Tag:Florida
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Eye on College Football Midseason Report: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At the top, midseason 2011 remains the best of times for the SEC. Alabama and LSU have given the conference not one but two highly viable -- some might even say favored -- candidates for a sixth straight national title. It's not even such bad news that one seems all-but-destined to eliminate the other from the title race when they meet in Tuscaloosa Nov. 5; assuming both clear their final hurdles this week, that game should arrive with more hype, more anticipation, more coverage and more viewers than any regular season college football game since Ohio State and Michigan clashed as undefeateds the final week of 2006. From a national title perspective, the SEC has never mattered more.

But anywhere other than the top, these are the worst times for the SEC in a while. A plague of injuries, inexperience, and ineffective coaching has gutted much of the league's offensive bite and turned what used to be riveting battles amongst the league's wealthier-than-thou middle class into glorified slapfights. Take this past weekend: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina combined for a total of 49 points across two hideous games; lambs-to-the-slaughter Tennessee and Ole Miss lost to the league's top two by a combined 76 points; and Georgia and Vanderbilt played a game most notable for the screaming match between its coaches afterwards. It was ugliness all the way around--and that's with the conference's worst offense, Kentucky, on a bye. 

Alabama vs. LSU should be a classic. And Arkansas, still easily top-10 caliber and as exciting as ever, is blameless. But are the hobbled back-nine of the SEC capable of giving us anything else deserving of that label in 2011's second half?

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama. It's easy to forget Richardson's 2011 season actually got off to a slow start, with only 148 yards on a 3.8 per-carry average through the Crimson Tide's first two games. Since then: five games, 764 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 8.2 yards-per-carry, the sort of per-attempt number starting tailbacks for national title contenders achieve only in video games. It's not just the production, either; Richardson has showed off the proverbial total package and then some, flashing breakaway speed, bone-rattling power, and startling elusiveness, sometimes -- as in his Heisman-reel tour de force against Ole Miss -- all on the same play.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU. The only serious defensive candidate for the 2011 Heisman, the Honey Badger has stormed onto the national scene on the back of a wave of big plays: the strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Oregon, the dazzling interception-and-return-to-the-1 against West Virginia, the sack-strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Kentucky. But those game-changing efforts shouldn't obscure what Mathieu does on an every-down basis: namely, lead the nation's No. 4 defense in solo tackles and spearhead the nation's No. 6 secondary in opponent's passer rating.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Les Miles, LSU. Nick Saban obviously deserves commendation as well, but with the ridiculous stockpile of defensive talent in Tuscaloosa and the rock-steady stability of Saban's program, the Tide were never in any danger of not being really, really good. Miles, however, had to navigate a major offseason shakeup of his offensive coaching staff, the Jordan Jefferson barfight brouhaha on the eve of the season (amongst other distractions), and a handful of offensive line injuries to have his team where it is now--atop the AP poll and well on their way to bringing an 8-0 record to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

SURPRISE: Auburn. Few SEC teams have legitimately exceeded expectations in 2011 -- LSU and Vandy are the only other two, frankly -- but none has been as big a shock as the Tigers, who had been predicted by many to sink to fifth (or worse) in the West and general irrelevancy in Year One A.C. (i.e., after Cam). But despite being a Vegas underdog in all four of their SEC games (and scoring 20 points or fewer in their most recent three), a newly-energized defense and timely plays on offense and special teams have Auburn sitting at 3-1 in the league and 5-2 overall. If Miles's and Saban's teams hadn't run so far away from the pack, Gene Chizik would be a hot favorite for SEC Coach of the Year.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Mississippi State. The 0-4 SEC record isn't that bad, honestly; at Auburn, vs. LSU, at Georgia, and vs. South Carolina is a reasonably tough road to hoe. What is that bad is that Dan Mullen's veteran offense has looked so lost, scoring just one offensive touchdown over its last three conference games. This was supposed to be the season Mullen started winning games against the heavier hitters of the SEC, but thanks to his team's offensive struggles, the Bulldogs are now losing games (and in uglier fashion) to the same caliber of team they defeated in 2010.

GAME OF THE YEAR--SO FAR: South Carolina 45, Georgia 42, Sept. 10. Thanks to the lack of offensive fireworks and Alabama and LSU horse-whipping opponents on a weekly basis, candidates for this honor are few and far between, But back in Week 2 the Gamecocks and Bulldogs played a back-and-forth thriller that may still wind up deciding the SEC East. Marcus Lattimore powered for 176 bruising yards, but the player of the game was Gamecock defensive end Melvin Ingram, who scored touchdowns on both defense and special teams and capped his breakout performance by snaring the Dawgs' last-gasp onsides kick. 

More Midseason Coverage
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GAME OF THE YEAR TO COME: Alabama vs. LSU, Nov. 5. Do we even have to spell out why? Consider that the average score to-date between one of these two behemoths and an SEC opponent has been 37-8, and the only thing keeping either one from being heavy, heavy favorites to win the league title is the other. With the pair currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, it's not an exaggeration to think of this as a BCS championship semifinal.

AND YOUR SEC CHAMPIONS ARE: Alabama out of the West, purely on the basis of getting to host the Game of the Century of the Year, and Georgia out of the East--the Bulldogs have far fewer offensive question marks than the Gamecocks and the easier schedule down the stretch. And as for the SEC Championship Game, well, when the best of this year's West meets the best of this year's East, there's only one outcome worth predicting. We like Alabama to win this year's SEC title and advance to the BCS national championship.

Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:42 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 7


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 6.

WINNER: Trent Richardson. On a day when the SEC failed mightily to produce anything resembling a classic game -- of the league's five matchups, two were won in overpowering fashion by its resident pair of 500-pound gorillas, and the other three were all varying degrees of "slopfest" -- Richardson nonetheless delivered a classic performance. The career highs in yards (183 yards) and touchdowns (four) were nice, but lots of running backs can amass gaudy numbers. What made Richardson's night special was the fury with which he punished Ole Miss's defenders on his runs between the tackles, and then the startling elusiveness he flashed once he found the open field; this juke is going to be a staple of highlight reels for weeks to come. The statistic that best reflects Richardson's night? The 11.2 yards he averaged across his relatively meager 19 touches.

With Marcus Lattimore going down with an injury today (more on this in a moment) and Tyrann Mathieu having a quiet day by his standards despite the total domination shown by his LSU secondary (1 pass broken up, 1 tackle, nothing in special teams), Richardson is now the SEC's far-and-away most viable Heisman candidate. And if the Ole Miss game is any indication, his campaign might just be getting warmed up.

LOSER: the SEC East. Thanks to the decline of Mississippi State, the East's record vs. the West isn't quite as lopsided as it was last year. But that doesn't mean the top of the division is any stronger than it was last year; based on the evidence of Saturday, it's even worse. South Carolina scored a total of two touchdowns while wheezing their way to a four-point win over a State team in offensive disarray. Georgia collected four turnovers from Vanderbilt and outgained the 'Dores by nearly 100 yards and still came within one Hail Mary off a receiver's hands from losing in Nashville. And Florida gained all of 194 yards against the nation's 105th-ranked defense at Auburn. Sure, the East champion won't have a prayer against LSU or Alabama, but with two of its title contenders having already lost to Gene Chizik's team and the third barely any less convincing-looking, the East champion might not even be any better than fifth-place in the West. Still.

WINNER: Ted Roof. After his Tiger defense was eviscerated for more than 1,150 yards in just two weeks by Mississippi State and Clemson, Roof was the most unpopular person on the Plains this side of Harvey Updyke. But thanks to the rapid maturation of players like sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier (three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four QB hurries vs. Florida) and sophomore cornerback Chris Davis (five tackles, one pass breakup), Roof's unit suddenly looks in much better shape than celebrated coordinating counterpart Gus Malzahn's--and was largely responsible for both Auburn's win in South Carolina and over Florida Saturday. The Gators' quarterbacking woes no doubt helped, but short, quick running backs like Chris Rainey have given Roof's defenses fits in the past. In the present, Rainey was bottled up to the tune of just 33 yards on 16 carries.

LOSER: South Carolina's offense. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: if Lattimore's injury keeps him out for any extended length of time, that's a massive, massive blow for the Gamecocks. Players of the big sophomore's ability simply aren't replaceable in midseason (if ever), and Carolina doesn't have much depth behind Lattimore to begin with; his substitute against the Bulldogs was true freshman Brandon Wilds, who entered the game with all of eight career carries. 

But there's even more worries for Steve Spurrier past his running back situation. Connor Shaw's explosive performance against Kentucky looked like a mirage after he threw for an average of just 5.5 yards on his 28 attempts, with two interceptions; his banged-up offensive line opened holes for just 2.6 yards a carry, two weeks after Lattimore averaged less than 4 vs. Auburn; and Alshon Jeffery continues to be nearly invisible, collecting the game-winning TD vs. State but just four other receptions for all of 20 yards. If Spurrier can't fix things -- and likely do it without Lattimore -- his team may not win again until the Citadel visits on Nov. 19.

WINNER: Rueben Randle. Is anyone happier about Jarrett Lee's late-career renaissance than LSU's No. 1 receiver? The former five-star struggled to make an impact his first two years in Baton Rouge, but with Lee at the controls Randle has become one of the league's biggest deep threats. After 5 more receptions for 86 yards and a score against Tennessee, Randle is averaging an even 19 yards per reception--the best mark in the SEC for any receiver with more than 20 catches for the year.

LOSERS: Anyone who tuned away from Georgia-Vanderbilt. Though it was too sloppy by half to qualify as a good game, the ending of Bulldogs-Commodores was as wild as any game in the SEC this season. Up 33-28, the Dawgs drove deep into Vandy territory and looked to have the game salted away before Aaron Murray was picked off by Casey Hayward at the Vandy 2 with 2:30 to play. But Jordan Rodgers was only able to drive the 'Dores to their own 25 before being picked off himself with 1:10 left. The Bulldogs weren't able to run out the entire clock, though, and had their punt blocked, almost returned for a game-winning touchdown, and eventually recovered by Vandy at the Bulldog 20 with 7 seconds left. Rodgers' Hail Mary hit a falling Chris Boyd in the hands, but Boyd was unable to bring it in, and one final desperation play fell short ... after which Vandy head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham nearly sparked a brawl by angrily yelling at each other at midfield. 

Not a bad bit of drama for a game the few people who were watching potentially turned off once Georgia went up 33-21 early in the fourth quarter.

LOSERS: Gamblers who took South Carolina to cover the 3.5 points against Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' voluntary safety on the final play of the game -- reducing a four-point margin to two and flipping the result of the game against the spread -- cost worldwide bettors as much as $30 million, according to one report. We're skeptical the numbers for your run-of-the-mill SEC game run quite that high, but we'd still advise Spurrier not to walk down any dark alleys this week.

WINNERS: Hearts belonging to fans of Alabama and LSU. While fans in Columbia and Auburn and Athens and Starkville have all had their turns reaching for the blood pressure medication (Auburn's more than once), those in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge haven't had to worry. After winning their two games Saturday by a combined 90-14 score, the Tide and Tigers have now won their eight total SEC games by an average score of 37-8. The closest call? LSU's 19-6 "escape" at Mississippi State, which at the time was viewed as a disappointment for the Bulldogs.

Now, we're wondering if maybe they ought to put up a plaque to commemorate the achievement.


Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:07 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 24 Auburn 17, Florida 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

AUBURN WON: The high-flying, high-scoring fireworks of 2010 faded even further into the Tigers' collective memory after another stuttering offensive performance, but precious few on the Plains will care: Gene Chizik's Tiger cubs are 5-2 and 2-1 in the SEC. Backup quarterback Clint Moseley came off the bench to lead a key second-half touchdown drive, and thanks to a string of muffed punts the Tigers finished with a 3-0 advantage in turnover margin.

WHY AUBURN WON: In a matchup where both offenses needed all the help they could get, Florida gave Auburn's far more than Auburn gave Florida. The Gators' first muffed punt -- one Will Muschamp hotly contended had been a result of catch interference on the tigers' part -- set up a 25-yard Barrett Trotter touchdown pass, the only TD for either team the entire first half. And with Auburn leading 14-6 late in the fourth quarter, another muff set up Cody Parkey's game-icing 42-yard field goal.

In-between those two poles, the Florida offense moved the ball at least as effectively as Auburn and maybe better. (Which is not to say either team moved it well; the teams combined for just 474 yards of offense and at one point had 12 total punts to 15 total first downs.) But two red-zone possessions for Florida ended in just 3 points -- one of them a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter when backup QB Jeff Driskel overthrew an open receiver on 4th-and-3 -- while Auburn's one ended in a 14-yard Onterio McCalebb touchdown to open the fourth quarter.

With the Gator offense never looking capable of mounting a large-scale comeback under either Driskel or Jacoby Brissett, that Auburn got both more opportunities and took better advantage of them was always going to result in one outcome.

WHEN AUBURN WON: Parkey had missed a pair of 40-plus-yard field goals already, but Chizik elected to let him try the game-clincher from 42 even after a false start penalty ... and with just 42 seconds left for the hapless Gators to work with after a hypothetical punt. But Parkey made that decision look good, hitting the kick and deciding the game.

WHAT AUBURN WON: The Tigers were projected to take a massive step backwards this season and have, in many ways; the defense has spent whole games getting shredded, the offense whole games going nowhere. But with Gus Malzahn's attack carrying the team early in the year and Ted Roof's defense doing so against South Carolina and Florida, the team has somehow emerged at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC ... and both their losses have come at top-10 teams on the road. The Tigers aren't what they were, but they haven't gone away, either.

WHAT FLORIDA LOST: Muschamp wasn't happy with his team's efforts against Alabama or LSU, but there was only so much the Gators could realistically do with John Brantley out. Auburn, though, showed Florida a passing game scarcely any better than their own--only for the Gators' special teams, running game, and red zone defense to give their freshmen quarterbacks so little help that the aerial draw didn't matter. Now the Gators have all-but officially dropped out of the East race, and even a winning regular season isn't guaranteed. The shine on that 4-0 start is officially off.

Posted on: October 15, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 8:51 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 15 South Carolina 14, Miss St. 12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Victories don't come much uglier, what with Marcus Lattimore injured and Connor Shaw rocketing back to earth after his performance against Kentucky. But the Gamecocks will take it. Alshon Jeffery redeemed a quiet day (5 receptions, 24 yards) by coming down with the game-winning touchdown in double-coverage with 3:50 to play. Lattimore had his leg rolled into while blocking for a Wildcat play and left the game, eventually going to the locker room on crutches.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because in the end, the lackluster Gamecock offense threw away one fewer scoring opportunity than the lackluster Mississippi State offense. After driving 69 yards in 10 plays for a 7-0 first quarter lead, the Bulldogs took 18 snaps in Carolina territory over the rest of the game, spread over five drives ... and turned all those opportunities into a total of three points. Paticularly damaging were a pair of second-half possessions, one of which yielded a first down at the Carolina 31 and the other a first-and-goal at the 5. The first ended with a missed 40-yard Derek DePasquale field goal attempt, the second with only three points after multiple missed passes into the end zone. 

In a game in which the two teams finished only five yards apart in total yardage -- 294 for the Bulldogs, 289 for the Gamecocks -- that Shaw was able to hoist his pass towards a target like Jeffery while Tyler Russell had no such red zone help made all the difference.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Not until one final missed opportunity went by the boards for State. Russell enjoyed a decent (if not exactly "good") game in his first start of the season for Dan Mullen, completing 11-of-29 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown, several third-down conversions, and just one batted interception ... until with less than two minutes to play and his team on the Gamecock 32, Russell launched a hopeless airball which safety D.J. Swearinger duly intercepted. Ballgame.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: The spoils of victory may be overshadowed by the costs if Lattimore misses any length of time with his injury, but a loss to the flailing likes of the Bulldogs would have all but ended the Gamecocks' hopes of going to Atlanta. As it stands, Steve Spurrier still has a lot of work to do offensively (and possibly without his greatest weapon) to get his team into the kind of shape necessary to beat Florida or Arkansas. But they're still alive.

WHAT MISSISSIPPI STATE LOST: As with Auburn and Georgia, another game against a beatable opponent--and this time at home. A winning regular season looks to be out of reach with the likes of Alabama and the Razorbacks still on the schedule, and an upset vs. Kentucky or Ole Miss would now leave the Bulldogs home for the postseason. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: Depending on which sportsbook you placed your wagers at, Carolina came into this game a 2.5 to 3.5-point favorite. That didn't matter with the Gamecocks sitting on their 14-10 lead and State out of timeouts at game's end. But with four seconds remaining and the Gamecocks snapping the ball on fourth down, Spurrier elected to have Shaw run out the clock by running out the back of the end zone from the 9. That safety pushed the final margin to 2--and made any gamblers (or CBSSports.com Experts) who had picked the Gamecocks to cover sudden, stunning losers. Rest assured the Gamecock fans who had their money on the home team will have a few choice words for the Ol' Ball Coach after that one.


Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:45 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 7

Remember how nice the weather was last week? It might be even better Saturday. Temps are still getting cooler, yes, but there's sun basically everywhere, and we will tolerate no complaints about 60s and sunshine over the majority of the country. Not when we all know what arctic hell awaits in the coming months. As always, all times eastern.

Noon kickoffs

No. 11 Michigan at No. 23 Michigan State, 12:00, East Lansing, MI: Low 50s, partly cloudy

Indiana at No. 4 Wisconsin, 12:00, Madison, WI: Low 50s, partly cloudy

No. 20 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M, 12:00, College Station, TX: Upper 60s, clear

No. 15 South Carolina at Mississippi State, 12:20, Starkville, MS: Upper 60s, clear

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 1 LSU at Tennessee, 3:30, Knoxville, TN: Upper 60s, clear

No. 12 Georgia Tech at Virginia, 3:30, Charlottesville, VA: Upper 60s, clear

Ohio State at No. 16 Illinois, 3:30, Champaign, IL: Low 60s, clear

No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Texas, 3:30, Austin, TX: Low 80s, clear

Evening kickoffs

No. 2 Alabama at Ole Miss, 6:00, Oxford, MS: Mid 70s, clear

No. 5 Boise State at Colorado State, 6:00, Fort Collins, CO: Low 80s, clear

No. 19 Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, 6:30, Winston-Salem, NC: Upper 60s, clear

No. 8 Clemson at Maryland, 7:00, College Park, MD: Upper 50s, clear

Florida at No. 24 Auburn, 7:00, Auburn, AL: Upper 60s, clear

No. 17 Kansas State at Texas Tech, 7:00, Lubbock, TX: Upper 70s, clear

No. 7 Stanford at Washington State, 7:30, Pullman, WA: Low 50s, partly cloudy

Late night kickoffs 

No. 3 Oklahoma at Kansas, 9:15, Lawrence, KS: Upper 60s, clear

No. 18 Arizona State at No. 9 Oregon, 10:15, Eugene, OR: Low 50s, partly cloudy

Posted on: October 14, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 3:40 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 7

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. 

This week we're offering a menu that is a bit low on carbs. It's not that we don't have plenty of interesting choices to offer you this weekend, but there isn't exactly a must-have on the list. Which I suppose is a good thing considering all the big meals we've all been ingesting the last few weeks and the pounds they've packed on, we could all afford to eat a bit more salad this weekend.

BREAKFAST

#23 Michigan State vs. #11 Michigan - ESPN 12pm ET

This game has it all: rivalry, firepower, and consequence. Michigan State is looking to continue its reign in this series, having won the last 3 in the series. Michigan will need to get Heisman candidate Denard Robinson rolling and light up the scoreboard; that hasn't been much of a problem for UM this year. At stake is probably the best shot at challenging Nebraska for the Legends Division crown; the loser, meanwhile, will need a lot of help in the race. - Adam Jacobi

#21 Texas A&M vs. #20 Baylor - FX 12pm ET

Robert Griffin is appointment television no matter who Baylor is playing, but considering that Texas A&M is statistically the worst passing defense in the country, this one could be really fun. Of course, Texas A&M isn't exactly a slouch either, as Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael have done a good job of covering up that secondary's mistakes on offense. This one could be a pretty nice shootout to start your day with. - Tom Fornelli

Mississippi State vs. #15 South Carolina - SEC Network 12:21pm ET

Is Connor Shaw for real or not? The Gamecocks' now-unquestioned starting quarterback looked the part against Kentucky, but a veteran Bulldog secondary playing at home in Starkville is a much tougher test. And if Tyler Russell's breakout second half against UAB was more than illusion, State could have put some of their offensive woes behind them as well. Whichever quarterback proves last week's performance wasn't a fluke should come away with the victory. - Jerry Hinnen

LUNCH

Tennessee vs. #1 LSU - CBS 3:30pm ET

For the second week in a row, the Tiger defense gets to face a backup quarterback making his first start of the season. The Vols' Matt Simms has a lot of advantages Florida's Jacoby Brissett didn't, though: he'll be at home; he's a senior who started eight games for Tennessee in 2010; and he saw the LSU defense up close and personal playing against them last year. Too bad the Vols don't have the running game to keep the Tigers from teeing off on Simms all the same. - JH

#22 Texas vs. #6 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

Did you know that Mack Brown's Texas teams have never lost a game following the Red River Shootout? That record is likely going to be in serious jeopardy with the Oklahoma State offense coming to town, but if the Longhorns can manage to keep Brandon Weeden in check and pull off a win, it'd be a very large step in returning the program to where it once stood. Or you should watch just to see if Oklahoma State can finally hit the century mark. - TF

Virginia vs. #12 Georgia Tech - ESPNU 3:30pm ET

The last time Virginia took the field, they needed overtime to steal a 21-20 victory over Idaho.  With an off week to get healthy and prepare for the Yellow Jackets' option attack, the Cavs defense will try to live up to their 311.8 yards allowed per game (ranked third in the ACC).  Tech coach Paul Johnson criticized the decision making of quarterback Tevin Washington in last week's 21-16 win over Maryland, and cited a lack of "continuity" as a reason for their uncharacteristically low score.  Look for Georgia Tech to try and use this game to get their methodical attack back on track. It might be more than a young Virginia defense can handle, even with a week to prepare. - Chip Patterson

#16 Illinois vs. Ohio State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

The Illini look to continue their tear through a stunned and unsuspecting slate of opponents and run their record to 7-0. In Illinois' way is mighty Ohio State, who's got the talent to win the battle up front on both sides of the ball. If OSU doesn't have Braxton Miller at 100% after last week's ankle injury, though, can the vaunted Buckeye rushing attack pick up the slack and turn drives into touchdowns? - AJ

DINNER

Maryland vs. #8 Clemson - ESPNU 6:30pm ET

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd wasn't wearing hip pads for "swag reasons."  Now he has to shed his hip fashion style in order to protect his strained hip against Maryland.  Boyd may have been carted off the field last week against Boston College, but he'll be lining up under center on Saturday night in Byrd Stadium.  Maryland, on the other hand, won't make a decision regarding their starting quarterback until game time.  Starter Danny O'Brien was benched in the 21-16 loss to Georgia Tech in favor of freshman C.J. Brown, who ran for 124 yards in just one half of action against the Yellow Jackets.  But Brown struggled throwing the ball, so it will be interesting to see what head coach Randy Edsall decides to do.  The last time Maryland played a primetime game at home, they wrapped themselves in the state flag and pulled out a victory.  Tune in to see what fashion statement they make this week. - CP 

#24 Auburn vs. Florida - ESPN 7pm ET

In a matchup of teams with passing games that will be lucky to reach "mediocre" -- the Gators thanks to John Brantley's injury, the Tigers due to Barrett Trotter's ongoing struggles -- the winner should prove to be whichever team can get their pair of star tailbacks on track. With Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey on one side and Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb on the other, backfield head-to-heads don't get a whole lot better than this. - JH

Washington State vs. #7 Stanford - FX 7:30pm ET

The Cardinal have the country's best quarterback in Andrew Luck and the conference's toughest defense (just 10.6 points per game allowed) so this should be a relatively easy road trip for the Cardinal. Head coach David Shaw will likely want to establish the running game this week after tilting heavily in favor of the pass last week against Colorado. The question probably isn't if Stanford will win, but by how much. Washington State showed they've got some fight in them last week before coming up short against UCLA. - Bryan Fischer

Kansas vs. #3 Oklahoma - ESPN 2 9:15pm ET

This is a pretty late start for a game that's being played in Kansas, but I have to believe it's some kind of strategy. Maybe the Jayhawks are hoping that by starting the game later, nobody will be watching the Sooners offense destroy a Kansas defense that has been shredded by everybody it's faced this season. This one likely won't be competitive for very long, but who knows? - TF

LATE NIGHT SNACK

#9 Oregon vs. #18 Arizona State - ESPN 10:15pm ET

They're still the conference king until knocked off their perch but Arizona State will present a stiff test for Oregon this weekend. The Ducks are not as good as they were last year on defense and will be missing star running back LaMichael James but Kenjon Barner and freshman DeAnthony Thomas are able replacements for him on offense. The atmosphere at Autzen at night should be a big advantage but expect a tough Sun Devils defense to force a few turnovers and make things interesting. - BF
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:45 pm
 

SEC QB updates: Brissett to start for Florida

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Maybe Jeff Driskel is healthy and maybe he's not. But in any case, it hasn't changed the Florida Gators' outlook at quarterback.

For the second straight week, true freshman and early-season third-stringer Jacoby Brissett will get the start under center for the Gators. Fellow true freshman Driskel had been injured starter John Brantley's backup at the season's start, but an ankle injury ruled him out of last week's game against LSU, handing Brissett his first career start.

Driskel has since received a clean bill of health according to the Gator coaches, who declared this week an open competition between the two for the starting job. But it apparently wasn't enough to unseat Brissett, who entered the week as the favorite.

The Gators will be looking to avoid a three-game SEC losing streak when they visit Auburn Saturday. Brissett went an ineffective 8-of-14 with two interceptions against LSU, but may be able to make strides against a much softer Tiger defense than the one he faced last week.

The Gators are far from the only SEC team with questions to answer at quarterback this week. Running down the latest in the league's other QB controversies and decisions:

AUBURN: Barrett Trotter is the starter and Kiehl Frazier is the change-of-pace, but Gus Malzahn said in no uncertain terms this week that in the event of an injury to Trotter, Clint Moseley would take the reins of the offense rather than the true freshman Frazier. "Clint Moseley is No. 2," Malzahn said.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Dan Mullen has not yet named a starter between Chris Relf and Tyler Russell and is unlikely to before the Bulldogs' meeting with South Carolina. Speaking of which ...

SOUTH CAROLINA: Following Stephen Garcia's dismissal, Connor Shaw is the Gamecocks' unquestioned starter. But there is still no word on which of several players would replace Shaw in the event of an injury, none of which have more than barest minimum of experience. Shaw will need to stay healthy.

VANDERBILT: Jordan Rodgers (yes, Aaron Rodgers' younger brother) has taken most of the first-team snaps in practice this week after relieving the injured Larry Smith against Alabama last week. But James Franklin would not commit to Rodgers getting the nod against Georgia, saying that if healthy and performing well, Smith would remain his first-choice QB. Rodgers reportedly looked sharp in his practice opportunities.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Inside the Numbers: Auburn +2 vs. Florida

By Paul Bessire

Auburn's upset bid against Florida, a slight road favorite in this SEC showdown, will very likely come down to the Gators' ability (or lack there of) to move the ball on offense. With John Brantley out and Jeff Driskel ailing with an ankle injury, another freshman, Jacoby Brisset, will likely start at quarterback for Florida. Last week against LSU, that did not work out well for the Gators as they only gained 4.4 yards-per-play. Auburn's defense is not as good as LSU's - ranking 51st against the pass and 54th against the run in PredictionMachine.com's Team Efficiency Rankings - but the offensive woes will likely continue as this Florida team heads on the road again this week.

Auburn only returned six starters from last year's BCS National Championship team, yet has an impressive 4-2 record against the ninth toughest FBS schedule to-date. One of the few notable players from last season's title team that is still playing at a high level, true sophomore running back Michael Dyer leads an Auburn run game that is the Tigers' greatest strength. Against BCS AQ teams Clemson, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Arkansas, which are a combined 19-5, Auburn has averaged 5.23 yards-per-carry and 252 yards-per-game on the ground. Facing a Gators defense that plays better against the pass than the run, the Tigers should succeed with big plays in the running game on Saturday. CBSSports.com experts are almost unanimously siding with the Tigers.

According to 50,000 simulations by the Predictalator at PredictionMachine.com, Auburn upsets Florida 53.9% of the time and by an average score of 26.1-23.3. As two-point underdogs that win outright more often than note, Auburn covers the spread 56.9% percent of the time. The total line (49.5) is appropriate and unplayable.

Paul Bessire is the man behind PredictionMachine.com, a service that plays the game 50,000 times before it's actually played. This technology, which accurately predicted all 11 NFL Playoff games after last season, accounts for the statistical interaction of players, coaches, officials, fans and weather in each game to predict final score and win probability. Learn more at PredictionMachine.com.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com