Sunday, September 30, 2007

Week 5: A review of the carnage -- Alabama, Auburn and Florida

Wow. What a weekend. It has been a long, long time since college football underwent such an enormous sea change in one 48 hour period, yet here we now sit with the following improbables: USF beats West Virgina at home. Auburn defeats Florida in the Swamp. Oklahoma goes down to Colorado. Kansas State puts a butt whoopin' on Texas. Carnage, calamity, shock and awe.

But we'll stick with the big games in the SEC, and the biggest upset this week was Auburn over Florida. Let the team's bloggers and fans tell us what happened:

On a night when the rapidly aging Lou Holtz said he had a better chance of winning a U.S. Senate race in Florida than Auburn did of defeating the Gators, the Tigers delivered every county in the state for the former Notre Dame coach. -- Jay Coulter, Track Em Tigers

I'm not sure I'd totally agree with Jay that no Auburn win has ever felt better than Saturday night's signature on our Title of Ownership of the Florida Gators--those wins over the Tide in '93 and 2005, in particular, were 100 percent pure Colombian bliss--but hoo boy, after the first 13 1/2 quarters of this season, this one ain't that far behind. -- Jerry Hinnen, The Joe Cribbs Car Wash
Somehow, some way, you have our number. Even in a year in which you field one of your weaker teams, you still find a way to beat us. Your senior quarterback, who played so poorly in his first few games that the Auburn coaching staff burned a freshman’s redshirt, looked like an All-American against our defense. And our offense, supposedly ready to ring up 500 yards and 50 points against the New England Patriots, couldn’t get out of its own way for a half of football, then squandered multiple opportunities to eak out a win in the 4th quarter. -- GatorPilot, Orange and Blue Hue
Myth: Urban Meyer is truly concerned about the number of carries Tim Tebow gets and will rely on running backs to spread the load around.


Florida Rushing
Tebow: 19 carries
Harvin: 4 carries
Moore: 3 carries
Fayson: 2 carries

-- Year 2

But Florida losing to Auburn wasn't the only bad news for SEC teams. How about Alabama going down to Florida, and coming back with their Tide between their legs:

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. The offense seems to have overdosed on NyQuil. -- AL C. Hemist, Eight in the Box
Will people blame the coaching for this loss? Well, I’d say yes and no. Most people will probably blame John Parker Wilson before the coaching, although that will be #2 on the hit list. Personally, the only coaching I can blame is the offensive play calling. Major Applewhite is an up and coming coach, but he certainly has a lot of ground to make up if he wants to make it in the SEC. I think with time he will. -- The Tide Druid

I'm disappointed Alabama did not beat Florida State, and pretty much ambivalent about the Auburn vs. Florida result, except that it does make the UK vs. Florida game look like it could be worth a lot more and a lot more difficult for the Gators than I ever would have believed.

Of course, there is the Florida-LSU game next week. Personally, I think that game will be better than many believe. LSU's defense is probably not going to have much more luck against Tebow than anyone else has, but I seriously fear for Tebow's health -- he is going to get hurt playing like he does, and if Florida doesn't find some other offensive options, they are asking for big trouble.

But more thoughts on all this tomorrow.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Game Day!

The SEC has lots of big games today. South Carolina hosting Mississippi State for homecoming is a big opportunity for MSU at 3-1 to show they are legit, and a bit of a trap game for South Carolina coming between an expected loss to LSU and a dangerous game against Kentucky next week.

Auburn could change their fortunes for the better by springing a surprise on the Gators at the Swamp today. I don't think it likely given the way the Plainsmen have played so far, but a victory against Florida would suddenly vault Auburn back into the conversation in the SEC East, and the favorite, Florida, would wind up in a dogfight. Any hopes of Tim Tebow's Heisman candidacy are riding on this game as well.

Alabama and FSU at Jacksonville is a statement game for the SEC. We need this one badly to show the country who the premiere conference in America is, and a loss to the Seminoles would definitely vault the Pac 10 even higher in the esteem of most pundits. Defend our honor, Tide!

Ole Miss at Georgia doesn't look that interesting at first blush, but after the way the Rebels got after the Gators last week, the Dawgs have to beware. Georgia has beaten Ole Miss seven times in a row, and the Rebels are just about due to spring an upset on the Dawgs. I doubt if it will occur between the hedges today, but the red and black need to beware.

Kentucky could go to 5-0 (!) by handling FAU at home today, and Vanderbilt has a must-win against Eastern Michigan if their pre-season hopes of playing in a bowl for the first time since 1982's Hall of Fame Classic are to remain alive. LSU and Arkansas should be overwhelming favorites against Tulane and North Texas respectively.

A beautiful fall day around most of the South, and some great football on tap. Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2007

What SEC bloggers are saying: Week 5 preview -- UPDATED

This is a compendium of the SEC bloggers who have provided a week 5 game preview in the last day or so.

You will note that four are missing. UT is idle this week, and for the others, I will provide a link to them when/if their respective bloggers complete them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Around the SEC Blogs: Thursday AM edition

As I prepare for what promises to be another glorious day of backbreaking drudgery, I think I'll take a few seconds to look at some of the good stuff around the SEC blogs this morning. I'll start with some of the blogs who thoughtfully linked us in the last day or so:

Diezba at Star & Stripe apparently misread the SEC Power Poll ballot of Garnet and Black Attack as the actual compiled vote of the SEC bloggers submitting ballots, and visited a little scorn on them in an earlier post. He has since recognized his confusion, and is pleased to see Vanderbilt isn't in the pollster's basement after all:

Well, to be perfectly honest, we were quite upset that it was the conference vote-tally that put us there. One of our eagle-eyed regulars spotted the error on our part (i.e., that it was the South Carolina people, not the Conference in aggregate, who ranked us 11th), and so we humbly retract our general derision of the Conference as a whole; instead, we redirect it solely at the Carolina blogs ('cause they were the culprits who put us in at 11th).
Henry Gomez at Saurian Sagacity looks somewhat askance at Heisman Pundit's most recent straw poll regarding Tim Tebow:
The Heisman Pundit sends a mixed message in this post where he omits Tebow on the list of six players he characterizes as having "the best chance at actually winning" but then making Tebow the number 2 vote-getter if the vote were held today.
Here at Best of the SEC Blogs, notable Kentucky fans that we are, we feel Henry's pain. HP also tends to think that André Woodson isn't really in the race, yet notes he winds up 5th in the balloting this week.

However, we tend to agree with HP. The Heisman is a very political award, and history demonstrates nothing if not that the committee is hostile to the idea of awarding it to underclassmen. Despite HP's assertion that it doesn't seem to be a huge concern, it is our opinion that this is so only so long as the Gators do not lose. As soon as they do, Tebow's fortunes are likely to take a much more significant turn for the worse than might otherwise be the case.

Even though we would like to believe that Kentucky's Woodson belongs in the discussion, the odds against a UK season better than 8-4 are overwhelming. Kentucky is a powerful offensive team, but isn't without exploitable weaknesses there, and with the Galactus of LSU's defense looming down the schedule, and Florida also there, a loss seems inevitable. If Kentucky were to go 10-2, I think Woodson would have about a 25% shot. Less than that, and he is merely invited.

What I just said about Woodson goes double for Tebow, primarily because of his underclassman status and the fact that he is 70% of Florida's offense right now. Even though Henry argues persuasively that he shouldn't fall under the "Andre Ware rule", it will be an argument that is harder and harder to make if the offense doesn't become more balanced at UF.

Erik at DeepSouthSports decides he has just about had enough of Ohio State fans. This post is great because it has lots of words not in the English language, i.e. "douchebaggery", "turdulent", and even the dreaded "jort" makes an appearance. What's more? There's video!

Senator Blutarsky at Get The Picture sees Georgia's next game against Ole Miss as a classic "trap" game. I think he might be right.

Joel at Rocky Top Talk directs us to this post at AOL Fanhouse, judging the temperatures of various SEC coach's derrières. The usual suspects are on the spit, including Fulmer and Nutt, but the author also makes note of Ed Orgeron, Sylvester Croom and Tommy Tuberville. Our take -- Fulmer, followed by Nutt and Tuberville. If Tuberville loses to Saban, we could see Plainsmen with pitchforks.

Finally, Richard Pitman of Geaux Tuscaloosa takes a long look at college football polls, and concludes they suck worse than black holes:
So, you have a situation where teams are initially ranked based on factors that have little to do with actual football ability, yet those initial rankings won't change in the face of additional evidence unless a team either loses or looks really really bad. Looking merely bad, like Auburn did after during its Week 1 win against Kansas State, won't make you move down. Looking really good won't make you move up unless a team ahead of you does something to look really bad.

It's an indefensible system. And yet, talking heads defend it all the time. Well, maybe they don't "defend" it exactly, but they often spout the indefensible assumptions as if they are gospel. You'll frequently hear something said like, "I'll vote them #1 until someone beats them," or "USC proved it was #1 last night by beating up on Nebraska." In a sport where not all teams play each other and rankings are determined by vote, voters are expected to exercise discretion and use judgment, but they don't. They pretty much just apply a generally agreed-upon set of rules that don't make a whole lot of sense when you really think about them.
While I truly feel Richard's pain, and we all claim not to pay attention to polls, the truth is that polls are like a train wreck happening right in front of you. No matter how gruesome it gets, you can't ignore it.

That's all for now, folks.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Week 4 Round-up

Today, we'll be tripping around the SEC blogosphere looking at random bits and points of interest. Well, I'm sure they will be interesting to somebody.

Anyway, here we go:

The Heisman Pundit says there are only six people left who can "actually win the Heisman". Note to Kentucky fans -- André Woodson is not among them.

College Football Resource has its weekly pundit roundup out today, not to be missed.

Barkley vs. Bavetta talks what we know about the SEC after Week 4. Here's a sample:

What we know: Fulmer has been accused of being a bad coach despite his Championship run in '98 which is the only national championship since the days of the General.
What we don't know: How the fans can be so upset at losing to two fantastic teams in Cal and Florida
What we don't want to know: Fat Phil fired. He is SO easy to make fun of.
WarBlogle looks at Week 4 in review, and has little to say about teams other than Auburn other than a heart-felt "Thank you, Georgia".

Outside the Sidelines at Roll 'Bama Roll gives us his thoughts about the SEC after week 4.

The Prine Report reviews it's week four picks, and notes that Kentucky and Auburn have been responsible for a lot of their errors:
Wow, so far this year we have predicted 30 of 35 games correctly. Of the five incorrect predictions, overestimating AU and underestimating Kentucky account for four.
The Joker Report also has a week 4 roundup, including the best and worst (read: Louisville) of not just the SEC, but the rest of college football.

I have a few observations post Week 4 myself:
  • Can Tim Tebow continue to provide 70% of Florida's total offense? Hello, could this be a problem if he's injured?
  • How long before the Wildcats don't get all the way back?
  • Can Auburn score more than 25 points against an SEC team?
  • Is Mississippi State a sleeper, or just asleep?
  • Tennessee's defense is ranked below Louisville's. Can Fulmer's nightmare get any worse?
  • Alabama's defense is 67th at home, 4th on the road.
  • South Carolina and Auburn's offenses are 79th and 90th respectively. If these two play, it will be to a scoreless tie. They may set the record for overtimes.
  • Don't laugh, Commodores -- your offense is worse than South Carolina's, and only somewhat better than Auburn's.
  • Mississippi State's offense is the worst in the SEC (102nd) by a large margin, yet they are 3-1.
  • Georgia's offense ranks behind Ole Miss.
  • Offense in the SEC sucks period, outside of Kentucky, Florida, LSU and Alabama.
  • LSU's defense is that tree that reaches in and eats the kid in the movie Poltergeist. Scary ....

Monday, September 24, 2007

A bit behind but catching up

Sorry about the dearth of posts for the last day or so, I have been a bit behind, both in life and work, but I am catching up!

Today, we are going to look at some of the funnies, scariest, angry, poignant, powerful, classy, insightful or just plain pathetic posts and most quotable quotes around the SEC blogs regarding last week's football games:

  • "When did it become necessary for a coach to ask fans to behave? The coarsening of society in general, fired by the excess use of alcohol around sports has created a dangerous situation throughout college football." -- Capstone Report

  • "I seem to recall someone thinking my Kentucky pick was 'dumb-assed'"... -- Todd, Roll 'Bama Roll

  • "Reggie Herring's press coverage scheme worked well for the Razorbacks defensive secondary last year. While not stellar, it was not as embarrassing as it is this year. Losing Chris Houston to the 1st round of the draft is tough though. The new scheme is the "watch the receiver catch the ball" scheme." -- BigFootFool, Barkley vs. Bavetta

  • "Thus far the offense hasn't even been vanilla, it's more like unflavored yogurt." -- Will Collier, From The Bleachers

  • "Cox is back in! Cox fumbles the snap! NMSU recovers! Hooray! Seriously, isn't it time to call in an exorcist for Brandon? Has anyone watched to see if he's puking up pea soup? Does he ever pretend to just be looking at something and accidentally turn his head all the way around? Because this--this being three turnovers in Cox's last three first-half possessions and last two first-half snaps--is getting outright unnatural." -- Jerry Hinnen, The Joe Cribbs Car Wash

  • "Can Tebow take this much abuse and survive an entire football season? I know he’s the toughest guy on the planet, but… can he?" -- GatorPilot, Orange and Blue Hue

  • "I'm not saying Saban is the equivalent of some coyote-ugly skank, but Tide Nation would've had us believe for the past nine months that he was a Voltron formation of Melissa Theuriau, '60s-era Sophia Loren, and the last twelve Playmates. Sorry, guys, but he's really not that much hotter than any of the rest of 'em." -- Doug, Hey Jenny Slater

  • "Kentucky (4-0 overall, 2-0 SEC). I’m not ready to drink the Kool-Aid yet, but after the win at Arkansas, I’m at least willing to acknowledge that the glass is sitting on the table near my hand." -- Senator Blutarsky, Get The Picture
  • "I tip my cap to the 'Bama coaches, players, and fans, who may be disappointed in this evening's outcome but who may look forward to many more years of success. Clearly, the Tide are rising back to their proper place in the college football firmament, and I salute Coach Saban, his squad, and their supporters on a well-played, hard-fought college football game." -- Kyle King, Dawg Sports

  • "How much does Louisville get to humiliate itself before these things stop being upsets? UL’s defense was labeled as “tackling-optional” (sounds like Tennessee)." -- AngryEer, Loser With Socks

  • "Kentucky defeated Arkansas tonight by a wide margin. Kentucky is undefeated in football?!? :::Checks Revelation::: Yep, the apocalypse is upon us." -- Big Orange Michael

  • "I can't tell you how much I completely and utterly despise Middle Tennessee State University. More than Yew Tee. More than-- well, I don't know what hatred is deeper than a Vandyfan's for the Vawls (perhaps the Auburn/Alabama fan's hatred for Alabama/Auburn?), but let me tell you, it's deeper than that. Woody's MTSU debacle was my very first game as a Vanderbilt freshman, and I will always hate them with my whole heart. Always." -- Diezba, Star & Stripe

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I am really psyched for today's games, it really will be lots of great football. When you get to week four of the season, the games become more meaningful and difficult -- many of the early season pastries have been gobbled, resumés have been padded, and teams are largely untested, except perhaps once. Now the grind of the conference season sets in.

From an SEC standpoint, I will be pulling hard for Auburn and Tennessee today. UT has really had a rough go early, playing a very difficult early schedule and being largely unsuccessful. Today, they face a pretty tough team in Arkansas State, but the Vols out-talent them 2-1 at least, and in games like this, even underperforming teams like Tennessee can often get by on talent alone.

But Fulmer's job is really getting tenuous right now, and he needs a statement to ease the pressure. If he just eeks by ArkState, he is going to be under more pressure than any coach in the country save Lloyd Carr, and frankly, I wouldn't give $0.2 for his chances of roaming the sidelines in orange next year. If he gets a flawless victory, his odds don't improve much, but at least some of the vitriol will subside slightly. Tennessee fans know that this team is talented, and have faced the toughest schedule to date in the SEC. They can still right the ship and contend for the East, but if they lose or limp away from this game, it is likely to doom Fulmer and demoralize the team to the point that I wouldn't be betting on success.

Auburn is in a somewhat similar position, except they have less talent to lean on than the Vols. New Mexico State will test the Auburn defense, but Hal Mumme teams tend to play below average to poor defense, so even the anemic Auburn offense should be able to put points on the board.

Tommy Tuberville's seat is not nearly so hot as Fulmer's thermonuclear behind, but it is getting uncomfortably warm. His recent season successes should insulate him from one bad season, but I remember a time not too long ago when AU was thinking of replacing him with Bobby Petrino despite the success that Tuberville has had. Auburn is getting bored with Tuberville, and Kentucky basketball fans know what happens when the team becomes boring -- a movement for change begins.

I haven't talked much about Mississippi State, but beating Auburn and now facing a bit of a croissant in Gardner-Webb puts them in an interesting position. They are beginning to look like a team with an outside chance at reaching bowl eligibility. Who would have thunk that at the beginning of the season?

In sum, this should be a great day for college football fans, and a somewhat uncomfortable day for at least two SEC coaches. Enjoy, SEC fans!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Big games around the SEC this weekend

Well, Saturday is tomorrow, and there are a number of particularly meaningful games on tap:

  1. Georgia at Alabama - Mark Richt and company really need this game. Not only is Alabama a rival, they were expected to be in a rebuilding stage this year, while Georgia was supposed to be making a triumphant return from last year's irrelevance. This game means way more to Richt than Saban.
  2. Arkansas State at Tennessee - Phil Fulmer's seat will approach the heat level of a fusion reaction if he loses this game. Unfortunately, Arkansas State is no cupcake.
  3. South Carolina at LSU - Nobody expects the OBC to go into Death Valley and come out victorious. The biggest question I have is can the Gamecocks cross the goal line?
  4. Kentucky at Arkansas - Kentucky created a national stir by beating top ten Louisville. If they beat Arkansas, SEC East opponents will be in the uncharacteristic position of actually having to worry about the Wildcats. All the remaining big boys in the SEC have to come to Kentucky this year, with the exception of South Carolina.
  5. New Mexico State at Auburn - Tubberville is in one hell of spot right now. Unfortunately, the Aggies look better on paper than the Tigers, and former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme is at the reigns for NM State. We know Mumme's teams can score, and we also know that so far, Auburn can't.
What the SEC blogs are saying:

Georgia at Alabama



Arkansas State at Tennessee


South Carolina at LSU

South Carolina:


Kentucky at Arkansas



New Mexico State at Auburn


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Best of the SEC: Where we are

I think it's time to take a look at where the SEC stands so far this year, and at a few of the surprises we have had. Looking back down the timeline from week 3, how has the SEC lived up to pre-season expectations?

The SEC received a lot of pre-season hype as the toughest conference in the land. At week 3, the SEC has six teams ranked in the AP top 25. The Big Ten has 3 ranked teams, as does the ACC, the Pac 10. The Big East surprisingly has four top 25 teams with one (Cincinnati) knocking on the door. The Big 12 is currently second with five teams ranked in the top 25.

The Birmingham News reports that scoring is way up in the SEC -- way, way up. 43% up, and they make a compelling argument that scheduling doesn't explain it. But as you might expect, scoring on SEC defenses is apparently a lot easier, too -- to the tune of 36% (via These are staggering percentages, and although scoring is apparently up all around Division I as a result of changing the clock rules, the SEC's delta in scoring and allowing scores is way above anyone else's. Not sure what that means, but there you go.

The Big East, it seems, is not quite the cupcake it has been over the last few years. With half their conference ranked in the top 25, it may be time for the Big East detractors to reign in their claws, at least for now. The SEC is showing about what was expected, with Florida and LSU at the top of the heap. Kentucky has surprised some with its improved defense (they were 118th out of 119 in Div I in 2006, but currently 70th -- a lot of low-hanging fruit there).

The Big 12 has surprised many with its conference strength. With only four top 25 teams in the pre-season, they have been playing pretty well as a conference, particularly Oklahoma and surprisingly, Kansas. Many pundits rank the Big East as the third best conference this year, but I'd say the Big 12 could take issue with that. But the Big 12 has played some relatively close games with weak competition, so perhaps they don't deserve it after all.

We have all waited to see the new kickoff rule cause manifold long returns, but also reports that this just doesn't appear to be happening. Apparently, more kicks are being returned as expected, but there appears to be no sea change in how the return game is affecting college football overall. One could argue convincingly that now that the average starting spots for drives after kickoffs is past the 30, that could account for the increase in point production. Maybe, but we don't have enough data yet to make sense out of it. On average, kickoff returns in the SEC are up 2.51 yards. Whoopee.

So how have the SEC teams performed? Here's how I see it:

  • Auburn - surprisingly bad
  • Alabama - better than expected
  • South Carolina - Better than expected
  • Georgia - weaker than expected
  • Tennessee - weaker than expected
  • Kentucky - better than expected
I'd say everyone else is about par with expectations. After next week, this list could change quite a bit, depending on such games as Alabama vs. Georgia, LSU at South Carolina, Auburn vs. New Mexico State and Kentucky at Arkansas (C'mon, Auburn! Defend our freakin' honor!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Best of the SEC: Tuesday Night Blogging

Last Saturday was as exciting and significant as any third week I can remember in college football in a while, particularly in the SEC. I want to look at a few broad themes tonight, and see what SEC bloggers have to say about them.

Big East:

  • 22. Louisville: Not particularly good, but as long as Brohm stays healthy, they'll still probably win nine or ten games in the extremely weak Big East. -- Todd at Roll 'Bama Roll
  • Credit goes to the Smurf Nation for taking out Louisville, but the Big East is still lame and Kentucky has sucked for so long, the Wildcats will have to keep winning to make me a believer. -- Newspaper Hack, Journalism is for Rockstars
  • Rich Brooks just climbed the aggro-krag! They brought some SEC pride back in beating one of the best teams in the Big East. -- The Tide Druid
  • Wins over Oregon State and at Miami (Ohio) got the [Cincinnati Bear]'Cats into the top 20, but it will take better victories against Big East foes to keep them there. -- Kyle King, Dawg Sports
Auburn's two losses in a row:
  • Sabanoia is flowing like water in Auburn. As a result, Jester is trying to figure out how to blame Nick Saban's arrival for his team's complete collapse. -- St. Nick, The Football Diary of Nick Saban
  • For five years Auburn had the run of the state. How long did it take to undo that half-decade of dominance? Three weeks. Six football games. -- Moggy, Alabama Game Day
  • 11. Auburn. Seven turnovers in a three-quarter span, if you were keeping track at home. Five defensive starters out. And like that object in the rearview, New Mexico St. is closer to Auburn's quality than they appear. Things could, amazingly, still get worse before they get better. -- Jerry Hinnen, Joe Cribbs Car Wash
  • Now that Auburn has faced extreme adversity we will see how they respond. My prediction is that they will roll over and die: aka “Dead Pussy walking”!!! -- Keltic Gator, Orange and Blue Hue
  • 11) Auburn - This team is just broken. It can be fixed this season, but it's gonna take some time (read: losses) If the fans can stay off Tuberville's back, he can turn it around. The Iron bowl is all that matters at this point. -- Erik, Deep South Sports
  • Finally, a note to the booing fans: You woke up early on a Saturday to watch Brandon Cox throw interceptions. You’re angry. It’s understandable. You boo him though? Why? Do you think the display of your disproval will motivate him to not throw into double coverage? -- Mark, The Auburner
Arkansas' Earnest Mitchell's helmet assault on an Alabama player:
  • Finally, Ernest Mitchell is going to have to work hard to earn back the respect of fans and teammates after his ejection from Saturday night’s game. Picking up an Alabama offensive lineman’s helmet and hitting his unprotected head with it? What the heck was he thinking? -- TipsterHog, Razorbloggers
  • Britt isn’t innocent here, he was involved in some extracurricular activity on the play, but come on, Ernest. Unless he’s sodomizing your mother on the field right in front of you, there’s no reason to throw a helmet. He literally could have killed him -- The Hog Blogger
Florida's blowout of Tennessee:
  • Why was Florida still throwing deep in the 4th quarter up by 20 plus? Because you were still on the field. This is Sparta. -- Orson Swindle, EDSBS
  • Sure, in “days of yore” there might have been noble, unwritten mercy rules, but in these “days of polls” you had better beat your rivals without the merest glimmer of compassion if you want to get the national media attention necessary to achieve. -- Mergz, Saurian Sagacity
  • 2. Florida. Can't we just skip to the LSU-Florida game now? Please? (Also: 13 points allowed to Ainge and Cutcliffe. With nine new starters. Ye gods.) -- Jerry Hinnen, Joe Cribbs Car Wash
  • No matter, Florida passed its first test in a big way, and anytime you beat Tennessee by margins not see since Herschel Walker was patrolling the SEC, it’s a good weekend. -- Year 2

Friday, September 14, 2007

Best of the SEC: Big Game Reax

I kind of laid down on previewing these games. I am on the road right now on a mini-vacation, and as a result, updating blogs hasn't exactly been on the top of my list of things to do. But today, I shall get that job done.

I want to look a the results of the big games I identified in my earlier post:

  1. Arkansas at Alabama -- Two undefeated teams with a lot to prove, and Alabama proved they are, well, improved. Taking down Arkansas on the road is a signal to the rest of the SEC that 'Bama is back.
  2. Tennessee at Florida -- Another rivalry, with the SEC East likely on the line. Florida dispatched Tennessee rudely with what looks like the most powerful offense in the SEC.
  3. MSU at Auburn -- Why is this a big game? Because the Tigers are on their heels after last week's loss to USF, and we have seen (Michigan, anyone?) what a big upset can do to a team with a fragile psyche. Now, we know that Auburn is either truly weak or truly in shock, and I am leaning toward the former.
  4. Louisville at Kentucky -- The honor of the SEC is on the line, and it is in the hands of ... er ... well, OK, the Wildcats. But they acquitted themselves well, dispatching the #9 team in the land in style. Bourbon distillers around the Commonwealth have noted a major spike in sales due to the celebration, which is still going on in the Bluegrass.
Here are some of the comments from the fans of the principles:

  • The Capstone Report: "The Arkansas game continued to show Alabama has weaknesses. But football is about overcoming weakness."
  • Glen Dean, Glen's Rebel Sports Blog: "Man it's good to finally have a real coach at Alabama."
  • Newspaper Hack, Journalism is for Rockstars: "Right now, I’m still coming to grips with what I believed at the time was an eight-hour long alcohol-induced hallucinogenic frenzy"
  • The Tide Druid: "I have also come to a conclusion about McFadden: You don’t try to stop McFadden. You try to survive McFadden."
  • Stephen at Razorback Expats: "All of which is not to say that I’m looking forward to watching a replay of the game anytime soon - just that the authorities now are allowing me to be around sharp objects and to put the laces back into my shoes."
  • Tipster Hog, Razorbloggers: "Picking up an Alabama offensive lineman’s helmet and hitting his unprotected head with it? What the heck was he thinking?"
  • Jon, Fulmer's Belly: "It has come to pass that we are behind the ball in terms of innovation and ability. With the types of athletes that we have, we shouldn’t be allowing 39 points let alone losing by 39 points."
  • Jai Eugene, Loser with Socks: "How does a fine Christian young man handle adversity? He blames others."
  • Joel, Rocky Top Talk: "Well, how was your weekend? Not good, huh? We look forward to football season in general, and the Florida game in particular, for nine months, only to find ourselves relegated to a place called Dishumiliarrassment after only the third game of the season. It's postivively debilitating."
  • Doug Coffin, The Power T: "Like there is ANY question on what the outcome of this evaluation will be? Gotta fight through the pain to keep the blog rolling. Maybe we'll get some attention."
  • Mlmintampa, Alligator Army: "I was in section 35, row 74 on the student side. At halftime, the nearest concession stand ran out of bottled water and Gatorade. HOW THE HELL DO YOU RUN OUT OF GATORADE? WE INVENTED GATORADE! It's like running out of milk at a dairy farm."
  • GatorPilot, Orange and Blue Hue: "Sometimes it’s really fun grading out your team. Sometimes it’s painful. Needless to say, this is a fun one… if you’re a Gator fan."
  • Gregg Ellis: "What a win. Where do you rank this among Croom's wins?"
  • Will Collier, From The Bleachers: "I'm quite happy to give State credit for the win. For all the abuse he's received (much of it deserved), Sylvester Croom has succeeded in at least one crucial respect: he's taught his team not to give up."
  • Jerry Hennin, Joe Cribbs Car Wash: "I'm not usually one of the "All we have to do is defeat 'Bama, and it's a great year" types. But honestly? This year, at the JCCW, given all that's happened both over there and on the Plains and how both programs are (completely justifiably) being seen right now, every game between now and the Iron Bowl is practice for that game."
  • Mike, Card Chronicle: "What can you say? If you don't know how to line up for a quarterback sneak on the goalline, you probably don't deserve to win."
  • Tre Pryor, More than Derby: " It’s kind of tough to believe. Kentucky actually won a big football game."
  • Rob Gidel, Kentucky Sports Radio: "I'll nit-pick on some coaching decisions later in the week, but I was generally disappointed in the officiating. For whatever reason, Kentucky cannot get an officiating crew that understands the general concept of common sense."
That's it for now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Best of the SEC: Big games for Saturday

Today, we'll be looking at SEC bloggers takes on the big games of this Saturday around the conference. I have identified these games as follows:

  1. Arkansas at Alabama -- Two undefeated teams with a lot to prove -- Saban that he can make a quick turnaround, and Arkansas that they really, truly are the class of the West after LSU.
  2. Tennessee at Florida -- Another rivalry, with the SEC East likely on the line. I'm still not sold on South Carolina, so the winner of this is a likely favorite to take the East.
  3. MSU at Auburn -- Why is this a big game? Because the Tigers are on their heels after last week's loss to USF, and we have seen (Michigan, anyone?) what a big upset can do to a team with a fragile psyche. Is Auburn such a team?
  4. Louisville at Kentucky -- The honor of the SEC is on the line, and it is in the hands of ... er ... well, OK, the Wildcats. This is a grudge match, folks, and the bad blood runneth thick and hot.
I'll take one and two today, three and four tomorrow.

Beginning with Alabama The Capstone Report looks at the weather forecast for the 'Bama/Hogs matchup, and doesn't like it. Hurricane football, anyone? Memphis Tider provides a link dump of Alabama/Arkansas stuff, and even throws in some Mississippi State controversy starring Jackie Sherrill. Todd at Roll 'Bama Roll keeps on rolling, and consorts with the enemy, AKA Hog Blogger.

Arkbear at the Hawg Blawg says that the Alabama game "means everything to the Razorbacks." Razorback Expats gives us five reasons to hate Alabama, and good Lord, what a picture he has there. The Hog Blogger revisits the Razorbacks' triumph over 'Bama last year. Finally, the Hog Source gives us links to all sorts of pundits picking the game. Looks like a toss-up to me.

Time to move on to the Volunteers. From Loser with Socks' Jai Eugene, we have a picture perfect rivalry post. Lots of jorts. Lots of Tebow. Timeless Gator hate. This is what a rivalry should be. Doug Coffin of The Power T responds to EDSBS's Orson Swindle (more fun with him later) and includes some contractually required loathing and invective. All in good fun, of course. Then we have the Vol side of the Saurian Sagacity blogswap, with Mergz of Saurian Sagacity providing the love -- of Gators. Finally, Voluminous provides some jokes at the expense of Florida. Some are old, but some are funny.

So now, to the Florida side of the debate. Mimintampa at Alligator Army says that the Volunteer fans are coming for Florida's women. GatorPilot of Orange and Blue Hue takes a look at UT/UF history, and points out a large disparity in Florida's favor. Mergz at Saurian Sagacity demonstrates why Vol hatred is required of every true Gator fan.

But the post of the day (maybe the year) comes from Orson Swindle of EDSBS and Holly from Ladies... Folks, this is what a rivalry should be, and I can only marvel at how damn funny this post is. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Best of SEC Tuesday: Auburn and Alabama

Who would have believed that the University of South Florida would come into the plains and hand the Auburn Tigers their first defeat of the season? I know USF is a trendy upset pick and a talented team, but to come into SEC land and pick of what was largely assumed to be one of the top shelf teams this year at their place stretches credibility -- or does it?

The Tigers Get Tamed

So what in the world do Auburn bloggers have to say about Saturday's pain on the plains? Let's start with Mark over at The Auburner:

After the second week of the season, Auburn has been forced to eat a helping of humble pie while other SEC teams have been loading up on cupcakes. It’s not time to panic at this point, there’s plenty of time for Tuberville to hand out their just deserts.

Oh man. I’m sending that to Reader’s Digest.
That's a surprisingly mellow assessment. Will Collier at From the Bleachers was frustrated by the lack of Auburn offense and the turnovers, but not the play of the defense. Jerry Hinnen at Joe Cribbs Car Wash sees an even grimmer picture:
Auburn is not going to challenge LSU in the SEC West, not going to extend that juicy "Over the past X seasons, Auburn has the Xth-bst record in the nation" statistic. Auburn is going to have to scrape and claw and belley-crawl with a knife jammed in its teeth for every single inch of field position it can get, all just to reach 8-4.
Jerry has a less favorable view of Brandon Cox, and feels like the sacks he took in 2006 scarred him for life. But if that's true, Kentucky's Woodson aught to be emotionally crippled, having taken even more sacks than Cox. Jerry also points out that bringing out the chopping block for Tuberville might be premature after all the 2006 love he got. Sounds right to me. Patience, Tiger fans.

Jay Coulter at Track Em Tigers has a bit of a Monday hangover. He thinks that MSU will not be a cakewalk. I disagree. MSU is currently 94th in total defense and was in the high 80's last year. No, Auburn will not blast them like LSU did, but this blogger thinks Auburn will handle the Bulldogs without difficulty.

Jay is also disappointed with the crowd on Saturday, mainly because of poor attendance. But he does note that the USF fans were, in his opinion, less than sartorially splendid. At least he didn't use the dreaded "jort" word. Jay also agrees with Mark at The Auburner that Cox should not be benched.

Oh, Alabam

In what figured to be a pretty tough test for Alabama, an improved Vanderbilt team fell short of pulling the upset. Alabama's defense proved its mettle against a fairly powerful Vandy offense, and an injured Chris Nickson was unable to perform and was replaced by Adams for most of the second half. Earl Bennett, who had some 223 receiving yards last week, wound up with only 4 receptions for 52 yards.

Alabama bloggers are somewhat pleased by the victory, but not without serious qualification. The Capstone Report says special teams looked good, but officiating looked bad, and interestingly enough, says most of the bad calls went against the home team. In another post, he engages a little schadenfreude at the expense of Auburn fans.

Newspaper Hack is not happy, says that the game was ugly, and notes poor Alabama performance in the red zone. Memphis Tider also has a little fun at Auburn's expense, and says that Alabama's defense is "BIG TIME underrated."

Outside the Sidelines at Roll 'Bama Roll has some nice things to say about the running game and O-line, but spares little praise for John Parker Wilson, the quarterback. OTS also gets hate mail, some of it pretty funny.

The Tide Druid blogs Ivan Maisel's article in ESPN, and wonders if Tide fans are being conditioned by Satan Saban to treat a 14-point victory over Vanderbilt as a good thing. Seriously, though, Vanderbilt deserves more credit than that.

So what do Vandy fans have to say about the game? Phillipvu94 at Save the Shield has extremely harsh words for the officiating, expounding on Capstone Report's comments:
I’d be remiss not to say something about the officiating. I’m ready to declare that this notion that complaining about the refs equates to blaming the loss on the refs is absolute bullshit. When the refs systematically, whether consciously or not, do everything reasonable in their power to favor the big-money programs over the small-money programs, we should complain! SEC refs are just corrupt to the core. I really ask myself why I bother attending sporting events with all the integrity of professional wrestling.
Ouch. He follows up with more here.

Diezba at Star & Stripe takes a look at all the commentary around VandyLand, the good, the bad, and the extremely ugly:
In his eighteenth post on VM, "VandyDadd" tells us that he's done with everything Vanderbilt, including "thug and stupid 'student-athletes.'" Wow. Needless to say, that gets some people going elsewhere in that thread.
Guess the Commodores didn't take this one lightly.

Seamus O'Toole was impressed by Alabmama's O-line and thinks that 'Bama might just be better than advertised. He manages to find the silver lining in the cloud of the home loss, and that's often tough to do for a team with some of its highest expectations ever. His co-blogger Bobby O'Shea had a rather more stern take on the Vandy performance, calling the game "a complete disappointment." Tough crowd in Nashville these days.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Best of the SEC Monday: The Georgia-South Carolina game

I'm back and ready to blog again. A lot has happened over the weekend in the SEC football world, and today I'll be taking a look at the biggest games of this weekend around the conference, and see what conclusions can and have been drawn.

South Carolina at Georgia

Well, the 'Ol Ball Coach predicted that his South Carolina team would contend for the SEC championship this year, and you have to believe that defeating Georgia between the hedges is a major step in that direction. Matthew Stafford went in one game from being lauded as the class quarterback of the SEC to a 19/44 showing with 1 INT. But Blake Mitchell ruled the day for the Gamecocks by completing 65% of his passes, most of them short and safe, and despite only 3 forays into the red zone, managed 16 points. Georgia's offense was even more futile, managing to achieve the red zone only twice. The combined third-down efficiency of both teams was only 10%.

Cocknfire at Garnet and Black Attack looks at 5 reasons explaining what this game means from a Gamecock perspective. Noteworthy is that the Gamecocks have converted every red zone opportunity this year, and grades out the effort perhaps lower than you might expect. He also asks for forbearance from Gamecock fans. Flounder at Leftover Hot Dog also grades the team in critical areas, and says it sends the league a message that the Gamecocks are ready to contend for the East. Hard to argue against that, at this point.

The Georgia blogs are, understandably, less pleased with the outcome. Tommy at Apropos de Nada says loosing to South Carolina is a "very ugly catharsis for Georgia fans." There was apparently a little home-team booing going on also, and Tommy is rightfully chagrined at those participating. Kyle King of Dawg Sports gives credit where credit is due, particularly to the South Carolina defensive front. Like the sportsman he is, Kyle refuses to dive into recriminations and waxes philosphical:

While there certainly is plenty of room for constructive criticism of Georgia's performance, this game is more about giving credit than assigning blame. We should congratulate South Carolina on its victory in a well-coached, well-played game of football that the Gamecocks deserved to win . . . then the Bulldogs should turn their attention to getting back on track against Western Carolina in preparation for their September 22 showdown with the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

David Ching at the Georgia Bulldog Blog examines Mark Richt's press conference Q&A. Paul Westerdawg at the Georgia Sports Blog looks at the team's shortcomings in detail, and can't bring himself to be angry with a defense that surrenders only 16 points. But the offense is another matter. Senator Blutarsky runs down a number of Georgia shortcomings, and predicts the outlook for the rest of the season bleak, at least as far as winning the East is concerned.

Doug at Hey Jenny Slater says that this game was a "Get-Laid Loss" for Georgia fans. Interesting take. Ludakit at The Dawg-gone Blog blames the offense, the defense, the fans and says Georgia played "without any heart or aggression."

Later, we'll be looking at Auburn, LSU and how the SEC fared overall.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Rumors of my demise

If some of you are thinking that maybe I have parted with this vale of tears (or possibly, just decided to give up blogging), don't worry. I have real life obligations that require me to be absent from the blog until Sunday night or Monday morning.

I apologize for the necessity, but that is just life for you.

Hope to see you all Sunday or Monday. There will be lots of things to talk about after today.

Good luck to all SEC teams today. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A little more hindsight, and a little more foresight

Today we'll be continuing to look back at some of last weeks games, then begin looking forward to Saturday.

Ryan at The Auburner looks back at the Kansas State game. He's a little disappointed in Brandon Cox and the O-line, but otherwise gives the team a thumbs up.

The Tide Druid takes a look ahead to the Vanderbilt game, and takes a detailed look at what the Vandy offense did against Richmond, hoping to derive some insight from the statistics. Todd at Roll 'Bama Roll also analyzes the 'Dores offense. Bobby O'Shea at Vanderbilt Sports Line has part of the Vandy side of the story, and Diezba at Star & Stripe has the rest.

Mlmintampa writing for Aligator Army, the new SB Nation Florida blog, takes a look at the Troy Trojans. Meanwhile, The Hog Blogger, who's team just defeated the Trojans, says that Marcus Harrison is back, while casting a baleful glance Houston Nutt's way.

Senator Blutarsky at Get The Picture finally gets around to watching Georgia-OK State, and concludes that the Dawgs were just plain workmanlike in their victory over the Cowboys. Meanwhile, Kyle King of Dawg Sports looks at several SEC upcoming games, and has some interesting observations. For the record, Kyle hates Auburn, and I think he manages to get that into every post he makes. But he still picks them to beat USF this Saturday.

Seth at the Hotty Toddy Blog has a Q& A with Every True Son, a fan blog of their next opponent, Missouri. He also wonders if Missouri is taking Ole Miss seriously.

Travis at Hail Dear 'Ole State wonders "After four years why the hell are we still running plays that don't work?" Good question, that. Kyle Veazey looks at Tulane running back Matt Forté.

Cocknfire at Garnet and Black Attack can't get enough of the Michigan debacle. But he still manages to note Darth Vizor has made a few changes in response to Saturday's close call. Flounder at Leftover Hot Dog blogs Blake.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The weekend in review

Today, we'll be looking at last weeks games in the rear-view mirror, and taking a bit of a look ahead to next week's games.

First up, Vanderbilt. Earl Bennett set a Vanderbilt school record receiving this weekend against the Richmond Spiders -- or did he? Seems there is some confusion about that, and Mark at Star & Stripe tries to clear it up.

The University of Kentucky Wildcats, another traditional SEC football cellar-dweller, had a big win over FCS Eastern Kentucky University. Despite the weak opponent, Messenger at Wildcats Thunder says so far, so good, and sees improvement in both the UK running game and its defense. The Wildcat Blog compares his predictions on the game outcome to reality, and nominates some players for special recognition. Rob Gidel at Kentucky Sports Radio agrees with TWCB that the defense was much improved, and explains why the offensive line has changed very much for the better.

The South Carolina Gamecocks didn't exactly impress anyone with their efforts this weekend, but Scott Hood at Gamecock Central says it just don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing for an opener. Meanwhile, cocknfire at Garnet and Black Attack has the results of the SEC Power Poll. There are no real surprises, but I feel like Florida lost some ground to Georgia overall. Tennessee took a big hit, but not as big as most might think.

Will Collier at From the Bleachers was seriously impressed with Kansas State, and not so much with Auburn's offense. Track Em Tigers gives us an Auburn injury report, and also tells us that Auburn's win over K-State paid off on the recruiting trail.

LSUPhootball gives us a run down of the good, the bad, and the ugly of LSU's game against Mississippi State, and he doesn't mention Henig's day in "the ugly", although it surely was the uglies thing most of us have seen in a while. Finally, Richard Pittman at Geaux Tuscaloosa looks at next week's games. He says that Alabama at Vanderbilt, to him, is "the most anticipated game of the early schedule." How long has it been since "anticipated" and "Vanderbilt" have been used in the football context?

Monday, September 3, 2007

National media having a field day with Les Miles' mouth

As you might expect, after Cal handed Tennessee a defeat in Berkley, the national media is laughing up their sleeves at Les Miles' earlier comments about the relative strength of the Pac 10 and SEC. That should surprise no one, least of all Les Miles. But let's face it, SEC fans -- the SEC took this one in the shorts, and the Left Coast is gloating like crazy.

Scott Olster of the San Francisco Chronicle says "Soft is the new hard." Phallic, that, but even he admits that most of the "hardness" was on the Tennessee side:

Although I have to say that the hardest hit of the game was Tennessee defensive end Antonio Reynolds drilling tailback Jahvid Best on a 2-yard run. Reynolds spun the propeller on Best's freshman beanie.
But it wasn't toughness that won the game for Cal, it was superior team speed, which seems extremely incongruous when talking about Tennessee. The Vols have historically been known as one of the fastest teams in the fastest league on the planet. But that perception may be just that, as we saw on Saturday.

The Washington Post also gets into the act, pointing out not only Tennessee's loss to Cal, but Auburn's game with Kansas State:
In its 45-31 loss to California in Berkeley, Tennessee gave up more points than in any game since 1995. Across the country, Auburn needed two touchdowns in the final two minutes to seal a come-from-behind, 23-13, victory against Kansas State, a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team.
Fair enough, I suppose, but a win is a win. It wasn't as if Cal dominated Tennessee -- they didn't. Compared to last year's thumping in Knoxville, Cal basically escaped with a victory. Bragging about it may be understandable, but Pac 10 fans should realize that UT hasn't been a top 3 team in the SEC for a while now, and has yet to show they are back to that level.

Jon Wilner at the San Francisco Chronicle says this win was bigger for Pac 10 commissioner Tom Hansen than for Cal's coach Jeff Tedford:

This was a big win for the Bears, don’t get me wrong. Beating Tennessee convincingly (45-31) opened up a slew of postseason doors for the Bears. It makes every game — not just league games — meaningful. And it gives the players a huge confidence injection.

But it was an even bigger win for Hansen and the Pac-10 because it will bolster the league’s reputation, silence its critics (for the time being) and substantiate the Pac-10’s marquee program, USC.
For the time being, there can be no argument that the Pac 10 has delivered a little comeuppance to the SEC and, in particular, to Les Miles. But even if Cal turns out to be a real challenger to USC, does that mean their league is every bit as good, top to bottom, as the SEC? I don't think so, but then again, I am an avowed SEC homer, so we'll have to leave that conclusion for later in the season. At this point, Cal has put the Pac 10 back in the conversation, at least.

Finally, and perhaps most ignominiously, we get to have a lecture by Dennis Dodd of CBS in a piece entitled "Cal squashes SEC arrogance with mauling of Tennessee". While I do take issue with Dodd's characterization of the game as a "mauling," one cannot take issue with this:
Tennessee still has back breakers, but Cal has a few too many ankle breakers. While the Vols can still bust heads, the Bears were busting long gains.
That's quite right, I'm afraid. Cal's speed killed UT's chances, and speed is what the SEC is supposed to be famous for. Cal did nothing if not show the country that speed isn't just found in the South.

So, now for some SEC blogger reax. Big Orange Michael takes his frustrations out on Brent Musburger, and his repeated references to Les Miles. Jon at Fulmer's Belly bemoans the Vol loss, but sees it as a breakdown in defense due to overpursuit by the linebackers, poor special teams play and a few other things.

Loser with Socks has two posts worth reading, the most recent one being by AngreEer bemoaning the state of Pac 10 officiating, and it comes with video. Jai Eugene theorizes about a national media conspiracy to discredit the Vols, with his tongue so far in his cheek it may require surgery to remove it.

Of course, Sunday Morning Quarterback has comments on the Tennessee/Cal game. He asks some questions which will have to be answered soon by the Volunteers if they are to recover from this loss:

- How will the very young secondary hold up against a legitimate passing attack? Nate Longshore completed 19 of 28 for 241 yards and four touchdowns, zero interceptions, averaging a little over twelve and a half yards per completion.

- How will the running game produce after two years of stagnation? On this front, some success: Montario Hardesty found the going tough in the first half, but long lost Arian Foster, last year's would-be star turned also-ran, busted off 89 yards on just 13 carries, including and impressive, perfectly-blocked 42-yarder inside the Cal five moments after the Bears went up 17 to start the third quarter. Foster looked fast and strong and like the potential star he was set up to be last year. The offensive line opened holes for him and only allowed just the one sack, killer that it was.

- Was the dramatic regression in pass rush and run-stopping ability in last year's front seven a blip or a new trend? Tennessee sacks: zero. Cal rushing yards: 230. Cal yards per carry: 6.2. Justin Forsett (156 yards) and Jahvid Best (11.5 yards per on four carries) made the primetime showcase their own coming out party.

So the Vols have questions, issues, and problems, and a week before a solid Southern Miss team comes to town.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Early Game Day: Best of the SEC

It is finally the first Saturday of football season, and all eyes are on college football. Today, we'll be looking for the best of the game day posts.