Tag:Les Miles
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:53 am
 

What I Learned in the SEC (Sept. 3)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. LSU isn't going anywhere, even with Jarrett Lee at the controls. The expectation is that one of these years, one of these games, putting out a quarterback scarcely more competent than your average Sun Belt starter is going to finally catch up with Les Miles and the Tigers. Saturday night's 40-27 thumping of Oregon wasn't that game, though, and this may not be that year.

As my collegue Bryan Fischer wrote, Lee didn't do anything to lose the Tigers the game; the flipside is that he barely did anything to win the game, either, putting together a 10-for-22, 98-yard effort that we promise you'll see referred to in the dictionary next week in the entry for "pedestrian." Aside from one well-thrown fade to Rueben Randle for his only touchdown pass of the evening, Lee's primary instruction for the night was just to stay the hell out of the way.

And, as it always seems to for Miles, that instruction worked to perfection. The Tiger defense and special teams forced four turnovers, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford combined for nearly 200 yards on the ground, the LSU secondary held Darron Thomas to a miserable 4.4 yards per his 54 attempts, and only a last-second Duck touchdown prevented the final from being a three-touchdown rout ... even though Oregon finished with more total yards than the Tigers.

We still don't think it's likely LSU wins an SEC championship with Lee at the helm and completion percentages just over 45 percent in the stat book. But looking at what the Tigers did against one of the nation's best teams Saturday, you can't rule it out, either.

2. Florida will have a say in who wins the East. First, the caveat: FAU is bad. Really, really bad. As in, "may finish dead last in the Sun Belt" bad. But still: the casual ease with which the Gators brushed the Owls aside -- scoring 24 points over the first four possessions, holding FAU to 30 rushing yards on 30 carries, outgaining the Owls by 331 yards -- was the farthest of far cries from last year's opening-week wheeze past Miami (Ohio). Bad team or not, Florida pounded the Owls the way an SEC contender ought to pound them.

Meanwhile, the two teams expected by many to top the East standings had less-than-comfortable Saturday nights. Georgia, of course, began 2011 looking for all the world like the same team that ended 2010. South Carolina spotted East Carolina a 17-0 lead by starting Connor Shaw, then ran off 56 of the game's next 70 points behind Stephen Garcia. Still, there's little doubt that being caught in a four-point game late in the third quarter and outgaining the Pirates by all of six yards wasn't what Steve Spurrier had in mind.

It's still too early to anoint the Gators East favorites, or even on even footing with the Gamecocks. (As for the Bulldogs, well, maybe if they'd just kept things close ...) But it's not too soon to recognize this as a three-team race until such time the SEC standings say otherwise.

3. Auburn should be happy, but it shouldn't be confused. Somewhat lost in analyzing the rampant flaws that led to the defending national champions' 38-28 deficit to Utah State has been the resolve and determination that led to their stunning comeback; for Gene Chizik to hold his senior-laden 2010 team together in the face of staggering deficits is one thing, to do so with his all-but senior-free 2011 team another. Going back to the 2009 Outback Bowl, Chizik has now won nine straight one-possession games, a testament to his team's remarkable fourth-quarter focus and resilience.

But being a resilient team is nice. Being a good team is better, and even the cardiac-inducing Tigers of last year didn't bother to let the likes of Utah State take them to the wire. Thrilled as Auburn fans have a right to be with the comeback, it also shouldn't make them blind to the kind of major issues that result in needing a borderline-miraculous comeback against a 4-8 WAC team in the first place. Much as the aforementioned Miami (Ohio) struggles proved an accurate foreshadowing of 2010's Gator troubles, so it's now safe to say Auburn will not challenge for the West title ... and against their brutal schedule, might need every ounce of that resilience just to make a bowl.  

4. Jacksonville State didn't show up to this year's party. The three SEC-on-FCS matchups Saturday were every bit as lopsided as the SEC might have hoped, with Arkansas blasting Missouri State, Tennessee handling Montana by an impressive 26-point margin, and even Vanderbilt getting into the act with a 45-14 thumping of Elon in James Franklin's debut. Exactly how much these victories mean is a matter of conjecture -- FCS schools, after all -- but at the very least the conference avoided the kind of egg on its face Ole Miss's infamous loss to JSU's Gamecocks produced in last year's opening week. (That egg is perhaps being saved for Jacksonville State's visit to Kentucky.)

5. Speaking of the Rebels, they still don't have a quarterback--or an offense. There's no shame in losing to a solid-enough team like BYU by a point, even at home. But totaling barely more than 200 yards and averaging all of 3.6 yards per-play, 2.2 yards per-rush, and 5.1 yards per-pass ... there's some shame in that. And the quarterback issues that have plagued the Rebels for years showed no signs of abating; Houston Nutt turned to JUCO pocket-passer Zack Stoudt for the bulk of the second half, and Stoudt rewarded him by fumbling the game away on the goalline. The road back to relevance for Nutt and the Rebels still looks plenty long.

6. AJ McCarron is Alabama's quarterback. The battle might continue officially, but we're ready to declare a winner.

Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 12:15 am
 

QUICK HITS: LSU 40, Oregon 27

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LSU WON
. It's not necessarily that the Tigers won, it's that they won going away. It took awhile for both teams to get going on offense but the one constant was LSU flying around on defense and limiting Oregon's big play ability to a long of just 18 yards. Quarterback Jarrett Lee proved he was capable running the offense and while he wasn't the reason the Tigers won, he certainly didn't cost them the game. On the other side, Heisman finalist LaMichael James never did get going and struggled all night long, rarely finding any daylight to run to. Surprisingly, Darron Thomas threw the ball 54 times but none of this receivers could catch and run after getting the ball. Oregon once again had trouble with a team that had weeks to prepare for them and dropped their second in a row. At the end of the night, Les Miles made Cowboys Stadium feel like home and it was on artificial grass to boot.

WHY LSU WON. Defensive coordinator John Chavis' defense was swarming and held Oregon's running game in check as the Tigers kept the Ducks under 100 yards rushing. There were issues on offense all night long for Darron Thomas, who failed to get a first down during the entire third quarter when things seemed to come apart. Though LSU didn't find their best receiver Rueben Randle hardly at all (1 catch for a touchdown) on offense, they rode running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford all night long to grind away a victory.

WHEN LSU WON. De'Anthony Thomas' two fumbles in the middle of the 3rd quarter was the straw that broke the Ducks back. LSU turned both turnovers into touchdowns and at that point, couldn't even begin to catch up.

WHAT LSU WON. The Tigers cleared off one landmine from their road to the title game in New Orleans. With all that has gone on around the program the past couple of weeks, getting a win like this has to give LSU some momentum.

THAT WAS CRAZY. This was the worst loss for Oregon under Chip Kelly since losing to USC 44-10 in 2008 while he was offensive coordinator.


Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:17 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 1

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

While Thursday and Friday night serve as delicious appetizers for the new college football season, one that feels like it took forever to get here, the big games start on Saturday. Since it's been a while since you planted your behind on a couch on a Saturday morning and stayed there all day, you're probably going to need some help navigating through the day.

So lucky for you, the Eye On College Football crew has brought the Saturday Meal Plan back. It's your weekly menu of which games should be on your plate and where you can find them.

BREAKFAST

#18 Ohio State vs. Akron - ESPN, 12pm ET

So many questions for Ohio State on Saturday. Will the Luke Fickell-era offense look any different? Who's going to shine between QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller? How much will the team miss its eight suspended players? Does Akron stand a chance anyway? - Adam Jacobi

#23 Auburn vs. Utah State - ESPN2, 12pm ET

Despite some close calls, Auburn hasn't lost to a school outside the current BCS conferences since Southern Miss upset the Tigers back in 1991. (USM's quarterback that day was a guy named Brett Favre, who would later become famous for inventing the cell phone camera.) So it's going to take a very good team by WAC standards to break that streak, and the Aggies -- the WAC's sixth-place finisher a year ago, now without star quarterback Diondre Borel -- very likely aren't that team. Most of the drama on the Auburn sidelines should concern which of their FBS-high 16 new starters look ready for their close-up, most notably new quarterback Barrett Trotter. But if Trotter and the other Tiger cubs come out nervous -- particularly the true sophomore defensive tackle pairing of Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter, who could have their hands full with USU's veteran line -- things could stay competitive for longer than Gene Chizik would like. - Jerry Hinnen

Boston College vs. Northwestern - ESPNU, 12pm ET

You never like to start the season with injury concerns, and that this case for the star player on both these rosters. Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa was listed as "questionable" for Saturday's opener as he continues to recover from an achilles injury that ended his 2010 campaign, but popular belief seems to be that he will see the field. Boston College running back Montel Harris underwent his second arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss the game. Making matters even more difficult for the Eagles was an ankle sprain to talented backup Andre Williams. Williams will start and appears ready to go, but there will be more pressure on quarterback Chase Rettig to establish a passing attack against the Northwestern defense. Don't expect Persa to get any easy looks from the Boston College defense, led by All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly. - Chip Patterson

LUNCH

#16 Notre Dame vs. South Florida - NBC, 3:30pm ET

Year Two of the Brian Kelly Era in South Bend gets under way in a game against a former Notre Dame coach, and the son of the man who last brought a national championship to the school, Skip Holtz. There's a lot to look at in this game for both teams. Namely, will Notre Dame finally start to live up to the expectations placed on it every season, and which B.J. Daniels is going to show up for South Florida? - Tom Fornelli

#25 USC vs. Minnesota - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET

Perhaps it is saying something about how quiet Lane Kiffin has been at USC that one of the more notable things about this game is actually about the opposing coach. The Jerry Kill era begins in earnest on the road and he brings a Minnesota team that barely resembles the one that lost to the Trojans a year ago. The Gophers will compete with dual-threat MarQueis Gray at quarterback and a solid linebacking corps but it will be a tough task to pull of the upset against the firepower of the USC offense. Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are a fun pair to watch while Trojan fans will be nervous to see if the defense looks any better than it did last year. - Bryan Fischer

Michigan vs. Western Michigan - ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 pm ET

It's a new era for Michigan -- again -- and Brady Hoke's charges are going to face a stiff challenge from MAC stalwarts Western Michigan. Yes, seriously. The Wolverines probably won't be suffering for points with Denard Robinson leading the new offense, but the Broncos are more than capable of hanging around in this one, as standout QB Alex Carder should find plenty of opportunities to advance the ball through the air. Keep an eye on this one for some possible afternoon fireworks. - AJ

Ole Miss vs. BYU - ESPN, 4:45pm ET

Life in the SEC West isn't easy for anybody, but if Ole Miss is going to get to six wins and back to a bowl game this year, then this is one of those games the Rebels need to win. Though it's not like BYU is just going to hand the game to them, as the Cougars would like to get their new life as an independent off on the right foot, and what better way to do that than by getting a win against the SEC? - TF

DINNER

#22 Florida vs. FAU - ESPNU, 7pm ET

The first sign that not everything was well in Gatorland in 2010 was Florida's season opener vs. Miami (Ohio), when Urban Meyer's team gained all of 25 yards through three quarters and wheezed their way to a 34-12 victory. Unfortunately for Meyer, the RedHawks wound up one of the nation's most surprising teams. But just as fortunately for Will Muschamp, his debut as Gator head coach shouldn't be nearly so stressful--FAU has been pegged for the bottom rungs of the Sun Belt, and will be breaking in a new quarterback and six new defensive starters in the Swamp. Most Gator fans should wind up watching quarterback John Brantley rather than the scoreboard, as a steady, solid outing by the much-maligned senior would boost his and his team's confidence considerably. - JH

#1 Oklahoma vs. Tulsa - FX, 8pm ET

The Sooners are the preseason favorite of many people throughout the country, and Saturday night will be their first chance to show people why. This game had a lot more upset potential before the arrest and suspension of Tulsa wide receiver Damaris Johnson, but the possibility that it's a lot closer than most would expect is still there. - TF

#4 LSU vs. #3 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET

It's not just the game of this year's opening week; it would be the game of every year's opening week. And that's just looking at the rankings of the two teams--add in the Will Lyles drama at both schools, the Tigers' August bar brawl and subsequent Jordan Jefferson suspension, Cliff Harris' and Russell Shepard's respective troubles, Chip Kelly's history of nonconference woes, Jarrett Lee's potential redemption, LaMichael James kicking off his Heisman campaign, the bevy of other All-American candidates on both rosters, and the one-and-only Les Miles, and this game is as intriguing as intriguing gets. For the Ducks, victory may come down to their revamped offensive front giving Darron Thomas enough space to get Kelly's option-game going. Tiger end Sam Montgomery, though, is the kind of elite defensive lineman the Ducks have struggled with even with veteran lines. For LSU, if Lee can avoid turnovers, the Tigers' advantage on both lines-of-scrimmage should eventually prove decisive. But given the Ducks' ball-hawking ways, that's much easier said than done. The one thing we can say for certain: we'll be watching. - JH

#19 Georgia vs. #5 Boise State - ESPN, 8pm ET

Another year, another high profile season opener for the Broncos. Heisman candidate Kellen Moore will lead Boise State into a not-so-neutral Georgia Dome to face the Bulldogs in the annual Chick fil-A Kickoff. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who said this week he hopes to emulate Moore's success, will be trying to make his own statement after an impressive freshman season in 2010. The Georgia-heavy crowd in Atlanta will not be the only uphill battle for the Broncos. Boise State is undersized defensively in comparison to the Bulldogs offensive line, and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is sure to use the 3-4 scheme to put some added pressure on Moore. However, Moore does take care of the ball (74-9 TD:Int ratio last two seasons) and Georgia will be counting on the unproven true freshman Isaiah Crowell to anchor the running game. Get the "LAST" button ready, because you'll want to see both Top 25 showdowns in the primetime slot. - CP

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Hawaii vs. Colorado - ESPN2, 10:15pm ET

This Pac-12 life isn't too bad, is it, Colorado? Your very first game and you get a trip to Hawaii to show for it. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, they still have to face a Hawaii offense featuring dark horse Heisman candidate Bryant Moniz that puts up points in bunches. This game should be an entertaining way to end your Saturday. - TF 
Posted on: September 1, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 1



Posted by Tom Fornelli


For thousands of peaceful, happy years the world was ruled by men. But no longer. Between women and machines, men watch helplessly as our power is tragically wrested away. Surely it can't be true. A world men no longer are in complete control of? Insanity. But how best to prove it?

That, my friends, is where Man vs Woman vs Machine comes in.

I am standing up for men everywhere, yelling from the mountaintops, "You can't take our football from us!" That's right. Every week, I will compete against my girlfriend, Lynn, and a machine, my Playstation 3, as we go head to head to yet another head picking winners of 15 of the biggest college football games of the week.

I will prevail. The fate of our gender and our species depends on it. I shan't let you down.

Let the reclamation of our throne begin.

Wisconsin (-35 1/2) vs. UNLV - Thursday 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - The excitement of a new season is going to end rather quickly when Wisconsin has this one wrapped up before the end of the second quarter. While I'm a bit leery of spreads this large, I'm also fully aware of the brand of American Football that Bret Bielema likes to play, and I don't doubt for a second that the Badgers will go for 100 points if the possibility is there. Pick: Wisconsin

Woman - "I hate a spread this big, especially when it's being set by some button man UNLV alum named Mo at Caeser's Palace." Pick: UNLV

Machine - The Machine doesn't seem to have a "Crush, Kill, Destroy" philosophy that is as strong as Bielema's. Though the machine really believes in the power of Russell Wilson, as he throws for 4 touchdowns and then runs for another to cap off the scoring in the third quarter. Wisconsin wins 35-7. Pick: UNLV

Baylor vs. TCU (-5 1/2) - Friday 8pm

Man -  This game was a lot tougher for me to call than you would normally think it would be. I'm not sure how TCU's offense will look this season without Andy Dalton around, but I do know that this will still be one of the top defenses in the country. I also know that Baylor's defense is rather porous, which should help TCU because no matter how good Robert Griffin III is, the Horned Frogs defense will make a stop when it needs to. Pick: TCU

Woman - "Home field advantage won't win the game, but it will help cover the spread." Pick: Baylor

Machine - The Machine likes the upset! Apparently there is no defense that Robert Griffin cannot solve, as he throws for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead Baylor to a 34-30 victory. Pick: Baylor

Ohio State (-33 1/2) vs Akron - Saturday 12pm

Man - What should we expect from an Ohio State team this season that doesn't have Terrelle Pryor or Jim Tressel? I don't know yet, and odds are this game won't give us much of a clue either. Ohio State should still win rather easily, but with two quarterbacks and the team's top running back and wide receiver sitting this one out, I don't think the offense will be running too smoothly. Pick: Akron

Woman - "Little known fact: A pair of Goodyear rubber zipper boots inspired Akron's nickname "The Zips."  Coincidentally, the same chance it has of beating the spread." Pick: Ohio State

Machine - Suspensions? What suspension? The Machine has Ohio State winning this one 49-14, and that was with Joe Bauserman taking all the snaps. Pick: Ohio State

Alabama (-36 1/2) vs. Kent State - Saturday 12:20pm

Man - Is Alabama replacing a lot of star power on offense this season? Yes. Is Kent State still Kent State? Yes. Trent Richardson may rack up close to 200 yards in the first half and then sit out the second half, and though I'm somewhat scared that the Tide will call off the dogs a bit late in the game, I still like them to cover this spread. Pick: Alabama

Woman - "Hey, Kent State, do you really want to take the chance? I didn't think so." Pick: Alabama

Machine - Well, Kent State, at least you're going to get some points out of it. The Tide rolls 56-3. Pick: Alabama

Notre Dame (-10.5) vs. South Florida - Saturday 3:30pm

Man - It's a new year and the expectations for Notre Dame are high, so there's nothing new to report. Which is why I'm incredibly leery of Notre Dame being a double-digit favorite because this is a team that hasn't lived up to those expectations for a while, and I'm not going to buy in until the Irish show it on the field. I think Notre Dame starts its season 1-0, but it's going to be close. Pick: South Florida

Woman - "If Skip Holtz has any unresolved daddy issues, now's the time for payback." Pick: South Florida

Machine - Much like the Woman and I, The Machine isn't buying the Notre Dame hype either, and Brian Kelly is going to start feeling some pressure after the Irish lose 23-10 to the Bulls. Pick: South Florida

Florida State (-29 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Monroe - Saturday 3:30pm

Man - I'm not entirely sold on Florida State being ranked as high as it is to start the season, but I don't foresee the Seminoles having any trouble with Louisiana-Monroe this weekend. There's a chance the 'Noles will get caught looking ahead to their date against Oklahoma, but it's a small one. Pick: Florida State

Woman - "F-L-O-R-I-D-A-S-T-A-T-E cupCAKE cupCAKE cupCAKE" Pick: Florida State

Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine believes Chief Osceola will send his spear right through the heart of the Warhawks, 42-6. Pick: Florida State

Ole Miss vs. BYU (-3) - Saturday 4:45pm

Man - I know Ole Miss started its 2010 season with a loss at home against Jacksonville State, but to be an underdog at home against a BYU team that wasn't exactly a world beater itself in 2010? Why I'll gladly take the points and put my faith in the Reverend Houston Nutt. Pick: Ole Miss

Woman - "Is it just me or does "Ole Miss" sound like somebody's pet dairy cow or an arthritic spinster? Whatever, Spinster squeaks by at home. (And serves up a delicious applesauce crumb cake.)" Pick: Ole Miss

Machine - The Machine is not religious, but even it succumbs to the powerful words of the Reverend Nutt. There will be no Jacksonville State repeat, Ole Miss wins 44-20. Pick: Ole Miss

Florida (-34 1/2) vs. Florida Atlantic - Saturday 7pm

Man - While I have no doubt that Will Muschamp will have the Florida defense looking as strong as ever before the year is done, I have plenty of doubts about John Brantley and the Gators offense. Because of these doubts I have a hard time believing the Gators will blow Howard Schnellenberger's boys out of The Swamp on Saturday. Florida wins comfortably, but not by a blowout. Pick: Florida Atlantic

Woman - "The Schnellenberger's Last Season Effect: FAU will just beat the spread, which Charlie Weis will promptly schmear on some bagels." Pick: Florida Atlantic

Machine - A new offense? The same questionable quarterback? The Machine fears not these things, and the Gators roll 59-10. Pick: Florida

Oklahoma State (-37 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette - Saturday 7pm

Man - I'm of the opinion that Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon could end up with 2,000 yards receiving this season, and he's going to get a large chunk of those yards on Saturday night in Stillwater. The Ragin' Cajuns will come after Mike Gundy, but he's a man, he's over 40 and he has an offense that will put up at least 40. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "The only Louisiana Lafayette I know hates vampires and wears false eyelashes." Pick: Oklahoma State

Machine - While The Machine believes in the prowess of Justin Blackmon (8 catches, 238 yards, 3 TDs) it is not nearly as confident in the Oklahoma State defense. Cowboys win 38-17. Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette

Texas (-23) vs. Rice - Saturday 8pm

Man - This game has me torn. On the one hand, I don't know that I want to count on Garrett Gilbert being able to limit turnovers enough to keep the Longhorns comfortably in the lead. On the other hand, Rice. After flipping a coin I've decided to believe that since this game is on the Longhorn Network and nobody will be watching it, Gilbert will feel much more relaxed and the Longhorns will win easily. Pick: Texas

Woman - "The Longhorns enjoy a rebound effect from last year's nightmare season and take out all their frustration on those wise old Owls." Pick: Texas

Machine - Garrett Gilbert for Heisman! Gilbert throws for 278 yards, 5 touchdowns -- half his total from last year -- and only 1 interception as the Longhorns roll 38-7. Pick: Texas

Oklahoma (-24 1/2) vs. Tulsa - Saturday 8pm

Man - This spread is pretty big for an offense that was as potent as Tulsa's last season, but I'm not sure the Hurricanes can put up astounding numbers against the Oklahoma defense without Damaris Johnson and Todd Graham. Landry Jones gets his Heisman campaign off on the right foot. Pick: Oklahoma

Woman - "Seriously, can someone explain why a school located in the heart of Tornado Alley calls itself the Golden Hurricanes?  Tulsa loses but covers." Pick: Tulsa

Machine - The Machine believes in the Tulsa offense a lot more than I do right now, but the Golden Tornadoes fall just short in a 31-24 loss. Pick: Tulsa

Georgia vs. Boise State (-3 1/2) - Saturday 8pm in Atlanta

Man - There are many who believe that Mark Richt is coaching to save his job with Georgia this fall, and his hold on the position will be a bit more tenuous after this one. Kellen Moore and Boise State are going to claim another BCS scalp on Saturday night in front of a packed Georgia Dome, and I don't think it'll be interesting in the fourth quarter. Pick: Boise State

Woman - "Sorry, adorable l'il Uga the Fiftieth, it's not happening." Pick: Boise State

Machine - Wow, I think Boise State's going to win this one comfortably, but The Machine doesn't even think Georgia should bother showing up. Boise State wins 48-9. Pick: Boise State

LSU (-2 1/2) vs. Oregon - Saturday 8pm in Dallas

Man - Is this game going to be played in a parking lot or a football field? To be honest, I'm not sure if being without Jordan Jefferson hurts LSU or helps it, and I hate going against the magic of Les Miles, but I just have fewer questions about Oregon right now. LSU may pull off another insane last second victory, but I still see the Ducks covering that spread. Pick: Oregon

Woman - "Les Miles will be flossing with Cowboy Stadium's Matrix turf." Pick: LSU

Machine - The Machine feels that Jordan Jefferson is incredibly important, and it shows in the final score. Oregon racks up 598 yards of total offense against the LSU defense and wins rather easily, 42-23. Pick: Oregon

Texas A&M (-15 1/2) vs. SMU - Sunday 7:30pm

Man - The team that's leaving the Big 12 against the team that would like to take its place. If SMU wins do they get in? I'm not sure, and I don't think they'll find out on Saturday. While I expect the Mustangs offense to keep things interesting, I think the Aggies will have too much in the end. Still, SMU covers and then Craig James will claim he doesn't remember a thing that happened during the game. Pick: SMU

Woman - "Aggies starting off what could be a great season and a Big 12 swan song with a win, but they won't cover." Pick: SMU 

Machine - The Machine sees a barnburner in our future on Sunday night. The Aggies narrowly escape with a victory thanks to a field goal in the final minutes, but it's not good enough for a cover. A&M wins 34-31. Pick: SMU

Maryland vs. Miami (-5 1/2) - Monday 8pm

Man - Randy Edsall's dream becomes a reality in his first game at Maryland against whatever is left of the Miami Hurricanes by the time the ball is kicked off. All I know is that I wouldn't be shocked if Miami won this game, but there's just no way I'm going to pick the Canes after the amount of work I had to put in to remove all the ineligible and suspended players from the roster before simulating this game. I hope Nevin Shapiro's yacht stalls in the middle of the ocean while you're out there watching the game. Pick: Maryland

Woman: "Instant karma and home field gives the edge to Maryland." Pick: Maryland

Machine: The Dream Job turns into an early nightmare. Despite having to pull players from the stands to complete its roster, the Machine still sees Miami pulling this one off 28-20. Pick: Miami 
Posted on: August 30, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LSU G Dworaczyk injures knee, out for 'some time'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Just when you'd think things couldn't get any worse for LSU, they get worse.

Les Miles announced Monday night that starting senior guard Josh Dworaczyk has reaggravated a lingering knee injury from the 2010 season and will undergo surgery. Though the injury is not believed to be season-ending, Dworaczyk will miss the majority of the 2011 campaign.

"We'll lose him for some time," Miles said.

If there's any silver lining to Dworaczyk's absence, it's that the Tigers have at least one quality replacement and probably two. Miles said that Dworaczyk's spot would be filled by either senior T-Bob Hebert or true freshman La'el Collins--or, more likely, a combination of both. While Hebert is a veteran performer who's started 18 games the prior two seasons at both center and guard, Collins is a five-star recruit who's impressed throughout camp and whose potential Miles has done little to hide his enthusiasm for.

"I think you look at T-Bob, but I think a guy like La’el Collins has the ability," Miles said. "And we don’t want to slow him up. We want to get him to the field quickly."

Nonetheless, there seems little question that going from Dworaczyk to either replacement will be a step down of some degree. The senior's absence from Saturday's opener against Oregon will snap a streak of 23 consecutive starts at left guard, and though snubbed by the official SEC coaches and media preseason all-conference teams, Dworaczyk was named to guru Phil Steele's All-SEC second-team and various other lists of the league's best linemen.

That loss may be made all the worse by the other issues surrounding the Tiger offense. With both Jordan Jefferson and Russell Shepard suspended, LSU may have to rely even more heavily on their run game than expected--a run game a seasoned, talented guard like Dworaczyk would have helped immensely.

With Hebert and Collins around, it's doubtful Dworaczyk's injury will be a make-or-break issue for the Tigers. But the events of the past month means Miles no doubt would like all hands on deck, and now Dworaczyk represents one very polished, very steady set of hands that won't be.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:42 pm
 

SEC RapidReport Roundup, 8/29: QB starters named

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the weekend's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.

LSU: Not that it took anyone by surprise, but Les Miles officially named senior Jarrett Lee the starter for Saturday's season opener against Oregon. For his part, Ducks head coach Chip Kelly doesn't expect the Tigers to be any less formidable for Lee getting the nod. (Per our Oregon RapidReporter Chris Hansen, Kelly also called LSU "“the most talented team we play all season.”)

Interestingly, Miles said he suspended the arrested Jordan Jefferson not as a disciplinary measure, but so Jefferson could tend to his legal troubles. "It's absolutely correct for him to be free at this point to tend to his personal business," Miles said. "If he were playing on this football team, it would be too much." Jefferson has changed his legal representation in the wake of his arrest.

ARKANSAS: In an announcement even less surprising than Lee's, Bobby Petrino finally named Tyler Wilson the Hogs' starting quarterback for their season debut against Missouri State, ending the non-suspense. Petrino said sophomore Brandon Mitchell will see playing time, possibly as early as the second quarter. (If Mitchell still sees time against opponents more dangerous than the Bears, that will be a development worth watching.)

Injured running back Knile Davis has promised he'll do everything he can to help his team from the sideline. As for replacing him, senior DeAnthony Curtis may get a shot after looking impressive following his move from cornerback.

ALABAMA: Still no sign of JUCO wideout Duron Carter at practice, with Nick Saban telling reporters he "has information" on Carter's status but that he'll believe his arrival "when he sees it." Saban also seemed to confirm that the Tide will begin the year with a rotation between quarterbacks Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron. "“I don't want either guy … to think that if they go in the game and make a mistake, that's when the other guy gets to go in," he said. "That's not how it's going to get managed."

In positive news, long snapper Carson Tinker is close to fully recovered from injuries suffered in the spring tornado that killed his girlfriend, Ashley Harrison.

GEORGIA: Mark Richt announced a surprising change to his defensive starting lineup, confirming that safety Bacarri Rambo (the team's leading tackler in 2010) would start the year second-string behind Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams. Even with corner Branden Smith "day-to-day" with a foot injury, Richt said former corner Commings would not switch positions to cover for Smith.

The Dawgs are banged-up elsewhere as well, with JUCO nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins struggling with a hamstring injury and tailback Richard Samuel not yet at full speed despite practicing Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA: He's still Steve Spurrier: the Ol' Ball Coach said that both Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw would play in the Gamecocks' opener against East Carolina, and added that neither has won the starting job yet. Giving the understudy Shaw meaningful playing time could be a dangerous move against the Pirates, whose pass-heavy attack could exploit a Gamecock secondary that struggled in 2010 and could be without starting corner Akeem Auguste; Auguste has a foot injury and missed practice at the end of last week.

Could CBSSports.com second-team All-American Devin Taylor see time on offense? Garcia told reporters the Gamecocks have been working on a package including the 6'7" defensive end.

ELSEWHERE: At Auburn, star sophomore running back Michael Dyer says he's 100 percent healthy after a nick earlier in fall camp. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Tigers' depth will result in them playing more than their typical 18-to-20 players ... Florida running back Jeff Demps admitted his track obligations put him behind the curve when it came to learning the Gators' new offense ... Tennessee has moved corner Prentiss Waggner to safety to cover for the dismissal of Janzen Jackson, who will transfer to FCS McNeese State, that school announced.

Posted on: August 27, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Les Miles' contract extension is official

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The timing seems a bit off considering what's been going on at LSU in the last week with the arrests of Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns, along with the suspension of Russell Shepard, but the contract extension Les Miles agreed to back in January was made official by the LSU board on Friday

"We are pleased to finalize and recommend this amendment to the contact for Les Miles and present it to the Board of Supervisors for their approval," said LSU athletic director Joe Alleva before the deal was approved on Friday.  "It is important to maintain long-term stability in a program and the goal at the outset of this process was to establish Coach Miles as the leader of our football program for that long-term stability."

While the new deal will not give Miles a raise in his base pay, it does make sure he's likely going to be in Baton Rouge for a while. Aside from Miles contract being extended from 2014 through 2017, the deal also makes firing Miles without cause an incredibly expensive proposition for LSU. Under his old deal the school would have owed Miles $11.2 million, but now if LSU fires Miles without cause in the first year of the deal, it will cost the school $18.7 million.

Though that number does decrease with each year of the contract completed.

Miles also will receive greater bonuses for conference championships and bowl victories. 
Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 4:26 pm
 

If QBs sink LSU season, Miles should take blame

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

No, Les Miles is not responsible for Jordan Jefferson's arrest Friday on felony battery charges. No, we do not believe there is anything Miles could have done to prevent his senior starting quarterback from visiting Shady's bar in the wee hours of the morning of Aug. 18 and -- allegedly -- kicking a man in the head. No, it is not Miles's fault that Jefferson will not start the season opener against Oregon, and may very well never put on an LSU uniform again.

But if Jefferson's absence plays a direct role in the Tigers losing that game against Oregon? If the quarterback position he leaves behind causes LSU to fall short of the SEC championship that has eluded them since 2007? That you can blame Miles for. And you should.

We won't disagree with our colleague Dennis Dodd that LSU doesn't need Jefferson or any other "difference-maker" at quarterback to have a successful season. They don't even need one to win championships. The Tigers hoisted crystal footballs with Matt Mauck under center in 2003 and Matt Flynn in 2007, quarterbacks no one would deny were "serviceable" but that no one mistook for the first coming of Andrew Luck, either.

Here's where Dodd and I differ: he files backup-crowned-new-starter Jarrett Lee into the same "serviceable" vein as Mauck and Flynn. For his career, Lee has thrown just as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns, including tossing a nation-leading 16 in 2008. His career yards-per-attempt mark is a mediocre 6.6 and his career completion percentage an even-worse 53.5 percent, numbers that would have ranked him third-from-last and next-to-last in the SEC last season. If Lee is indeed serviceable, even that will be a huge step up from his career-to-date.

If he isn't? There's the fans' choice, JUCO transfer (and former Georgia Bulldog) Zach Mettenberger, who some thought could have a Cam Newton-like impact for the Tigers. But given that even the entirety of spring practice and the bulk of fall camp wasn't enough for Mettenberger to unseat Lee as second-string -- much less challenge Jefferson as the starter -- it seems unlikely Mettenberger is the savior LSU fans have been hoping for, either.

And the lesson of LSU's past two seasons is that if neither Lee nor Mettenberger are up to serviceability, the Tigers aren't winning an SEC championship. Yes, the LSU defense should be lights-out, but John Chavis's units were already 11th in the nation in scoring defense each of the past two years; they can't get much more lights-out than they already are. But thanks to an offense that finished dead last in the SEC in total offense in 2009 and 11th in 2010, LSU finished a combined five games out of first in the West anyway.

So why has Miles waited so long to find a solution to his team's quarterbacking dilemma? In 2008, Lee so thoroughly submarined the season with his interceptions (and the pick-sixes that still define his career, for most SEC fans) that Jefferson -- a lightly regarded recruit by LSU standards -- was named the starter in November. The only insurance Miles took out against Jefferson's failed development that offseason was the signing Chris Garrett, a previous Mississippi State commitment who disappointed LSU's coaches and has since left the team.

In 2009, Jefferson was actually mildly efficient as a quarterback, but still: worst in the SEC in total offense is worst in the SEC in total offense. Miles responded by signing four-star quarterback Zach Lee out of Texas. Too bad Lee had his sights set elsewhere; he signed a professional baseball contract and never so much as stood on a gameday sideline.

Miles may have finally solved his 2012 quarterback issues with the addition of Mettenberger to the 2011 class, but where this season is concerned, it may be too late. Whether by choice or simple failure, Lee's known mediocrity meant he was gambling the future of his quarterback position -- and arguably his team's title chances -- on the development of Jordan Jefferson and two risky recruits.

Miles is known for riding his luck, of course, and it's still to early to say for certain he's come up snake eyes this time. But we also won't be surprised if this one portion of mismanagement forces his team to walk away from the championship table once again.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com