  This is Louisiana so, of course, you would be wrong.

I also like this video for pointing out that Les Miles' attempt at CYA in claiming he doesn't know who called for the spike is a little disingenuous given the video of him signaling to spike the ball.  Paraphrasing the dad from A Christmas Story, "That's real news, not like that politics glop."

Speaking of dads, an anecdote from my dad's trip to Oxford yesterday:

Setting - The Grove.

Female LSU fan: (mistaking my dad and his friend for Ole Miss fans) Tiiiger bait!!

My dad: Roll Tide!

Female LSU fan: F*** Nick Saban!

My dad's friend: You probably did.

Friday, November 20, 2009

UGA VII dies

I'm sad to report that UGA VII has died at the ripe age of 4 (in people years). I liked UGA VI better, as he was good at biting Auburn players.

UGA, you will be missed.

Auburn: No Game = No Loss

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I guess 7-4 is better than I expected at this point.

Nutt vs. The Hat

Well, it's here. Ole Miss vs. LSU. Biggest rivalry game of the year. The Magnolia Bowl. The 50th anniversary of the season when Ole Miss beat LSU 21-0 in the Sugar Bowl and only allowed a total of 76 yards of offense to the Tigers.

Lot of questions about tomorrow's big game in Oxford. Will Jordan Jefferson play and if so, will he be effective? Will Dexter McCluster continue his amazing display on offense? What will Jon Chavis' defense do to contain Dexter? If Peterson shuts down Shay Hodge, will Jevan be able to connect to other receivers? Will the new offensive line for Ole Miss have another good day opening holes and giving Snead time to find those receivers? Will Sandra Bullock lead the Hotty Toddy before the game? Will the Klan realize how idiotic they look and sound in front of Fulton Chapel in the "free speech zone" before they leave (hopefully for good)?

Most Rebel fans will tell you that the last two games of the year are both big rivalry games, but with different aspects to the games. LSU is the rival we love to beat more than anyone else. MSU is the team we dread losing to more than anyone else.

More often than not this game is played close. I don't expect anything different tomorrow at 2:30. Vegas was right last week and I was wrong. I thought UT and their vaunted defense would come in and shut down the Rebel offense. Again this week, Vegas has Ole Miss as 4 point favorites. An unranked team playing at home against a top 10 team is favored by 4? I would LOVE to believe that Ole Miss wins this game by 4 or more and marches on to the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day.

But, I can't. Don't get me wrong. I'll be cheering for the Rebels and hope they pull it out. But, my skeptical Rebel heart has been broken too many times. LSU wins this one in a close one by 3 and the Rebels get a repeat trip to Dallas as a consolation prize after running by the Leghumpers next week.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Picks - Week 12

Our standings (last week, overall):

Chuck Visor: 7-2, 50-29

Drake McHugh, Esq.: 6-3, 44-35

Max Power: 6-3, 43-27

Full Monte Kiffin: 7-2, 39-30

Brocktoon: 3-6, 39-40

Carter Slade: 1-0, 25-19

Woody Widenhoefer: 0-0, 22-18

Dick C'est Bon: 0-0, 14-12

Arnold Porkzenegger: 0-0, 3-4

Herschel Talker: 0-0, 0-1

Miss. State (+11.5) at Arkansas - SEC Network 12:21 ET - MSU is improved everywhere but in the win-loss column. Oh, yeah, and they laid an egg against Bama at home last week. What chance should I give them to show any life against Arky? They need to win both of their last 2 games just to get bowl eligible. I think the cowbells will save all their emotion for the Egg Bowl next week. Hawgs roll.

Chattanooga at Alabama (no line) - SEC Network (split coverage) 12:21 ET - The only interesting question is how long Ingram stays in and whether he gets the stats he needs for his Heisman campaign. Roll Tide.

Florida International (+45) at Florida - (PPV) 12:30 ET - Bama beat FIU 40-14 back in September. Urban will want to beat the Airport by more than that. Go Gators!

LSU (+4) at Ole Miss - CBS 3:30 ET - I got burned last week because I thought Auburn and Tennessee should have been favored so I took them plus points. Vegas knew more than I did, as both UGA and Ole Miss covered. This week, I'd expect LSU to be favored in this game. Vegas says it's the Rebs that have the upper hand. With fear and loathing, I'll take the fightin's Nutts. PS, don't wear white to the game, you may be sending an unintended message.

Vanderbilt (+17) at Tennessee - ESPNU 7:00 ET - Some rivalry. UT is 70-27-5 all time against the smart kids. Vandy last won in 2005, and that was their first win in 22 years. Last year, when Vandy went 6-6 in the regular season and won the Music City Bowl, the 'Dores were actually favored by 3 and, in true Vandy fashion, lost 20-10. Vols need the win to get bowl eligible. Despite their off-field troubles, I like UT to win, and win comfortably, just not by 17. Give me the Dores and the points. I'll regret it Sunday.

Kentucky (+9.5) at Georgia - ESPN2 7:45 ET - Herschel Talker said earlier in the season that all these close Georgia games might make him have a heart attack. Well, apparently Uga VII couldn't take it any more. Even without their mascot, I think the Dawgs can handle the Cats. But can they beat 'em by 10? I think that UK can keep it close. I'll take UK and the points.

Auburn (+5) v. Bye Week - Auburn's the kind of team this year that could lose in a bye week, AMIRIGHT?

Bonus Picks:

Ohio State (-12.5) at Meeshagan - Right now, Michigan couldn't beat Western Michigan (of the Mich directional schools, they're the bad one). Buckeyes roll. Remember the Rose Bowl, they'll lose to Oregon then.

Harvard at Yale - the 126th playing of The Game. The Elis leads the all-time series 65-52-8. But the Crimson have won the last 2 and 7 of the last 8. Harvard (6-3, 5-1) will end up 2nd in the Ivy after losing to Penn last week. Yale (4-5, 2-4) is having a down year. Crimson signal-caller Winters will light it up in the air in the first half, then Gordon will punish the Bulldogs on the ground in the second. Illegitimum non Carborundum -- ipso facto!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The hits just keep on coming

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is this the smile of a shoplifter?

First, the caveats: Yes, every team has stuff like this happen every now and again.  Sometimes in spectacular fashion, a la Jimmy Johns repeatedly selling blow to undercover cops outside the football complex, sometimes in a mere yeoman's effort, such as Anthony Dixon getting arrested this past summer for a DUI.  Casting stones, glass houses, etc. etc.

But, what really separates this story (UT player Nyshier Oliver arrested for shoplifting a shirt from Dillard's) from the garden variety shoplifting, domestic violence, assault, DUI and generally raisin' a ruckus type-offenses that players from every team get cited for every year is timing. 

As the saying goes, timing is everything.  This news breaks on the heels of the arrest of 3 Vol players last week for armed (with a pellet gun) robbery.  And, oh yeah, there's this dang quote from Coach Kiffin again:

"We've had zero arrests in 11 months here,"  Kiffin boasted on Wednesday, Nov. 11, which was not only one day before pellet-gun-gate, but actually four days after Oliver was arrested.  That's right, Oliver was arrested Sat. Nov. 7, just hours before the UT-Memphis game.

That means either Kiffins did not know one of his players had been arrested when he made his boast, or decided to make a boast that he already knew was false.  Either way, not good for a Coach who's already earned a reputation for letting his mouth write checks his ass can't cash.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

See Dexter Run - and Run and Run and...

Dexter McCluster didn't much appreciate the Tennessee defense talking trash about his size. Or speed. “They talked the whole game. They chirped and chirped and chirped. We’d get a 15-yard run and they’d talk trash. We’d get another one and they kept chirping. They never seemed to get enough and it kept me motivated,” he smiled. “After the long run (71 yards for the game-sealing TD) I thought they’d quit, but they didn’t. Then, I had to laugh.”

Apparently, Coach O's brilliant move to make his defensive linemen run laps around the team hotel at 6 yesterday morning didn't help them have the freshest of legs. At least, that's what the rumor was according to UT's own radio man, Bob Kesling.

I've been to many, many Rebel games in my lifetime. But the one I went to Saturday was probably one of, if not the, most impressive displays I've ever seen in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Dexter had 282 rushing and 324 all-purpose yards against the 3rd best defense in the SEC and 13th best in the nation. That's the most rushing yards given up by a Tennessee defense in 113 years of playing football. It was incredible and surreal. And while I enjoyed every minute of it (including watching my 2 year old daughter experience her first Ole Miss game and scream Hotty Toddy early and often), I had to wonder where this offensive gameplan was back in September in Columbia or in Auburn a few weeks ago.

But all Rebel fans and players can do is look ahead to the last two games against their biggest rivals - the coonasses (LSU) and the dumbasses (MSU). Win out and Ole Miss is probably playing in the Capital One Bowl. Split the games and the Cotton Bowl is still possible. Either outcome is very good. But still not what we dreamed of for this season. Oh well.

I'll write about the upcoming game against the boys from Baton Rouge later, but will end this post with one of my favorite poems:

I'm a Rebel,
I'm a Rebel,
I'm a Rebel through and through.
And I'd rather be a Rebel,
Than a coonass from LSU!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A House Divided

In anticipation of the 113th playing of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, a series began in 1892 and played continuously since 1944, I decided to do an email interview with two of my friends, Josh and Jennifer, one an Auburn grad and the other a Georgia grad, married since April, on what it's like to be "A House Divided."  The series is a close one, with Auburn leading 53-51-8.  As Brock noted on the podcast, the most plated rivalry in 1A is Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Go figure.

Drake: When did you find out that Josh/Jennifer was an Auburn/Georgia fan?

Josh: I don’t remember.

Jennifer: I can't really remember, I guess pretty soon after I met him.  I do remember seeing his license plate from Alabama and figured we would just be friends :)

Drake: How did you respond?

Josh: I thought, at least she’s not a uat fan.

Jennifer:   I was just glad it wasn't Florida or Tennessee.  Those would have been deal breakers. 

Drake: You don't have one of those "House Divided" car tags do you?

Josh: No, I told her that we could get one for her car, but mine would have AU. Funny thing about that though, we have a big laugh every time we see a house divided that is like UNC/Penn State “House Divided” or some other schools not in the same conference or even region of the country. Really?!? UNC and Penn State are big rivals now? That’s not a house divided. That’s cheer for one team in basketball season and the other in football season.

Jennifer: Absolutely not!  I don't want anything but GA on my car.

Drake: What years were you at AU/UGA?

Josh: 1994-1998.

Jennifer: 2003-2006.

Drake: What are some of your memories of the AU/UGA rivalry from those years?

Josh: I remember the awful tie that ended Auburn’s 20+ game unbeaten streak in 1994 and set us up for our loss to Bama the next week; and the horrible overtime loss in 1996 (which stood as the longest game in 1-A for years). We were up by 21 I think at the half and let them come back to tie it and take it into overtime. One of the worst games I’ve ever had to suffer through. Also if I recall both those games were night games in mid-November—very, very cold. Psychologists say that we humans are much more in tune with negative memories than positive ones, which along with my not taking the road trip to Athens, is probably why I remember little from the two away victories we had while I was in school.

Jennifer:  Not really any...  

Drake: Any other AU/UGA memories that stand out?

Josh: I went to the 2001 game in Athens and sat in the student section, when we upset UGA on their home field. That was a great feeling.

Jennifer: Our sweet mascot, UGA, jumping up to bite the mean Auburn player [Ed. Note: wide receiver Robert Baker; this was the 1996 OT game Josh referenced above.] AND the blackout from two years ago.  That was the first game we watched together and we were with his family.  I was very proud when we whooped them! 

Drake: Do you generally cheer for your spouse's alma mater? Is that difficult?

Josh: Yes. It was difficult at first because she wouldn’t cheer for AU. So I became a big Gator fan for a few weeks. That quickly cured her of her dislike for Auburn.

Jennifer: Yes, sometimes depending on who they are playing.  I try to at least not cheer against them out loud.

Drake: Have you been to any college football games together? How was that?

Josh: Yes, but not since we’ve been married, and no Auburn/UGA games yet. We’ve been to UGA vs UK, and AU vs Vandy. We cheered for each other’s team…for the most part.

Jennifer: Yes, but not GA/AU games YET!  It was fun b/c both times we were cheering for the same team. 

Drake: Will you watch the AU/UGA game together? Why or why not?

Josh: We’ve talked about it, but haven’t decided yet. I think with both teams having a somewhat disappointing season, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Maybe I’m just na├»ve though.

Jennifer: I think so although I have thought a lot about watching it separate to avoid an argument.  This game should be very interesting. 

Drake: Have you watched the game together in the past? How was that?

Josh: Yes, the last two years. It was awful because UGA won both times. Actually it was worse two years ago when AU was actually good and should have won the game. By the time the AU/UGA game came around last year, I had already written off the season, so it wasn’t so bad. That’s why I think it won’t be that bad this year. I know she’s already given up on her Bullpuppies for the season.

Jennifer: Yes, but thankfully UGA has won since we have been watching them together so its been easy for me.  Hopefully this year will be the same.

Drake: What will Sunday be like in your house if UGA wins?

Josh: Crying and Gnashing of teeth…pretty much like the Monty Python scene “Bring out your dead”

Jennifer: We will get up and go teach our Sunday school class and I will make lots of comments about the game and be fairly obnoxious.  All of our friends will also give him a hard time at church and it will be very fun...for me!

Drake: If AU wins?

Josh: Happiness and Joy…like Christmas morning, Thanksgiving Dinner, and New Year’s Eve all wrapped into one.

Jennifer:  I will be very disappointed for many reasons.  It will also depend on how the game goes. 

Drake: Any other thoughts on being a "House Divided"?

Josh: Don’t call yourself a “House Divided” if you went to Kansas and your wife went to Florida State, or the scorn of all the real “Houses Divided” will be upon you.

Jennifer: My main concern is when we have children.  I want my kids in red and black every weekend and I know Josh will want orange and blue.  Also, their bedrooms will most likely be very tacky.  I don't see either of us backing down on that.  Oh, and one more thing - GOOOOO DAWGS!! 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gators at the USC

Saturday at 3:30 is gametime. It is also Camo time. In honor of the troops, the Gamecocks will wear camo uniforms with the players' last names substituted out, in favor of words like service, honor, leadership, etc. There, of course is another added benefit that I am surprised South Carolina was able to set up. Just think about it...we will be able to put as many guys on the field as we want, and no one will be able to tell how many are out there. We can play 12 on 11, or hell even 15 on 11 if we have to. Florida will not be able to tell who to cover, who to block, or where we are running. All they will be able to see is the ball. I can't believe we didn't think about this in the past. Everyone already knows that Tennessee wears orange so they can go straight from the prison, to highway pickup, to the field without changing clothes. Now the Gamecocks can go from hunting to playing football without changing clothes. They gave us the formula, we just never decided to use it until now. For some reason the Gators incorporated orange, but never thought of the multi-faceted fashion possibilities available to them. For that reason look for the Gamecocks to sneak up on the gators, put together a strategic plan that makes Florida fight on more than one front, and use the art of war to bring the Florida civilization to its knees. Go Gamecocks!

Trivia Pt. 5: Rivalries

So, in honor of the South's Oldest Rivalry, a new trivia question:

What are the longest running rivalries in college football? How about the top 15 in I-A, and we'll say the top 5 in I-AA.

Answers are posted in the Comments section.

Bama-MSU Preview

This week, the Tide makes the short trek to Starkville, MS, to take on the MSU Bulldogs. Head Coach Dan Mullen has done very well in his first year at the MSU helm. The cupboard was not left completely bare by Sylvester Croom, and Mullen has done a good job installing his spread offense. MSU is still at heart, however, a physical running team. Led by the #8 rusher in the country, Anthony Dixon (avg 125 yards per game), MSU will often try to run up the middle on Alabama's defense. MSU's QB, Tyson Lee, is not known for great arm strength or size. Look for Mullen to have Lee throw quick passes to the wide-outs in order to spread out the Bama defense and open lanes for Dixon. Saban likely knows this. Alabama will respond by staying in its base 3-4 and try to keep fresh DL's and LB's on the field. If MSU get's desperate and starts throwing every play, Saban's Nickel formation will pick him off all day.

Alabama will respond with what Saban believes is necessary to win a MNC--a balanced offense. Bama made a statement early in the LSU game last week by passing more in the first series than in the rest of the season. Ingram will still run up the middle, mix in some Wildcat, and catch jailbreak screens, but look for McElroy to take more shots down field. Alabama will switch to a more ball-control offense if MSU has early success against the Tide defense.

I was originally confident about this matchup, but these types of games always worry me. The emotional win and clinching of the SEC West last week could have the Tide in for a let-down, but if Coach Saban can't keep the team focused, then nobody can.

Score Prediction: Bama 28-10

Picks - Week 11

Brocktoon here, filling in for Commissioner McHugh, who is busy working for the man today, with your picks for the week. A successful week was had by most last week, and several people are up over .500 against the line. The current standings, with last week's record and overall record, are as follows:

Chuck Visor: 6-4, 43-27
Drake McHugh, Esq.: 8-2, 38-32
Max Power: 8-2, 37-24
Brocktoon: 8-2, 36-34
Full Monte Kiffin: 7-3, 32-28
Carter Slade: 1-0, 24-19
Woody Widenhoefer: 0-0, 22-18
Dick C'est Bon: 0-0, 14-12
Arnold Porkzenegger: 0-0, 3-4
Herschel Talker: 0-0, 0-1

Now for this week's picks:

Coach O's Revenge: Tennessee (+5) at Ole Miss (12 pm ET, CBS) - The real-life Farmer Frankie visits his old team as Tennessee looks to become bowl-eligible after a slow start. The Vols look impressive as of late with wins over Georgia, South Carolina, and Memphis, and a near-defeat of Alabama. Their most lopsided loss was a 10 point loss to Florida. On the other hand, Ole Miss is 6-3, playing like 3-6. A loss to Auburn set them back, but a win here would make them bowl-eligible as well (you can't count both of the I-AA victories). I would have figured Tennessee was favored here, but it might be the case of a homer line. I'll take Tennessee with the outright victory.

SEC East Cellar Dwellers: Kentucky (-3) at Vanderbilt (12:21 pm ET, SEC Network) - Kentucky is looking for a 6th victory on the season to make them bowl-eligible. Vanderbilt is looking forward to finishing their schedule and beginning the basketball season. Kentucky covers.

Spurrier's Revenge: Florida (-17) at South Carolina (3:30 pm ET, CBS) - Florida is looking toward their meeting with Alabama in the SEC Championship game, but they must first wrap up regular season SEC play with a trip to the Old Ball Coach's new home. South Carolina is looking to salvage what started as a nice season that has slowly gone down the crapper. South Carolina has dropped the last two by considerable margins and now looks to possibly winning 7 games. I normally would take South Carolina here, but I think Florida is going to stick it to them. Florida covers and makes Steve Spurrier thrown his visor at least once.

The South's Oldest Rivalry: Auburn (+4) at Georgia (7 pm ET, ESPN 2) - Neither team has played great down the stretch despite starting strong. Auburn would like to go into the Iron Bowl with a victory, and Georgia would like to go to a bowl. Both teams have a lot to play for. Look for a tight game, with Auburn's defense making the difference. Auburn wins the game and saves a little bit of face.

Tech vs. State, Just Like in the Allstate Commercials: Louisiana Tech (+23) at LSU (7 pm ET, ESPN U) - Are there any players left for LSU who can still play? With Jarrett Lee at the helm, LSU wins, but not by 23. I'll take the Bulldogs to block.

I've Got A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is More Cowbell: Alabama (-12.5) at Mississippi State (7 pm ET, ESPN) - Alabama looks to continue their dominance over competitors. Greg McElroy seems to have regained his composure, and Julio Jones scored a touchdown for a change. Alabama still wins the game, but with Mississippi State playing at home, they will beat the spread. If this game was the same line in Tuscaloosa, I'd take Alabama.

Hawg Heaven: Troy (+13.5) at Arkansas (7:30 pm ET, CSS/ESPN 360) - Troy, who has now won 7 games after starting 0-2, takes on an Arkansas team that has been hit or miss over the last 3-4 games. Arkansas is happy to get Troy at home, though, and a win will make Arkansas bowl-eligible also. They will take it to Troy just like Florida did, behind-the-woodshed style. Arkansas covers the spread, winning BIG.

Bonus Pick #1: Iowa (+16) at Ohio State (3:30 pm ET, ABC) - The wheels finally fell off Iowa after winning several close games, including a 3 point squeaker to Arkansas State. Ohio State is coming off a big victory over Penn State and has a lot of momentum. Iowa's backup QB, James Vandenberg, not only looks like he's never played football before, he's also named after my favorite 80s metal band. Ohio State covers, embarrasses Iowa.

Bonus Pick #2: Utah (-19.5) at TCU (7:30 pm ET, CBS (maybe?)) - This game will undoubtedly decide the winner of the Mountain West conference. TCU is riding high, winning their last 4 by an average score of 44-6. Utah is no slouch, with their only loss a 7-point win by Oregon. I'd like to think Utah will keep it close, but I'm not sure they will. Despite that, I'll take Utah to beat the spread and regret it later.

Yaw, Yaw, Yawky Top!

Well, it's finally here. The game where Ole Miss faces off against its former coach and the absolute worst head coach hire in NCAA football history. UT, he's all yours.

Ole Miss comes into tomorrow's game hoping to repeat last November's success. The Rebels need to win out or at worst go 3-1 during this stretch to continue momentum within the program.

Tennessee has been playing incredibly well lately and I expect them to give the Rebels a real difficult game. Monte Kiffin has probably been looking forward to his defense wreaking havoc in Oxford for a while. The Vols have dealt with a minor distraction this week which has already been chronicled on the blog earlier this week. But, I don't think the incident stops the Vols from being focused and continuing their improvement.

While I am hopeful that the Rebels will come out fired up and playing their best, I have a bad feeling about this one. Unless Jevan and the offense can handle the famous Tampa 2 defense and unless the defense plays lights out against an improving Crompton and Co., it could be another long day for Rebels fans.

Wish I could call this one for the Rebs, but...

Rocky Top and Coach O, 27
Rebels, 13

Preview: The South's Oldest Rivalry

It's Auburn's next to last game, which means it is time to take on Georgia in the South's Oldest Rivalry. Take a gander at the program from the 1959 game, 50 years ago, also at Sanford Stadium.

This is honestly the first time I remember neither team being ranked when they meet, and quite a slide from 2004's premier matchup of top 5 teams that Auburn won 24-6. Georgia has had the upper hand lately, winning the last three. Auburn's last victory came in a 31-30 win in 2005 with a last minute field goal. Check out this nice summary for the past twelve meetings between the teams. The home team has dropped 3 of the last 4 games between these two teams, and 8 of the last 12.

Neither team is playing well, with Georgia losing to Tennessee and Florida by considerable margins and Auburn dropping three in a row, including a home loss to Kentucky, before correcting with a win over Ole Miss. This Georgia fan really thinks Auburn is going to put the hurt on, but I'm not sure.

Now for the annual historical analysis that comes with this game: Although not as storied as the Auburn-LSU matchup, this one is much closer. Auburn holds a slight edge over Georgia in the all-time series, 53-51-8, but Georgia holds the all-time scoring edge over Auburn, 1747-1698. This is the seventh-most played series in the country. Most noteworthy that I can remember is this reminder of Robert Baker almost being bitten by UGA V back in 1996, probably one of the most memborable moments in the recent rivalry.

As I alluded to in the podcast, I'm surprised Auburn isn't favored in this game based on current play. I think Auburn has a chance to take this game and get at least 8 wins (with the dreaded Iron Bowl left), and if the offense can play well like they have the last couple of weeks, they just might pull it out. The defense must take control, putting the game in the hands of Joe Cox, who has struggled at times throughout the year. For a prediction, make it Auburn 27, Georgia 23.

War Eagle!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Police Blotter: SchadenfreUT Edition

Three Vol players have won the award for most ironic use of a pellet gun.   This story combines the least admirable aspects of old-UT and new-UT: (1) a reputation for misbehaving players so bad that Orson Swindle at tracks off-field chicanery by giving a "Fulmer Cup" award to the school with the most trouble with the law each offseason; and (2) lane Kiffin's propensity for shooting off his mouth.  Juxtaposition is a bitch:

Lane Kiffin, yesterday, praising Ed Orgeron: "He deals with a lot of our discipline and has done a phenomenal job with it," Kiffin said. "We've had the highest (team) GPA we've had in five years. We've had zero arrests in 11 months here."

The AP, this morning, reporting: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Three freshmen Tennessee football players, including highly touted wide receiver recruit Nu'Keese Richardson and starting safety Janzen Jackson, were charged with attempted armed robbery Thursday morning. Richardson, 18, and Jackson, 18, along with defensive back Mike Edwards, 18, and companion Marie Montmarquet, 22, were charged after a report of an armed robbery at a gas station in an area known as "The Strip" at the edge of Tennessee's campus.

Adding insult to injury, the getaway car: a Toyota Prius.  While the desire to sneak up on their unsuspecting prey and then make a silent getaway is admirable, they could use a little work on their camouflage:

A Volunteer TV News photographer on the scene captured the suspects while they were being identified. At least one of them wore a black University of Tennessee t-shirt with an orange Adidas logo and the phrase “impossible is nothing.”

Reactions are coming in from around the league.

Steve Spurrier: "You can't spell pelleT gUn without UT."

Urban Meyer: “I think it’s funny that Nu’Keese had to cheat to rob people and still couldn’t do it.”

Alshon Jeffery: "Sign with South Carolina and pump gas? Sign with Tennessee and rob gas stations."

As Drudge would say, developing . . .